Sefer Yochanan (Gospel According to John) Chapter 6 Pt.2Eat My Flesh & Drink My Blood (John 6:33-71)
“For the soul living of the flesh is in the blood; and Him I have given to all of you upon the altar to purge, make reconciliation upon your soul existence: for the blood, He is in the soul purging reconciliation.” -Vayikra (Leviticus) 17:11 (Author’s Translation)
What follows is the extension of Yeshua’s exposition regarding the manna from the heavens and His identity as the “True Manna” from the heavens. This idea is further developed and illuminated in the hearing of His listeners and culminates in a sifting of the wheat from the chaff (making a distinction between the devout disciples and the faithless ones). Leaving only the faithful few at His side.
34 Therefore (oun[G]), they said to Him (Yeshua), “Lord, Master (Kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), always give (tanah lanu[H]) us this (touton[G], et[H], ha-zeh[H]) the bread (ho artos[G], ha-lechem[H]).”
34 Therefore, they said to Yeshua, “Lord, Master, always give us this the bread.”
“Therefore” relates to all that has gone before, the sign of the loaves and fishes, the sign of the walking on water, and the subsequent teaching regarding the true Author of the manna given to Israel’s forebears.
They are responding to the words that Yeshua has just spoken concerning His identity as the bread from heaven, however, they have not understood what He has said.
“JOHN 6:33 For the bread (lechem[H]) of God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]) is Him (hu[H]) Who comes down (hayoreid[H]) out of the heavens (ouranos[G], ha-shamayim[H]), and gives (notein[H]) living (zoe[G], chayiym[H]) to the world (kosmos[G], laolam[H]).”
“They” That is, some of those present. It is impossible to know how many addressed Yeshua with this request.
“Lord” To call Yeshua Lord denotes respect but it does not reflect the inner being of those who are petitioning Him.
“Always give us this bread” This is an ironically insightful use of language, however, it is clear from their response later in the text, that they were seeking something other than what Yeshua was offering.
At Yeshua’s final Pesach (Passover) Seder meal one of those present reflected their first century Jewish understanding of the metaphysical nature of the Olam Haba (World to come/Kingdom of God & His Messiah King):
“When one of those who reclined at table with Him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” -Luke 14:15 (ESV)
Our sages say of the manna:
“in the manna were all kinds of tastes, and everyone of the Israelites tasted all that he desired; for so it is written in Devarim (Deut.) 2:7, "these forty years the Lord your God has been with you, you have lacked nothing", or "not wanted for anything"; what is anything? when he desired to eat anything, and said with his mouth, O that I had fat to eat, immediately there was in his mouth the taste of fat. Young men tasted the taste of bread, old men the taste of honey, and children the taste of oil.'' -Shemot Rabba, sect. 25. fol. 108. 4.
"whoever desired flesh, he tasted it, and whoever desired fish, he tasted it, and whoever desired fowl, chicken, pheasant, or pea hen, so he tasted whatever he desired.'' -Bamidbar Rabba, sect. 7. fol. 188. 1.
35 Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], YHVH Saves, Jesus, Joshua) said to them, “I Am, I exist, I’m present, I’m happening, I AM He (ego eimi [G], Anachiy hu[H]) the bread (ho artos[G], lechem[H]) of the life, living (ho zoe[G], ha-chayiym[H]); all (kol[H]) who come (ha-bah[H]) to Me (eme[G]) will not hunger, continue to be hungry (peinao[G]), and all who believe, are persuaded of, have placed confidence, trusted (pisteuo[G], yamiyn[H]) in Me (eme[G]) will never at any time, perpetually (popote[G], od[H]) suffer from thirst (dispsao[G]).
35 Yeshua said to them, “I Am, I exist, I’m present, I’m happening, I AM He the bread of the life, living; all who come to Me will not hunger, continue to be hungry, and all who believe, are persuaded of, have placed confidence, trusted in Me will never at any time, perpetually suffer from thirst.
“I AM, I Exist” This is the self-existing statement of God the Father (Ex. 3:14; Jn. 1:1-3; 6:20; 8:58). For the religiously observant Jewish reader there is no question that Yeshua is claiming deity.
“I Am the bread of perpetual living” Yeshua is not just a form of bread but is the eternally sustaining bread of the unbroken age (Olam Haba)
“all who come to Me will not hunger, continue to be hungry,” Coming to Yeshua is the first step in response to His invitation. One can’t believe, trust, without first having come.
The Kohen who wrote the book of Hebrews reminds us:
“But without faith it is impossible to please God: because in order for a person to come to God, that person must first believe that God exists, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” -Hebrews 11:6 (Author’s translation)
To hunger is to be devoid of the necessary fuel for existence. Therefore, to be free from hunger is to be perpetually energized.
“and all who believe in Me will never at any time, perpetually suffer from thirst.” Coming to God through Yeshua is the beginning, believing is a continuing act of the will and by its nature means the receipt of salvation (yeshuah). To thirst means to be devoid of the primary resource of life. To use modern terminology, the body is made up predominantly of water, and can survive not more than three days without it. How much more important then, are the metaphorical waters of eternal existence. Yeshua promises these mayiym chatiym (living waters) to all who continue to believe in Him.
36 And I (ve’Aniy[H]) behold, pay attention (hineih[H]) have spoken to you, since (hoti[G]) indeed (kai[G], gam[H]) you have seen, observed (horao[G], chaziytim[H]) Me (otiy[H]) with your eyes, and yet are not (lo[H]) persuaded, convinced, trusting, believing (pisteuo[G], te’miynu[H]).
36 And I, behold, pay attention, have spoken to you, since indeed you have seen, observed Me with your eyes, and yet are not persuaded, convinced, trusting, believing.
In other words. Yeshua is expounding on the concepts He has seeded in order to provide His hearers with the greatest possible opportunity to receive His teaching and come to repentance.
37 All [individually] (kol[H]) that My Father [the Father] (ho Pater[G], Aviy[H]) gives (yit’nenu[H], didomi[G]) Me will come (Yavo[H]) to Me (eme[G]), and the one who comes (erchomai[G], ve’haba[H]) to Me I will certainly not (lo[H]) cast, drive, send, repulse (ekballo[G], eh’dafenu[H]) outside (exo[G], hachutzah[H]).
37 All (individually) that My Father [the Father] gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast, drive, send, repulse outside.
In one verse the foolish debate pitting predestination against freewill is silenced. “All individually that my Father GIVES Me (Predestination)… and the one who comes to Me (Freewill)…”
Therefore the answer to the false choice “Freewill or Predestination?” is “Yes!”
Grace is offered to all but can only be received by the repentant.
Predestination can’t exist without Love. Love can’t be reciprocated without Freewill. Therefore, the Chooser, knowing the outcome, proposes relationship, and the chosen choose to be predestined.
Predestination is a fruit of God’s nature stemming from the fact that He sees the end from the beginning (something we are incapable of ). Freewill is the seed of our view from within time and space, that when fully grown produces the tree from which it came.
38 For (kiy[H]) I have not (lo[H]) come down (katabaino[G], yarad’tiy[H]) from (min[H]) the heavens (ouranos[G], ha-shamayim[H]) to do, make, accomplish (poieo[G], la’asot[H]) My own will, determinations, wishes (thelema[G], retzoniy[H]), but the will, determinations, wishes of Him (thelema[G], im-retzon[H]) Who sent Me (pempo[G], sholchiy[H]).
38 For I have not come down from the heavens to do, make, accomplish My own will, determinations, wishes, but the will, determinations, wishes of Him who sent Me.
Having descended from the Father in the heavens, Yeshua has come to do the will of the Father Who sent Him. The Hebrew “sholchiy” meaning sent me is related to the Hebrew Shaliyach, sent one, emissary or Apostle. In these terms Yeshua is the first and Ultimate Apostle. As is the case in all things, Yeshua submits His will to God’s will, thus showing the order and unity of the Godhead. The Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son but the Son is not outside the Father, and therefore He submits to the Father.
39 And this is (ve’zeh[H]) the will, determination, wish of Him [the Father] (thelema[G], retzon ha-Av[H]) Who sent Me (pempo[G], sh’lachaniy[H]), that of all [individually] (kol[H]) that He has given (didomi[G], hanitan[H]) Me I destroy, render useless (apollumi[G]) nothing (lo-yovar[H]), but raise it up (anistemi[G], akiymenu[H]) on [in] the extreme, uttermost, last (eschatos[G]) day (hemera[G]) [bayom ha-acharon[H]].
39 And this is the will, determination, wish of Him [the Father] Who sent Me, that of all [individually] that He has given Me I destroy, render useless nothing, but raise it up on [in] the extreme, uttermost, last day.
“All that He has given Me” Includes all creation and those human beings who have been predestined to become His. Note that nothing given to Yeshua will suffer destruction. The resurrection is the resurrection and transformation of the present body into a transcendent metaphysical body. We will not rise as spirits alone (a pagan Gnostic idea) but as a redeemed unity of body, mind, spirit, heart, soul, breath.
It’s interesting to note that the Zohar speaks in similar terms regarding the resurrection of the latter day:
ולא יתאביד כלום, "and not anything shall be lost", but all shall rise again; for, lo, it is said, Dan. 12:2, "and many of them that sleep in the dust", &c.'' -Zohar in Exod. fol. 43. 4.
40 For this is the will, determination, wish (thelema[G], retzon[H]) of My Father (Pater mou[G], Aviy[H]), that everyone individually (pas[G], kol[H]) who beholds, sees (theoreo[G], ha-roeh[H]) the Son (ho uihos[G], et ha-Ben[H]) and believes, is persuaded, trusts (pisteuo[G], uma’amiyn[H]) in Him will have, hold (echo[G]) eternal, perpetual, unending, life, living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]) [living in a perpetual world], and I Myself (ego[G], va’Aniy[H]) will raise him up (anistemi[G], akiymenu[H]) on [in] the extreme, uttermost, last (eschatos[G]) day (hemera[G]) [bayom ha-acharon[H]].”
