THE HISTORY OF A YEAR.
If the view that I have adopted concerning the
time of the healing of the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda is correct,
John leaves a whole year of the ministry of Christ, that between the
Lord's second passover and the third, which is named in the present
chapter, to be supplied from the other Evangelists. That year was one
of activity. Following the chronological table
of Andrews, given in the Appendix, and referring to the three preceding
Gospels, we trace the Savior from the passover in April to Galilee in
the latter part of the month, where he enters vigorously upon his ministry,
as though the fierce opposition from the religious authorities at the
capital of the nation had only incited him to a more determined effort
to win Galilee to the gospel. Making Capernaum his home, from thence
he made the circuit of the province, teaching and healing. At an early
period of the year occurred the miracle of the first draught of fishes
in the Sea of Galilee. Immediately after it four fishermen, James and
John, Andrew and Peter were called upon to leave their nets and follow
him; the next Sabbath he healed a man with an unclean spirit in the
synagogue of Capernaum; shortly after Peter's wife's mother was cured
of a fever; and then followed many miracles of which the details are
not given. Shortly after a leper was healed in a "certain city;" then
one palsied who was let down through the roof, whose healing offended
the Scribes because Jesus said to the paralytic: "Thy sins be forgiven
thee." Next comes the call of Matthew, also called Levi, the publican,
who left the receipt of custom to follow the Master, and then on a Sabbath
the Pharisees were greatly offended because on that day he healed a
man with a withered hand, and "they took counsel with the Herodians
against him how they might destroy him." On this account he drew himself
off into retirement for a season but was still sought by the multitudes.
After a night of lonely prayer on a Galilean mountain he called the
twelve Apostles, probably in the summer of A. D. 28, and soon after
preached the wonderful sermon, known as the Sermon on the Mount, which
has for fifteen hundred years been the basis of the moral systems of
the world. Soon after he returned to Capernaum where he healed the servant
of the centurion, and the day after went to Nain where be raised the
dead son of a widow as he was on the bier being carried to the tomb.
About this time John, who was now in Herod's prison, sent disciples
to Jesus to inquire of him concerning his mission, probably not so much
to satisfy John himself as to direct his disciples to Christ. Afterwards,
in the house of a Pharisee, a sinful woman anointed his head with ointment
and washed his feet with tears, giving occasion to an impressive lesson.
Then follows a circuit of Galilee, preaching and healing, in which he
was attended by the twelve and certain women whom he had healed and
who ministered to him of their substance. During this circuit he preached
much, uttered many parables, and left many precious words of which we
have a record. In the autumn he stilled a tempest as he crossed the
Sea of Galilee to Gadara, and there healed the demoniacs. On his return
to  Capernaum he attended Matthew's feast,
healed the woman with the issue of blood, raised the daughter of Jairus,
healed two blind men, and sent out the twelve to preach the coming kingdom.
This probably occurred in the winter and later in the season occurred
the murder of John the Baptist, the return of the twelve from their
preaching tour, the news of Herod's desire to see Christ, and then,
probably in the latter part of March or early April, the Savior retired
from Herod's jurisdiction to a desert district belonging to Bethsaida,
where the five thousand were fed.
This summary of the history of the year demonstrates
its intense activity, the growing influence of Christ, and the growing
intensity of the hatred of his enemies.
THE FIVE THOUSAND FED.
This miracle is the only one recorded by all the
Evangelists, and as the details vary somewhat, a study of all the accounts
(Matt. 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17) is needful to get the entire
history. At Jerusalem, in the last chapter, Christ revealed himself
as the Giver of life; here in Galilee he shows himself as the Support
and Guide of life.
1. After these things. If I am correct
in regarding the feast at which the miracle of Bethesda was wrought,
the passover, this incident is about a year after. We are aided in locating
it by the account of Matthew. He declares that Christ had just heard
that John the Baptist was put to death. It is agreed by the most judicious
scholars that John was beheaded about the third year of Christ's ministry.
This began some months before his first passover, when he cleansed the
temple; the miracle of Bethesda was at his second passover and in the
second year of his ministry; this passover season (see verse 4) was
in the third year. The date of this miracle tends to confirm the view
that the feast of John 5:1 was the passover. Jesus went over the
Sea of Galilee. Matthew (14:13) says that he went because he heard
that Herod had slain John. He wished to have a season of retirement,
probably for reflection, and he went out of Herod's jurisdiction. Mark
indicates (6:30) that he retired for rest. Luke adds a fact that helps
us to understand the reason. He says, "Herod sought to see Jesus." The
news of the death of the Baptist, of the design of Herod to see him,
the return of the Twelve from their mission (Luke 9:10), and the need
of rest all co-operated to cause him to seek the wilderness over the
sea. Sea of Tiberias. Another name of the Sea of Galilee at that
time better known to Gentile readers.
2. And a great multitude followed. When
the death of the Baptist occurred the popularity of Jesus was at its
height in Galilee. Great multitudes follow him wherever he goes, and
so throng him that he has no leisure even to eat. From every part of
the land they come to listen to his teachings and to be 
healed. Nor may we ascribe this concourse merely to curiosity and
3. And Jesus went up into a mountain. The
mountains on the eastern shore of the sea rise to the height of nearly
two thousand feet above the level of the water. The region was uninhabited,
and therefore a quiet place for communing with his disciples, and rest.
