The Prophet Who Feeds Us
I’m excited to teach John 6:1-15 tonight to Calvary’s youth group. We’re working our way through The Gospel According to John, and tonight’s text is the account of Jesus feeding five thousand men (not including women and children). It is amazing to see how John depicts Jesus as a prophet greater than Elisha (see 2 Kings 4:42-44); indeed, Jesus is the Prophet, the Prophet to come after Moses (Deut. 18:15-19), the Prophet who says and does all that the Father tells him to do, perfectly (John 5:30; 12:49).
But as amazing as all this is, even more striking to me is Jesus’ mercy on an abandoning crowd. He is the Prophet, but he is the Prophet who feeds. Here in this miracle is a picture of God’s grace to all people, both believers and unbelievers. As Jesus says in Matthew 5:45, the Father “makes his sun shine on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” In John 6:1-15, Jesus is doing this loving work of his Father’s: he is abundantly feeding a crowd that will later abandon him. The next day, many of these people “turned back and no longer walked” with Jesus (John 6:66) because, as Jesus points out to them, they were seeking him “not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves” (v. 26).
And yet Jesus fed them anyway. Jesus knows people’s hearts perfectly (John 2:25), and he knows the crowd’s materialistic treachery (6:15). But he feeds them. As Matthew elaborates in his account of this miracle, Jesus “had compassion on them” (Matt. 14:14). He knew they were unbelieving (or, to put it another way, had demonic faith; cf. James 2:19), but he had mercy on them and fed them in their hunger. He later goes further and gives them truth, the ultimate truth that he is the bread of life, and in him alone is salvation (John 6:32-58). They reject it, and Jesus knew that they would, but he was merciful and fed them both physical and spiritual food anyway.
What a glorious picture of the gospel in our lives today. As Jesus himself says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44). Nevertheless, he proclaims the gospel offer of life in him for those who trust him for salvation to even these unbelievers: “whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (v. 37). Our salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Were it not for God’s grace in pursuing us when we were yet his unbelieving enemies, none of us would have come to saving faith in Christ and be in this filial relationship with him now.
Praise God that he pursues us even in our unbelief! Praise God that Jesus, the Prophet-King, died for us while we were yet sinners! Praise God that his Holy Spirit awakens us from our death in sin to new life in Christ! Praise God! Praise God!