40 For this is the will, determination, wish of My Father, that everyone individually who beholds, sees the Son and believes, is persuaded, trusts in Him will have, hold eternal, perpetual, unending, life, living [living in a perpetual world], and I Myself will raise him up on [in] the extreme, uttermost, last day.”
Note that all who believe will hold or have (past tense) unending life. This life begins upon receipt of Yeshua and not at the resurrection. Those who receive Yeshua have already begun to live eternally. The life a believer lives in Yeshua is transcendent by nature of His transcendent person dwelling within each believer.
“Yeshua said to her, ‘I Am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will continue to live, even if he dies.’” -Yochanan (John) 11:25
"They shall be gathered from their captivity, they shall sit under the shadow of their Messiah, "and the dead shall live", and good shall be multiplied in the land.'' -Targum Hosea 14:8
"the holy blessed God will quicken the righteous, and they shall not return to their dust.'' -T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 92. 1.
"the land (of the living), whose dead live first in the days of the Messiah.” -T. Hieros. Kilaim, fol. 32. 3.
It is said that Rabbi Jeremiah wanted to he buried with his clothes and shoes on, and his staff in his hand, so that when the Messiah came, he would be ready (T. Hieros. Kilaim, foi. 32. 3. col. 2.).
Kimchi says regarding Isaiah 66:5:
"They shall live at the resurrection of the dead, in the days of the Messiah.''
And regarding Jeremiah 23:20:
""ye" shall consider, and not "they" shall consider; which intimates the "resurrection of the dead in the days of the Messiah".''
Iben Ezra says regarding Daniel 12:2:
"The righteous which die in captivity shall live, when the Redeemer comes;''
41 Therefore the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) were grumbling, muttering, speaking in a low tone (gogguzo[G]) about Him (Yeshua), because He said, “I Am, I exist, I’m present, I’m happening, I AM He (Ego[G] eimi[G], Anochiy[H]) Him (hu[H]) the bread (ho artos[G], ha-lechem[H]) that came down (katabaino[G], hayoreid[H]) out of heavens (ho ouranos[G], min-hashamayim[H]).” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves), the son (uihos[G], ben[H]) of Yosef[H] (Joseph: YHVH adds), whose father (et aviyu[H]) and mother (et imo[H]) we know (yod’iym[H])? How does He now say, ‘I have come down (batiy[H]) out of the heavens (ek ho ouranos[G], min-hashamayim[H])?”
41 Therefore the Judeans, religious Jews were grumbling, muttering, speaking in a low tone about Him, because He said, “I am, I exist, I’m present, I’m happening, I AM He, Him the bread that came down out of heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Yeshua, the son of Yosef, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of the heavens?”
Those Judean religious Jews speaking about Yeshua (behind His back as it were) did so in a muttering low tone in order to speak ill of Him without Him being able to hear clearly. These same Judeans may have consisted of those who had been offended by His healing on the Shabbat during Purim in Jerusalem.
The Hebrew text makes it very clear why the Judeans were upset. In Hebrew Yeshua said “I Am Him the bread that came down from the heavens”. To them this could be heard as nothing short of blasphemy. The “I Am” phrase being the same as in the former use and referring to Yeshua’s deity.
Notice that these particular Judeans were familiar with the family of Yeshua. Perhaps even close to the family in community with them. They knew Yosef and Miriyam and were incredulous at the idea that an uneducated labourer’s son might claim such high standing.
“How does He now say” is equivalent to, “What qualifies him to speak this way?” or “This guy’s got a lot of chutzpah if He thinks He can get away with saying…”
43 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) answered and said to them, “Do not mutter, grumble, speak in a low tone (gogguzo[G]) among yourselves. 44 No one (oudeis[G]) is able, has the power to (dunamai[G]) come (erchomai[G], lavo[H]) to Me unless My Father [the Father] (ho Pater[G], Aviy[H]) Who sent (pempo[G], shelachaniy[H]) Me draws, drags (helkuo[G]) him; and I (Kago[G], va’Aniy[H]) will raise him up (anistemi[G], akiymenu[H]) on the extreme last (eschatos[G]) day (hemera[G]) [bayom ha-acharon[H]].
43 Yeshua answered and said to them, “Do not mutter, grumble, speak in a low tone among yourselves. 44 No one is able, has the power to come to Me unless My Father [the Father] Who sent Me draws, drags him; and I will raise him up on the extreme last day.
Yeshua rebukes them for their rudeness and explains their own incredulity to them. The Greek uses helkuo, meaning to drag, perhaps an allusion to the way His hearers will later come to faith in Him.
45 It is written (grapho[G], katuv[H]) in the Prophets (Prophetes[G], Neviyim[H]), ‘And they shall all (vekulam[H]) be taught (y’lamdu[H]) of God (Elohiym[H], Theos[G]).’ For yes (Lachein[H]), everyone individually (Pas[G], kol[H]) who has heard (shama[H]) and learned (v’lamad[H]) from (min[H]) the Father (ho Pater[G], ha-Av[H]), comes to Me (yavo eilay[H]). 46 Not that anyone human (Adam[H]) has seen the Father (ho Pater[G], et ha-Av[H]), except the One Who is from the God (ho Theos[G], ha-Elohiym[H]); He (Hu[H]) has seen (ra’ah[H]) the Father (ho Theos[G]), the God (et ha-Elohiym[H]).
45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ For yes, everyone individually who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone human has seen the Father, except the One Who is from the God; He has seen the Father, the God.
“And no man has ascended up to the heavens, except He Who came down from the heavens, even the Son of man Who is in the heavens.” -Yochanan (John) 3:13 (Author’s translation)
“It is written in the Prophets” Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:34; Micah 4:2. The Neviyim (the Prophets) is a section of the wider body of Hebrew Scripture (Tanakh) that collects the prophetic writings of God’s prophets.
“And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” - Isaiah 54:13 (KJV)
“And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” - Jeremiah 31:34 (KJV)
“and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” -Micah 4:2 (ESV)
The Zohar confines those being taught by God to the ethnic, religious, chosen people of Israel:
"they are truly taught of God from whom prophecy comes, which does not to all the world, but to Israel only, of whom it is written, "and all thy children are taught of God".''
47 Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, he who believes, is convinced, is persuaded, trusts, has, holds (echo[G]) eternal, perpetual, unending, life, living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]) [living in a perpetual world].
47 Amen Amen, In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, he who believes, is convinced, is persuaded, trusts, has, holds eternal, perpetual, unending, life, living.
As is always the case the double Amen is a testimony to the firmly established nature of that which Yeshua is about to say.
Once again it is affirmed that the person who believes in Yeshua already has life unending.
48 I am, I exist, I’m present, I’m happening, I AM He (ego eimi[G], Anochiy Hu[H]) the bread (ho artos[G], ha lechem[H]) of the life, the living (ho zoe[G], hachayiym[H]). 49 Your fathers (pateros[G], avoteiychem[H]) ate the manna (manna[G], ha man[H]: “What is it?”) in the wilderness (eremos[G], bamid’bar[H]: ba[in the] mi [from] davar [Word, essence, substance]), and they died (apothnesko[G], va’amutu[H]). 50 This is the bread (ho artos[G], ha lechem[H]) which comes down (katabaino[G], hayoreid[H]) out of the heavens (ho ouranos[G], min-hashamayim[H]), so that one may eat of it and not die (me apothnesko[G], velo yamut [H]).
48 I am, I exist, I’m present, I’m happening, I AM He the bread of the life, the living. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down out of the heavens, so that one may eat of it and not die.
Yet another “I Am” statement. The writer of John’s Gospel saturates His account with titles and figurative language pointing to the deity of Yeshua.
Yeshua reminds His hearers that the manna their forebears ate was temporal, resulting in the eventual death of their ancestors. Yeshua however was born in Beit Lechem “House of Bread”, the source of all sustenance, and He is the Bread of Eternal Living. The bread that once eaten will perpetuate a person’s life.
51 I am, I exist, I’m present, I’m happening, I AM He (ego eimi [G], Anachiy[H]) the bread (ho artos[G], ha lechem[H]), the living (ho zoe[G], hachayiym[H]) that came down (katabaino[G], hayoreid[H]) out of the heavens (ho ouranos[G], min-hashamayim[H]); if anyone eats of this one specific (toutou to[G]) bread (artos[G], lechem[H]), he will live (yich’yeh[H]), breathe (zao[G]) into (eis[G]) the unbroken age (ho aion[G], le’olam[H]) into the world everlasting; and the bread (ho artos[G], ha lechem[H]) also which I will give (didomi[G], et’nenu[H]) for the life, living (zoe[G], chayeiy[H]) of the world (ho kosmos[G], ha-olam[H]) is in My flesh (sarx[G], b’shariy[H]).”
51 I am, I exist, I’m present, I’m happening, I AM He the bread, the living, that came down out of the heavens; if anyone eats of this one specific bread, he will live, breathe into the unbroken age, into the world everlasting; and the bread also which I will give for the life, living of the world is in My flesh.”
“I AM, I Exist” This is the self-existing statement of God the Father (Ex. 3:14; Jn. 1:1-3; 6:20; 8:58).
“if anyone eats of this one specific (toutou to[G]) bread (artos[G], lechem[H])” The Greek text is interesting, leaving no room for a general or esoteric application of the bread Who is Yeshua. “This specific Yeshua (bread)” there is no other means of eternal sustenance.
Elsewhere Yochanan writes:
“Yeshua said to him, I Am Ha-Derekh (the way), Ha-Emet (the truth), and Ha-Chayiym (the life, living): no one person can come to the Father, except through, by, with Me.” -Yochanan (John) 14:6 YBYV
“Yeshua said to her, "I Am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will continue to live, even if he dies.” -Yochanan (John) 11:25
“he will live, breathe into the unbroken age, into the world everlasting” Notice that living and breathing are a unity. The Breath and Spirit are intrinsic and necessary. The Spirit of God is the breath of the believer Who maintains an unbroken life from the inception of belief into perpetuity.