4. And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was
nigh. This statement gives us a note of time and shows that the
country was green with the freshness of spring. It was not far from
April 1st, and the trees were in full leaf. The proximity of the greatest
of the festivals that were celebrated at Jerusalem (the passover, which
began that year A. D. 29, on April 17th), would give occasion for
a large increase of visitors around Galilee, as the crowds gathered
for the journey. The gathering at such a time of a crowd of 5,000 men,
attracted by so famous a teacher, is not incredible. The mention of
the passover is an aid to the chronology of the Lord's ministry. The
feast named in John 5:1 could hardly be that of Purim, for then he would
not have left Jerusalem before the passover, it following only about
a month later. If that feast was a passover, we have now reached a period
of two years from the passover at which he cleansed the temple (2:13).
It is clear that the feast, now so near at hand, was not attended by
the Savior, the only one that he seems to have omitted during his ministry.
Perhaps the plots to kill him when last in Jerusalem explain his absence.
"His hour was not yet come."
5. When Jesus lifted up his eyes and saw a
great company. The other historians tell us that he was filled with
compassion. They were destitute of teachers. They had no guides but
the blind Scribes and Pharisees. They had no spiritual food but man-made
traditions. Let us never forget that our Lord is the same yesterday,
to-day, and forever. He never changes. High in heaven at God's right
hand he still pities the ignorant and them that are out of the way.
Whence shall we buy bread? He had spent the greater part of the
day in teaching and healing. As the evening came his disciples came
to him asking him to dismiss the multitude that they might return to
the villages and procure food, and probably as a result of their importunity
he asked this question of Philip.
6. He himself knew what he would do. He
was in no perplexity as to what would be done, though he asked the question.
He often asked questions for the sake of their moral effect upon others.
7. Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient
for them. This sum is mentioned mainly because it was an estimate
of how much it would cost to give each one a little (John 6:7). Some
have supposed that this is the amount of money they had in their common
treasury, but it seems rather to be mentioned as a sum beyond
their ability to pay. It was equal to $30, or £6, 5s.;
a large amount of money then, since a denarius, or "penny," was the
hire of a day's labor. The penny, or denarius, was about seventeen cents,
and was equivalent to about one dollar now, so that the whole sum would
8. One of his disciples, Andrew, . . . saith.
The answer of Andrew is to the question of the Savior reported in Mark
6:38. He bade them to examine and report what food they have, and Andrew
replies that a lad has five loaves and two fishes.
9. Five barley loaves and two small fishes.
The loaves here were of barley-meal made into small, thin cakes,
baked hard on the side of the oven, so as to be broken. Probably this
was the whole stock of provisions then at the command of the disciples--no
more than enough for one meal to them. The fishes were salt and dried,
and used for a relish, according to a common custom of the country.
Plain common food. Barley was the food only of the lower classes. It
was a very small amount, as is shown by the fact that a "lad," a "little
boy" in the Greek, carried them. What were they among so many?
10. Make the men sit down. We learn from
Mark that they sat down in companies. Our word parties, in its
convivial acceptation, is, as nearly as possible, a reproduction of
the original term. The multitude was to be arranged in a suite of
parties, no doubt semicircularly adjusted, after the form
of Roman triclinia, or Grecian symposia. Such a semicircular
or three-sided style of parties had become common among the Jews, being
adopted from the Greeks and Romans; and hence the frequent reference,
in the New Testament, to reclining at meals. There was much
grass there. It was in Nisan, "the month of flowers," and the slopes
were rich with the soft green of the spring grass. About five thousand.
Thus there was one loaf to every thousand men. Matthew adds, "besides
women and children," of whom there were doubtless many. It was customary
then, as now, in the East, for men to eat alone, reclining, and the
women and children by themselves, sitting. It was easy to number the
men, who were arranged in companies of hundreds and fifties; but not
the women and children, who perhaps sat around promiscuously. 
11. When he had given thanks. It was held
by the Jews, that "he who partakes of anything without giving thank
acts as if he were stealing it from God." The prayer of thanks was always
pronounced by the father of the family; and Jesus never neglects it,
nor ought any Christian.
12. Gather up the fragments that remain.
God does not allow wastefulness. Nature wastes nothing, not an ounce
of matter. It is the waste of man that causes want. There is food enough
for all. The waste of our nation is appalling;--$800,000,000 per year
on liquor; $50,000,000 on tobacco, besides all the extravagance of life.
Christ bids us save; save the fragments. It is by wasting the fragments
that the great wastes occur.
13. Filled twelve baskets with the fragments.
Only one basket in the beginning, but twelve after all were fed. Baskets
were taken by Jews on journeying, to carry their provisions, etc., that
they might not have to depend on Gentiles, and so incur the risk of
14. Of a truth this is that prophet. The
long expected prophet, foretold Deut. 18:15, 16, and referred to by
the delegation sent to visit John the Baptist (John 1:21). This expected
prophet was to be the king of Israel, the head of the kingdom of God
on the earth. In other words they said: "This is the Christ."
15. Perceived that they would come and take
him by force, and make him a king. Convinced that he was Christ,
they sought to proclaim him king, to raise his standard, and establish
his government. This miracle worked up to the highest pitch their enthusiasm
in behalf of the recognition of Jesus as the Messiah. Might not this,
indeed, be taken as the commencement of his reign? Hitherto his acts
had been those of individual beneficence. But here was a public act,
performed in the sight of thousands, and of which thousands had shared
the benefit. Who so fit to be their king as he who could banish want
and labor from their borders, and revive the good old times when their
fathers were fed by bread from heaven? To escape their well meant efforts
Jesus retired to a mountain alone. We learn from Mark that he went to
16. When even was come his disciples went down
to the sea. They were sent down. See Matthew and Mark. The disciples
were probably ready to join the people in an enterprise which would
fulfil their remaining carnal expectations regarding the Messiahship
of their Master. Hence our Lord dismissed them, sending them where they
would feel the need of his presence.
