I’ve been working through John chapter 6 for a little over a month now in sermon preparation. As I study the chapter, I’m struck with the fact that Jesus starts the chapter with likely around 20,000 people following him. He ends the chapter with 11.
How is it that Jesus goes from a superstar mega-church Pastor who the people are ready to make their King by force, to a flock of only 11 followers in one chapter? I say 11 because in verse 70 he identifies Judas as a devil, so obviously Judas did not believe in Jesus and was not a true follower.
In verses 1-15 we see that Jesus created bread and fish out of nothing. 5 loaves and 2 fish don’t feed over 5,000 people to their fill and produce enough for leftovers. The rest of the chapter is all about Jesus showing people, with increasingly offensive language, what they were supposed to have seen, but didn’t see.
The people just didn’t get it. They wanted to have their physical bellies filled, but Jesus was trying to teach them that He is the true bread of life that will satisfy the hunger of their souls. So many today are searching for a Jesus that will satisfy their worldly cravings. So many today are just like this huge crowd that was following Jesus to see the signs He was performing and to have their bellies filled. When all the while Jesus is teaching us by His Spirit through His Word that He is the true bread. He is the living bread. He is the living water. Whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. Whoever believes in Him will have the hunger and thirst of their souls eternally satisfied.
What about you today? Does Jesus satisfy the hunger of your soul, or do you merely see him as a useful way to satisfy your worldly cravings? If your answer is the latter, He will have no part in that. Just as he had no interest in acquiescing to the crowds desire to make Him King.
So was Jesus’ ministry an “epic fail” at the end of John 6? Not at all. For He chose the 11. And he said that he will loose nothing of all that the Father has given to Him. The 11 remained and believed, even though the teaching was hard.