“and the bread also which I will give for the life, living of the world is in My flesh.” Some so called “Messianics” teach a disconnect between these words and the symbolism alluded to by Yeshua concerning the bread (matzah) and the wine (Kos Ge’ulah) of Pesach (Passover). They’re wrong!
Unlike the synoptic Gospels Yochanan’s (John) Gospel does not allude to the symbolic use of the Pesach elements by Yeshua as pertaining to His body and blood. Therefore, the present text is an allusion to that which John does not mention elsewhere but is fundamentally important. Yeshua is saying that He will give His flesh, His human existence as a sacrifice so that those who believe might have the life eternal which He has promised. Therefore, there is an intrinsic connection between the present verse and the symbolic use of the matzot at Pesach (Passover). Yeshua is the Pesach Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.
52 Then the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) began to argue, fighting (machomai[G]) with one another, saying, “How can this man give (didomi[G]) us His flesh (sarx[G], b’saro[H]) to eat (phago[G, le’echol[H])?”
52 Then the Judeans, religious Jews began to argue, fighting with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”
“Then the Judeans, religious Jews began to argue, fighting with one another” We note that the Judean religious Jews were not in agreement over what Yeshua had said and done. Some were clearly of the opinion that there was value in Yeshua’s signs and mashaliym (parables, metaphors, allegories), while others were fiercely opposed to Yeshua’s teaching. Thus, there was an argument between the Judean religious Jews concerning what they perceived as a difficult teaching.
53 So Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) said to them, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say (Aniy omeir[H]) to you, unless you eat (phago[G], tochlu[H]) the flesh (ho sarx[G], et b’saro[H]) of the Son of the Man, humanity (ho uihos ho anthropos[G], ben ha-Adam[H]) and drink (pino[G], ush’tiytem[H]) His blood (aima[G], et damo[H]), you have, hold (echo[G]) no life, living (zoe[G], chayiym[H]) in (en[G]) yourselves (heautou[G], Qnoma[A]: underlying substance).
53 So Yeshua said to them, “Amen Amen, In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of the Man, humanity and drink His blood, you have, hold no life, living in yourselves.
“Amen Amen” This is firmly and eternally established truth. Listen, pay attention, hear, receive, understand, implement!
It is not as many suppose, that Yeshua’s Jewish hearers thought He was suggesting cannibalism or pagan ritual. They were used to rabbis speaking in mashaliym (parables) and using metaphorical sayings like these. To the contrary, they considered it a hard teaching because they understood that Yeshua was saying they must live and continue to live as He lived, and that somehow He was also saying that it was possible for His very substance to be received by them and enable them to live this way. It was not difficult because it was non-kosher but because it was hyper-kosher.
A similar idea is addressed by our rabbis in the Midrash Rabbah to Ecclesiastes 2:24 where the issue of food and drink in the grave is addressed:
“‘The days of his life’; and that alludes to the grave. So are there food and drink in the grave that accompany a person to the grave? Of course not. Therefore, ‘food and drink’ must mean Torah and mitzvot’” -Midrash Rabah to Ecclesiastes 2:24
The point being that it was common practice for the rabbis and sages of Judaism to use figurative and metaphorical language when addressing spiritual subjects that are beyond the paradigm of the present age. In this respect Yeshua’s teaching was no different from that of a number of His contemporaries.
54 He who chews (trogo[G]) My flesh (sarx[G], b’sariy[H]) and drinks (pino[G], vehashoteh[H]) My blood (aima[G], et dami[H]) has, holds (echo[G]) eternal, perpetual, unending, life, living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]) [living in a perpetual world], and I (Kago[G], va’Aniy[H]) will raise him up (anistemi[G], akiymenu[H]) on the extreme last (eschatos[G]) day (hemera[G]) [bayom ha-acharon[H]].
54 He who chews My flesh and drinks My blood has, holds eternal, perpetual, unending, life, living [living in a perpetual world], and I will raise him up on the extreme last day.
The Torah instructs us that “the life of the flesh is in the blood”. Yeshua is expounding the ultimate fulfilment of this phrase from the Torah. The blood of flesh affected by sin and subject to the temporal world is inevitably destroyed but the blood of God with us (Immanuel) is sinless, and having entered the world manifest as a human being, God Himself offers His blood to humanity so that we might transcend the limitations of the fallen creation and be born from above into eternal life through Yeshua, Who is God with us. It is Yeshua’s blood that has been given upon the altar to make atonement for all who receive Him.
“For the soul living of the flesh is in the blood; and Him I have given to all of you upon the altar to purge, make reconciliation upon your soul existence: for the blood, He is in the soul purging reconciliation.” -Vayikra (Leviticus) 17:11
“and I will raise him up on the extreme last day.” This phrase is completely consistent with the teaching and future hope of the P’rushiym (Pharisees). Yeshua is not alluding to anything new, He is simply illuminating the fullness of what is known and revealing its ultimate Goal, that is, Yeshua Himself (Romans 10:4).
55 For My flesh (sarx[G], b’sariy[H]) is true (alethes[G], be’emet[H]) food (brosis[G], ochel[H]), and My blood (aima[G], damiy[H]) is true (alethes[G], be’emet[H]) drink (posis[G], shikuy[H]). 56 He who chews (trogo[G], ochel[H]) My flesh (sarx[G], b’sariy[H]) and drinks (veshoteh[H]) My blood (aima[G], damiy[H]) abides, remains (meno[G], yaliyn[H]) in Me (en, biy[H]), and I (va’Aniy[H]) in him (vo[H]).
55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 He who chews My flesh and drinks My blood abides, remains in Me, and I in him.
“My flesh is true food” Here, “true” is synonymous with “indestructible”. The temporal food of the fallen creation does not qualify as “true” food because it perishes along with the body. But Yeshua’s flesh, His life, is true food and true drink because it does not perish. He is from everlasting to everlasting and is thus able to sustain all who come to God through Him.
“He who chews My flesh and drinks My blood abides, remains in Me, and I in him.” Notice the present and continuous verb “trogo” (chews, chewing). The act of eating Yeshua’s sacrificial way of living, the act of continuing to feed on His character and chew on His nature, is a perpetual exercise. Receiving Him is the beginning of an eternal meal. The present and continued practice of holiness born of faith.
“abides, remains in Me, and I in him.” Note that we who eat His flesh and drink His blood (metaphors) are related to Him in the same way that He is related to God. We are in Him and He is in us but we are never outside of Him.
57 Accordingly (kathos[G]) the living (ho zoe[G], hachay[H]) Father (Pater[G], ha Av[H]) sent (apostello[G], sh’lachniy[H]) Me, and I (Anochiy[H]) live, breathe (zao[G], chay[H]) through (dia[G]) of My Father (Aviy[H]) [the Father] (ho Pater[G]), so he who chews on (trogo[G], ha ochel[H]) Me, he also will live, breathe (zao[G], yich’yeh[H]) through (dia[G]) Me.
57 Accordingly the living Father sent Me, and I live, breathe through of My Father, so he who chews on Me, he also will live, breathe through Me.
Once again Yeshua gives all glory back to the Father Who has given all glory to the Son. Yeshua never fails to submit His ministry to the Father. In this example we find the nature of the One Whom we seek to abide in.
The life of the disciple of Yeshua is lived in, through and with Him, and this of the Father. Ultimately all life is from God.
It is worth noting the very similar ideas expressed in the Talmud Bavliy:
“Says Rab, the Israelites shall "eat" the years of the Messiah: says R. Joseph, it is certainly so; but who shall "eat him?" shall Chellek and Billek (two judges in Sodom) אכלי לה אכלוהו, "they ate him" in the days of Hezekiah.” -T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 2. & 99. 1.
Therefore, the sages taught that sinners ate the Messiah (Metaphorically speaking) in the days of Hezekiah. This agrees with Yeshua's message of redemption from sin through the eating of His flesh (Metaphorical). In other words, only the person who admits to being a sinner can receive and benefit from Yeshua's substitutionary sacrificial blood.
58 This is the bread (ho artos[G], ha lechem[H]) which came down (katabaino[G], hayoreid[H]) out of the heavens (ho ouranos[G], min-hashamayim[H]); not as your fathers (pateros[G], avoteiychem[H]) who ate (phago[G], ochel[H]) and died (apothnesko[G], yamutu[H]); he who eats chews on (trogo[G], ochel[H]) this specific (touton ho[G]) bread (artos[G], lechem[H]) will live, breathe (zao[G], yich’yeh[H]) into (eis[G]) the (ho[G]) unbroken age (aion[G]), the world perpetual (leolam[H]).”
58 This is the bread which came down out of the heavens; not as your fathers who ate and died; he who eats chews on this specific bread will live, breathe into the unbroken age, the world perpetual.”
Yeshua reaffirms the fact that He is the “True” eternal manna from the heavens which will remain, as opposed to the temporal manna of Israel’s forebears, which perished.
59 These things (devariym[H]) He (Yeshua) said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum (K’far Nachum[H]).
59 These things He (Yeshua) said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
As discussed in previous articles, K’far Nachum was the home town of Yeshua’s ministry years. Appropriately named “Village of Comfort”.
60 Therefore many of His disciples (mathetes[G], talmidim[H]), when they heard this said, “This is a hard (sleros[G], kasheh[H]) word (logos[G], ha-davar[H]); who is able (dunamai[G]) to hear it (akouo[G], lish’ma[H])?”
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a hard word; who is able to hear it?”
Take careful note that these are His disciples (not the twelve but the wider following), and not the Judean religious Jews (though some of them may be included). Therefore, it is those who have been following Yeshua who have decided that what He is saying is too hard to accept (which is what “hear” infers).
