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Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-56; John 6:15-71 Listen
In these passages, we see the following events in Jesus' ministry:
|22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
|45 And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.
46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.
47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land.
48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.
49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out:
50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.
51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.
52 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.
|15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
16 And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,
17 And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.
18 And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.
19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.
20 But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.
21 Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.
This event follows the feeding of the five thousand recorded in Matthew 14:14-21; Mark 6:33-44; Luke 9:11-17; John 6:1-14 (see notes). On that occasion, Jesus and his disciples had boarded a ship and traveled to a solitary place away from Bethsaida. It was on a mountain side that Jesus and his disciples were approached by the 5,000+ people for a teaching session. During that time, we are told in John 6:4 (see notes) that the third Passover of Jesus' ministry was taking place. Now we find Jesus sending his disciples away, back toward Capernaum/Bethsaida (see map). Since they reach Gennesaret in Matthew 14:34/Mark 6:53 (see below), they are traveling along the shore from east to west.
It is interesting that, while Matthew, Mark and John give the account of the story of Jesus walking on the water, only Matthew tells us about Peter trying to duplicate the feat. Obviously that wasn't the big story to John and Mark. John gives a great bit of detail to the subsequent fallout on the day following this miracle where we see that many of Jesus' disciples (not the twelve Apostles) cease following Jesus.
They are rowing against the wind (about 3 to 3.5 miles out) and making little or no progress across the Sea of Galilee toward Capernaum/Bethsaida when Jesus (who had stayed behind to pray) walks by the ship...on the water. Matthew and Mark point out that the disciples thought at first that Jesus was a "spirit" (i.e. "ghost"). The Greek word used in Matthew 14:26 and Mark 6:49 is "phantasma" and is used only these two times in the New Testament. After everything they had seen Jesus do, why would a little Jesus water walking surprise them so? And why would it be easier to believe that they were seeing a ghost rather than Jesus actually walking on the water? Mark makes a noteworthy observation in Mark 6:52, "For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened." The term "heart was hardened" is only meant to convey to the reader that these disciples were having a difficult time equating the miracles of Jesus with the reality that he, as God, had power over the elements of the universe. Even though they had viewed the reality-defying feat of feeding the five thousand, they were nonetheless amazed at a little bit of water walking. Mark seems to find that aspect of the story amusing while Matthew finds amusing the fact that Peter tries his hand out at water walking as well. John gives the account, but makes a point that neither Matthew nor Mark mention in John 6:15 regarding Jesus' initial absence from the ship, "When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone." Only John felt that it was important to show WHY Jesus initially stayed back after sending the people away.
|34 And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret.
35 And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;
36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.
|53 And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore.
54 And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him,
55 And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was.
56 And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.
Gennesaret is on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee next to Capernaum. Obviously he is well received upon his arrival there. The sick people there are brought out into the open where Jesus will pass by. All those who touch the "border/hem" of his garment are healed. These tassels (Hebrew: tzitzit, Greek: "kraspedon") were part of his garment in keeping with the Law of Moses in Numbers 15:38 (see notes), "Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes [Hebrew: "tzitzit"] in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:" Observant Jews still wear these tassels on their four-cornered garments today. Another "tzitzit" incident is found in Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56 (see notes). It was believed that touching these tassels on Jesus' garment would result in healing...and it did; all that touched were made "perfectly whole."
Hey! Jesus! How did you do that? (John 6:22-25)
|22 The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone;
23 (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:)
24 When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.
25 And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?
John adds a little addendum to the miracle of Jesus walking on the water. The people were unaware of that miracle, and they had seen only his disciples get on that single ship. Yet Jesus had somehow ended up with his disciples at their destination. Having seen no other ships at the time, the people all wonder, "How'd he do that?"
|26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?
31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
39 And this is the Fathers will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.
42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?
43 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.
44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.
47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
48 I am that bread of life.
49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
This episode takes place in the synagogue in Capernaum (verse 59) near the time of the Passover feast - one year before the crucifixion. Jesus had just miraculously fed the 5,000 (Matthew 14:14-21; Mark 6:33-44; Luke 9:11-17; John 6:1-14, see notes). The teaching session becomes one of extreme doctrinal significance. The discussion turns to one of motivation when the people finally find Jesus. He points out to the crowd in verse 26, "Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." That's an interesting observation Jesus shares with us: Many of these followers were simply prosperity seekers. They weren't interested in Jesus for any of the right reasons; they simply observed that he was able to take two fishes and five loaves and feed 5,000 with food left over. Incidentally, this prosperity message is still being preached today. Many are following a message of financial wealth and well being as their primary attraction to Jesus. You will note that Jesus clearly establishes that this is not the proper motivation for following him.