17. Entered a ship. A fishing boat large
enough to carry a dozen persons, but not too large to be propelled by
oars. To Capernaum. Mark says to Bethsaida, but this was on the
way to Capernaum. Mark names the first landing place, but John the end
of the journey.
18. The sea rose by reason of a great wind.
Sudden gusts are common on the Sea of Galilee. Prof. McGarvey reports
one that caught his party on the same sea. The winds rush down from
the mountains of Lebanon or up the Jordan Valley. Thompson says he encountered
one of such fury that no rowers could row a boat across the lake.
19. Rowed five and twenty or thirty furlongs.
About three or three and a half miles. The lake is here about six miles
wide. They were about the middle of the lake. It was about three o'clock
in the morning. They had toiled nearly through the night, but could
make no headway against the wind and waves. Walking upon the sea.
The words, "walking on the sea," are common to the Evangelists, and
can have no other meaning here than that the Lord walked bodily on
the surface of the water.--Alford. We may see in it something like
an anticipation (not unconnected, it may be, with the intensity of that
crisis in his life) of that spiritual body of which we see another manifestation
in the transfiguration, and which became normal after the resurrection,
reaching its completeness in the wonder of the ascension.--Ellicott.
They were afraid. Mark says, They cried out in fright. They regarded
the appearance seen through the darkness an apparition and thought it
a harbinger of evil.
20. It is I; be not afraid. This is the
gospel message of peace, on the ground--the simple ground--"It
is I." Christ's presence is peace to the soul.--Jacobus. How
often has he to speak this word of encouragement, even to his own! almost
always when they are brought suddenly, or in an unusual way, face to
face with him! It is I. Literally, I am. The same language
used by Jesus in Jerusalem (John 8:58), for which the Pharisees would
have stoned him, and in the Old Testament to designate Jehovah (Exodus
3:14). Here I should prefer to give it this meaning: Christ says not
merely, "It is I, your Friend and Master;" he says, 
at least implies, it is the "I AM," who is coming to you, the Almighty
One who rules wind and waves, who made them, and whom they obey.--Abbott.
21. He went up . . . into the ship. John
says, "they willingly received him;" and, on account of the wind abating,
they came at once to port. Christ's getting in the ship was their salvation.
He can both calm the tempest round us, and carry us safe to heaven.
Immediately the ship was at the land. Unless the word "immediately"
has more latitude than is common with us, this implies another miracle.
1. He who could make the grain grow could also
multiply the loaves.
2. Our duties and our privileges are not measured
by what we can do of ourselves, but by what God is willing to do through
us. We cannot turn the machinery of the factory, but we can let the
water on to the wheel. We cannot push the steamship across the ocean,
but we can let on the steam for the engine to do it.
3. By feeding the hungry bodies of men we often
get access to their souls. This has been well illustrated in the famines
of India and China.
4. Jesus had bidden the disciples to cross the
sea. It ought to have comforted them, to remember that he himself had
constrained them to enter into the ship. They were evidently
in the path of duty. How, then, could any evil befall them? It is a
great comfort to us when we can feel sure that we are doing the
will of God; for, whatever trouble may threaten us, we can trust Jesus
to bring relief in the storm.
5. We often learn more of faith in one month of
darkness and storm, than in years of sunshine. When God would prepare
us for higher work, for sweeter peace, for clearer light, he brings
them by an increase of faith, and increases our faith by trying our
6. Jesus sometimes leaves us alone, that we may
know ourselves and our own weakness, but he never leaves us out of sight.--Quesnell.
7. There are often "contrary winds," even in the
way of duty. We must expect them, and not be discouraged, nor turn out
of the way.
JESUS THE BREAD OF LIFE.
The reader should note the progressive revelation
of the divine majesty of Christ as unfolded by John. In the temple at
his first passover, he asserted his authority over his "Father's house;"
at his second passover he demonstrated his power over diseases and gave
intimation of his coming dominion over the grave; in his miracle of
the loaves and fishes he revealed the secret that his hand gave the
increase of the earth and seas, while the quelling of the storm on Galilee
showed that the winds and the seas obeyed his voice. In the discourse
that follows he proclaims himself the Bread of life. 
After the feeding of the 5,000 the apostles embark
in their boat; Christ goes up into the hills to pray; the people linger
awhile for his return, then conclude that he has returned to Capernaum,
and go back to Capernaum themselves; on the following Sabbath morning
he enters the synagogue; their astonishment at his approach is great;
they break out in questioning, How did you get here? His answer diverts
them from mere astonishment to a serious consideration of spiritual
truth: "Ye are seeking me, not because of the evidence I have given
of my divine commission, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were
filled. Labor not for the meat (food) that perisheth, but for that meat
which endureth unto everlasting life."--Abbott. This gives occasion
for one of the remarkable discourses that occur so frequently in John's
gospel. There is no reason to believe that we have more than a condensed
report. The whole discourse can be read in five minutes, and it is likely
that the Savior occupied much more time in its delivery.
22. The day following. The day after the
miracle, when five thousand were fed, and after the night storm on the
sea of Galilee. "The people who had stood on the other side and been
fed," remained awhile because there were no other vessels, and the more
willingly, because they raw that Jesus had not gone with his disciples.
23. There came other boats from Tiberias.
Tiberias was the largest city on the sea, built by Herod, and named
after Tiberius Cæsar. Herod Antipas usually occupied it as his
capital. It was a place the Lord never entered, though often near it.