Let me repeat, it is not as many suppose, that Yeshua’s Jewish hearers thought He was suggesting cannibalism or pagan ritual. They were used to rabbis speaking in mashaliym (parables) and using metaphorical sayings like these. To the contrary, they considered it a hard teaching because they understood that Yeshua was saying they must live and continue to live as He lived, and that somehow He was also saying that it was possible for His very substance to be received by them and enable them to live this way. It was not difficult because it was non-kosher but because it was hyper-kosher.
“This is a hard word” A hard word or case is one that is difficult to discern by using common sense. The Torah alludes to this very thing in regard to the judgements of Moses:
“And they judged the people at all times. Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves.” -Exodus 18:26 (ESV)
The point is that Yeshua the “Prophet” like Moses, is the One Who must be looked to in order for this “hard word” to be adjudicated.
In rabbinical Judaism the phrase “hard saying (word)” is used in the same way:
מה הדבר קשה, "is this an hard saying with you?"'' -Mishnah. Nidda, c. 8, sect. 3.
61 But Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], YHVH Saves, Jesus, Joshua), seeing, discerning, perceiving (eido[G]) that His disciples (mathetes[G], talmidim[H]) muttered, grumbled, spoke in hushed tones (gogguzo[G]) at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble (skandalizo[G], l’mich’shol[H])?
61 But Yeshua, seeing, discerning, perceiving that His disciples muttered, grumbled, spoke in hushed tones at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble?
The wider body of disciples had fallen into the same disbelieving and rude behaviour of those who had been confronting Yeshua. Therefore, Yeshua gives them an opportunity to repent. Put simply He is saying, “Will you choose to walk in the light of My teaching, even when it’s hard, or will you choose to stumble over My teaching like those walking in darkness?”
62 What then if you become spectators watching (theoreo[G]) the Son (ho uihos[G]) of Man (anthropos[G]) [ben ha-Adam[H]] ascending (anabaino[G], oleh[H]) to where He was before (proteron[G])?
62 What then if you become spectators watching the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?
Yeshua qualifies His challenge by pointing out that “harder things (devariym, from Davar)” are yet to come, such as the death and resurrection of the Son of Man and His ascension to the Father in the heavens. In other words, “If you can’t navigate the present teaching how will you make sense of the ultimate fulfilment of it?”
63 It is the Spirit (ho pneuma[G], ha-Ruach[H]) Who gives (hanotein[H]) living (chayiym[H]), bears living (zoopoieo[G]); the flesh (ho sarx[G], ha-basar[H]) profits nothing; the words, substance, essence, spoken things (ho rhema[G], hadevariym[H]) that I have spoken to you are Spirit (pneuma[G], ruach[H]) and are living (zoe[G], chayiym[H]). 64 But there are some of you who do not believe, trust (ya’amiynu[H]).” For Yeshua knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe (ma’amiyniym[H]), and who His betrayer (ha-moseir[H]) would be.
63 It is the Spirit Who gives living, bears living; the flesh profits nothing; the words, substance, essence, spoken things that I have spoken to you are Spirit and are living. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe, trust.” For Yeshua knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who His betrayer would be.
“It is the Spirit Who gives birth to life” This is an allusion to the beginning of creation and the Spirit of God brooding over the deep. This illuminates the phrase “Yeshua knew from the beginning… who His betrayer would be.”
It is not a spirit but the Spirit of God Who gives life.
“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God hovered, brooded, nurtured upon the face of the waters.” -Bereishit (Genesis) 1:2
“the flesh profits nothing” This is not a Gnostic teaching as some suppose, it does not mean that all physical things are “evil”. Flesh here refers specifically to the sin affected flesh of fallen humanity. Because the fallen nature and its flesh will perish the specific form of flesh in question profits nothing.
“the words, substance, essence, spoken things that I have spoken to you are Spirit and are living.” The word of Yeshua is of the same Spirit Who brooded over creation and are therefore perpetual and living, never perishing.
65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one is able to (dunamai[G]) come to Me unless it has been given (didomi[G]) him from the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]).” 66 As a result of this many of His disciples (mathetes[G], talmidim[H]) withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one is able to come to Me unless it has been given him from the Father.” 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
Yeshua’s words may have seemed overly harsh to those who had been following Him so faithfully for so long. However, Yeshua was intentionally weeding out those who would fail to perpetuate faith in Him. Many believers today choose to be offended by the hard teaching of some, not because the teaching is error but because it has exposed their sin and challenged them to pursue a deeper faith.
67 So Yeshua said to the twelve, “You don’t want to go away also, do you?” 68 Shimon[H] (Hears God) Kefa[H] (Peter: Rock) answered Him, “Lord (Kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), to whom shall we go? You have words, utterances, spoken things (rhema[G], divreiy[H]) of eternal living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]).
67 So Yeshua said to the twelve, “You don’t want to go away also, do you?” 68 Shimon Kefa answered Him, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have words, utterances, spoken things of eternal living.
Peter, is speaking on behalf of the twelve, note that He says “to whom shall we go?” He responds to Yeshua in humility. Peter is not saying that He or the twelve are finding Yeshua’s words “easy”, to the contrary, they too are finding Yeshua’s teaching “hard”, rather Peter is saying, “We know you, we trust Your character, we see Your nature, we are witness to Your sinless life, Your teaching is difficult to receive but it’s Your teaching which we believe is from God, so, to whom will we go but You? You are speaking eternity into our temporal existence.”
Where the many disciples who left Yeshua failed through pride, Peter and the twelve remained through humility. They too found Yeshua’s teaching hard, but rather than allow their own inability to understand guide their decision making they instead chose to trust in Yeshua, His nature, character and His relationship with them. Like the disciples of Yeshua we too must learn that the person of Yeshua, the person of God is our certain secure peace, and not temporal things, events or circumstances. The hard things that come from God are worthwhile because they pierce and illuminate the complacent ease of the darkness. We don’t receive the hard things because they are hard but because they are from God.
69 We have believed, are convinced, trust (pisteuo[G]) and have come to learn, know (ginosko[G]) that You are the most Holy (hagios[G], k’dosh[H]) One of the God (ho Theos[G], ha Elohiym[H]).”
69 We have believed, are convinced, trust and have come to learn, know that You are the most Holy One of the God.”
Peter echoes the sentiment held by the twelve. They have come to know Yeshua’s person, His character, and the testimony of His deeds, and they are convinced that He is the promised holy One of God.
70 Yeshua answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a slanderer, accuser (diabolos[G], satan[H])?”
70 Yeshua answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a slanderer, accuser?”
Yeshua chose His own betrayer. God is in control of all things. To have security in the storm is to know that God is in the storm.
Both the Hebrew satan and Greek diabolos mean slanderer or accuser. Neither word is a noun unless qualified and if qualified by the definite article “The”, each word refers to that individual “the Satan”. In the present case the text is speaking of an accuser, Yehudah the disciple. He is not “the Satan”, he is an accuser (satan).
71 Now He meant Yehudah[H] (Judah, Judas) the son of Shimon Iysh k’riyot (Simon a man of the town), for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.
71 Now He meant Yehudah the son of Shimon Iysh k’riyot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.
It is sadly ironic that the King born of Yehudah is to be betrayed by Yehudah from the tribe of Yehudah. Yehudah was the son of a man from the village of K’riyot. It is interesting to note that in modern Hebrew K’riyot means “collisions” or “crashes”. So the name of Judas Iscariot meant Praise the son of a man of collisions.
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2020
Sefer Yochanan (Gospel According to John) Chapter 6 Pt.1The Work of God is to Believe in the One Whom He Has Sent (John 6:1-33)
“For near to you all is Ha-Davar (The Word), meod, very much so, in your mouth, and in your inner being, so that you might accomplish, do, act accordingly.” -D’variym (Words) Deuteronomy 30:14
All that follows is pursuant to the rebuke that Yeshua has leveled toward His Judean religious accusers following the making whole of the lame man at the pool of Beit Chasda in Jerusalem on the weekly Shabbat during Purim celebrations.
6:1 After these things Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) went away over (peran[G]) the body of water, lake (thalassa[G], yam[H]) of the Galilee (Galilaias[G], ha-Galiyl[H]) the Tiberias (ho Tiberiados[G]). 2 A large (polus[G], ha-mon[H], rav[H]) crowd of common people (ochlos[G], am[H]) followed Him, because they saw the signs (semeion[G], otot[H]) which He was making, constructing, causing (poieo[G], asah[H]) on those being sick, weak (astheneo[G], ha-choliym[H]).
“These things” are the miraculous healing of the lame man at the pool of Beit Chasda in Jerusalem, and the rebuke that Yeshua had levelled at His religious opponents regarding the legitimacy of His identity, His teaching and His authority regarding the Shabbat.
Therefore, Yeshua and His talmidim (disciples), followed by a large number of common people, had made the journey from Jerusalem to the Galilee region following Purim (see my commentary on John 5). They had arrived in the Galilee region at least three days after the cessation of Purim celebrations and it was now close to the time of Pesach (Passover), which occurs just over a month after Purim. The text says that Yeshua went over the lake, probably to an area several kilometres south-east of Bethsaida (Philip’s home town), across the lake and east of Capernaum, north east of and a greater distance away from Tiberias, which is situated at approximately the half way point on the western shore of the lake of Galilee.
The Gospel writer’s allusion to “The Tiberias” is, contrary to popular opinion, not a concession to non-Jewish readers but rather an allusion to the illegitimate authority of the Emperor Tiberias after whom the location was named, and the subsequent illegitimate authority of Rome in general. To usurp the native name of this area (Rakkat “shore” - Joshua 19:35) is an act of occupation on the part of Rome. The Hebrew Galiyl means “circuit, perpetuity”. HaShem has promised this land to Israel (Ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) [Naphtali] in perpetuity.
