As I continued my reading of John, one of the signs or miracles of Jesus mentioned in that book stood out to me. In fact, did you know that there is only one miracle, other than the resurrection, that is recorded in each Gospel? Do you know what it is? It is the feeding of the 5,000!
What made this event so significant that each Gospel writer included it? Notice what Edwin Blum says about this,
“The miracle was spectacular, and it caused a peak in the people’s messianic expectations. But in its aftermath many of His followers no longer followed Him (v. 66).”
How could this be? How could those who experienced the miraculous provision of food leave him after he finishes teaching?
In verse 15 of chapter 6, the people are so amazed at the miracle that they wanted to make Jesus their king even if they had to do so by force! And yet, by verse 66 we read the following, “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.”
This miracle points to the truth that Jesus is the bread of life which he discusses in John 6: 22-71. The choice of Jesus to feed the 5,000 (not including women and children) was to teach them more than the truth that he could perform miracles. It elevated him above Moses whom the people revered (see John 6:31-32). God through Moses gave the Jews manna in the wilderness, and Jesus did something similar by his initiative and authority when he fed the 5,000. By God’s enabling Moses provided manna for their physical nourishment. Jesus alone is the one who can provide eternal nourishment!
Those who chose to follow Jesus out of curiosity left him because his teaching was too challenging and not what they wanted to hear. They did not want to embrace him as their Savior and God. They just wanted a military king who could free them from Roman domination like Moses did with he Egyptians. They wanted a king who met their needs and desires. Instead, Jesus wanted their hearts and their loyalty. He would rule as king in his timing, not theirs.
Father, thank you for the reminder of my motivation for following Jesus. Am I following because of what Jesus can do for me, or because he is God the Son in the form of a man? Jesus is the only one qualified to receive my love, loyalty and obedience. Help me to yield and follow because of who Jesus is and not only for my personal benefits.
Following Jesus with you,