|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:15-21 Here were Christ's disciples in the way of duty, and Christ was praying for them; yet they were in distress. There may be perils and afflictions of this present time, where there is an interest in Christ. Clouds and darkness often surround the children of the light and of the day. They see Jesus walking on the sea. Even the approaches of comfort and deliverance often are so mistaken, as to become the occasions of fear. Nothing is more powerful to convince sinners than that word, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest; nothing more powerful to comfort saints than this, I am Jesus whom thou lovest. If we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, though the night be dark, and the wind high, yet we may comfort ourselves, we shall be at the shore before long.
Verse 15. - Jesus therefore knowing (having found, perceived (γνούς), by ominous movements in the crowd, or in any other way still more explicit) that they were about to come and by violence, or force, seize him in order that they might make him King. This movement was not an unnatural one. They were on the way to Jerusalem, and they were thirsting to throw off the yoke of Rome and of Herod, and probably indignant to the extreme with the "deep damnation" of John the Baptist's death. In such a frame, the display of power and resources which they had just witnessed pointed Jesus out as their popular idol, and encouraged the belief, which did not die out till it was quenched in blood. The bald suggestion would clash absolutely with the Lord's own plan, with the Father's design concerning him. It would seem that the disciples manifested great reluctance to leave Christ or the crowd; for both Matthew (Matthew 14:22) and Mark (Mark 6:45) imply that Jesus had to use special means to induce them to depart (ἠνὰγκασεν). He compelled them to do so. If we had nothing but the synoptic narrative to guide us, we might suppose that Jesus had difficulty in resisting the desire of the disciples to remain always at his side; or that the intensity of their affection was interfering too much with the need in which he felt of retirement and solitude. John's statement here illumines the language of the other Gospels. The disciples themselves were strongly moved by the passions of the thousands; they were sharing in the general enthusiasm. To quench such an unholy or unspiritual view of the true Prophet and King, the disciples must be separated from the crowd, and Christ had to overcome by some special utterance of his authority the reluctance of the twelve to embark in their ship. Having done this, and without their help, he sent the multitudes away. He withdrew, for the second time, to the mountain (cf. ver. 3), and this time himself alone. These occasional separations from the apostles were undoubtedly part of the discipline to which they were subjected. They were taught that, when he was no longer visible to them, he might still be spiritually present and able to succour them.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
When Jesus therefore perceived,.... As being the omniscient God, who knew their hearts, and the secret thoughts and purposes of them; or, as man, understood by their words and gestures:
that they would come and take him by force, and make him a king; that they had "determined", as the Arabic version renders it; or "had it in their mind", as the Persic; to gather about him as one man, and seize him in a violent manner, whether he would or not; and proclaim him the King Messiah; place him at the head of them, to deliver the nation from the Roman yoke, and set up a temporal kingdom, in which they might hope for great secular advantages: and they might the rather be induced to take such a step, since, by this miracle, they could not doubt of his being able to support such an army of men, and to succeed in the enterprise; for he that could do this, what was it he could not do? but,
he departed again into a mountain, himself alone; he left the company directly, upon this resolution of theirs, and even took not his disciples with him, who were in the same way of thinking about a temporal kingdom, as the people, and might encourage them in this undertaking: the mountain Christ went into, very probably was the same he went up to before; the reasons of his departure, were to prevent the attempt; to show that his kingdom was not of this world; to teach his followers to forsake the honours and riches of this world, for his sake; and to let them know, that those who sought only for a temporal redeemer, were unworthy of his presence: and also he went away alone, for the sake of secret retirement, and private prayer; and it may be chiefly, that he prayed that God would open the minds of these men, and particularly the disciples; that they might be convinced of their mistaken notions of him as a temporal prince: some copies add, "and he prayed there"; the Syriac, Ethiopic, and Persic versions leave out the word "again"; and the latter, contrary to all others, renders it, "Christ departed from the mountain alone".
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15. departed … to a mountain himself alone—(1) to rest, which He came to this "desert place" on purpose to do before the miracle of the loaves, but could not for the multitude that followed Him (see Mr 6:31); and (2) "to pray" (Mt 14:23; Mr 6:46). But from His mountain-top He kept watching the ship (see on Joh 6:18), and doubtless prayed both for them, and with a view to the new manifestation which He was to give them of His glory.
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