John 6:14-21

Sunday Morning Bible Study

August 16, 2009


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

Jesus has just done an incredible thing, feeding a huge multitude, at least five thousand men, not to mention the women and children.

And He did it all with five small loaves, and two small fish.

We are about to see Jesus walk on water.

Nowadays, walking on water is kind of the standard of perfection.  In fact, some of the ways people use it can kind of make you a little sick…forgive me …

Play Video, “Tiger Walking On Water”

We’re going to look at someone who REALLY walked on water.

6:14-21 Walking on Water

:14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

:14 Prophet – This was Moses’ term for the Messiah, someone who was to be a prophet like Moses was.

(Dt 18:15 NKJV) —15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear,

You could make a point to say that Moses fed the people in the wilderness – God gave them “manna” to eat.

Jesus has just fed the people.

:15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.

:15 perceivedginosko – to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of

Jesus wasn’t wondering if they might make Him king.  He KNEW it.

:15 take … by forceharpazo – to seize, carry off by force; to snatch out or away

In Jesus’ day there was a movement among the Jews to revolt against Rome.  This group was known as the “zealots”.  These would be the rebels that would die at Masada.  One of Jesus’ disciples was a zealot.  They had a base of operations in the Galilee area.

One group apparently hid in the caves near Mt. Arbel until the Romans came and exterminated them.

Jesus knew that the crowd was serious about violently grabbing and making Him into the new King of Israel.

:15 departedanachoreo – to go back, return; to withdraw; to leave a room; from choreo – to leave space

You could say that Jesus needed some “space”.  He “left the room”.

Jesus did not seem to want the people to make Him king.

I find it ironic in the day we live in when all we know are leaders who will do anything to become “king”.

Jesus walks away from it.  Why?

He knows that they are following Him for the wrong reasons.
They liked the free lunch.

(Jn 6:26 NKJV) Jesus answered them and said,  “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.


The right reason

What is the right reason to follow Jesus?
God’s kingdom is coming, and you ought to be ready.
Getting ready involves a change in your life.  It involves realizing that you are sinful, unacceptable for God’s kingdom, and you turn your life around.
This was what John the Baptist was doing, in getting people ready to follow Jesus.

(Mk 1:4–5 NKJV) —4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 5 Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

This is what Jesus preached.

(Mk 1:14–15 NKJV) —14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying,  “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Jesus’ message was “repent”.  That means to “turn around”.

Sometimes people become Christians because they hear that Christianity helps people.
They hear that it’s a way to a “better life”.
Some people have the audacity to tell you that you will become wealthy and never be sick if you follow Jesus.

That’s exactly the mindset of the crowd that Jesus is running from.

God’s kingdom is coming.  Jesus is going to return.
Are you ready to meet Him?
Are you ready to acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God and that you ought to be living your life the way that He wants you to?

:16 Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,

The day full of ministry had taken place on a hillside alongside the Sea of Galilee.

They had come by boat and they are going to leave by boat.

Matthew (14:22) records that it was Jesus who made the disciples leave while He sent the crowd home:

(Mt 14:22 NKJV) Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.

Perhaps Jesus was trying to rescue the disciples from getting caught up in the crowd fervor in making Him king.
Some have suggested that Jesus was concerned that if the movement got out of hand, that the Romans might come down hard on them.
While Jesus is sending the disciples away from trouble, He is sending them into the storm.

:17 got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them.

:17 boatploion – a ship

We have a clue as to the kind of boats that were used on the Lake in Jesus’ time.  They’ve actually found one.  It had been buried in the lake mud until it was discovered in 1986 near the Ginosar kibbutz.  It’s now on display in a museum there.

It’s about 30 feet long, 8 feet wide.

:17 toward Capernaum

The Sea of Galilee is a big lake that’s 7 ½ miles wide at its widest, 12 ½ miles long.

Usually it’s pretty calm and flat.

Play “BoatingPastCapernaum” clip from boat on Galilee.

They have been somewhere near the town of Bethsaida and now Jesus sends them toward Capernaum.

John also records that the people found Jesus the next day at Capernaum.

