Every Thought Captive to Messiah


John 6:1-21: Jesus and the Laws of Physics

Baby Nuria

Do you remember the Sun family? Ric and Jocelyn Sun visited our church in February and shared about their ministry with Life International. They shared a deeply personal story of how they aborted their first child before they were believers and how God has provided forgiveness and grace over the years. When they visited, they had their three children with them. Well now they have a fourth, baby Nuria.

Early in Jocelyn’s pregnancy (she’s in her forties), they were told that the baby probably has Down syndrome. They were encouraged by doctors to consider abortion. Of course they said no. They work for an international pro-life ministry! They viewed this baby as God’s gift to them.

Baby Nuria was born a couple of weeks ago. She does have Down syndrome, but she also had a host of other potential problems, including two holes in her heart. For several days after the birth, the doctors were unsure baby Nuria would survive. Her life hung in the balance as Ric and Jocelyn prayed and placed their trust in God.

Anxiety about Life

Deep inside us, we crave life. Survival is one of our strongest instincts. But it’s not just being alive and surviving that we want. We want life in all its fulness. A peaceful, flourishing life filled with joy, where all our good human desires are fulfilled, sort of like Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs.”

When our basic needs aren’t met, we panic. When we don’t have food, shelter, health, and safety, we worry. And in those times it is usually more difficult for us to think about the deeper things of life, like God.

In today’s New Zealand, many families are struggling financially. Retirees are wondering if they have enough saved up to get them through their aging years. Quite a few are struggling with anxiety, depression, and feelings of hopelessness. Others are facing chronic or severe health problems, like cancer.

We all want and need life. The question is: where can we find true life? Is it in ourselves? Is it our farm or business? Is it our bank account or KiwiSaver? Is it in the inheritance we expect to get from our rich uncle? Is it winning the lottery or signing up for a government programme

Fortunately, the answer to our question is found in our Bible passage today. Together, we’re going to see that Jesus, the Son of God, is the one who can give us life in all its fulness. Our text is John 6:1-21. Our message has three main parts: (1) Jesus’ power to provide; (2) Jesus’ power to protect; and (3) application. The sticky statement to remember is:

Jesus, the one who controls the laws of physics, is for us.

The Context of John 6

The gospel of John is the fourth and last eyewitness account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. It was written 2000 years ago. John, the author, was the youngest of Jesus’ twelve disciples, and he lived to about ad 95. He wrote this gospel after a lifetime of reflecting on who Jesus is and the significance of what he did. His work was also inspired by the Holy Spirit. John is one of the most important books of the Bible, and we are wise to pay attention to it.

John is very clear about why he writes. He wants us, the readers, to believe in Jesus for life.

John 20:30-31 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John selects seven miraculous signs to give us an historical basis on which to place our trust in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God, so that we may have life in all its fulness.

Our text today, John 6:1-21, is directly related to this purpose statement. We get two out of the seven signs right here. Sign number four is the feeding of 5000 plus people, mostly Jewish people, in a wilderness area next to the Sea of Galilee, using only five barley loaves and two fish. Sign number five is Jesus’ walking on water during a windstorm on the Sea of Galilee.

Remember, in the previous chapter, Jesus has claimed equality with God. He has claimed to be the eternal Son of God, equal to God the Father in identity, vocation, and authority. He has also claimed equal power with the Father to give life. The question is: can Jesus back up that claim?

These two signs prove Jesus’ power over the laws of physics to provide for and protect his people—in other words, to give them life. They lead to the fourth discourse in John’s gospel, which is recounted in the rest of chapter 6. It is called the “Bread of Life discourse." So you see, the topic really is life. Can this Jesus, who has claimed to be equal with God, give us life?

As we read the text, listen for the two miraculous signs and consider the outcome. What do we learn about Jesus from these accounts? When we are faced with seemingly insurmountable problems in our lives, can we turn to Jesus for a solution? Is he really there to give us life?

Jesus, the one who controls the laws of physics, is for us.

Sign #4: Jesus Power to Provide

Geography is important in John, as it in all of the gospels. John tells us Jesus is back in Galilee. In chapter 5, he was in Jerusalem. In ch. 6, he’s at the Sea of Galilee and in Capernaum. By the way, the other gospels say a great deal about Jesus’ later Galilean ministry, but John devotes only one chapter to it, this chapter.

