John 6:15
When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) When Jesus therefore perceived. . . .—St. John has told us of the effect of the sign on the multitude. He knows also the reason of Christ’s retirement, while St. Matthew and St. Mark only state the fact that He retired to pray. They knew not that He wished to avoid that throng of people who thought of the Messiah as a temporal king, and would have borne Him with them to the great feast at the royal city. St. Luke does not contain this section, but comp. the question recorded by him in John 9:18 et seq., which grows immediately out of it.

A mountain.—Better, the mountain, or the hill-country (John 6:3). He withdrew again to the place where He was before.

John 6:15-21. When Jesus perceived — Through the knowledge which he had of their thoughts and intentions; that they would come and take him by force — That they had formed a purpose of doing so; to make him a king — Believing that the Messiah was to rule as well as teach his people; he departed again unto a mountain himself alone — Having ordered his disciples to cross the lake, and dismissed the multitude. To this mountain, according to Matthew and Mark, he retired to pray. For a further explanation of this, and the following verses, to John 6:21, see notes on Matthew 14:22-33.6:15-21 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.When Jesus perceived ... - They were satisfied by the miracle that he was the Messiah. They supposed that the Messiah was to be a temporal prince. They saw that Jesus was retiring, unambitious, and indisposed to assume the ensigns of office. They thought, therefore, that they would proclaim him as the long-expected king, and constrain him to assume the character and titles of an earthly prince. Men often attempt to dictate to God, and suppose that they understand what is right better than he does. They are fond of pomp and power, but Jesus sought retirement, and evinced profound humility. Though he had claims to the honor and gratitude of the nation, yet he sought it not in this way; nor did it evince a proper spirit in his followers when they sought to advance him to a place of external splendor and regal authority. 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 [1790]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. This motion of Christ into a mountain alone, after he had sent away the multitude, (thus miraculously fed), and after that his disciples had taken ship again, is mentioned by two other of the evangelists; by Matthew 14:23 by Mark 6:45,46. But this occasion of it is expressed by neither of them; who both say, that he went thither to pray? And indeed John (who rarely mentions any thing set down by the others) is judged to have recorded this history, as for the excellent discourse of our Saviour’s following this miracle; so for some particular circumstances in and about the miracle, not mentioned by the other evangelists; of which, as the discourse he had with Philip was one, so this about their going about to make him a king was another. The Jews were a people exceedingly jealous of and zealous for their liberties, the Galilaeans especially, amongst whom our Saviour was at that time; so as they never wanted any thing but a leader for a sedition or rebellion. The Scriptures mention two, Acts 5:36,37, under the conduct of one Theudas, and Judas of Galilee. Ecclesiastical history mentions more. Their error as to the Messias (whom they dreamed of as a temporal prince) gave them a colour for these insurrections, whenever they could get any to take upon him that pretence. These men seeing these great miracles wrought by Christ, particularly that of the loaves multiplied to feed five thousand, thought Christ had been such a Messias as they expected; not understanding that the kingdom of the true Messias was not to be of this world, John 18:36, but within men here, and more evident in the day of judgment, Matthew 25:34. But our Saviour, who never came into the world to disturb the civil order and government in it, constantly avoided the giving the least occasion for such a suspicion: when he therefore knew, either by his insight into the hearts of men, or by hearing their discourses, that they had such seditious thoughts, he withdrew himself into a mountain. How he withdrew himself, so as they did not follow him, no, not his disciples, is a matter which hath exercised the thoughts of many. The papists say, that he had a power, by virtue of the personal union of the Divine and human nature in his person, to make his body invisible, and so passed from them, not discerned by them. The Lutherans are not so confident in this, yet seem to incline it might be thus. Indeed both of them are concerned to maintain the possibility of such a thing; for without such a possibility, neither can the papists maintain their doctrine of transubstantiation, where they hold, that the bread in the sacrament of the Lord’s supper is turned into the very body of Christ, and the wine into his blood (though no such thing be obvious to our senses); nor the Lutherans their doctrine of consubstantiation, who hold, that the very body and blood of Christ is really present in, with, or under the elements, though the elements be not changed into it. But the Greek words are no more than anecwrhsen palin, which signify no more than that he again changed his place, which he might easily do through a multitude in a disorder, without their notice of him; and if his disciples did see him, it is not probable that they, knowing his aversion to any seditious practices, as also his custom to withdraw to places of privacy for devotion, would take any notice at all of him. 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".

