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Feeding the Five Thousand


After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” 6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” 10Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Jesus Walks on the Water

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

The Bread from Heaven

22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 28Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” 32Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; 38for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”

41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. 44No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” 59He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

The Words of Eternal Life

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”

66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” 70Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” 71He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.


16. His disciples went down. Christ undoubtedly intended to conceal himself until the crowd should disperse. We know how difficult it is to allay a popular tumult. Now, if they had openly attempted to do what they had intended, it would have been no easy matter afterwards to wipe off the stain which had once been fixed upon him. Meanwhile, he spent all that time in prayer, as the other Evangelists (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46) relate; probably, that God the Father might repress that folly of the people. 130130     On our Savior’s retirement into the mountain to pray, our Author has made very interesting and profitable observations. Harmony of the Evangelists, volume 2, page 237. — Ed. As to his crossing the lake in a miraculous manner, it is intended to profit his disciples by again confirming their faith. The advantage extended still farther; for next day all the people would easily see that he had not been brought thither by a boat or ship, 131131     “Par basteau ou navire.” but that he had come by his own power; for they blockaded the shore from which he had to set out, and would scarcely have been drawn away from it, if they had not seen the disciples cross to a different place.

17. It was now dark. John passes by many circumstances which the other Evangelists introduce; such as, that for several hours they struggled with a contrary wind; for it is probable that the storm arose immediately after the night began to come on; and they tell us that Christ did not appear to his disciples till about the fourth watch of the night, (Matthew 14:28; Mark 6:48.) Those who conjecture that they were still about the middle of the lake when Christ appeared to them, because John says that they had then advanced about twenty-five or thirty furlongs, are led into a mistake by supposing that they had sailed to the farther or opposite bank; for Bethsaida, near which town, Luke tells us, the miracle was performed, (Luke 9:10,) and Capernaum, which the ship reached, (John 6:16,) were situated on the same coast.

Pliny, in his fifth book, states that this lake was six miles in breadth, and sixteen in length. Josephus (in the third book of the Wars of the Jews) assigns to it one hundred furlongs in length, and forty in breadth; 132132     Our Author quotes inaccurately the measurement given by Josephus, whose words are: “Now this lake of Gennesareth is so called from the country, adjoining to it. Its breadth is forty furlongs, and its length one hundred and forty.” — Wars of the Jews, III. 10. 7. — Ed. and as eight furlongs make one mile, we may easily infer how little the one description differs from the other. So far as relates to the present sailing, my opinion is, that they did not go over so great a space by direct sailing, but through being driven about by the tempest. 133133     “Mais estans agitez de tempeste.” However that may be, the Evangelist intended to show that, when Christ presented himself to them, they were in the utmost danger. It may be thought strange that the disciples should be tormented in this manner, while others had nothing to disturb them in sailing; but in this manner the Lord often makes his people fall into alarming dangers, that they may more plainly and familiarly recognize him in their deliverance.

19. They were terrified. The other Evangelists explain the cause of that fear to have been, that they thought that it was an apparition, (Matthew 14:26; Mark 6:49.) Now it is impossible not to be seized with consternation and dread, when an apparition is presented before our eyes; for we conclude that it is either some imposture of Satan, or some bad omen which God sends us. Besides, John here holds out to us, as in a mirror, what kind of knowledge of Christ we may obtain without the word, and what advantage may be reaped from that knowledge. For if he present a simple demonstration of his divinity, we immediately fall into our imaginations, and every person forms an idol for himself instead of Christ. After we have thus wandered in our understanding, this is immediately followed by trembling and a confused terror of heart. But when he begins to speak, we then obtain from his voice clear and solid knowledge, and then also joy and delightful peace dawn upon our minds. For there is great weight in these words:

20. It is I: be not terrified We learn from them that it is in Christ’s presence alone that we have abundant grounds of confidence, so as to be calm and at ease. But this belongs exclusively to the disciples of Christ; for we shall afterwards see that wicked men were struck down by the same words, It is I, (John 18:6.) The reason of the distinction is, that he is sent as a Judge to the reprobate and unbelievers for their destruction; and, therefore, they cannot bear his presence without being immediately overwhelmed. But believers, who know that he is given to them to make propitiation, as soon as they hear his name, which is a sure pledge to them both of the love of God and of their salvation, take courage as if they had been raised from death to life, calmly look at the clear sky, dwell quietly on earth, and, victorious over every calamity, take him for their shield against all dangers. Nor does he only comfort and encourage them by his word, but actually removes also the cause of the terror by allaying the tempest.

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