Timing is also important in John. John tells us the Passover is near. So soon, Jesus, as a Jewish male, will be returning to Jerusalem, as he must. The coming Passover is the third of four Passovers during his ministry. This tells us we are about one year away from Jesus’ arrest, death, and resurrection. Knowing he is about the return to Jerusalem, it’s time for Jesus to present two more signs to authenticate himself. These two signs are what John now describes.

By the way, the other gospels tell us that Jesus has just learned that John the Baptist has been beheaded by Herod (Matthew 14:12-13). So the animosity of the Jewish leaders toward John and Jesus is by this time very clear.

We are told in v. 2 a large crowd is following Jesus. They are in an out of the way place, on the northeastern edge of the Sea of Galilee. Who are these people? Well, they are a mix of 3s (seekers) and 4s (believers), primarily Jewish. They are not 1s (haters) and 2s (apathetics), nor are there many 5s (disciples) and 6s (disciple makers).

We know they are primarily Jewish because the number, 5000, matches Matthew 14, which describes a Jewish crowd. A little later Jesus will feed 4000 plus people, which matches Matthew 15 and is primarily a Gentile crowd. In Matthew, the word for basket in the two accounts is different. The feeding of the 5000 involves twelve Jewish baskets. The feeding of the 4000 involves seven Gentile baskets. John doesn’t mention the feeding of the 4000 because he doesn’t need to. Remember, he is focused on seven signs only.

Notice Jesus has a sense of responsibility for these 3s (seekers) and 4s (believers). So he asks Philip how they are to be fed (v. 5). He knows what he will do (v. 6), but he asks Philip as part of his discipleship training. Philip is from nearby Bethsaida, which is why Jesus’ asks him specifically.

Philip comes up with a human solution to the problem. It’s going to cost a lot of money to feed this crowd. Two hundred denarii was the equivalent of eight months wages for the average working man. What would that be in our day and age? That’s a lot of money.

But Jesus is not planning to solve the problem in the normal, human way. He wants to solve it supernaturally to authenticate who he is and what he has said about himself in chapter 5, that he is co-equal with the Father and able to give life.

Another disciple, Andrew, brings forward a boy with five barley loaves and two fish, and this allows Jesus to go into action. Note three things: (1) barley loaves were the food of the poor; (2) the boy did not have much, but he gave everything he had; and (3) Jesus did not multiply food out of thin air but used what the boy gave him. I wish we knew more about this boy. Was it his idea to bring the five loaves and two fish to Jesus? We are not told.

But there is an important lesson here. Jesus wants to use whatever we are willing to give him, no matter how small, to do amazing, unexpected things. He could do things all himself, but he would rather have us involved.

So Jesus tells the disciples to have the large crowd sit down on the grass. This detail about the grass is very interesting. It reminds of the famous Psalm 23.

Psalm 23:2 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

The Good Shepherd is going to work feeding his sheep.

Also notice the repetition of the word “sit” in vv. 3, 10 (x2), 11. This simple three-letter word indicates the crowd is to do absolutely nothing. Jesus will do it all. All the crowd has to do is sit. It reminds of Watchman Nee’s excellent book, Sit, Walk, Stand, which emphasises that God does all the work in our salvation. Our job is to sit, not scramble, to be a Mary, not a Martha. When there is a problem, we often scramble when Jesus just wants us to sit.

Is there a problem in your life right now, for which you are scrambling? Do you think Jesus might want you to sit and let him take care of it?

So Jesus takes the five barley loaves and two fish and somehow multiplies them. However he did this, we can be sure of one thing: the laws of physics were superseded by Jesus, the Son of God. He invented the laws of physics, and he can supersede the laws of physics at will.

John 1:3-4 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

This means we do not live in a purely mechanical universe as so many philosophers and scientists have thought. Jesus, the Creator of the laws of physics, can override the laws of physics anytime he chooses to do so, and he will often do so when his people need provision and protection.

Jesus, the one who controls the laws of physics, is for us.

The crowd of 3s (seekers) and 4s (believers) eat their fill and are completely satisfied (vv. 11-12). The lesson here is that Jesus, the Life-giver, is able to give us as much as we need as we live for him. There is no limit to his supply. Life pours out from him in abundance. There is no scarcity with him. So when we have a problem, Jesus wants us to sit, not scramble.

Then Jesus tells the disciples to gather the leftover fragments (v. 12). Nothing of the bread and fish is to be lost. So the disciples obey, and they fill exactly 12 Jewish baskets. What is this all about? When we’re reading the Bible, we must pay attention to the details, for that’s where the greatest lessons are.

