John 6 – The Five Thousand Fed & The Battle of Talas River

Tomorrow we’ll look at another portion of the House of Islam, we’ll look at…

John 6
The Five Thousand Fed

1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.

Feeding the 5,000
Because of this miracle, many of the Jews sought to make Jesus their king, but he refused. The Savior reprimands the people that have followed him, not because they wished to obey his teachings, but because he has fed them.

Jesus will soon hereafter deliver his great discourse on the Bread of Life, where he talks about spiritual food that they could eat and never go hungry again. With the miracle of the feeding of five thousand, it appears that Jesus reaches the highest point of his popularity with the masses.

6:1-15″ – the feeding of the 5,000 is the one miracle, apart from the resurrection, found in all four Gospels.  It shows Jesus as the supplier of human need, and sets the stage for His testimony that He is the bread of life. 

This was perhaps Jesus’ greatest miracle, witnessed by the largest number of people.

2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.

4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.

5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?

“Philip” – since he came from nearby Bethsaida, it was appropriate to ask him.

6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him,

9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

The Sea of Galilee is 13 miles long, 7 miles wide, 130-157 feel deep, 32 miles in circumference and 686 feet below sea level. The lake has been known by various names – Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, and Kinneret, which comes from the Hebrew word for harp as the sea is shaped like harp.

The sea is abundant in fish; carp, mullet, sardine, catfish and combfish. As in ancient times, the fish are still caught in nets. The water is pure and generally calm. At the time of Jesus, Galilee was the center of roads crossing in all directions.

10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

“Take him by force, to make him a king” – Jesus rejected the world’s version of kingship as a temptation of the devil.

16 And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,

17 And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.

18 And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.

Lightning Storm Brings Much Needed Rain To Holy Land
A flash of lightning lights up the sky before dawn on October 31, 2009 over Hod Hasharon in central Israel. The storm brought much needed rain to the Holy Land which has been suffering from years of below normal precipitation leaving the Sea of Galilee and underground aquifers at dangerously low levels.

19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

“Five and twenty or thirty furlongs” – this would have been about three or four miles.

20 But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.

21 Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

“Immediately the ship was at the land” – some think that this was another miracle.  In any event, the boat’s safe arrival is implicitly credited to Jesus.

22 The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone;

6:22-24 – the crowd could not figure out what had happened to Jesus.  But they wanted to see Him again, so they looked for Him in the most likely place, Capernaum.

23 (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:)

24 When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

25 And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?

Some 2,000 years ago, the Sea of Galilee in Israel became famous as the Bible says Jesus and His apostle Peter walked on top of the water in a spectacular miracle.

Now, a mysterious find from beneath the surface is bringing new attention to the ancient body of water.

Scientists have discovered a massive, “monumental” structure on the sea’s floor, leaving experts puzzled as to what it actually is and how and when it became located there.

Scientists are probing a giant, cone-shaped pile of boulders on the floor of Israel’s Sea of Galilee. The arrow points to a 4-inch fish swimming beside the boulders.

The structure is basically a cone-shaped pile of boulders with an estimated weight of 60,000 tons, which is heavier than most of today’s warships.

Its height is nearly 32 feet, with a diameter of approximately 230 feet. In comparison, the outer stone circle at the well-known Stonehenge monument in Britain has a diameter just half of that. Additionally, the tallest stones of Stonehenge don’t reach as high as the Sea of Galilee structure.

The mysterious structure is cone-shaped, about 230 feet in diameter and nearly 32 feet tall. It weighs an estimated 60,000 tons.

“Close inspection by scuba diving revealed that the structure is made of basalt boulders up to 1 meter long with no apparent construction pattern,” the researchers explain in the latest edition of the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

The boulders have natural faces with no signs of cutting or chiseling. Similarly, we did not find any sign of arrangement or walls that delineate this structure. The boulders are bare without any overgrowth.

In contrast with the sandy terrain surrounding it, Tilapia fish teem around the structure and between its blocks, probably taking advantage of the hiding places and shelter that it offers.

A sonar mapping of the sea’s southwestern portion first detected the structure in the summer of 2003, and divers have since investigated the site in person.

“The shape and composition of the submerged structure does not resemble any natural feature. We therefore conclude that it is man-made and might be termed a cairn,” the researchers say.

The circular structure was first detected in a sonar survey in the summer of 2003.
They explain there are questions that remain to be answered with certainty, including precisely when it was built, its purpose and use, and if it had been built as an underwater installation or on land during low lake levels and later submerged.

The purpose and usage of the structure may be connected to how it was built, the researchers say. A possible interpretation for the structure is related to the fact that it attracts fish and thus may be interpreted as a part of a marine-based economy.

If so, the structure must have been built as an underwater structure. Stone-built installations that are thought to be ancient fish nurseries are well known in the Sea of Galilee. They are found near the shores at regular intervals.