It is explained that vessels came from there to the place where Christ
had fed the five thousand, by which many of them returned to Capernaum.
Others had probably dispersed to the neighboring towns and villages,
but Capernaum was "on the other side of the sea."
24. Came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. As
they did not see the Lord longer on the eastern shore, they sought him
at the place where he made his home. These seekers were deeply impressed
by the miracle of the day before, and were among those who would have
made him king. They were eager to again And him, follow him, be fed
by him, and partake of his glory. 
25. Rabbi, when camest thou hither? While
they had come to Capernaum seeking him, they were astonished to find
him there. He had not crossed the sea with his disciples; he had not
come with them; how and when did he come? Of course they had not seen
him walking the waves in the darkness.
26. Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles.
The Savior reveals to them the true motives which induced them to seek
him. They may not have been aware themselves of the fact that they were
led by selfish purposes, a desire of temporal benefits. They followed
him, not because they saw in him "that prophet who should come into
the world," but because he supplied their lowest needs. Henry says:
"Not because he taught them, but because he fed them; not for love,
but for loaves. Thus do all who seek in religion secular advantages
and follow Christ for the sake of secular preferments." People are more
clamorous for earthly bread, than anxious concerning food for their
27. Labor not for the meat that perisheth.
The Savior does not prohibit laboring for food, but making the acquisition
of food and worldly things the leading object of life. He means: Do
not manifest a chief anxiety for bodily food, for the food that perishes
with the using, but rather seek the meat that endureth to eternal
life. The food of the soul; the Bread of Life. He had discoursed
with the woman at Sychar of that which imparted eternal life to the
soul under the similitude of water: he here speaks of the same
things under the similitude of food. Our Lord bids us work
for the food of eternal life. How few are doing it! This food he declares
that the Son of Man will give. Him hath the Father sealed. Sealing
is the mark of approval, of authority. A legal document must bear the
seal of the State to give it force. The Father had commissioned, authorized,
and stamped his seal upon the work of the Son. His miracles were a divine
seal. In the East a document was always authenticated by the seal
of the maker, instead of by the signature of a name, as with us.
28. What shall we do, that we might work the
works of God. These seekers of Christ are eager for more information.
He had bidden them work for the food of eternal life. What works then
shall they do that they may please God and receive the divine gift?
The word work had impressed their minds. They had been painfully
keeping the law and the rabbinical precepts in the hope that thus they
should do the works of God. If, however, there was something more, if
 Jesus had requirements that would impart
to them a share in the kingdom, they wished to know of them. Their question
shows a teachable disposition.
29. This is the work of God, that ye believe
on him whom he hath sent. They are startled by hearing that to please
God the first requirement is faith in Christ. This is "the work of God"
that pleases him. "Without faith it in impossible to please God." It
is not works, but one work, that is required, a faith that will
enable them to lay hold upon, follow in all things, and appropriate
to the souls, him who is the Bread of Life. From such faith would spring
a Christlike life. Pharisees, Romanists and Pagans have ever sought
to "do the works of God" by pilgrimages, penances, vows, and mortifications.
So Luther thought to do as he climbed on his knees up Pilate's staircase
at Rome, and heard the words coming to him like the voice of God: "The
just shall live by faith."
30. What sign showest thou then, that we may
see, and believe thee? He had pointed to himself as the object of
faith, making his claim such as had never been made by mortal man. He
had spoken of his seal, or sign. They ask now for a sign. The miracle
of the day before had excited their surprise, but had not yet satisfied
them that eternal life was to be found by believing in him as the Son
of man sent by God. What mighty work can he do that will carry conviction?
31. Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness.
He may have fed a few thousands on the day before, but what was that
to the feeding of the whole host of Israel for forty years in the wilderness?
Is he as great a leader as Moses in whose time the manna fell? The sign
they suggest shows that Christ had read their hearts when he said that
they sought him because of the loaves and fishes.
32. Moses gave you not that bread from heaven.
It was not Moses, with whom they were disposed to compare him, that
furnished the manna in the wilderness, but the Angel of the Lord. This
Angel of the covenant is supposed, from Malachi 3:1, to have been Christ.
If so, not Moses, but "the prophet like unto Moses," was the dispenser
of the bread from heaven, that sustained old Israel while journeying
to the Promised Land. He still feeds the Israel of God on its way to
the heavenly Canaan. My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
The true bread is not the manna. That perished like all earthly food.
The true bread is for the soul instead of the body. It satisfies the
soul's hunger and keeps it alive. The Father gives it by sending the
Son, the true Bread of Life. Of the true bread the manna was a type.
33. The bread of God is he which cometh down
from heaven. He here defines the marks of the true bread: 1. It
comes from heaven; 2. It bestows life upon the soul and sustains it;
3. It is for the world, not for a single race. The manna did not last
longer than a single day; all who ate it died; it was for a single nation.
These things are not true of the bread of God. God feeds his people,
not with bread made on earth, but prepared by his own hands from heavenly
34. Lord, evermore give us this bread.
One cannot fail to see the resemblance to the case of the woman of Sychar.
There the emblem is water, here bread; there Christ offers water
that will permanently satisfy the soul's thirst, here food that satisfies
its hunger; there the woman asks for this water, here they ask for this
bread, not yet fully comprehending what it is. Like Ponce de Leon, who
sought the fountain of immortal youth in Florida, they thought that
this food would literally make them immortal and eagerly clamored for
such a boon.
