14 July 2014

John 6:16-29

“But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’” (v. 20)


This passage follows the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:1-15) which had led to the crowd seeking to crown Jesus king. Jesus retreats alone to the mountains to avoid the crowd's attempted enthronement; the time to be hailed king is not yet.

As evening encroaches the disciples set out to cross the lake by boat only to be caught in a sudden storm. Their fear is increased by the figure approaching their boat. Jesus and the disciples have spent months together so it would be surprising if they do not recognise him, yet they are terrified at the sight of Jesus. Only as Jesus addresses them, 'It is I; do not be afraid', are they reassured.

The next day when some of the crowd that had wanted to crown Jesus find him again, Jesus appears to question their motivation in seeking him out: "You are looking for me not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loves" (v. 26). Thus begins a series of misunderstandings through which we learn more of who Jesus may be. People are foolishly concerned not with the truth, but with food for their bodies; they must learn that there is a bread that nourishes not earthly but eternal life.

To Ponder

  • Why do you think the disciples were initially terrified by the sight of Jesus approaching them? And why did Jesus not get in the boat with them?
  • When has misunderstanding led you to discover truth?

Bible notes author

The Revd Will Morrey

Will Morrey is a Methodist minister (presbyter) currently serving as Faith Communities Adviser for Action for Children, the children's charity of the Methodist Church. After appointments in Devon and Yorkshire, most of his ministry has been in Wales including university and RAF chaplaincies.