“because they saw the signs” This means that those who followed Yeshua had either seen the signs He had previously performed in the Galilee region or had seen Him perform signs at the Regaliym (Going up festivals: Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot) or both. The crowd was a crowd of Jews, Israelis (Ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen), seeking the physical redemption of the people of Israel from Roman oppression. We note that the people were following Him “because they saw the signs” and not necessarily because they believed in Him. This is made evident in their request for a further sign in order to prove His identity as the delivering “Prophet” promised by God through Moses (John 6:30; Deut.18:15-19).
“Signs” Not just miracles but “otot” signs plural, of God’s manifest power designed to point Israel to repentance and reconciliation to God. The same Hebrew word is used to describe the signs performed by God in Egypt and through His prophets.
3 Then Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) went up on the mountain (ha-har[H]) , and there He sat down with His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]).
“The mountain” Whichever mountain this is it is a significant land mark of the Galilee. It is not called “a mountain” but “the mountain”. It is very likely one of the peeks on the upper eastern shore of the Galilee just below Bethsaida (Beiyt Tzaida: House of the hunt).
Mountains were places of solitude and introspection, and are connected to the expounding of God’s Word (Moses Exodus 19:3; Elijah 1 Kings 19:11). The sides of hills and mountains are also an ideal location to teach from. Situated on the side of a mountain or high hill, a first century Jewish teacher could speak at a moderate volume and be heard by a large crowd gathered at the foot of the mountain in a natural amphitheatre. This type of scenario can be seen as far back as the giving of the Torah at Sinai. The Galilee was an ideal location for this style of teaching given the mountain ranges on both sides of the lake and the natural amphitheatres that have formed in the terrain nearby.
It was Yeshua’s practice to draw aside with His core group of disciples for a period of solace and teaching prior to public speaking and sign working (Matt.5:1; Luke 9:10 etc). Yeshua shows concern for the whole health and well-being of His talmidim, knowing that public ministry takes its toll mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Yeshua leads by example, often going away by Himself to commune with the Father in order to refuel and refocus His energies (Matt.14:23; Luke.6:12 etc). In this also He was not unlike Moses (Exodus 19:3-25).
A great deal can be learned by modern believers from this practice of Yeshua. We are fools to work tirelessly without rest when HaShem has commanded (not suggested) regular rest. God does not need our help but He allows us to participate in His work according to His guidelines. Failure to obey God’s rhythms of rest results in burn out and disillusionment.
Sitting was the preferred position from which the religious teachers of first century and later rabbinical Judaism taught their adherents.
“"The master sits at the head, or in the chief place, and the disciples before him in a circuit, like a crown; so that they all see the master, and hear his words; and the master may not sit upon a seat, and the scholars upon the ground; but either all upon the earth, or upon seats: indeed from the beginning, or formerly, היה הרב יושב "the master used to sit", and the disciples stand; but before the destruction of the second temple, all used to teach their disciples as they were sitting.'' -Maimonides, Hilch. Talmud Torah, c. 4. sect. 2.
4 Now the Passover (Pascha[G], ha-Pesach[H]), the festival (Chag[H]) of the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]), was coming near (lavo[H]).
Note that the observance of Pesach and its intrinsic connection to Yeshua is of utmost importance to the Gospel writer.
Why does the Gospel writer mention this? First, it is because of Yeshua’s intrinsic link to the Passover and His role as the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world”. Second, it places the chronology in firm order, Purim having just passed and Pesach (Passover) being the next closest festival. Third, the pursuant event, the sign of the feeding of the five thousand men of Israel is premised by a perceived inability to purchase and provide bread. In the weeks prior to Passover Jewish homes would have been slowly reducing their bread supplies, using up excess yeast and setting aside grain to be used for matzot (unleavened bread). Subsequently only a small amount of bread would have been available at the time of these events, this in addition to the cost of feeding so many. All of this is pretext to the sign which Yeshua was about to perform.
Five Loaves, Two Small Fishes
(Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15)
To set the stage for this miraculous sign (the only miraculous sign that is recorded in all four Gospels) we must look at where it falls in relation to the surrounding text of each account.
Matthew’s version is preceded by the unbelief of Yeshua’s home town synagogue and the description of the beheading of Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist, the cousin of Yeshua), then following the sign of the loaves and fishes Peter attempts to walk on water.
Mark’s account is preceded by the unbelief of Yeshua’s home town synagogue and the sending out of the twelve, two by two, after which the beheading of Yochanan (John) is described, then the twelve return; the miracle of the loaves and fishes is followed by the walking on water sign.
Luke’s narrative has the sending out of the twelve, the description of Yochanan’s (John’s) beheading, and the return of the twelve: then the loaves and fishes followed by the “Who do you say I am,” statement of Yeshua and later the transfiguration.
John’s version is unique in that it is preceded by Yeshua attending a feast (Purim) in Jerusalem and being rejected by those who opposed him there, Yeshua explains the Father God’s testimony of Messiah and that Moses will judge the people for their rejection of Him. The writer of the Gospel According to John then alerts the reader to the fact that Passover is at hand. The loaves and fishes event is still followed by the crossing to Capernaum and the walking on water, but is then proceeded by an extensive discussion concerning Moses and the manna from heaven which is to be understood as a metaphor in reference to Messiah Yeshua, “the bread of life.”
While we don’t know the exact time frames associated to the ordering of these events we can still deduce the writers’ intended theological and contextual meanings in relation to their accounts of the sign of the loaves and fishes. All the surrounding events and meanings give insight as to the reason for this important (even pivotal) event in Yeshua’s ministry.
Prior to looking at the specific details of John’s Gospel account I will address the chronological and thematic elements using the main themes from each of the four accounts as a combined whole. This of course presumes that this was a singularly unique event recorded by each of the Gospel writers.
Both Matthew and Mark record a second event that took place in the region of the Decapolis, a predominantly Gentile location. The feeding of the five thousand, the sign of the loaves and fishes took place near the city of Bethsaida (House of the hunt or House of fishing), a predominantly Jewish area, and close to Yeshua’s home in the Galilee region. The fact that the four Jewish writers of the Gospels (I am not alone in seeing Luke as a Jew) all saw fit to include this sign, indicates it’s importance: symbolically, historically, religiously, prophetically, nationally, spiritually and metaphorically.
The united themes of this event read chronologically as follows:
· Yeshua in Jerusalem for a Jewish feast (Purim)
· The testimony of the Father God (on behalf of the Son) Yeshua (a firstborn)
· Yeshua warns that Moses will judge the disbelief of the religious leaders
· Rejection of Yeshua by the people of His home town
· Yeshua sends out the twelve disciples, two by two
· Yeshua grieves over the loss of John the Immerser (Baptist) His cousin (a firstborn)
· The disciples return from their travels throughout Israel’s Jewish towns
· The time of Passover was at hand
· The sign of the loaves and fishes
· The sign of walking on water
· The discussion concerning manna, “the bread of life,” back in Capernaum (Links Yeshua to Moses)
· The transfiguration recorded in Luke’s account (Links Yeshua to Moses)
Overview of the chronology of events:
Yeshua in Jerusalem for a feast (Purim):
A number of scholars suggest that this was the Passover feast of the previous year, meaning that what follows took place at the beginning of the Passover of the following year. However, this is extremely unlikely given the consistent chronology of John’s Gospel and the language used. As I have shown in my commentary on John 4 and 5, the feast in question is almost certainly Purim.
Yeshua was affirmed by the Father’s testimony:
God the Father has testified throughout Scripture concerning His Son Yeshua. He had also poured out the Holy Spirit in a public show of glory over His Son and had testified saying, “this is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” Yeshua need not explain Himself to the people on the basis of the required Torah instruction concerning two or three human witnesses. His witnesses were God the Father and the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) and the signs He performed. God the Father had given comprehensive testimony to the validity of Yeshua’s ministry, authority and Kingship over Israel and all the earth. Following the sign of the loaves and fishes, Yeshua’s command over the raging waters was proof yet again to His disciples, of God’s testimony of Him.
Yeshua warns that Moses will be Israel’s judge regarding their disbelief in Him:
The centrality of the Jewish reliance on the Torah of Moses is key to understanding the sign of the loaves and fishes. The Jewish people of Yeshua’s time expected a prophet, a miracle worker and a Messiah who presented in accordance to their understanding of the words of Moses as taught to them by their religious leaders. The man they were looking for would perform miracles similar to those of Elijah and Elisha, he would show signs like those of Moses and He would reign in power as the son of David, over Israel and all the nations of the earth according to the prophecies of the Tanakh (OT). Many of these expectations were about to be manifested before their eyes. Therefore Moses would be their judge, for he had written clearly the prophetic words that would prove Yeshua’s rightful position as the one who would be like Moses (Deut.18:15-19).
Rejection of Yeshua in His home town:
His own friends and wider family/community rejected Him because they believed Him to be of common birth, they were jealous of Him. This is not an uncommon response to the prophets of Israel as testified to by the lives of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos and so on. Their treatment of Him later became a testimony to His identity.
Yeshua sends out His disciples, two by two:
This was a ministering of the twelve to Israel, hence twelve disciples. Later in Luke’s Gospel narrative (Luke 10:1-17; ) a new Sanhedrin of sorts is sent out to minister to the wider towns and spread the good news to other nationalities, thus seventy, the Hebrew number representing the nations. However the events surrounding the sign of the loaves and fishes pertain specifically to Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) and not to the Decapolis and other surrounding areas.
Two by two may be a correlation with the Ark: used as a metaphor here for the repopulating of the earth with immersed (baptized, a type for the flood) spiritual children. The news of God’s kingdom as taught by Messiah Yeshua was to be made known to the tribes of Israel prior to the sign of the loaves and fishes. When Israel was in slavery in Egypt, word of Moses actions needed time to spread to them prior to their coming out of Egypt into the wilderness.
