John 6: 1-21
Exploring the Scripture
John 6:1–21 contains two scripture stories that are very familiar to those who spend time with a Christian community or in personal study: feeding 5,000 people and Jesus walking on water. These stories are in all four Gospels indicating they were important events in the life of Jesus and his followers.
As the crowd continued to grow, Jesus asked his disciples how they would be able to feed so many people. The cost was astronomical. One disciple indicated he had found a boy who had meager provisions: six barley loafs and two dried fish. Jesus blessed this offering of food and it was distributed. Jesus looked out at the people and felt compassion. He understood the people were hungry and needed food.
When we have an opportunity to offer who we are or what we have for the need of others, the Holy Spirit blesses that offering to bring about miracles. We are called to “generously share our witness, resources, ministries, and sacraments according to our true capacity” (Sharing in Community of Christ, 3rd ed., p. 12). When we engage in actions of compassion no matter how large or small, we open up opportunities for God’s blessing.
John 6:15 says when the disciples gathered the leftovers, there was far more than the original amount of food remaining. When we make an offering of compassion, the result is more than any of us can or will know or imagine. As the people became aware of what had happened, they named Jesus prophet and wanted to make him their king. He left the crowd and escaped to the mountains. Jesus realized they did not understand that he was not an earthly king.
When Jesus walked on water and appeared to his disciples who were in a boat, they were startled. He called out to them, “It is I; do not be afraid” (v. 20). The scripture tells us they received him on the boat. Some scholars indicate this was a pivotal moment in the relationship between Jesus and his disciples. When Jesus said “It is I,” he was stating that he was the Messiah. And when the disciples received him on the boat, they received him in their lives as the Messiah.
Ephesians 3:14–21 is a powerful prayer that complements John 6:1–21 very well. In this prayer, Paul prayed the people would begin to understand that when we receive Christ into the very core of our lives and are rooted and grounded in God’s love, then the fullness of God will be witnessed by the world, as it was on that hillside with 5,000 people.