Prepared by John E. Marshall
John 6:12-15 (Holman) When they were full, He told His disciples, ACollect the leftovers so that nothing is wasted.@ So they collected them and filled 12 baskets with the pieces from the five barley loaves that were left over by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign He had done, they said, AThis really is the Prophet who was to come into the world!@ Therefore when Jesus knew that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He withdrew again to the mountain by Himself.
The disciples learned at least six valuable lessons from this mighty miracle. These lessons still hold value for us today.
Lesson one: The crowd was wrong; they were selfish. The rabble was eager to support Jesus when He gave them what they wanted. As long as He healed and fed them, they followed Him. They served Jesus for what they could get from Him.
It is possible to try to serve Jesus for the wrong reasons. Augustine said, AJesus is usually sought after for something else, not for His own sake.@
We too often act like the crowd in our text. When we want comfort, strength, or peace, no one is as wonderful as Jesus.
In times of need we often find it easier to walk and talk with Jesus. But when He comes to us with demands for sacrifice, or tries to change us, we are tempted to close our hearts and no longer follow.
This is wrong. Selfishness has no place among us. All we have or possess must be surrendered to Him, and be viewed as merely offerings to be placed at His feet. Everything we are, do, or have must be gladly deemed His.
Clara Barton (1821-1912) founded the American Red Cross. She became great by helping people. She nursed soldiers in our Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War.
In 1877 she led relief work in the Florida Yellow Fever epidemic. In 1889 she led relief after the Johnstown flood. She helped in the Russian and Arminian famines of 1891 and 1896. She labored during the Spanish-American War in Cuba, and helped after the Galveston flood of 1900.
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) founded the modern nursing profession. She was raised in a wealthy home. At 16, she decided she would spend her life helping others. She quit having suitors and going to large social affairs, and started helping the poor and needy. Opposed by her family, she finally left home.
After the Battle of Balaclava, she organized tents and barracks to handle the wounded. She spent the days supervising work. At night she walked the four miles of corridors to make sure the wounded were being cared for. This kind of selfishness should characterize all believers.
Lesson two: The crowd was wrong; they wanted to be kings. They intended to make Jesus a King. They actually wanted to be rulers themselves. They sought to use Christ to further their own ends. They wanted a King, not to rule them, but to serve them.
The world always wants a God Aafter its own heart.@ People want Christ=s gifts without Christ=s cross. They would rather use Jesus than let Him use them.
Wanting a God who changes and stays Ain style,@ the world does not desire the God of the Bible. Many try to create a Father who does not exist, a Son who does not exist, and a Spirit who does not exist. They may want to call their God AFather, Son, and Spirit,@ but cannot make Jehovah into something He is not.
If the God of the masses is not the God of the Bible, then the masses are worshiping a God who does not exist. The Lord never changes. He is today what He was in Bible times, and what He will be forever.
If today we offer the world the kind of God they want, tomorrow they will want a different one. They=ll never be satisfied. Hence, we must steadfastly proclaim the unchangeable Jesus. Let people change, not the message.
The world crucified Jesus once. If we preach the true Christ, they will seek to do the same thing today. People can not come to Jesus to be Kings. We must come to be servants and let Him alone be King.
Lesson three: Jesus was right; He would not seek revenge. In the other three Gospels, this feeding of the 5000 occurred right after the execution of John the Baptist. The crowd may have thought Jesus would place Himself at the head of a popular uprising to avenge the preacher=s murder.
Even for a good cause for a good person, though, Jesus would not stoop to seeking personal revenge. It is never right for a Christian to seek revenge. AVengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord@ (Romans 12:19b).
Lesson four: Jesus was right; He did things God=s way. This is the second time Jesus declined to be crowned as King. He had previously been offered the kingdoms of this world if He would bow His knee to Satan. Here the crowds would have done it without any help from Jesus.
Jesus did come to Earth be a King, but had to receive the kingdom God=s way. It was not right for Him to do right the wrong way. It was right for Jesus to be King, but wrong to make Him one by force.
Seeking to do great things for God is truly the right thing for us to do, but we must be sure we always do them in the right way, in the right spirit, and for the right reasons. Often we want fame, acclaim, recognition, etc. These are okay, but must not become our primary motivation. Our purposes are to honor God and help people.
Lesson five: Jesus was right; He protected His disciples. Jesus had to do something to keep the crowd=s momentum from spreading to the Twelve.
The easiest thing for Jesus to do would have been to walk away, and then privately return to the disciples later, but He felt He needed to remove the disciples from the crowd. The carnal enthusiasm of the rabble might find too many flammable points of contact in the disciples= hearts.
Jesus could have left, and taken the disciples with Him, but then the crowd would have flocked after them to the other shore and spread their zeal to Galilee. Jesus opted to send the disciples away. AImmediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He dismissed the crowd@ (Mark 7:45). Only after the Twelve were gone did Jesus dismiss the crowd.
Jesus guarded His followers. Christ felt compelled to separate His disciples from the mob. The goals of the crowd could easily contaminate the disciples.
We, too, should protect our brothers and sisters in Christ. Whenever there is controversy, seek to end it, not spread it. When there is strife, don=t tell everyone.
If we are at odds with anyone, go to the individual we are troubled with. Don=t let trouble keep brewing. Guard the fellowship.
Lesson six: Jesus was right; He communed with God. The other three Gospels tell us Jesus, after feeding the 5000, went to the mountains to pray.
The appeal to be swept into Messianic leadership was a temptation to Jesus. He found overcoming strength by spending time with the Father. All Jesus ever wanted to do was to please the Father. Is the same true with us?