Yeshua grieves over the loss of John the Immerser (Baptist):
When Yeshua heard of the death of John the Immerser (Baptist) we are told that He retreated to a deserted place by Himself. He was clearly greatly grieved by the death of His cousin and perhaps reminded of His own destiny. He shows us an example of turning to the only one who can truly comfort us in times of great sorrow. The Father is often beheld in deserted places of solitude (Exodus 3; 1 Kings 17:1-5). The disciples must have returned to the vicinity with Him because Mark’s version of events has them retreat with Him after the death of John. It is interesting to note that John’s disciples came and took his body away for burial, while Yeshua’s disciples fled after His death.
Passover is at Hand:
Barley is the first grain harvested in Israel at this time of the year. Leaven/yeast is removed from homes, and food without leaven is eaten. Leaven/yeast symbolizes sin in Judaism. Jews from all over the known world would head up to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, which is one of the three Regaliym (Aliyot Moadim—going up festivals/Sabbaths).
The sign of the Loaves and Fishes:
The Passover was near, Jews from the known world were on their way to Jerusalem and had heard of this mysterious prophet of God. Perhaps some detoured to find Him? What is certain is that all had cleaned their homes and traveling gear of yeast (the Biblical symbol of sin) and were preparing their hearts to celebrate deliverance from slavery. They were also hoping for deliverance from Roman rule.
Luke tells us that following the sign the day was drawing to a close, so that it was toward the late afternoon.
Upon seeing the crowd Yeshua says to Philip (the obvious person to ask because he came from the nearby town of Bethsaida—John 1:44), “Where can we buy bread for all these people?” He said this to prove Philip. Does that mean Yeshua wasn’t sure of Philip’s loyalty and so had to test him? No, of course not. When God with us/Yeshua seeks to prove someone it is for that person’s benefit. We could say, “Yeshua sought to make Philip aware of the extent of his own faith in Yeshua/God with us.” Philip’s response sets up the sign, by his reasoning that the request is humanly impossible. Andrew adds to the confusion by saying, “Hey, there’s a young boy here with five (probably unleavened, because Passover is at hand) loaves and a couple of small fish (probably the local sardines), but that’s not going to feed all these people.”
Yeshua doesn’t miss a beat, “Have the people recline (Passover terminology) together in groups.” There was a large grass area there, probably at the base of the hill/mountain where the disciples had been with Yeshua (thus creating a natural amphitheatre for what would come next).
Yeshua took the loaves and said the b’rakha for bread (ha-motzi) and began to distribute them to the crowd. He then did the same with the fish. All accounts indicate that either Yeshua alone or both Yeshua and the disciples were involved in distributing the food directly to the people, this would dispel the foolish conjecture that suggests the people simply brought out their lunches and shared them. Most Jews attending an Aliyah festival like Passover would travel light, expecting to buy food on the way, hence Yeshua’s question to Philip prior to the miracle. In addition, the fact that Yeshua suggested the crowd go and buy food infers that they did not already have food.
This miraculous feeding of such a large group of Jewish men (5,000), plus women and children, a total of approx. 19-28,000 (Matt.14:21); is reminiscent of Moses’ (God’s) feeding of Israel with manna and quail in the desert. Manna being the miraculous bread of heaven and quail being the common bird of that area. Here the manna will be later explained figuratively as referring to Messiah Yeshua Himself. The small fish (probably sardines) is a common catch from the Lake.
Three types of fish were primarily sought by fishermen in antiquity in these waters. Sardines are the most likely candidates for the, “two small fish" that the young man brought to the feeding of the five thousand. Sardines and bread were the staple food and traded product of the locals. The second type of fish, Barbels receive their name from the barbs at the corners of their mouths. The third type is called Musht but is more popularly known today as "St. Peter's Fish." This fish has a long dorsal fin which looks like a comb and can be up to 45cm long and 1.5 kgs. in weight.
The barley bread (eaten predominantly by the poorer classes) brought by the young boy was most likely unleavened, given that Passover was at hand (the leaven is always cleaned from Jewish homes and meals prior to Passover), and that the miracle is followed by a discussion that relates manna (unleavened heavenly bread) to the body of Messiah Yeshua (who is without sin, remembering that in first century Judaism yeast is seen as a symbol of sin).
After the meal Yeshua says, “Gather up the fragments that are left over so that none of them may be lost.” Why is the gathering of the left overs so important to Yeshua? Perhaps the number of baskets is a clue, there are twelve, the number of disciples, but more importantly, the number of the tribes of Israel. It is possible that this was meant as a symbol or metaphor for the reconciliation of Israel to God at the end of time. Shaul/Paul the shaliach (apostle) tells us that when the allotted number of the members of the nations have come to faith, that the entire remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) will be saved. (Romans 11:25-26)
The Sign of Walking on Water:
This shows Messiah’s authority over creation (as the second Adam). This sign affirms Him again as the prophesied one. Elisha, in a somewhat lesser sense also exhibited the authority of God over the natural order of creation when he made the axe head float. (2 Kings 6:4-7) Similarities to the great prophets in the ministry of Yeshua were proofs of His authenticity.
The Discussion (back in Capernaum) Concerning Moses, Manna, and the Bread of Life:
The link between the sign of the manna in the desert and the feeding of the five thousand is unmistakable. The “Bread of life,” discourse was intended to be strengthened by the recently performed sign of the loaves and fishes. Yeshua was revealing Himself as the manna from heaven, the bread of life. The crowd asks for a sign, seemingly immune to the obvious sign that has just been performed. Yeshua points them away from Moses and toward the Father God saying, “It was not Moses that gave you the manna, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.” They respond, “Give us this bread from heaven.” Yeshua answers, “I am the bread of life!”
Yeshua reminds His people that their fathers ate manna and died (the death unto judgment). Yeshua was now offering Himself, the bread of life. Those who eat the life of Messiah will never die. Why did the forefathers die? Through disobedience. Therefore Yeshua is warning that failure to accept His manna will result in eternal death. This He had already pretexted prior to the miracle when He was in Jerusalem warning the people that Moses would be their judge. It was Moses who stood as a mediator regarding the manna in the desert. Now Messiah Yeshua is claiming to be the manifest manna and mediator of God, all wrapped up in one.
It is interesting to note the words of Rabbi Isaac who wrote:
“as the former redeemer caused manna to descend (referring to Moses)… so will the later Redeemer cause manna to descend.” Ecclesiastes Rabbah on Ec. 1:9
The bread of life discourse does not refer to pagan magic practice regarding the consummation of power through blood drinking as some have supposed. Yeshua is talking to Jews who despise their Roman rulers and abhor the pagan Roman worship practices however this discourse is offensive to them, not because of pagan links, but because of its seeming direct contradiction to the Torah. Yeshua, did not act outside of rabbinical practice when he used the metaphor of his flesh and blood as a teaching tool. What is clear is that Yeshua was miss understood, not only by the crowd but also by His own disciples.
Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36):
This event links Yeshua again to both Elijah and Moses, affirming the theme of the narrative surrounding the miracle of the loaves and fishes. This event may well have taken place months later, perhaps even during the feast of Sukkot (booths), given the offer of Peter to build shelters/Sukkot.
5 Therefore Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves), lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large (polus[G], rav[H]) crowd (ochlos[G], am[H]) of common people was coming to Him, said (lego[G], vayomeir[H]) to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread (artos[G], lechem[H]) so that these may eat?”
As stated previously, it is likely that Yeshua asked Philip this question in part because these events were taking place close to Philip’s home town of Bethsaida.
In the natural the question “Where are we to buy bread…” is reasonable given that Passover is approaching and bread supplies are diminished among those traveling to Jerusalem for the Aliyah Festival.
6 This He was saying to prove, raise a banner for, give a directive sign to (peirazo[G], nasot[H]) him (Philip), for He Himself knew (eido[G], yada[H]) what He was about to do (poieo[G], ya’asah[H]).
“Therefore” means, because it was close to Passover and the crowd was large in size. Why is the proximity of Passover important? Because it infers that many of those gathered were pilgrims heading toward Jerusalem for Passover and thus lacking yeast and keeping grain set aside for matzot (unleavened bread). As mentioned earlier Yeshua was not “testing” Philip, Yeshua already knew what the outcome would be, rather He was proving to Philip the nature of his faith and the reality of Yeshua’s identity. Philip would later ask Yeshua to reveal the Father God to him:
“7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? -John 14:7-9 (NASB)
7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii (half a year’s wages) worth of bread (artos[G], lechem[H]) is not enough for them, not even for everyone to receive a small piece each.” 8 One (heis[G], echad[H]) of His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]), Andrew, Shimon Kefa (Simon: Hears God Peter’s: Rock) brother (achiy[H]), said to Him, 9 “Behold (hinei[H]) there is a young boy (paidarion[G], na’ar[H]) here who has five barley (krithinos[G]), loaves (artos[G]) and two small fish (opsarion[G]), dagiym[H]) but what are these for so many?”
Barley loaves indicate two things: first, the wheat harvest had not yet come and second, those present were predominantly lower class. The higher class had wheat grain remaining from the previous year’s harvest whereas the lower class lived from yield to yield and ate what was seasonally available.
The five loaves amounted to a loaf for each group of a thousand men.
10 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) said (lego[G], vayomeir[H]), “Have the people (ha-am[H]) recline (anapipto[G], lashevet[H]).” Now there was much grass (chortos[G]) in the place. So the men (aner[G]) reclined (anapipto[G]), numbering about five thousand. 11 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) then took the loaves (artos[G]), and having said the b’rakha[H] blessing [given thanks] (eucharisteo[G]), He distributed to those who were reclining; He did the same with the small fish (opsarion[G], dagiym[H]) as much as they wanted.
Note that Yeshua says a blessing prior to the bread but that no mention is made of a blessing over the fish, this is in keeping with Jewish religious practice. The blessing for the bread is always said prior to eating it whereas the blessing for the meal (including the fish) is said following the meal in accordance with Deut. 8:10. Note further that in John’s account it is Yeshua Who personally distributes the bread and fish to the crowd, continuing to do so until they’d had “as much as they wanted”.
