Bread and Fish for All 6 1After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee (some call it Tiberias). 2A huge crowd followed him, attracted by the miracles they had seen him do among the sick. 3When he got to the other side, he climbed a hill and sat down, surrounded by his disciples. 4It was nearly time for the Feast of Passover, kept annually by the Jews. 5When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” 6He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do. 7Philip answered, “Two hundred silver pieces wouldn’t be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece.” 8One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, 9“There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.” 10Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. 11Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted. 12When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” 13They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves. 14The people realized that God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done. They said, “This is the Prophet for sure, God’s Prophet right here in Galilee!” 15Jesus saw that in their enthusiasm, they were about to grab him and make him king, so he slipped off and went back up the mountain to be by himself. 16In the evening his disciples went down to the sea, 17got in the boat, and headed back across the water to Capernaum. It had grown quite dark and Jesus had not yet returned. 18A huge wind blew up, churning the sea. 19They were maybe three or four miles out when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat. They were scared senseless, 20but he reassured them, “It’s me. It’s all right. Don’t be afraid.” 21So they took him on board. In no time they reached land—the exact spot they were headed to. 22The next day the crowd that was left behind realized that there had been only one boat, and that Jesus had not gotten into it with his disciples. They had seen them go off without him. 23By now boats from Tiberias had pulled up near where they had eaten the bread blessed by the Master. 24So when the crowd realized he was gone and wasn’t coming back, they piled into the Tiberias boats and headed for Capernaum, looking for Jesus. 25When they found him back across the sea, they said, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26Jesus answered, “You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs—and for free. The Bread of Life 27“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.” 28To that they said, “Well, what do we do then to get in on God’s works?” 29Jesus said, “Throw your lot in with the One that God has sent. That kind of a commitment gets you in on God’s works.” 30They waffled: “Why don’t you give us a clue about who you are, just a hint of what’s going on? When we see what’s up, we’ll commit ourselves. Show us what you can do. 31Moses fed our ancestors with bread in the desert. It says so in the Scriptures: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” 32Jesus responded, “The real significance of that Scripture is not that Moses gave you bread from heaven but that my Father is right now offering you bread from heaven, the real bread. 33The Bread of God came down out of heaven and is giving life to the world.” 34They jumped at that: “Master, give us this bread, now and forever!” 35Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. 36I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. 37Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. 38I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me. 39“This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap–up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. 40This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.” 41At this, because he said, “I am the Bread that came down from heaven,” the Jews started arguing over him: 42“Isn’t this the son of Joseph? Don’t we know his father? Don’t we know his mother? How can he now say, ‘I came down out of heaven’ and expect anyone to believe him?” 43Jesus said, “Don’t bicker among yourselves over me. 44You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that’s the only way you’ll ever come. Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End. 45This is what the prophets meant when they wrote, ‘And then they will all be personally taught by God.’ Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really listening and therefore learning, comes to me to be taught personally—to see it with his own eyes, hear it with his own ears, from me, since I have it firsthand from the Father. 46No one has seen the Father except the One who has his Being alongside the Father—and you can see me. 47“I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. 48I am the Bread of Life. 49Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. 50But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. 51I am the Bread—living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh–and–blood self.” 52At this, the Jews started fighting among themselves: “How can this man serve up his flesh for a meal?” 53But Jesus didn’t give an inch. “Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you. 54The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day. 55My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you. 57In the same way that the fully alive Father sent me here and I live because of him, so the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me. 58This is the Bread from heaven. Your ancestors ate bread and later died. Whoever eats this Bread will live always.” 59He said these things while teaching in the meeting place in Capernaum. Too Tough to Swallow 60Many among his disciples heard this and said, “This is tough teaching, too tough to swallow.” 61Jesus sensed that his disciples were having a hard time with this and said, “Does this throw you completely? 62What would happen if you saw the Son of Man ascending to where he came from? 63The Spirit can make life. Sheer muscle and willpower don’t make anything happen. Every word I’ve spoken to you is a Spirit–word, and so it is life–making. 64But some of you are resisting, refusing to have any part in this.” (Jesus knew from the start that some weren’t going to risk themselves with him. He knew also who would betray him.)65He went on to say, “This is why I told you earlier that no one is capable of coming to me on his own. You get to me only as a gift from the Father.” 66After this a lot of his disciples left. They no longer wanted to be associated with him. 67Then Jesus gave the Twelve their chance: “Do you also want to leave?” 68Peter replied, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. 69We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God.” 70Jesus responded, “Haven’t I handpicked you, the Twelve? Still, one of you is a devil!” 71He was referring to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. This man—one from the Twelve!—was even then getting ready to betray him.
The Message® / © 2002 Eugene H. Peterson About