John 6:1-14 When Obedience Doesn’t Make Sense

by | May 7, 2024 | John, New Testament

I. The Setting

A. Jesus Was Trying To Rest

1. V. 2- Luke tells us that Jesus was trying to have a time of retreat away from the masses.
Luke 9:10b-12 Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. 11But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing. 12When the day began to wear away, the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding towns and country, and lodge and get provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.”
2. The masses were drawn to Jesus because of the miracles He did.
3. That is a normal and understandable response.

B. Jesus Received The Multitudes

1. V. 3- Jesus received the multitudes, even though He was tired and recently persecuted.
2. Jesus taught the people about the Kingdom of God. (per Luke)
3. He also healed them.
4. He also sought to give them needed food.
5. V. 4- Passover- March/April. Full moon.

a. Passover celebrated God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt.
b. These people may have been on their way to Jerusalem for the feast.

II. The Problem And The Solution

A. Human Need-Specifically, Hunger

1. V. 5– Jesus recognizes human need. God recognizes human need.

a. Matthew 6:8 “…your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him”.
b. Matthew 6:31-34 31“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
c. Jesus asked His disciples, “What can we do to help them?”
d. The disciples recognized that they masses needed food, but their logical solution was to send the people away.

2. V. 6- Jesus was testing His disciples

a. Test- to test for the purpose of ascertaining quality
b. To discover what kind of faith, how deep a faith one has.

3. Other tests of people’s faith in the Bible:

a. Abraham- God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac, but never intended that Isaac should die, and at the last moment, God commanded Abraham to spare his son.
b. Job 23:8-10 8 “Look, I go forward, but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him; 9 When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. 10 But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
c. Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.

B. The Disciples’ Shortsightedness

1. V. 7– A logical and factual answer, but not one of faith.

a. A hypothetical answer based on what might happen if they had enough resources.
b. Philip thinks in terms of each person having a little.
c. That is very different than how it turned out.
d. No physical effort put forth, just thought.
e. Two hundred denarii is 200 day’s pay for a common laborer.

2. Vs. 8, 9- Perhaps a bit more of an answer; he went and looked for something.

a. Barley was considered a poor man’s food. Often used for horses.

C. Jesus’ Plan

1. God doesn’t need anything to do His work.

a. Jesus could have created out of nothing a banquet with meat and wine.

2. This miracle wasn’t just about feeding the crowd.

a. It was not just about proving who Jesus was.
b. It was also about teaching principles of godly service to the disciples.
c. It was about training them to not lean on their own understanding and resources.
d. Proverbs 3:5, 6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

3. Philip asked what difference a few fish and loaves would make.

a. Much to Philip’s surprise, it made all the difference.
b. Apparently, the miracle would not have happened without these few resources.

4. V. 10- Jesus commands that the disciples seat the people.

a. In faith, the disciples did what Jesus said.
b. This is their greatest display of faith in this scenario.
c. He did not give the disciples all the details about how He would feed the masses.
d. He simply commanded them in what to do, and they did it. This was key.
e. J. D. Jones- “Duty is not measured by ability, and ability is not measured by the sum-total of our resources”.

5. V. 11- Jesus took these few resources, and met human need. The people were full.

a. The disciples could have walked away, or gone into town to find money or food.
b. They didn’t insist on knowing the details before obeying Jesus.
c. Instead, with “less than perfect faith”, they obeyed Jesus.

6. Vs. 12, 13– Jesus was generous, but not wasteful.
7. V. 14- The obedience of the disciples helped bring revelation of Jesus to the masses


1. The disciples did well to notice that the masses were in need. Aware of their surroundings.
2. They immediately defaulted to human logic when dealing with human need.

a. God isn’t against human logic, but His power transcends human logic.
b. The disciples only considered their inability to meet human need.

3. Jesus tested their faith. They would soon understand their natural default, but grow in faith.
4. Jesus commanded them to do something without giving them an explanation. He doesn’t owe us.
5. Fortunately, they obeyed, and the need of the masses was met with blessings left over.
6. Their obedience helped provide the scenario for Jesus to do this miracle. They were contributors.
7. Their obedience accomplished a greater benefit: the masses had a high opinion of Jesus.