Perhaps the lesson is this: 5s (disciples) and 6s (disciple makers), those who distribute Jesus’ food to the 3s (seekers) and 4s (believers), won’t be overlooked. Jesus will provide plenty for them, too, and more than they need. Those on mission for Jesus will be fully fed even as they feed others. This promise is personally important to me, as someone engaged in full-time ministry.

Some of you are thinking about how you can downsize your work life so you can spend more time in ministry, perhaps working 3-4 days per week and spending the other days in evangelism and discipleship. Take this promise to heart. As you transition to spending more time in ministry, Jesus will provide the bread than you need.

We have many disciples (5s) and disciples makers (6s) in our church, who are distributing barley bread and fish from Jesus to seekers (3s) and believers (4s). It happens in the prisons. It happens at Rally on Friday nights. It happens at youth group on Saturday nights. It happens in the schools with Launchpad. As we carry out our disciple making work, we are not going to go hungry. Jesus is looking out not just for the seekers and believers but for us, too. Some say to themselves, “Once I get X amount of money, then I will minister more.” But when they reach that amount, they never transition to ministry. The disciples left their boats and nets to follow Jesus, and now each of them has his own basket of bread.

The overall lesson of this miracle is clear. With five barley loaves and two fish, Jesus has satisfied everyone’s hunger, and there are 12 Jewish baskets filled to the brim for his disciples (or perhaps for the rest of the Jewish people). With Jesus, we have more at the end than we do at the beginning.

Friends, do we appreciate, now, who Jesus is? Jesus only needs to do a miracle like this once to show who he is and what he is able to do. And yet the gospels record him doing miracles like this over and over again. Truly Jesus is the Life-giver to whom we must go if we want true life.

Jesus, the one who controls the laws of physics, is for us.

Seeing the obvious miracle, the crowd of 3s (seekers) and 4s (believers) begin to believe Jesus is the Prophet Moses predicted long ago in Deuteronomy 18.

Deuteronomy 18:15-19 15 Yahweh your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— …18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

The crowd also wants to make Jesus king. Their inclination is right. Jesus is the the Prophet and the King. Nathaniel said so in Jn 1:

John 1:49 49 Nathanael answered him, Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!

About one year later, a large crowd welcomes Jesus into Jerusalem with similar words:

John 12:12-13 12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!

Jesus withdraws not because the crowd is wrong, because he is taking his Father’s lead, and it isn’t time for him to claim his kingdom as the King (cf. Strider in Lord of the Rings). He also wants to spend quality time alone with his Father.

Sign #5: Jesus Power to Protect

Sign number four, Jesus feeding the 5000, is immediately followed by another sign, sign number five. The lesson to be learned for both signs is similar:

Jesus, the one who controls the laws of physics, is for us.

In this case, we have the disciples in a boat. It’s dark. A strong wind is blowing. The waves are crashing. Jesus told them (according to Mark’s gospel) to head to Bethsaida (Mark 6:45), but the wind is driving them toward Capernaum (v. 16). They have been rowing for hours against the wind and have gone three to four miles. Jesus is nowhere to be found. The disciples were probably a little ticked off at Jesus for ordering them across the sea at night and then abandoning them.

Have you ever been ticked off at God? You thought you were doing what he wanted you to do, but things just turned to custard? Have you ever felt abandon by Jesus during a dark windstorm in your life? If so, listen to what happens next.

Sometime between 3am and 6am (Matthew 14:25), at the darkest time of night, Jesus comes to them, walking on the sea and coming near the boat.

Think about Jesus’ walking on the sea. How would it actually work? The properties of H2O and the law of gravity should not allow this to happen. This is another override of the laws of physics by Jesus. He is walking on the sea to come and handle the disciples' problem supernaturally.

Jesus, the one who controls the laws of physics, is for us.

Arriving to the boat, Jesus says four simple words: ἐγώ εἰμι· μὴ φοβεῖσθε. “I Am. Don’t fear.” Seven times in John's gospel Jesus says, “I Am something….” But also, seven times in the gospel, Jesus simply says, “I Am” (John 4:26; 6:20; 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:4-8). This is the second time.

When Jesus says, “I Am,” he is saying that he is God. It is a reference to Exodus, when God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, “I Am who I Am.” Jesus is saying he is the eternally self-existent one, who is not bound by space, time, and matter, nor the laws of physics, which he, by the way, created.

He is God. And that’s precisely the reason the disciples are not to fear, despite the wind and the waves.

