John 6:23 – Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.
What in the world are we being told here? John 6 is such an amazing chapter of Scripture. It begins with the feeding of the five thousand, then goes to Jesus walking on water and miraculously transporting a boat full of people to the seashore and then gets into a stunning discussion between Jesus and the crowd that He had fed the day before. The morning after the miracle of the bread and fish those who had eaten have come searching for Jesus. They got a free supper last night and now it is breakfast time. They had gone looking for Jesus where the miracle had taken place and not finding Him there, they searched until they did find Him. John describes the place where the miracle had taken place as “where they had eaten after the Lord had given thanks”.
Try to imagine being at the feeding of the five thousand. Suppose that several days later you are walking with a friend and you walk past the place where you saw Jesus take five loaves of bread and two fish and feed five thousand people with them. How will you describe the place to your friend?
“This is the place where ___________________________”. What would you put in the blank? “… Jesus performed an incredible miracle”. “…I saw the impossible take place. “…I saw Jesus create …” . You would go into great detail regarding what you saw. But honestly now. Would you say “This is the place where I saw Jesus give thanks …”? Would you say that? Well, it is impossible to say. We weren’t there.
Perhaps if we had actually heard Jesus pray that may have been what impressed us more than a miracle . It certainly seems to be what impressed John the most. He calls the place of the miracle the place where people had eaten after Jesus had given thanks. It seems that what grabbed John’s attention more than the miracle was Jesus’ prayer of thanks for the food – which, by the way, was non-existent at the time of the prayer.
When Jesus prayed there was a relationship being demonstrated that no one can ever have. Jesus is talking to His Father. John is stunned. Perhaps as Jesus is thanking God for the food, John is perusing the meagre amount that Jesus is being thankful for and wondering what in the world is going on. Perhaps the way Jesus gave thanks gave a hint as to what was about to happen. Perhaps more evidence for who Jesus really was, was demonstrated in that prayer. The relationship between Father and Son is shown. It is alive, unique, powerful, humbling, fearful. It’s all about Jesus. It is not, as those Jesus fed thought, about getting a free meal ticket from now on. The miracle is simply a testimony of who He is. John is not that impressed with the miracle. It’s a no-brainer that this man, the Son of God, who has just prayed in such a way, can turn bread and fish into more bread and fish.
Having been with Jesus for three years and in that time heard His teaching, saw His miracles, laughed with Him, cried with Him, been rebuked by Him, and then empowered by Him with the Holy Spirit, John is called by God to write about Him. The point of what He writes will be “that you may know that He is the Christ, the Son of God” (20:31). Of course that is the point of the Gospel of John. There is nothing greater to know. There is no one better to know. And we can. We do. For all the wonders that we will be a part of in the new heavens and earth, this is the greatest. We know Him. We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.
It is estimated that the First Epistle of John was written somewhere between the years 70 and the early 90s. In 3:1 John says “What kind of love is this that we should be called sons of God?” He is writing as an old man, perhaps as old as ninety. He is still stunned that he can be called God’s son because of what Jesus did for him. The stunning thing for John is still not a matter of miracles. It is that the miracle worker has made us co-heirs with Him.
It is still what Jesus is doing. It is still stunning. It is that thing that shall stun us for eternity. And we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope purifies himself even as He is pure. Of course we do. Such a work of power and love could not engender anything else.