"Well, how about a sign then?" the people asked. You know...something akin to the manna God dropped from Heaven back in the wilderness wanderings. I'm reminded here of Paul's characterization of the Jews in I Corinthians 1:22 (see notes), "For the Jews require a sign..." Jesus then makes a definitive statement in John 6:35, "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." Let that analogy soak in for a minute; it's packed with implications. Here's a teaching: The Holy Spirit motivates salvation. God will use this message of salvation coupled with the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to draw people to a salvation experience. There it is in John 6:44, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." Let's dwell there a moment. We are saved when we are drawn by the Holy Spirit to receive Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. Titus 3:5 (see notes) says, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" The Greek word for "renewing" there ("anakainosis") means "renovation." Lost people need a renovation that can only be done by the Holy Spirit. That's why Paul portrays this new life in Jesus Christ in such radical terms in II Corinthians 5:17 (see notes), "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." I'd say that's a pretty significant renovation, wouldn't you?
What's the differentiation here? Here it is. Salvation is not merely experiencing an enlightenment or saying some special words out loud. It's not just a determination to do right or a deep emotional experience of remorse. All of these may accompany salvation, but true salvation happens when God supernaturally, through the power of the Holy Spirit, draws a person to commit themselves completely to Jesus Christ as their ONLY means to God and Heaven. When that process takes place, it's permanent. It says so right here in verse 35, "shall never hunger" and verse 37, "I will in no wise cast out" and in verse 39, "I should lose nothing" and in verse 40, "have everlasting life." Incidentally, verse 37 includes a Greek double negative ("ou me"). That double-negative combination adds strength to the adamant guarantee, "in no wise cast out." It's the equivalent of our oft-used slang term "ain't no way!" This phrase is actually used 94 times in the New Testament.
Here's a very strong and decisive statement to the discussion in John 6:47, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." So, how long is everlasting anyway? Until you sin? No! Everlasting is everlasting. Salvation is a relationship - not a passing experience! When you trust Christ as your Savior, you enter into a permanent, eternal covenant with God whereby you are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13, see notes). You become part of God's family. Our shortcomings have no bearing on the integrity of that permanent relationship.
Jesus is very clear in verses 34-35 with his metaphor for eating: He's clearly talking about believing on Jesus as Savior. In other words, Bread of life = everlasting life. Notice Jesus' reference in verse 45 to the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34, click here), "It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." Jesus refers to the fact that the future Kingdom on Earth that will be established will see a New Covenant established whereby all inhabitants of the earth are saved and living by faith. This concept is in stark contrast to the practice among the Jews in Jesus' day.
Then Jesus caps off the discussion in John 6:58, "This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever." Manna is the supernatural bread that was supplied from God for forty years to Israel beginning in Exodus 16 (see notes). This picture would later be revisited in the observance of communion. The institution of this ordinance is found in Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:17-20 (see notes) following the last supper Jesus had with his disciples prior to the crucifixion. Paul deals with communion in its proper context in I Corinthians 11:23-26 (see notes).
|60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.
After this discussion, some of the seekers who had been following Jesus followed no more as we see in John 6:66, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." That statement has no implications regarding salvation whatsoever. It's a simple statement regarding who continued to physically follow Jesus around in his ministry. However, what about the Twelve? Here's Peter's defining statement in John 6:68-69, "Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." However, that was not the testimony of one there. Look at verse 70, "Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" The Greek word for "devil" there is "diabolos," from which we get our English word, "diabolical." That word is usually translated "devil," but is also sometimes translated "accuser" or "slanderer." Since the definite article is not used here (i.e. the devil), it is not likely that Jesus is referring to Judas as the devil incarnate, but rather is identifying that one there (Judas) has motivations that are diabolical - the devil will be pleased; Jesus identifies that one one of them is there with evil motivations. This puts to rest the notion that Judas fell out of a relationship with Jesus or lost his salvation. Jesus clearly identifies that Judas was chosen as a disciple for a specific purpose, but was evil from the beginning.
Let me say again: Salvation and discipleship are two different relationships. Would you not agree that verse 70 tells us that while Judas WAS a disciple, he WAS NOT saved. Let's not stop with Judas. Are there not a host of people in our world today who subscribe to the notion of emulating the life of Jesus, but who have not trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior? There are entire religions and denominations based upon this principle. Therefore, let me say it even once again: Salvation and discipleship are two different relationships. The victorious Believer has both. If you want to read more about the difference between salvation and discipleship, click here to read the notes on Matthew 16:24-27; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23-26.