{2} When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

(2) Not only is Christ not delighted by a preposterous worship, but he is greatly offended by it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 6:15. For Jesus perceived that they were on the point of coming and carrying Him off to make Him king. ἁρπάζειν, to snatch suddenly and forcibly (derived from the swoop of the falcon, the ἅρπη; hence, the Harpies). This scene throws light on the use of ἁρπάζουσιν in Matthew 11:12. Their purpose was to make Him king. Their own numbers and their knowledge of the general discontent would encourage them. But Jesus ἀνεχώρησε πάλιν εἰς τὸ ὄρος αὐτὸς μόνος, “withdrew again (cf. John 6:3) to the mountain,” from which He may have come down some distance to meet the crowd. Now He detached Himself even from His disciples. [μὴ παρέχων μηδὲ τούτοις ἀφορμὴν, Origen.] The Synoptic account is supplementary. The disciples remained behind with fragments of the crowd, but, when it became late, they went down to the sea, and having got on board a (not “the”) boat, they were coming across to Capernaum [Mark says Jesus told them to go to Bethsaida, but that is quite consistent, as they may have meant to land at the one place and walk to the other] on the other side, and it had already become dark, and Jesus had not, or “not yet,” come to them, and the sea was rising owing to a strong wind blowing.15. take him by force] Carry Him up to Jerusalem and proclaim Him king at the Passover. This again is peculiar to S. John. In his Epic he points out how the enmity of Christ’s foes increases; and nothing increased it so much as popular enthusiasm for Him: comp. John 3:26, John 4:1-3, John 7:40-41; John 7:46, John 8:30, John 9:30-38, John 10:21; John 10:42, John 11:45-46, John 12:9-11.

again] He had come down to feed them.

into a mountain] Better, as in John 6:3, into the mountain, or the hill country.

himself alone] S. Matthew and S. Mark tell us that the solitude He sought was for prayer. S. Luke (Luke 9:18) mentions both the solitary prayer and also a question which seems to refer to this burst of enthusiasm for Christ; ‘Whom say the people that I am?’ Thus the various accounts supplement one another.John 6:15.[122] Ἁρπάζειν, to carry off) by force.—βασιλέα, a king) To make Him a king, was the prerogative of the Father, not of the people; nor was it as yet the tune. [And this very circumstance is perhaps the cause, that nowhere do we read that Jesus, whilst He teas sojourning on the earth, entered Bethlehem, the native town of David, even though that town was very close to Jerusalem.—Harm., p. 333.] Jesus, in order to avoid the people, already at that time often changed from place to place.—πάλιν, again) Comp. John 6:3, “Jesus went up into a mountain.”—αὐτὸς μόνος, Himself alone) having desired the disciples to cross over. Αὐτός is elegantly redundant, ΠΑΡΈΛΚΕΙ. Ch. John 12:24, Ὁ ΚΌΚΚΟς ΤΟῦ ΣΊΤΟΥ,—ΑὐΤῸς ΜΌΝΟς ΜΈΝΕΙ.

[122] ἔρχεσθαι, to come) The turning aside from a spiritual movement to temporal things is an easy transition.—V. g.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. Would come (μέλλουσιν ἔρχεσθαι)

Literally, are about to come.

Take by force (ἁρπάζειν)

See on Matthew 11:12.

A king

Better, as Rev., king; over themselves.

Himself alone (αὐτὸς μόνος)

Matthew has κατ' ἰδίαν, privately, and both Matthew and Mark add, to pray.

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