SOMETHING ABOUT THE NUMBERS
Good morning to you! Let's jump right back into our work looking at the Gospel of John. So far, I've covered something from each chapter, but now I'm going to pick up the pace a bit. In chapter six, Jesus feeds the multitudes with just five small barley loaves and two small fish. In the end, after everyone ate, Jesus instructed the disciples to gather up the left overs. "So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten." (John 6:13) This is interesting on many levels. One, what did they do with the leftovers? Two, did you catch the fact that no fish was left, or at least they didn't gather any of it up? Three, they filled twelve baskets. I wonder, is the number twelve significant here? Well, I believe that numbers are very important in John's gospel. For instance, in chapter five when John tells the story of the invalid at the pool John makes it a point to say that the pool was surrounded by five covered colonnades. This story took place at Bethesda which means "house of mercy." The number five throughout the Bible represents grace. This man was laying at the pool hoping that someone would help him into it. He was at the place of grace and mercy. Yet, he only found it in Jesus. The number twelve is the biblical number for divine government. Of course, Jesus had twelve disciples. Hmm... reckon they each took a basket home?
After he feeds the thousands Jesus walked on the water. But then, Jesus begins speaking in terms that are difficult for the people to understand. They understand eating the bread and fish. What they have trouble understanding is what Jesus is saying. The people are still looking for a sign from heaven, as if they hadn't seen enough through the feeding of the multitude. They say to Jesus: "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see and it believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' (John 6:30-31) If you recall, I said that the Book of Exodus and Gospel of John go hand in hand. God took care of the daily needs of the people by providing them manna from heaven. Now, Jesus says: "it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven." (John 6:32) The people then ask for this bread and Jesus declares: "I am the bread of life." (John 6:35a)
In the four gospels there are a total of three different Greek terms that are translated "I am." they are ego, ego+eimi, and eimi. You may already recognize ego as that which relates to self. In Matthew it would seem that ego+eimi was used to mean that Jesus was present with his followers. In other words "I am with you." In John, the term takes on a different meaning. The term is used twenty-one times in John. Now, in the Book of Exodus we hear God say "I am who I am." (Ex. 3) I invite you to read John 8:21-30 and see if you can compare Jesus' identity to the statement by God in Exodus. Ego+eimi in John alludes to the name of God. Jesus in chapter eight is making a claim of divinity.
Well, the sayings of Jesus prove to be too much for the people. "The Jews began to grumble about him because he said, 'I am the bread that came down from heaven." (John 6:41) Basically, they ask, "Who does he think he is?" Now, you kind of have to understand their point of view. Jesus begins to talk about eating his flesh and drinking his blood: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life..." (John 6:54) I don't blame these folks for getting a little uncomfortable. Today, we understand exactly what Jesus was saying, but we have the luxury of having the scriptures before us. (and a daily Bible study at madisonmethodist.org. lol) Now, for something amazing...well, kind of...
"From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him." (John 6:66) "What's amazing about that?" you might ask. Did you catch the chapter and verse where these words are found? Yes, it is found in John 6:66 (get it, 666?) Oh, yes there is something in the numbers. Was this a coincidence? I don't know. It's certainly interesting.
Jesus then asks: "You do not want to leave too, do you?' Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holly One of God." (John 6:67-69) Yes, Peter gets it right! He recognizes that Jesus is from above, from God.
Tomorrow, we will continue our work. I hope you can join me. Have a great day! -Pastor Rick