35. Jesus says, I am the bread of life.
They ask for this bread. He answers, It is here; I am that bread. The
work of God is that you receive it by believing upon him whom he hath
sent. He that cometh to me shall never hunger. He that cometh
shall not hunger; he that believeth shall not thirst. It is thus
shown that faith is the power that brings us to Christ. We come to him
by believing. They who thus come will have their souls satisfied, and
they who abide with him shall not hunger or thirst more. "Coming" and
"believing in" are clearly equivalent to "eating" and "drinking."
36. I said unto you, That ye also have seen
me, and believe not. They had asked a work in order that they might
believe, which was a confession of their unbelief. They ask for the
bread of life, but they can only partake of it by believing in him.
He therefore points out the one obstacle to obtaining what they had
just asked for.
37. All that the Father giveth me will come
to me. Christ here, as elsewhere, shows that the power is of the
Father. The Jews may reject him, but all whom the Father gives, of every
race, will come to him. The whole body of believers, Gentiles as well
as the Jews, are given to the Son by the Father. Christ is God's gift
to men, but the believers are his gift to Christ. "The gift of the Father
must not be understood of a predestinating decree. Here, and in other
passages, when we read of God giving his Son to his people it is the
moral and spiritual state of the heart that is thought of under the
word. This state of heart by which they are induced to listen to the
voice of Jesus is due to God alone."  Schaff.
I will in no wise cast out. Every one that cometh is sure of
a hearty welcome. No suppliant, however humble or despised, is rejected.
38. For I came down from heaven, not to do
mine own will. Christ will refuse none who come to him; all such
are given by the Father and he came to do the Father's will. He did
not come to choose such followers only as were congenial to him, nor
to follow his own inclinations, but to do the Father's will, which was
that he should save the world. All was to be subordinated to this purpose.
39. That of all which he hath given me I should
lose nothing. He would not cast out any one coming to him, for such
were given of the Father, and his will was that the Son should lose
none of those given, but should raise every soul at the last day. Whoever
receives the Son hath life eternal, and at the last day the Son raises
such because they have eternal life. Those "given," "come" to Christ,
but they must "abide" in him, if they would continue to live.
40. This is the will of the Father. The
will of the Father is paramount. That will is that "every one who sees
the Son and believes upon him," thus coming to, following and abiding
in him, feeding upon him as the soul's food, should have eternal life,
and that in the resurrection day Christ should raise him from the grave.
These verses show, 1. That there is not any secret decree of election.
The will of the Father applies to every one who believes upon the Son.
2. The condition of eternal life is a faith that leads to and appropriates
Christ; that makes him the Lord of the soul. 3. Christ hath brought
to light immortality. He is "the resurrection and the life." He says,
"I will raise him at the last day." He is the life of the world, and
in eternity all will praise him as the true Bread of Life that came
down from heaven.
1. Too many seek Christ for the loaves and fishes.
Persons often choose a church to improve their social condition, or
to secure a professional practice, or to build up a trade. It is said
that A. T. Stewart, when starting in business, carefully selected out
a church that he thought would furnish him patronage in business. Such
motives are sordid and carnal.
2. The Lord has made it needful that we should
labor for food, but this should not be the great object of life. The
body and its food will perish; the soul can abide forever. We should
work to procure the food that will enable it to enjoy eternal life.
3. God hath sent down the Bread of Life from heaven.
Nothing else will satisfy the soul. It may feed on the husks of pleasure,
or applause, or show and pride, and yet perish with hunger. Why should
ye seek that which is not bread and satisfies not?
4. "If any man be idle and gluttonous, and careth
for luxury, that man worketh for the meat that perisheth. So,
too, if a man by his labor should feed Christ, and give him drink, and
clothe him, who is so senseless and mad as to say that such an one labors
for the meat that perisheth, when there is for this the promise of the
kingdom that is to come and its good things? This meat endureth forever."--Chrysostom.
5. That is food which sustains life. Bread, as
the great life sustainer, is called the staff of life. To the hungry
nothing is so precious. Once a hungry Arab on the desert sought a spring
of which he knew to quench his thirst. As he rose he saw a bag, dropped
by some traveler, and he joyfully exclaimed, "Here is food." Eagerly
he tore it open, and then in bitter disappointment he cried, "Alas,
it is only pearls!" Nothing will feed the soul but Christ. To the hungry
soul he is more precious than the gems of Golconda.
6. To feed on the Bread of Life we must come to
Christ. We come by hearing and believing upon him. The evidence of our
real belief upon him is the surrender of our lives to his will. Those
who thus believe, he will never cast out; he invites all such to his
arms; they feed upon him by faith and make his life their life. They
have eternal life for he will raise them at the last day.
7. Bread is a dead thing in itself; the life it
supports it did nothing to originate. But the bread from heaven brings
with it the life it afterwards sustains.--Hanna.
FEEDING UPON CHRIST.
At this point our Lord's discourse is interrupted.
Hitherto he had been addressing the multitude; now for the first time
we read "the Jews," which, as already explained, means adherents of
the ruling party which was violently hostile to Christ. Whether these
Jews were among the multitude hitherto addressed in this discourse we
cannot tell. If so, they had not made themselves prominent and were
lost in the crowd. It may be that the regular discourse in the synagogue
ended with verse 40, that these official "Jews" were not present, but
were soon informed of what he said, and came with their objections.
Or, they may have been in the synagogue and kept silence to this point.
They may have been sent from Jerusalem to watch Jesus. Mark 3:22 and
7:1 distinctly intimate that Scribes came from Jerusalem to Galilee,
and the phrase "the Jews" seems to convey a kind of official meaning.