“An alternative scenario is that the structure was built onshore, when the water level was lower than today. The submergence could have occurred either because of tectonic movement or because of rising water levels.

The New Testament says both Jesus and Peter walked atop Israel’s Sea of Galilee.

Because of the massive size of the structure, the scientists conclude “the effort invested in such an enterprise is indicative of a complex, well-organized society, with planning skills and economic ability.

“The possible relation of the submerged stone structure to the ancient settlements along the shores of the Sea of Galilee is of great importance. Flourishing settlement systems existed along the shores in the Bronze and Iron Ages, between the 4th and the 1st millennia B.C.
Urban centers such as Bet Yerah, Tel Hadar and Bethsaida were the prominent settlements in biblical periods.

“The only period in this region for which megalithic structures can be connected to settlement sites is the Early Bronze Age, between the late 4th and the late 3rd millennia B.C.

The monumental site of Khirbet Beteiha, located some 30 kilometers north-east of the submerged stone structure, comprises three concentric stone circles, the largest of which is 56 meters in diameter.

Researcher Yitzhak Paz, of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Ben-Gurion University, told LiveScience he hopes soon an underwater expedition will set out to excavate the structure, searching for artifacts to try to determine its date with certainty.

26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

27 Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

“Everlasting life” – not something to be achieved but to be received by faith in Christ.

28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

“Work of God” believing in Jesus Christ is the indispensable “work” God calls for, the only one that leads to eternal life.

30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?

31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

“Manna” – a popular Jewish expectation was that when the Messiah came he would renew the sending of manna. 

The crowd probably reasoned that Jesus had done little compared to Moses.  He had fed 5,000; Moses had fed a nation.  He did it once; Moses did it for 40 years.  He gave ordinary bread; Moses gave “bread from heaven.”

32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

Jesus corrected them, pointing out that the manna in the wilderness didn’t come from Moses but form God and that the Father still “gives” 9the present tense is important) the true bread from heaven (life through Jesus).

33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.

37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?

43 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.

44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.

47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

48 I am that bread of life.

49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

First stop is Bethsaida, the home of Philip, Andrew, and Peter (Jn 1:44; 12:21). The gospels tell us Peter is from Bethsaida, not Capernaum where the Catholic church has built a huge structure over a place they claim is Peter’s house.

51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

“That I will give is my flesh” – looking forward to Calvary.  Providing eternal life would be costly to the Giver.

52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

6:53-58 – Jesus’ absolute statement that “except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you” precludes a direct reference to the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus was setting an example due to the situation at that time, but it was a figure of speech for us today.  What the Catholics do in Mass is degrading Jesus, i.e., in the realm of idolatry.  Catholic Mass does not worship Jesus, it worships what man is doing.

54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

The most impressive remains are the Iron Age gate and a Hellenistic house of the fisherman identified by lead net weights. The Iron age gate would have been at the time of David. King David married Ma’acha, daughter of the King of the Aramaean kingdom of Geshur. Ma’acha was the mother of Absalom.

The structures were constructed of basalt with several rooms around an open courtyard. Numerous fishing tools including lead weights, iron anchors, needles, and fishing hooks.

58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.

59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?

62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?

63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

Capernaum was a fishing village in the time of the Hasmoneans. Located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It had a population of about 1,500.

Archaeological excavations have revealed two ancient synagogues built one over the other. A church near Capernaum is said to be the home of Saint Peter.

68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

“Iscariot” – means “a man from Kerioth” and would apply equally to the father and the son.  Judas seems to have been the only non-Galilean among the twelve.

The Battle of Talas River

A little-known but pivotal clash between Muslim and Chinese forces in Central Asia, the Battle of Talas River, had profound implications for the balance of power in Asia and the spread of technology in Europe.

Chinese artisans form sheets of paper from bamboo. the Chinese were making paper for at least 700 years before the rest of the world.

The silk roads that passed through Central Asia brought prosperity to both the Abbasid empire and the Tang dynasty of China. 

When a dispute broke out between the two small kingdoms of Ferghana and Chach, the Chinese sent in forces to support Ferghana, while Chach asked the Muslims for aid. In July 751, Chinese and Muslim armies met at the Talas River in what is now Kazakhstan.

After five days of battle, the larger Muslim army prevailed. Chinese armies retreated, and China would never regain its influence over the region. Gradually, Islam replaced the area’s former patchwork of religions.

The Diamond Sutra of the Chinese Tang Dynasty, the oldest dated printed book in the world, found at Dunhuang, from 868 CE.

Just as important as the victory, perhaps, were the Chinese papermakers taken captive by the Muslims.

These artisans passed on their skills to Islamic craftsmen, and from them papermaking spread to Persia, Egypt,  and Europe. Paper replaced vellum in books and, in its cheapness and ease of use, helped spread information and literacy through the Western world.

…the Great Mosque at Samaria.