Summary of passage: After healing the man at the pool and accusing the Pharisees of having no heart for God, Jesus journeys to the Sea of Galilee. He now has a gang of followers because of his miracles and it is close to Passover again. Jesus expresses concern for feeding the multitude of followers.
3) He knows the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders are against him and out to kill him if possible. Going to Jerusalem now would endanger his life and Jesus’ work is not yet complete.
4a) Part-personal question. My answer: He had planned to go away to a quiet place and get some rest from all their teachings and healings. Instead, the crowds followed them. So, Jesus, seeing the spiritual needs of these people, had compassion on them and taught them many things. Then, in John, Jesus sees their physical needs as well when he asks about their food. What’s important is other people and their needs. He puts others first above his own needs. It could make a difference between a saved soul and not.
b) Personal Question. My answer: Not very. I’m selfish, I admit it. To be more compassionate and less consumed with my needs and see the needs of those around me.
Conclusions: The lesson BSF makes is good: quit being so selfish and put others first. However, the lesson is in Mark, not John, since otherwise we’d have no idea Jesus had other plans to begin with. I think the point still could have been made relying on simply John alone. Jesus sees the great hunger of his followers and addresses it (and will solve it in the next verses).
End Notes: This miracle is recorded in all the other Gospels as well with only Mark mentioning how it wasn’t the plan. Luke tells us Jesus also taught the multitude who was following him and not just those following him up the mountain.
The Sea of Tiberius is the official Roman name for the Sea of Galilee, from the town of Tiberius named after the Roman emperor and founded in 20 AD. This would be the northeast shore near Bethsaida.
The Greek verbs here are continuing action. It seems these crowds always followed Jesus and never went away.
John is the only one to date this incident by mentioning Passover. These crowds could be heading to Jerusalem for that feast. Passover is a celebration of God’s people leaving Egypt. Here, Jesus will feed the people just like God did during those tumultuous times.
The mountain Jesus ascended is assumed to be the Golan Heights of today.
Mark tells us it was late in the day and Jesus had been teaching them all day. Not John. He cuts to the chase: Jesus saw a need and is about to address it.
Map of Tiberius, Bethsaida, and the Sea of Galilee HERE
Fun Fact: Apart from the resurrection, this is the one miracle found in all 4 Gospels. It shows Jesus as the supplier of human need and sets the stage for his testimony that he is the bread of life (John 6:35).