Since the term "Jews" describes, not Galileans, but natives of Judea,
it is applied by John, almost without exception, to those connected
in some way with the authorities at Jerusalem, and since also, we learn
from the passages just cited that officials came from Jerusalem to take
note of the words and acts of the Galilean prophet, it is probable that
these "Jews" were representatives of the authorities at the Capital.
If this view is correct, of which there can hardly be a doubt, it shows
the jealousy with which the Sanhedrim watched over Jesus during his
entire ministry in Galilee, as well as Judea. 
41. The Jews murmured. They found fault
and tried to raise discontent among those who had listened willingly
42. Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph?
If he was Joseph's son, how could he have come from heaven, or be bread
from heaven? Their argument is that he was human born and, hence, only
a man. They were, no doubt, ignorant of the miraculous conception, and
Christ never refers to it in his teachings. He did not bear witness
43. Murmur not among yourselves. The reply
of Jesus is a rebuke. These men were not honest inquirers but cavilers.
44. No man can come to me, except the Father
which hath sent me draw him. Two elements are concerned in coming
to Christ, the human will and the divine drawing. No man comes unless
he wills to come. It was the charge of Christ against the Jews: "Ye
will not come to me that ye might have life" (John 5:40). In Matthew
23:37 he exclaims to Jerusalem: "How often I would have gathered
your children . . . but ye would not." A man can refuse
to come and God does not compel, but he says "whosoever will,
let him come and partake of the water of life freely." This is the human
side. On the divine side God "draws," not so as to coerce the human
will, but to induce the desire to come. "The gospel is the power of
God unto salvation." It is the drawing power. It draws by its manifestation
of the love of God, by its revelation of the crucified Savior, and his
adaptation to the needs of the soul. God often mellows the human heart
by his providences so that it becomes a fit soil for the Word, and by
the gospel, the sword of the Spirit, his providence, the invitations
of the Spirit, he "draws" men. If our will consents, and we yield to
the drawing, we come. If we "will not," and refuse to be drawn, we do
not come. The ball that I hold in my hand is "drawn" to the earth by
attraction but is kept away by another force. So, too, the sinner may
be "drawn" by the influence that the Father exerts, but, under the influence
of other forces, refuse to be drawn to Christ.
No man comes to the Son unless he yields his own
will and is drawn by the love of the Father. I will raise him.
The Father draws the soul to Christ; then the Son takes up the work
and will raise him from the dead. 
45. It is written in the prophets, They shall
be all taught of God. Christ makes more explicit how the Father
draws. It is by teaching men. All taught of God, who "have heard
and learned of the Father," come to the Son. It is what they learn from
the Father that makes them willing to come.
46. Not that any man hath seen the Father.
Men do not learn of the Father by seeing and hearing him personally,
but they learn the Father's will and words from the Son.
47. He that believeth. Here he returns
to his former subject and affirms that belief in himself is the source
48, 49, 50, 51. I am that bread of life.
The multitude had spoken of the manna given to their fathers. They had
all perished, for it was not the bread of life, and could not communicate
life, but the true Bread was that which came from heaven, the appropriation
of which would impart immortality because it had life in itself. He
is that Bread. If a man eat of this bread, he shall live forever. He
now goes one step further, and declares that that bread is his flesh.
52. The Jews strove among themselves. They
could not comprehend what had just been said, and they discussed how
Jesus "could give his flesh to eat."
53. Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,
and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. The Jews had already
stumbled over the statement that his flesh must be eaten, but the Savior,
as was his custom (see the case of Nicodemus and the woman of Sychar),
reiterates his statement in still stronger language. Not only must his
flesh be eaten, but they must drink his blood if they would 
have life, a startling statement to those who had not learned the
lesson of the cross, and one that has caused no little discussion in
the Christian world. Let us seek his meaning. He had revealed himself
already as the Life. In some way he would give immortality to those
who partook of his life. He had declared himself to the Samaritan woman
as the giver of the Water of life, and in this discourse, as the Bread
of life. He had plainly taught that the partakers of himself, the Water
of life, the Bread of life, should have eternal life. But how shall
that Bread be eaten, or in other words, how shall mortals so partake
of Christ as to receive the life he had himself, and thus have eternal
life? The answer is that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood,
but how? Those who accept the doctrine of transubstantiation assert
that this is done in the Lord's Supper; that the bread and wine are
literally transformed into the flesh and blood of Christ, and thus his
flesh and blood are eaten and drunk. Others affirm that his language
is parabolic, and that he means that the emblems that represent his
body and blood must be appropriated. I believe that he means that every
man must become a partaker of the benefits of his death, his slain body
and shed blood, by an appropriation of them to himself, in order to
live. It is only after his death that his flesh can be said to be eaten.
The flesh of animals we eat is dead flesh, but this is living
Bread; not dead flesh, but living Flesh. It is, then, not literally
eaten, but is otherwise appropriated so that the living flesh of
the Son of God becomes the sustenance and the life of those
who partake of it. At death he shed his blood to wash our sins away;
in his resurrection and ascension his glorified flesh was raised and
ascended to heaven. As Alford says: "I cannot see how anything short
of his death can be meant. By that death he has given his flesh for
the life of the world." How shall one, then, eat his flesh and blood?
Verses 47 and 48 show that the Bread of life is appropriated by believing.
There must, then, be such a belief, not merely in Christ as a divine
teacher, but in his death and resurrection, as will induce us to be
planted in the likeness of his death and raised in the likeness of his
resurrection. We eat the bread on our tables because we believe it to
be bread and that it will sustain life; he that believeth upon the crucified
Lord enters into the fellowship of his sufferings, is crucified with
him by repentance, buried into his death, raised in the likeness of
his resurrection with the new life to walk in newness of life. See Rom.
