Continuing with John 6, there is a tiny little story that is probably missed by most folks. On the surface it appears to be just a bit of narrative with very little significance. Truly, from a theological standpoint, there are only a few things to pull out of it (e.g., the fact that John refers to Jesus as “Lord” [κύριος] denoting a high Christology). However, on a gut level, there is something else to see here — the hunger and thirst of the people.
|Hebert Translation||Nestle-Aland 27|
|On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat, save one, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but his disciples went away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord gave thanks. So, when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they went into the boats and went to Capernaum seeking Jesus.||Τῇ ἐπαύριον ὁ ὄχλος ὁ ἑστηκὼς πέραν τῆς θαλάσσης εἶδον ὅτι πλοιάριον ἄλλο οὐκ ἦν ἐκεῖ εἰ μὴ ἓν καὶ ὅτι οὐ συνεισῆλθεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὸ πλοῖον ἀλλὰ μόνοι οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἀπῆλθον· ἄλλα ἦλθεν πλοι[άρι]α ἐκ Τιβεριάδος ἐγγὺς τοῦ τόπου ὅπου ἔφαγον τὸν ἄρτον εὐχαριστήσαντος τοῦ κυρίου. ὅτε οὖν εἶδεν ὁ ὄχλος ὅτι Ἰησοῦς οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκεῖ οὐδὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ, ἐνέβησαν αὐτοὶ εἰς τὰ πλοιάρια καὶ ἦλθον εἰς Καφαρναοὺμ ζητοῦντες τὸν Ἰησοῦν.|
When day breaks the people are immediately looking for Jesus. Like detectives they discover that he is not there, that he has not taken a boat, yet they know that he has left. They are so convinced that he’s skeedaddled that they get into boats and chase him all the way to Capernaum.
What makes them leap at the idea that he has crossed the sea to Capernaum?
This crowd knew that Jesus had not left with the disciples. If he had not gotten on that boat, then how did he get to Capernaum? As readers we are well aware that Jesus came walking across the water and met the disciples in their boat as the sea was beginning to rage — but the crowd in the story is not aware of any of that!
Indeed, this is the kind of faith that I long for. I would like to be so zealously seeking after Jesus that I make such logical leaps. I would love to be able to overstep reason, veer into madness, and come out clean on the other side knowing that my extreme faith in Jesus had been vindicated. Too often I do the most logical thing. I look for what makes the most sense; I weigh all options; I write out my lists of pros and cons.
In the end I think that Jesus is asking us to make some radical, irrational leaps. These leaps may require us to man our little ship and steer it across turbulent seas, but he’s already made his way over to the other side and will greet us when we arrive.