(Jn 6:24 NKJV) —24 when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

Mark records that Jesus sent them to Bethsaida:

(Mk 6:45 NKJV) —45 Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away.

:17 Jesus had not come to them

The evening had come, darkness was setting in, and they hadn’t seen Jesus yet.

Did Jesus say that He would meet them? Why does John note it this way?

Perhaps Jesus had told the guys He’d meet them, but when it started to get dark they left?

:18 Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.

:18 arosediegeiro – to wake up, arouse from sleep

:18 windanemos – a very strong tempestuous wind. John not only uses the word for “strong wind”, but this is a “great” (megas) one as well

In Greek mythology, the “Anemoi” were the wind gods, one for each direction of the compass.

The area has an interesting geography that can lead to sudden winds and storms.

Back in November 2007 we were on top of Mount Arbel when a storm came in.

Play Arbel 2007 video clip

The lake itself is 600 feet below sea level.  It is surrounded by hills all around.
It’s not unusual for a west blowing wind to pick up in the afternoon on the Lake.

:19 So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.

:19 three or four miles – literally “twenty or thirty stadia”

A “stadion” is the length of an ancient race course, about 600 feet.

20 stadia = 12,000 feet (about 2 ¼ miles)
30 stadia = 18,000 feet (about 3 ½ miles)

If they started west of Bethsaida, and remembering that the coastline in Jesus’ day was further north, then at 3 miles they are about ¾ of the way to Capernaum.

Mark (6:48) tells us that it was during the “fourth watch” and that Jesus acted like He was going to go past them.

(Mk 6:48 NKJV) —48 Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by.
fourth watch – some time between 3 and 6 the morning.

:19 they saw theoreo – to be a spectator, look at, behold; to view attentively

This isn’t the simple word “to see”.  When I see this word in Scripture, I think of somebody watching something with their mouth dropping open.

:19 walking on the sea


The Pool
A mother was watching her four-year-old child playing outside in a small plastic pool half filled with water. He was happily walking back and forth across the pool, making big splashes. Suddenly, he stopped, stepped out of the pool, and began to scoop water out of the pool with a pail. “Why are you pouring the water out, Jimmy?” the mother asked. “’Cause my teacher said Jesus walked on water, and this water won’t work.” The boy replied.


The pastor, the youth pastor and the worship leader all went fishing together one morning. The latter two had been to the spot many times, and decided to bring the pastor along with them. They’d been out for a couple of hours when the youth pastor remembered that he had left his canteen on the shore. He stepped out of the boat and proceeded to step lightly across the water. He got his canteen and walked back. After a while, the worship leader ran out of bait, so he decided to go back to shore to find some grubs. He too stepped out of the boat, walked across the water, got what he needed and came back. The pastor had watched quietly as the two walked on the water, his eyes round with amazement. Not wanting to be outdone, he quickly thought of some reason to get out of the boat also. He announced to the group that he was a little tired of fishing, and thought he’d go get his Bible and read quietly in the boat while the other two continued their fishing. He stepped out, and quickly sank. The worship leader looked at the youth pastor and said, “You know, we probably should have told him where the rocks are!”

We know that it wasn’t because Jesus had special water.

We also know that it wasn’t because Jesus knew where the rocks were.

Jesus is unique.  He is awesome.  He is powerful.

:19 drawing near the boat

Mark (6:48) tells us that it looked like He was going to walk right by them.

(Mk 6:48c NKJV) …and would have passed them by.

:19 were afraid phobeo – to put to flight by terrifying (to scare away); be afraid

Mark (6:49) tells us that they thought it was a ghost:

(Mk 6:49 NKJV) And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out;

Why did Jesus wait so long before showing up?

You can’t say that Jesus was trying to punish the fellows.

He was the one that sent them out into the storm.

I’m not sure I know the reason.


