the event | John 6.1-4
After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. John 6.1-4 | ESV
Next scene. Jesus sets out across the Sea of Galilee (also known as Tiberias) to the other side, across from Capernaum. And having carefully watched Jesus performing sign after sign after sign of healing on the sick, a huge crowd began flocking to him. Then Jesus went up the mountain and there he sat, his followers being right there with him. And this was in the Passover season, the annual Jewish “Lamb’s Ordeal” celebration – a time when the national fever ran high, hoping for Messiah – and it didn’t hurt the size of the crowd gathering around Jesus, either. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
In his monumental, classic work, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim sets what we might call “The Event” of Jesus’ earthly ministry – the feeding of the five thousand – in its overall context for us quite aptly:
This miracle, and what follows, mark the climax in our Lord’s doing, as the healing of the Syro-Phoenician maiden the utmost sweep of His activity, and the Transfiguration the highest point in regard to the miraculous about His Person. The only reason which can be assigned for the miracle of His feeding the five thousand was that of all His working: Man’s need, and, in view of it, the stirring of the Pity and Power that were King Herod, and the banquet that ended with the murder of the Baptist, and King Jesus, and the banquet that ended with His lonely prayer on the mountainside, the calming of the storm on the lake, and the deliverance from death of His disciples.
Yes, in so many ways, this is the event of Jesus’ ministry, the defining moment – one of the few reported by all four of our Gospel writers.
Set in a context of John the Baptist’s violent death and the subsequent ripples of discontented whispers of revolution and Passover expectations…and Jesus just wanted to get away.
Just for a moment.
His mind turning to darker prospects, he just wanted to be with his friends.
So off to the far side of the lake they went.
And right after them came the crowd composed of locals, of Passover pilgrims, of poor, desperate throngs looking for answers, looking for him, hoping against hope that he would offer more than just a speech. And what they got was more than they could have dreamt or digested.
What a contrast between Herod’s table and Christ’s table; what a radically different menu; what a dramatically different outcome; what day and night difference of a Lord. And how like us they were, this needy, thronging multitude, looking for him, no doubt, for all the wrong reasons…and yet as he did to them, he turns to us too, with blessing in his mouth and hands filled with a miraculous meager fare that is more than we could possibly imagine.
What expectations are you bringing to Jesus’ table right now? What do you seek?
Lord, it’s so hard to let go of my expectations, my wants, my wishes. What a plan I have for my life, for this world, for you. Let me see through these to the blessing from your mouth and the bread for this day from your hand. Amen.