What winds are blowing in your life? What waves are crashing? Are you experiencing relationship stress? Bad news about your health? Uncertainty about your job or financial situation? Depression or anxiety? Fear over the direction of the world and the state of New Zealand society?

If so, you are like the disciples in that boat, in the middle of the night, being blown around by heavy winds and dashed by huge waves.

Is Jesus able to show up in your situation in a surprising way? Is he able to walk on the water of the storms of your life to give you safety and security, and to bring you to the destination he desires for you? Can he supersede the laws of physics to help you personally?

Jesus, the one who controls the laws of physics, is for us.

Notice what the disciples do. They are glad to take Jesus into the boat. When Jesus shows up unexpectedly in your life, to preserve you, are you glad to take him into your boat? When he comes through for you, do you push him away, or do you receive him more and more into your life?

Do you see all the lessons here that apply to the circumstances of our lives? Never let anyone tell you the Bible is irrelevant to people in the 21st century.

Finally, notice the boat lands where Jesus wants it to land. He has an appointment with the Jewish leaders in Capernaum. His mission continues, and his disciples are with him. They continue to learn, in greater measure, who he is and what he is about. They will be tested in Capernaum as Jesus demands everyone to eat his flesh and drink his blood. As he always does, Jesus will move from miracles to message. Let’s see what happens next, so come again next week!


Jesus’ has done two more miracles that have authenticated who he is. He claimed to be the one and only Son of the Father, and he implied very clearly the he is equal to his Father. With signs numbers four and five, he has just backed up this claim. So the first application for us is to believe—to believe that Jesus, the Jewish man who lived 2000 years ago, is indeed God in human form. It is through our faith in this Jesus, as he has revealed himself, that our sins are forgiven and God grants us eternal life.

John 20:30-31 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

If you are a 3 (seeker), become a 4 (believer). Do it today. You can do it right now by telling God the Father that you believe in his Son, Jesus. There is no good reason to wait. You life with Jesus can begin today.

Admit you are a sinner before God, believe in the person and work of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and have confidence that in doing so you are saved forever by God’s grace.

The other application has to do with us who are 4s (believers), 5s (disciples), and 6s (disciple makers).

In our Christian lives, we will face problems. Some of them will be very difficult problems: relationship problems, financial problems, health problems, work problems, family problems, ministry problems. The two signs Jesus performs here teach us that Jesus want to be our problem solver. We don’t have to solve our problems on our own.

Jesus, the one who controls the laws of physics, is for us.

Jesus is present to provide for and protect his people. He has total power over the laws of physics. He can use five barley loaves and two fish to feed a multitude. He can walk on water to come to us when we are afraid. This is our God.

Whatever problems need solving in your life right now, go to Jesus. If you need provision or protection, go to the one who controls the laws of physics. Make him plan A, not plan B. Don’t scramble, sit on the grass.

We don’t live in a closed, mechanical universe. We live in an open, miraculous universe where Jesus can and does intervene in our lives to help us, according to his Father’s plan.

Matthew 28:20 20 And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Baby Nuria Lives!

So what happened with baby Nuria? This week, Ric, her father, sent the following praise report on their family’s ministry Facebook page (some of you might have seen it):

“Dear praying fam, Today, baby Nuria went in to have an echocardiogram (echo) to check the structure and function of her heart as she was born with two holes and one open chamber in her heart. And then she was turned into an AI baby. I know it looks mind-boggling but well, at least there is no poking and needles today. Phew… After two hours of in-depth and thorough examination, her cardiologist came and shared a praise report that a hole and a chamber has closed by itself. Now there’s just this flap to close and most likely it does by itself and even if it doesn’t, it will be fine because 1/4 of adults have it opened too. Do y’all have it too?! Wow fam, we did a little praise dance in the hospital to praise our Father from whom all blessings flow! Rejoice with us! He is our Jehovah Rapha (Rophe)!!! Not only does baby Nuria have a healthy heart that there is no surgery needed and no need to return for check up for a year, but she also will be able to travel and join our family for ministry. Let’s go baby! Hallelujah!Thank you so much for so many of you to join us in cheering and praying for baby Nuria as she is fighting for her life and testifying her God’s story. May her fiery testimony bring you hope and give you light no matter what you are going through! Keep the faith #nuriamoment #JehovahRapha #Rophe #fireoftheLord #thesuns2023 #journeywiththesuns"

Jesus came through for the Sun family, and he will come through for us, too. He is the Life-giver. He is here to give us life not only in the future, but also in the present as well.

Jesus, the one who controls the laws of physics, is for us.


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