It is shown in verse 63 that it is not the literal
flesh eaten that makes alive, but the spirit and the words of Christ
are endowed with spirit and life. It is said, Heb. 4:12, that the word
of God is quick (alive, living) and powerful. By the appropriation of
the words of Christ, faith in the crucified and risen Savior, and the
incorporation of the will and life, as expressed in his word, into our
lives, we are made alive.
55. My flesh is most indeed. Is food indeed.
The body does not feed upon  it, but the
soul. Its hunger and thirst are satisfied, and by the appropriation
of this, it becomes endowed with the vital principle of the Bread of
56. Dwelleth in me, and I in him. By this
eating one enters into. Christ and partakes of his life. See Rom. 6:1-8.
57. The living Father. The Father who is
the fountain of life. He sent Christ endowed with his life. So Christ
endows with life those who "eat" him. It was the meat of Jesus
to do the will of the Father. We eat Christ, our meat, by making his
will the will of our lives.
58. Your fathers did eat manna. That food
might sustain life for a season, but could not impart it, for it was
dead food. The Bread from heaven is endued with life, and hence, gives
59. These things said he. This ends the
discourses in the synagogue. There is a third discourse to his disciples.
Synagogue. See note on the Jewish synagogue
at the close of this chapter.
60, 61. Doth this offend you? His disciples
could not take in what had just been said. They expected an earthly
king, not a crucified Savior. Hence they murmured and were offended.
62. What and if ye shall see the Son of man
ascend? He points out a still greater marvel than eating his flesh
and blood. He came from heaven and he will return there. This passage
is remarkable as furnishing the only instance in which the Lord spoke
in specific terms of his ascension during his earthly ministry. It is
true that he often speaks of his return to the Father, but he does not
explain whether it is a spiritual return or in what sense it was meant.
Here he speaks positively of his ascension, and his words must be regarded
a prophecy of his ascent from the heights of Olivet, in the presence
of his disciples. 
63. It is the spirit that quickeneth. These
words we may paraphrase as follows: "I shall ascend to heaven so that
my flesh cannot be literally eaten; the flesh literally profits nothing.
It is the spirit that makes alive. The spirits of men must eat, or partake
of me, and be thus quickened by my spirit. My words are spirit and life,
and he who feeds upon them makes them his soul food, governs his life
by them and will be made alive." He had spoken "in parables" to the
Jews, but explains to his disciples his meaning as was his custom. See
Matt. 13:10, 11.
64. There are some of you who believe not.
Had no living, appropriating, trusting faith.
65. Except it were given him. See, for
explanation, verses 44, 45.
66. Many of his disciples went back. They
were of the unbelieving. Their faith was not strong enough to accept
the great doctrine of eating his flesh.
67, 68. To whom shall we go? Christ, apparently
sad that these had turned away, asked the twelve whether they would
go also. Peter, always prompt, even impetuous, answers: To whom shall
we go? The world may well ask this question. If it turns from Christ,
to whom shall it go? He only has the words of eternal life.
69. We believe . . that thou art the Christ.
It is worthy of remark that the same confession made at Cesarea Philippi
is here made by Peter.
70. One of you is a devil. Is "diabolical"
comes nearer the idea. I chose you and one has fallen away. The shadow
of sorrow is still upon his spirit. The word in Greek is diabolos,
71. He spake of Judas Iscariot. At that
time none knew of whom he spoke.  The words
were well calculated to cause each one to examine himself. Judas
Iscariot, the son of Simon. The Revision reads, "the son of Simon
Iscariot," which is the proper rendering of the Greek. Simon, the father
of Judas, is called Iscariot as well as his son, which shows the word
is not a surname but evidently designates place. They were men of Kerioth,
a place in Judah named in Joshua 15:25. Some have endeavored to identify
the father of Judas with "Simon the Canaanite," one of the apostles,
others with "Simon the leper," who lived at Bethany, but there is just
as much warrant for identifying him with Simon Barjona, or Simon the
Galilean Pharisee, or Simon, one of the brethren of our Lord. The name
was a very common one and we have nothing particular about this Simon
except that he was the father of Judas and a man of Kerioth.
In this remarkable chapter there are given three
discourses of the Savior, or three separate sections of one discourse.
The bread with which the five thousand had been fed furnishes the text,
as the water of the well of Jacob did when he discoursed of the Water
of life. An examination of his words will show the gradual development
of his thought. He announces:
1. Verse 33, the Bread of God, which cometh from
heaven, and giveth life to the world.
2. In verses 48 and 50 he declares: "I am the
Bread of life." . . . This is the bread which cometh down
from heaven that a man may eat of it and not die.
3. Verses 51-56 show that the Bread of life must
be eaten by becoming partakers of his flesh and blood, or by becoming
the kindred of Christ and dwelling in him and having him abide in us.
4. Verse 63 shows that eating his flesh and drinking
his blood are not literal acts, but are symbolical expressions. The
literal flesh profiteth nothing. The words of Christ are spirit and
life. The spirit of man is quickened (made alive) by feeding upon those
divine words which are endued with life.
1. "Man doth not live by bread alone, but by every
word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." The "Word became flesh
and dwelt among men." That Word is the Bread of life of which, if a
man eat, he shall have life, and "he hath given his flesh for the life
of the world." Yet the flesh in itself "profiteth nothing." "It is the
spirit that quickeneth." Christ's words "are spirit and life." He who
feeds upon his words shall live. Thus the lesson is brought out that
we are made alive by hearing, receiving into our souls, incorporating
into our being as life principles, the words of Christ. It is thus he
is eaten. The spirit of man thus feeds upon the spirit of Christ.