Five thousand Jewish men plus women and children, a total of approx. 19-28,000 (Matt.14:21).
Five loaves, one loaf for every thousand Jewish men. Two small fish,
12 When they were fully satisfied (empiplemi[G]), He said to His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]), “Gather together the leftover broken pieces (klasma[G]) so that nothing will perish, be destroyed, be lost, (apollumi[G]).” 13 So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces (klasma[G]) from the five barley loaves which were left by those who had eaten.
Notice that all present were Jews (Israelites) and that 12 baskets of broken pieces representing the twelve tribes of Israel were collected after they had eaten by the twelve disciples of Yeshua. This is a figure for the redemption of all ethnic religious Israel at the end of the age, through Yeshua the King Messiah (Romans 11:25-26).
The collection of food remnants was a rabbinical practice, the destruction of food over a certain size being prohibited in Jewish Halakhic law (Talmud Bavliy Shabbat 50b, 147b). The principal being that nothing is to be wasted.
14 Therefore when the people (anthropos[G], ha-anashiym[H]) saw the sign (semeion[G], et-ha-ot[H]) which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet (prophetes[G], ha-navi[H]) who is to come into the world.”
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. 16 This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’ 17 The Lord said to me, ‘they have spoken well. 18 I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.19 It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.”
D’varim/Deuteronomy 18:15-19 (NASB)
15 So Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves), perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king (basileus[G], melekh[H]), withdrew again to the mountain (ha-har[H]) by Himself alone.
Yeshua could not allow His people to make Him King or force Him to lead a rebellion against Rome because He had come according to Isaiah 53 to be the suffering servant Who would take away their sin. Yeshua will one day come as the victorious King to rule over Israel and the nations on the throne of David according to the wealth of prophecy from the Tanakh. But this could not happen until He had made a way for the reconciliation of the souls of Israel. Why? Because God’s victorious King Messiah is to reign over Israel for all eternity, something that can only happen if Israel is made right with God and enabled to live forever.
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Judean religious leaders; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this world.” -John 18:36
The view of the people was desperate and temporal, whereas Yeshua’s view was redemptive and everlasting. He ached because of the temporal suffering of His people but understood that if He were to submit to their plan, their eternal suffering would far outweigh their temporal suffering.
Yeshua’s withdrawal to the higher elevation of the mountain was common practice for Him. When faced with the plans of men He sought the counsel of God. When faced with the temptations of man He sought the righteousness of God. When faced with the weakness and exhaustion of man He sought the strength and comfort of God. All this as an example to us that we might practice the rhythms of God’s rest in our walk with the Messiah.
16 Now when evening came, His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]) went down to the sea, lake (yam[H]) 17 and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea, lake (yam[H]) to Capernaum (K’far Nachum[H], village of comfort). It had already become dark, and Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) had not yet come to them.
The disciples had respected Yeshua’s need for private space and had trusted that He would return home to Capernaum when He was ready. Thus they headed for Capernaum a number of hours after sunset, knowing that it was a short journey across the lake of not more than 7 kilometres.
18 The sea, lake (thalassa[G], ha-yam[H]) became stirred up because a strong (megas[G]) wind (anemos[G], ruach gedolah[H]) was blowing (pneo[G], hayatah[H]).
It is quite possible that the lake was perfectly calm when they set out. To this day lake Galilee experiences rapid shifts in countenance as a result of sudden changes in weather. On one of my many trips there I was seated by a perfectly calm Galilee at midday only to see the water turn into raging surf blown by a storm front a matter of hours later.
It is also worth noting that the Galilee is known for its unique seemly randomly forming whirlpools. These whirlpools have been the cause of many drowning deaths in the Lake over the years.
19 Then, when they had rowed about five or six kilometres, they saw Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) He was walking (peripateo[G], mehaleich[H]) on the sea, lake (thalassa[G], ha-yam[H]) and coming near to the boat; and they were afraid, alarmed, in awe (phobeo[G], vayiyrau[H]).
“When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost’(Apparition or spirit is understood here from a Hebrew cultural perspective, it does not refer to the disembodied spirit of a human being—which is the common modern understanding of this English term) And they cried out in fear.” -Matthew 14:26
It is clear from the Matthew account that the disciples were afraid because they had presumed that this was a spirit or apparition, possibly (but not certainly) an omen of doom. They were not afraid because Yeshua was walking on water (at this point they weren’t even sure it was Yeshua). Of course it is natural for human beings to assume that when something defies the laws of the natural world or seems to be humanly impossible, it is an apparition or of supernatural origin. The lesson soon becomes, what is impossible for human beings is possible with God (perhaps even possible in God). The storm had caused them concern, but the appearance of the apparition had left them terrified.
At the five kilometre point they were still at least 2 kilometres away from their destination and it was approximately 4am (Matt.14:25). In the darkness and squall it would have been difficult to see clearly.
Yeshua was certainly aware of the storm much earlier in the night. So why did He wait? Perhaps He was proving the disciples? Not testing them to see if they were faithful, He was already aware of their character, rather He was taking this opportunity to show them that they were faithful. This is possibly one of the reasons for His gentle rebuke to Peter regarding his being small of faith (not saying that Peter’s faith lacked entirely, he had faith, he simply lacked it in greater volume).
God is pictured walking on the waters in Job 9:8 and Psalm 77:19, in the latter He is walking amidst a storm. Yeshua is Immanuel (God with us). Yeshua is revealing Himself here as God with us; firstly by doing what only God is recorded as having done and secondly by simply stating in Matthew’s account (14:27) “Take courage, I AM, don’t be afraid.” This results in the disciples worshipping Him at the conclusion of the episode.
The text states, “He was walking on the lake.” John clearly has no intention of dwelling on what to him was a natural progression: walking on water was just the next sign in the ordinal march toward the revealing of the King Messiah Yeshua.
Yeshua had now feed Israel (5,000 men 28,000 total) in the wilderness, delivered Israel (12 disciples) through the waters…
It was in the morning watch (3am to 6am) that God manifest His power to Israel at the Red Sea. Exodus 14:24
20 But He (Yeshua) said (lego[G], vayomeir[H]) to them, “I Am He (ego eimi[G], Aniy Hu[H]); do not be afraid (al-tiyrau[H]).”
“I Am” is an expression of divinity (Exodus 3:14; John 1:1-3; 6:35; 8:58). Therefore, “Because I Am God with you, you have no need to fear”. The fear of God is an end to all fear.
It is at this point in Matthew’s narrative that Peter asks Yeshua to call him out onto the water to meet Him.
“Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’” -Matthew 14:28
Peter has plenty chutzpa (courage and tenacity)! Peter initially takes Yeshua at His word and exhibits great courage. Why does Peter appear to use a subjective question to determine whether this is truly Yeshua who is speaking to him? The answer comes in the question itself, it’s rhetorical, Peter calls Yeshua “Lord,” it’s as if he were saying “Yeshua, if you’re who I know you are, ask me to come out to You.”
“And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Yeshua.” -Matthew 14:29
Yeshua called, “Bo (Come),” and Peter didn’t think twice, you could say he responded to Yeshua immediately.
“But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” - Matthew 14:30
Perhaps he said, “Adonai, Hoshanah!” Lord, save me now!
Like Peter we all take our eyes off Yeshua at times, focusing on our present circumstances instead of seeing the eternal nature of our Messiah, who is before us. There is no shame here, just an opportunity for a lesson. Faith the size of a mustard seed moves great obstacles. Small faith is the beginning of a journey, it is a stepping stone to great faith, born of Messiah.
“Immediately Yeshua stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of small faith, why did you doubt?” - Matthew 14:31
Peter began to sink and immediately Yeshua stretched out His hand and took hold of him. Yeshua doesn’t wait until we’ve sunk, He sees us begin to sink and immediately He takes hold of us.
While it is true that Yeshua observed small faith in Peter, the emphasis is on the phrase, “why did you doubt?” Yeshua knows why Peter doubted. The question is one that Peter is meant to ask himself. We too need to question our doubt and find the motivation behind it. Faith is born in the heart (core being), doubt is manufactured in the mind. Many modern proponents of healthy mind teaching neglect to remember that the Hebrew Leiv (heart) refers to the core being, where heart, mind and spirit converge. It is to be understood in a similar way to nefesh (soul), which indicates the whole of our parts. So we understand that the soul encompasses the whole and the heart is where the parts of the whole converge. When the Scripture says that “the heart is wicked above all things,” it is also addressing the mind. It is not a case of the mind being superior to the heart, rather the heart and mind are both wicked above all things. Humanity is inclined toward evil, we will not overcome this inclination by controlling our own minds and thus our wicked hearts. We will overcome only when we submit all control to Yeshua. That is, when we realize that He is in control regardless.
21 So they were willing to take Him into the boat, and immediately, at once (eutheos[G]) the boat was at the land (ho ge[G], la-aretz[H]) at the part of the coastline they were going to.
“When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.”- Matthew 14:32
In the same instant the wind stops and the waters bring the boat instantaneously to its destination. All creation obeys the Master of the universe and is immediately quiet as a testimony to the deity of Yeshua (God with us).
This immediacy is not explainable in natural terms. This is a case of the unbound Kingdom of God seeding freedom in the midst of the sin affected creation. A sinless Adam walks the earth anew, and this Adam will set free that which the former Adam allowed to come under bondage.
“And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son—Ben Elohim!’” -Matthew 14:33
“Even the wind and waves obey Him.” (Matthew 8:27) The witness of this sign is the seed that births a greater faith in the Leiv (heart) of the disciples. If Peter, who had faith enough to begin to walk on water, is said to have “Small faith,” then the faith of those who wouldn’t even get out of the boat was smaller still. Now, having identified the Messiah as King of creation, their faith grew and they worshipped Him.
May the storms and failures of our own journey with God produce such great growth spurts as we witness the present acts of God in our lives and the lives of those around us.
