The I AM Makes Special Provision For His People
Text: John 6:16-21
This chapter is one of the saddest in the gospel accounts, but it is also very important to understand. The Lord Jesus taught many times about the reality of false converts. That is in part what the parable of the sower is teaching, as well the latter part of the Sermon on the Mount.
But it’s one thing to hear the warning, it’s another to experience the reality. That’s what we have in John 6. There is little more discouraging than seeing people walk away from Christ after a promising start. It’s what the prophets faces, the apostles (Demus hath forsaken me; only Luke is with me), and Jesus.
In this passage we see that Jesus didn’t come into the world to give bread, but to BE bread. He did not come to be useful, but to be vital. He didn’t come to an easy life, but everlasting life.
Now, the Lord cares about temporal needs. One day that will be seen in the redemption of the body. Tears will go away, as will sickness and suffering. But that will come in the future, the vital matter now is salvation of the soul. Now there’s a miracle here in v16-21, and yet it doesn’t seem to fit with the message of the Bread of God sent down from heaven, and the rejection of that bread by the false disciples.
What is the connection? What is the point? Why did John include this as part of the message that stems from feeding the five thousand?
I. THIS PROVISION IS SPECIAL BECAUSE IT IS EXCLUSIVE TO HIS PEOPLE
This event occurs away from the crowd, because it was not for the crowd. The Lord Jesus has a particular love for His people. He deals with them differently than He does with the multitudes.
Who are His people?
1. Those who follow Him regardless of the crowd
Social proof. People follow people. Even when you’re giving out tracts, when someone takes it, the people who see them take it are more likely to take it, and those that see someone refuse it are more likely to refuse it.
2. Those who follow Him regardless of miracles
3. Those who follow Him regardless of temporal benefits
They just love Him. Mk 6 and Matt 14 show several miracles. Jesus walks on water, Peter walks on water, the weather calms, and arriving at their destination.
II. THIS PROVISION IS SPECIAL BECAUSE IT EDUCATES HIS PEOPLE
1. The Period of Trials
Note that this trial comes on the back of a wonderful experience of Christian service. They were not just observers of a great miracle, but participants in the feeding of the five thousand. Immediately following, this trial comes. Note that believer.
2. The Purpose of Trials
There is something in this that connects this to the previous miracle, but highlights something only applicable for His true followers.
Previously the people were starving with hunger, and the Lord didn’t just provide for the multitude, but made special provision for His people v13.
The lesson to them is that I am there for you. I will provide for you. I am your provision.
So is He teaching the same thing here? I think so. Their life is in peril, not by hunger, but because of the wind – v18
The inclination in their mind is that, well Jesus isn’t here so we’re on our own in this predicament. But the lesson Jesus teaches them is that His people are NEVER on their own. Ever! The other gospels tell us that Jesus departed into the mountain to pray. John doesn’t. The others tell us Jesus told the disciples to get into the ship. John doesn’t. The others tells us Peter walked on water. John doesn’t.
The focus of John here is exclusively on the presence of the Lord. That’s all he is concerned about because that is all that matters in life – v20
The point being, it doesn’t matter about the storm, whether it stops or not. The need is the have Jesus with you! And once Jesus is in your little boat when you’re facing the howling storms of life, arriving at the desired destination is guaranteed – v21
That’s what Jesus promises His people. It’s not an easy life, it’s eternal life, and His presence when the waves threaten to take us down. And the purpose of trials are to drive us the Christ and value His presence.
The first miracle promises His help in service – v5-6 The second miracle promises His help in suffering – v18
3. The Perspective in Trials
When the disciples initially see the Lord, they are afraid. They think it’s a ghost.
v20 – literally, “I am; fear not”. Ex 3:14 – “I am” it’s is actually Jesus saying He is Jehovah. It’s a revelation of His deity. It was such a revelation to Moses that prepared him for service, wasn’t it? No doubt this would later help the disciples in future service as it helped Moses.
Furthermore, this is in contrast to how the fake followers viewed the Lord – v15
The details we’re given show that the Lord sent His disciples away into this trial before the false disciples began to try to make Christ king. The Lord protects them from a false view of His person.
Christ will always make sure His people have a right view of Him. He sends them into a trial to show them that He is Jehovah.
III. THIS PROVISION IS SPECIAL BECAUSE IT EXPOSES THOSE WHO ARE NOT HIS PEOPLE
In the parable of the sower, the Lord Jesus taught that one of the ways we can identify false disciples is because they give up when tribulation or persecution come. That doesn’t happen with the disciples here. But it will happen to the multitude – 6:66. What do you want from Jesus?
What provision the Lord has made for us. Perhaps you’ve come here tonight with your trial. The Lord wants you to join Him at this table. He is the bread of life.