“After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples.” (John 6:1 – 3)
I think now, as I am sitting here, I might have some understanding of how Jesus felt. He was tired. Grateful that he could help so many people, and that his disciples were learning about the work that was ahead for him. He had gone another round with the Jewish leaders and officials, pointing out to them the error of not seeing that Jesus came from the Lord God and it was the Lord God who was directing Jesus and imbuing Jesus with the power he needed to perform miracles. (The writer of the gospel of John takes great pains to portray Jesus as being a conduit of the Divine’s power and mysticism.) And that encounter wearied and drained him too.
“Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When 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?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.” (Verses 4 – 6)
Another lesson for the disciples is coming up. Even wearied and worn, Jesus had compassion for those in need – body & spiritual needs.
“Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” (Verses 7 – 9)
Yes, beloved reader, think back to the Old Testament passage and Elisha taking the opportunity to teach those around him and supply the needs of others. The stories parallel each other very well.
“Jesus 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. Then 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. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.” (Verses 10 – 13)
One of the biblical commentators points out this instruction as an illustration of Jesus being frugal and conscious of not wasting anything. I am not sure the motivation was that; what better way for the disciples to understand that in Jesus there is abundance. But, this was also a lesson demonstrated in front of five thousand people, many of whom may have never known such abundance in one place.
“When 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.” 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.” (Verses 14 – 15)
It just seems to me unlike that Jesus did not realize this would be the result. After all verse six said that Jesus knew he was going to astonish everyone there. There is a sense that the writer of the gospel of John portrays Jesus as being “surprised” by this. However, the Jewish officials and leaders did not understand Jesus. It is not surprising that the crowd did not understand either. Furthermore, it sounds very much like Jesus that the risk of being misunderstood was not worth leaving the people hungry in the hills. And it sounds like Jesus that after this blessing the to five thousands that he craved time alone again.
“When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.” (Verses 16 – 21)
Have you ever been surprised by Jesus the Messiah? Also a good question, have you misunderstood or under estimated Jesus the Messiah? And a third question, like the first two – have you ever been surprised, misunderstood, or under estimated the Divine? If we were honest, beloved reader, we would have to answer yes. And that is okay. If we “push” or confine or consign Jesus Christ and the Lord God to roles, attributes, or expectations that are not correct or appropriate – we should expect correction and re-education. It does not mean we are not good followers or disciples; in fact, it might prove we are absolutely disciples since each of them underwent guidance and direction. Furthermore, the disciples that seemed to be most visible about their faith and demonstrated the strongest faith – were the once that were most often corrected by the Messiah. Think about that!
May you, beloved reader, continue to learn more about our Lord God Jesus Christ and the Divine each day. May you make the most of each time of instruction and guidance under the tutelage of the Holy Presence. And may the Divine quicken and bless your understanding! Shalom & Selah!