What does John 6:25 mean?
ESV: When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”
NIV: When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, 'Rabbi, when did you get here?'
NASB: And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, 'Rabbi, when did You get here?'
CSB: When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you get here? "
NLT: They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, 'Rabbi, when did you get here?'
KJV: And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?
After Jesus fed more than five thousand people with a miracle (John 6:9–14), He sent the disciples across the Sea of Galilee, away from the crowd (Matthew 14:22). This, and His retreat into the hills, was meant to cool off the sudden surge of enthusiasm from the crowd. The throngs of people saw Jesus command the disciples and they saw Him enter the hills. However, they didn't see Jesus walking on water overnight, or His miraculous transport of the boat to Capernaum (John 6:16–21).
In a literal sense, the crowd is asking Jesus "when" He arrived in Capernaum. However, the real intent behind their question is "why" Jesus left. As later verses will show, this mob is focused on spectacle, free food, and political concerns. From that perspective, there is no good reason for Jesus to avoid publicity. He would, they assume, want to be adored and lavished by His followers. Jesus' response, starting in the next verse, will prove just how wrong their attitudes are. The people are seeking, but not after truth. They are only looking for selfish reasons.
John 6:22–40 describes the initial aftermath of Jesus' feeding of thousands the previous day. The crowd's actual desire is for another supernatural spectacle and more free food. In this passage, Christ begins to explain the true meaning behind His miracle and His ministry. This includes the first of seven ''I AM'' statements in the gospel of John—moments where Jesus declares His own divinity. Jesus clarifies that physical things such as bread are meant to be symbols of a spiritual truth. In the following segment, the crowd will stop seeking and start complaining.
In chapter 6, Jesus feeds thousands of people who had been following Him. He does this by miraculously dividing the contents of a small lunch, leaving more left over than He had to begin with. At first, the crowd is amazed and they enthusiastically praise Jesus. After sending the disciples across the Sea of Galilee, and rescuing them from a storm by walking on the water, Jesus once again addresses the crowd. This time, He emphasizes the spiritual lesson behind His prior miracle. In response, most of those who had been praising Jesus turn away from Him in disappointment.
John chapter 6 occurs some months after the events of chapter 5, bringing the narrative to about one year prior to Jesus' crucifixion. As with the rest of the Gospel of John, the purpose is not to repeat information from the other three Gospels, but to focus on Jesus' status as God incarnate. This chapter continues to expand the list of Jesus' miraculous signs and the witnesses to His divine nature. Here, Jesus also gives the first of seven ''I AM'' statements found in this Gospel. Chapter 7 will once again skip ahead to a major public step in Jesus' path to the cross.
The gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls “signs”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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