2. A common life only exists in the most Intimate
union. Christ hath the life of, because he is in the Father and the
Father in him. So, too, Christ must be in us and we must be and abide
in Christ in order to be partakers of his life.
3. The ordinances appointed by Christ symbolize
the intimate union of his disciples with the Lord. They believe upon
him, are baptized into him (Rom. 6:3) and thus put on Christ (Gal. 3:27)
and henceforth dwell in him  (Rom. 8:1)
and are new creatures in Christ Jesus. In the Lord's Supper the disciples
partake of the symbols of his flesh and blood, and by faith enjoy "the
communion of his body and blood."
4. We may not always understand the words of Christ;
they may be too deep for us; but we can receive them in loving trust
as the words of our Lord. If we were to turn from Christ where could
we go? Not to Buddha, or Mahomet, or to the philosophers and theorists.
When the children ask for bread they give them a stone. None other than
Christ can feed to the soul the Bread of life and give it rest. He only
has the words of eternal life.
NOTE ON THE JEWISH SYNAGOGUE.
It will be of service, in understanding the incidents
at Capernaum, as well as the many passages of the New Testament which
refer to the synagogue, to have a comprehensive idea of this peculiar
Jewish institution. It is not known when the synagogue originated, but
it is certain that, when the temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar
and the remnant of the nation carried into captivity, the knowledge
of the word was preserved by establishing in every community of Jews
a place where the law was read and taught to the people. When the nation
was again established in their own land, as their institutions emerge
into the clearer light of the period near the beginning of our era,
the synagogue is found existing in, not only the towns and cities of
Palestine, but in every foreign city where there was a Jewish population.
In them the Savior, in the earlier portion of his ministry, was a frequent
teacher, and Paul in his missionary tours to foreign cities always first
sought the synagogue of his own race.
It was a kind of Jewish local church, and permitted
the worship of God on every Sabbath at places far away from the temple.
Wherever ten Jews could be found it was permitted to, organize one.
In it on the Sabbath the Scriptures were read, prayers were offered
and instruction was given. No priest was required, there was no professional
clergy; there was, however, a "Ruler" with his "elders," there were
subordinate officers, and there was a regular prescribed course of reading.
At one end of the synagogue was an "ark" or receptacle where the roll
of the law was sacredly preserved and from which it was taken with the
most profound reverence. On an elevated platform sat the "Ruler of the
synagogue" and the elders; prayers were offered, and after these two
lessons were always read, one from the Law, and one from the Prophets;
these lessons might be read by any competent person who was designated
by the ruler for the duty, and the reader might add his comment. When
the Lord appeared in the synagogue at Nazareth he read from Isa. LXI,
and then sat down to deliver his sermon, or comment. Any scholar in
the law who might happen to be present could be called on for the comment,
as there was no appointed preacher, and hence it frequently occurred
that when Paul entered a Jewish synagogue in some Gentile city he was
invited to deliver the address. The character of the address was more
conversational than the modern sermon. Questions were not out of place,
objections could be made, and often in the reports of discourses in
the New Testament we see the marks of these interruptions. 
The synagogue, in Its organization, in many respect's
like the Christian congregation, had also the power of discipline, but
its penalties were not entirely spiritual. Scourging could be inflicted
upon delinquents, and hence the Savior, in Matt. 10:17, speaks of his
disciples being delivered to the synagogues to be scourged.
The following account of an attempt of the students
of Newton Theological Seminary to reproduce the worship of the synagogue
in the time of Christ, given by J. H. Garrison, will aid the reader
to a correct understanding: "About a score of the young men performed
this service. They were appropriately rigged with the conventional uniform,
and went through their various parts with becoming reverence. The Law
and the Prophets were read in Hebrew and translated by an interpreter
into the vernacular of their hearers, which was the custom of the Jews
in their synagogue service, after the Hebrew ceased to be the language
of the people. The chanting was very good, perhaps much better than
that heard in the average synagogue in the time of our Savior. The Law
from which they read was a veritable Hebrew scroll, secured from a Rabbi
in Germany. Various readers were called out from their number, and while
one was reading several others carefully scrutinized each word to see
that the reading was correctly done. Every action indicated the greatest
reverence for their sacred Scriptures. When the portions of both the
Law and the Prophets were read, a speaker was sought for, and the messenger
of the ruler of the synagogue had no little trouble in finding some
one to address the people. When he found one at last who agreed to 'say
on,' according to the invitation extended to Paul and Barnabas, the
preacher took his seat in front of the congregation and proceeded to
exhort his brethren to faithfulness in the observance of the law of
their God. He evinced no little feeling when he alluded to their Gentile
oppressors. The address, which was in English, being ended, he asked
for questions. A number were asked, indicating by their character, and
by the answers, the tendency of the Jews to split hairs on fine points
of their law, at that period of their history, a characteristic which
is brought out prominently in the gospel narratives. Some further responsive
chanting, and a prayer, closed this interesting and instructive service,
which was witnessed by a large audience. It explained how Paul would
have an opportunity to speak in the Jewish synagogues wherever he went,
and brought out very vividly that scene in the synagogue at Nazareth
when Jesus read the wonderful prophecy concerning himself, and, when
all eyes were fastened upon him, proceeded to announce its fulfillment
that day. For the reader was sometimes, though not always, the speaker.
The reading of the Scriptures was the main thing in the synagogue service;
the speaking was only incidental. It may be safely questioned whether
the reading of the word of God has the prominence in our Lord's day
service that it ought to have."