The Testing Power of Circumstances
John 6:1-21
After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.…


1. The question seemed to betray perplexity, but it was not so. He condescended to espouse this difficulty that He might bring to light that which was working in the disciples' spirits. The hinge of all mysteries is not in themselves, but in their concealment for the wise purposes of Deity. They will come out gradually and slowly, and then we shaft see how marvellously past and future coincide with each other. And all this is simply the exercise of faith. We must wait for God's demonstration.

2. Observe, how completely our Lord's purpose was answered. Three suggestions came from three different quarters.

(1) To throw the multitude upon their own resources, "Let them go into the villages," etc.

(2) That they should be supported out of the resources of the disciples, but that the two hundred pennyworth was beyond their resources.

(3) To make the resources go as far as they might. "There is a lad here," etc., and then the difficulty arises, "What are these," etc. Their proper course would have been to leave the perplexity with omnipotence. That they believed in our Lord's omnipotence is certain, but though they knew it as an abstract fact, they could not bring it to bear on the present emergency, and therefore, they threw themselves on that which any faithless man could throw himself upon human power in human distress. The Saviour must have asked the question, "How is it that they have no faith?" This is the way man ever treats God, turning to Him as a last resource only.

3. This is the course the Lord has taken from time to time to make men understand themselves, throwing them into difficulties and leaving them to prove what is in them by their extrication from those difficulties, as seen in the case of Israel at the Red Sea and before Jericho.


1. In the announcement of doctrines offensive to the natural man.

(1) That of the divinity of Christ and reason protests against it.

(2) That of the atonement and our sense of equity protests against it.

(3) That of man's depravity and man's pride recoils.

(4) That of man's impotency, and the sense of self-reliance on self resources protests. And when it comes to this, a man is brought to the test, is he willing to put reliance upon Christ? or is he determined to trust in him. self.

2. The infliction of trial. Previous to trial most men, like Peter, think they can go through anything, but when it falls upon us, how our notes are changed! In that way God puts the question, are you able to trust Me?

3. The successes and prosperities of life. Riches, which do not spoil a man's character, they simply bring out the evil that is in him. You shall look abroad upon the face of nature, and possibly you may see in the cold time of winter, and the chill dews of spring, the whole surface of the meadow without anything deleterious produced upon it; and you may look at the same field when the warm and bright sunshine of summer and autumn comes, and you find it swarming with weeds. Why, who hath come and planted the tares amongst the wheat? No one; they have been there all along: only in the nipping cold times of the year they were not able to come out; but when the sun came, that which was lurking below came to the surface. This was how it was with Hazael, and how it has been with many a man since.

(Dean Boyd.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.

WEB: After these things, Jesus went away to the other side of the sea of Galilee, which is also called the Sea of Tiberias.

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