Keep rowing

There are going to be times when we have to learn to keep at the task, even all night if we have to.
Sometimes we just don’t understand our circumstances, but we know we have to keep going, we have to keep rowing.
(Ps 30:5b NKJV) …Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.
(Ga 6:9 NKJV) And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Two frogs fell into a can of cream,
Or so I've heard it told
The sides of the can were shiny and steep,
The cream was deep and cold,
"Oh, what's the use?" said No. 1, "tis fate -- no help's around --
Good-bye, my friend!  Good-bye, sad world!"
And weeping still, he drowned.
But No. 2 of sterner stuff,
Dog paddled in surprise,
The while he wiped his creamy face
And dried his creamy eyes.
"I'll swim awhile, at least," he said
-- or so it has been said --
"It wouldn't really help the world
If one more frog was dead."
An hour or two he kicked and swam --
Not once he stopped to mutter,
But kicked and swam, and swam and kicked,
Then hopped out, via butter.
A page from John Wesley's Diary reads as follows:
Sunday morning, May 5, preached in St. Ann's, was asked not to come back anymore.
Sunday p.m., May 5, preached at St. John's, deacons said, "Get out and stay out."
Sunday a.m., May 12, preached at St. Jude's, can't go back there either.
Sunday p.m., May 12, preached at St. George's, kicked out again.
Sunday a.m., May 19, preached at St. somebody else's, deacons called special meeting and said I couldn't return.
Sunday p.m., May 19, preached on the street, kicked off the street.
Sunday a.m., May 26, preached in meadow, chased out of meadow as a bull was turned loose during the services.
Sunday a.m., June 2, preached out at the edge of town, kicked off the highway.
Sunday p.m., June 2, afternoon service, preached in a pasture, 10,000 people came to hear me.
Keep rowing.

:20 But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

:20 It is Iego eimi – “I am”.  A Greek form of the name of God, Yahweh.

Because He, God, is with us, we do not need to be afraid.

(Ps 23:1–4 NKJV) 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me…

Matthew (14:28-32)  gives us one more twist to the story.

He tells us about Peter getting out of the boat and trying to walk on water.  But for time’s sake, we’ll leave that tidbit for another time.

(Mt 14:28–32 NKJV) —28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

:21 Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.

:21 willingly received Him

The disciples actually had a choice.  They could have let Jesus pass by them.  They could have kept this “ghost” out of their boat.

They chose to receive Him.

So often, we’ve seen several times in the gospel of John that one of the biggest issues that keep men from God is the “will”.
Man wants to be “self-willed”, and doesn’t like to think that he needs to give up control of his life to God.
Jesus challenged the man who had been sick a long time:

(Jn 5:6 NKJV) …He said to him,  “Do you want to be made well?”

Jesus challenged the Jews:

(Jn 5:39–40 NKJV) —39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

John opened the gospel with this truth:

(Jn 1:11–12 NKJV) —11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

Philosophy is fine to discuss.  And sometimes people have real, legitimate questions they need answered.
But don’t hide behind philosophy when the real issue is that you just don’t want to give yourself up to God.

Are you willing?

:21 where they were going

They arrived at Capernaum.  Immediately.

Matthew (14:32) and Mark (6:51) tell us that when Jesus got into the boat, the wind stopped as well.

(Mk 6:51a NKJV) Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased.

Mark records:

(Mk 6:51b NKJV) …And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled.

Matthew records:

(Mt 14:33 NKJV) Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

The disciples fell on their faces in awe before Jesus.

Play “Walking on Water” clip

worshippedproskuneo – to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence; among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence


Help in the storm

Mark tells us what Jesus was doing while His men were in the storm:
(Mk 6:46–48 NKJV) —46 And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. 47 Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. 48 Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by.

Circle three words in the text:  Pray, saw, and came.

1. He is praying
(Heb 7:25 NKJV) Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
When we need help, it is good to get prayer.  It’s good to call a friend and ask for prayer.  It’s good to put a prayer request in the Agape Box.
It’s also really, really good to know that Jesus Himself is praying for you.

That’s the only real reason we make it in life.  Jesus is praying for us.

2. He is watching
We wonder what’s taking Him so long.
But He knows what He’s doing.
He sees you.
(Ps 121:4–5 NLT) —4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.5 The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
3. He is coming
He hasn’t left you alone.
Help is on the way.
When the time is right, He will be there.
Mighty Good Leader” – Audio Adrenaline