22 The next day the crowd of common people (ochlos[G], am[H]) that stood on the other side of the sea, lake (thalassa[G], ha-yam[H]) saw that there was no other small boat there, except one, and that Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) had not boarded with His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]) into the boat, but that His disciples had left alone.
This is the crowd that had witnessed the sign of the loaves and fishes and had camped the night in the region below Bethsaida. The record of their observation is testimony to the fact that Yeshua could not have crossed the Lake by natural means.
23 Other small boats (ploiarion[G]) came from Tiberias close to the place where they had eaten the bread (ho artos[G], ha lechem[H]) after the Lord, Master (ho Kurios[G], ha Adon[H]) had made the b’rakha[H] blessing (given thanks). 24 So when the crowd of common people (ho ochlos[G], ha am[H]) saw that Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) was not there, nor His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]), they themselves got into the small boats (ploiarion[G]), and came to Capernaum (K’far Nachum[H], village of comfort) seeking Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves).
Tiberias is approximately 10 km south-west of the location of the loaves and fishes sign. More people had come from Tiberias following the news of the sign and were seeking out Yeshua.
The Gospel writer explains that “the Lord” was not there. The use of the term Adon is more than a colloquial allusion to masterly status, the Gospel writer is saying that these signs are evidence of Yeshua’s divine nature.
Once the existing crowd and the newcomers determined that Yeshua had probably gone to His home town by some other way, they all took their boats to Capernaum seeking Him out.
It’s important to remember that many of these were pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem for Pesach (Likewise, as was His custom, Yeshua too would have attended Pesach in Jerusalem following these events). These pilgrims were sufficiently awed by Yeshua’s sign so as to delay their journey to Jerusalem in order to find out more about Him.
We note once more that they were seeking Salvation (Yeshua) in the village of comfort (K’far Nachum).
25 When they found Him on the other side of the sea, lake (thalassa[G], ha-yam[H]) they said to Him, “Rabbi (lit. My Great One; Religious Teacher), when did You get here?” 26 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) answered them and said, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say (Aniy omeir[H]) to you all (lachem[H] PL), you seek Me, not because you saw the signs (semeion[G], ha otot[H]), but because you ate of the loaves (ho artos[G], ha lechem[H]) and were satisfied, filled (chortazo[G]).
The crowd found Yeshua in Capernaum (John 6:59). Calling Him “Rabbi” showed some degree of respect on the part of the crowd. The crowd ask “when” not “how”, the knowledge of “how” is at this time kept by the disciples.
Yeshua does not even bother to answer their question. As is His custom He gets to the heart of the matter, that being their lack of faith and their misinterpretation of the events unfolding.
Note that Yeshua refers to “signs” plural. Those seeking Him have witnessed numerous signs in addition to the most recent one.
Yeshua now makes a statement that is firmly established by the double “Amen”. He is essentially saying, “You’re interested in me for carnal (physical) earth born reasons, the satiating of physical hunger etc. You have misunderstood the signs that God has given through Me to point to His redemptive purpose and present coming Kingdom, and instead of seeking God you are seeking to fill the desires of your flesh (fallen humanity).”
27 Do not work for the food (ho brosis[G], achal[H], makultha[A]) which perishes, is destroyed, dies (apollumi[G]), but for the food (ho brosis[G], achal[H], makultha[A]) which endures, remains, abides (meno[G]) to life unending (zoe aionios[G], le’chayeiy olam[H]), which the Son of the Man (ho huios ho anthropos[G], ben ha-adam[H]) will give to you, for on/in Him the Father (ho Pater[G], ha Av[H]), the God (ho Theos[G], ha-Elohiym[H]), has set His seal (sphragizo[G]).”
This is pretext for the discussion regarding Moses and the Manna from the heavens.
It is likely that the Aramaic text uses the word “makultha” meaning food or nourishment, as a wordplay linking the Aramaic word for kingdom “malkutha” to the message of the text. In other words, as a drash (comparative teaching) we could read, “Do not work for the kingdom which perishes (olam hazeh: this present world), but for the Kingdom that endures forever (Olam haba: World to come)…”
The Hebrew “chotam” meaning seal, sign, endorse is consistent with the Greek “sphragizo” used in the past tense to mean “has sealed, set a seal upon, made a private signet mark, preserved etc”. A seal is set to keep something hidden until those it has been sent to are ready to receive it and open it. Therefore, Yeshua is the message and God’s Kingly seal is upon Him so that He alone can open Himself and give the salvation He carries to His people.
It is as if the people are beholding the sealed scroll but are unable to open it because in order to open it one must first be seeking God and His Kingdom rather than the fallen kingdom of humanity. In fact, Yeshua is the only One worthy to open the seal that God has placed upon Him (Rev. 5:1-6:2).
28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, make (poieo[G], ba’aseh[H]), so that we may be working, trading in, performing (ergazomai[G], lif’ol[H]) the works, tasks, deeds (ergon[G], p’ulot[H]) of the God (ho Theos[G], ha Elohiym[H])?” 29 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) answered and said to them, “This is the work, task, deed (ergon[G]), p’ulat[H]) of the God (ho Theos[G], Elohiym[H]), that you continue to believe, trust, have faith (pisteuo[G], ta’amiynu[H]) in Him whom He has sent (apostello[G], shelachu[H]).”
“Therefore” Because Yeshua had offered eternal life above and beyond the miraculous sign they had witnessed of Him. And, because they had some sense of Yeshua’s authority based on His signs and words.
“What shall we do, make, so that we may be working, trading in, performing the works, tasks, deeds of the God?” The question shows that they have not understood Yeshua at all. Yeshua is offering redemption, relationship, eternal life, the strength of God at work in them, a gift to be received, but the people are looking for something they can build, accomplish, achieve in their own strength in order to make them right with God. Their focus is on “doing” rather than “being”. They say, “What shall we do, so that we can accomplish the works of God” and Yeshua completely reverses their question and defeats their paradigm with a very simple and eternally profound instruction:
“The works of God are this, that you continue to believe in Him Whom He has sent”. In short, “Be in Me, don’t do for Me. Your doing must come from Me.” Objects are for use, persons are for relationship. Many fall from the faith because they do not understand this simple truth. Many more retain faith but become burned out and unfruitful because they don’t understand this simple truth.
Yeshua is pointing His hearers back to the Torah and the Word (ha-Davar: John 1:1) of God spoken to their forebears through Moses:
“For near to you all is Ha-Davar (The Word), meod, very much so, in your mouth, and in your inner being, so that you might accomplish, do, act accordingly.” -D’variym (Words) Deuteronomy 30:14
Notice that The Word is offered to the inner person and that it is from the strength of The Word in each one that each one works, accomplishes, acts. Yeshua is Ha-Davar, the Word, Essence, Substance of God, with us.
It is interesting to note that by summing up the 613 commandments of the Torah with this one phrase “the just shall live by his faith” (Hab.2:4), the Talmud agrees with Yeshua’s assertion that to have faith is the work of God (Talmud Bavliy Makkot, fol. 23. 2. & 24. 1.).
30 So they said to Him, “What then do You do (poieo[G], ta’aseh[H]) for the sign (semeion[G], ha ot[H]), so that we may see, and believe (pisteuo[G], na’amiyn[H]) You? What work (tif’al[H], ergazomai[G]) do You perform? 31 Our fathers (ho pater[G], avoteiynu[H]), ate (achlu[H]) the manna (What is it? ha-man[H]) in the wilderness (bamidbar[H]); as it is written (kakatuv[H]), ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat (lechem min-hashamayim natan-lamo le’echol).’”
Almost as if they had not listened at all they demand that Yeshua “do” something to prove His identity. In spite of the fact that they have already witnessed Him perform many signs. The signs being directive and for their benefit. Yeshua need not prove His identity, to the contrary, it is they who need to consider their own identity and return to God.
As proof of their corporate tribal pride the people site the sign of the manna given to their forbears by the hand of Moses. As if to say, “Moses provided bread for hundreds of thousands, You provided bread for only five thousand men (28,000 people).
‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’ Exodus 16:4, 15; Num. 11:8; Psalm 78:24; 105:40 etc.
However, Yeshua disagrees with their exegesis. Ultimately, God is the “He” of the text.
32 Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) then said (lego[G], vayomeir[H]) to them, ““Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say (Aniy omeir[H]) to you all (lachem[H] PL), it is not Moshe[H] (Moses, Drawn out) who has given (notein[H]) you the bread (ho artos[G], ha-lechem[H]), out of the heavens (ouranos[G], ha-shamayim[H]), but it is My Father (ho Pater ego[G], Aviy[H]), Who gives you the bread (ho artos[G], ha-lechem[H]) out of the heavens (ouranos[G], ha-shamayim[H]) that is true (alethinos[G], ha’amitiy[H]).
Once again the double “Amen” denotes established truth. Yeshua explains that Moses was the mediator but that the bread (manna) from the heavens was “From the heavens” from God and not from Moses. Nor did Moses merit it.
Yeshua’s teaching is in direct opposition to the teaching of our rabbis on this subject:
מן בזכות משה, "the manna, by the merits of Moses".'' -Talmud. Bavliy. Taanit, fol. 9. 1. Seder Olam Rabba, p. 28.
33 For the bread (lechem[H]) of God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]) is Him (hu[H]) Who comes down (hayoreid[H]) out of the heavens (ouranos[G], ha-shamayim[H]), and gives (notein[H]) living (zoe[G], chayiym[H]) to the world (kosmos[G], laolam[H]).”
Yeshua identifies Himself as the “bread of God” Who has “come down from the heavens” and “gives living to the world”. Not the temporal bread for the physical body, bread that will perish fed to a body that will perish, but the living and everlasting bread of Yeshua’s transcendent resurrected body, His life essence, His nature, His character, the very substance of God. This He offers continually to a spiritually starving Israel and also subsequently to the nations.
The sign Yeshua gives them is the sign of the manna (bread of the heavens), that sign being Himself.
© 2020 Yaakov Brown
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,