(Vs. 14) Our Lord had manifested His power in feeding the great multitude with only five loaves and two fish. The crowd was impressed, amazed, and declared that surely He is the Messiah or THAT PROPHET (John 1:21; Deut. 18:15). These men, like ail of Israel, were waiting and looking for a leader or a king to lead them in a successful revolt against the hated Romans (Acts 5:36-37). They did not understand that the true kingdom of the Messiah was not to be of this world (John 18:36) but within us. They knew not the meaning of the sacrifices and atonement nor the redemptive work of the Messiah. Do not be misled by those who talk of Christ the Prophet and King but who despise HIS CROSS!
(Vs. 15) Our Lord immediately withdrew from these ambitious men who would try to make Him king over a nation of unbelievers. He came to save sinners, to redeem a people for His glory, to call out of every nation a holy people to reign forever with Him in a new heaven and a new earth (Titus 2:14; I Peter 2: 9-10). These Jews had professed with their lips Christ as THAT PROPHET and would by force make Him KING, but there is another office, which comes in between these. Christ must officiate as PRIEST, offering Himself as a sacrifice for sin. Besides, He needed not to be made king by them; HE IS THE KING! (Rev. 19:16.)
(Vs. 16-17) Matthew, writing on this same episode, explains the reason why the disciples boarded their ship and left for the other side. Our Lord instructed them to do so (Matt. 14:22-23).
(Vs. 18) It was now dark, the Lord had not come to them, and the sea was being tossed about by the wind. We live in a dark world, a world of trouble, and a world, which "lieth in the wicked one." Sometimes the Lord withholds the light of His presence even from His own; and they are allowed to be tossed about, sifted as wheat, and tried severely. But He will soon come, in His own time, when His purpose for us has been accomplished.
(Vs. 19-20) The disciples were pulling at the oars and had rowed about eight or nine miles when they saw the Lord Jesus walking on the water coming toward them, and they were afraid. Matthew says, "They were troubled." Think of it troubled and afraid of their Master. But of course they had never (nor had anyone) seen nor heard of such a thing as a man walking on the sea! Mark describes their feelings more fully and notes their unbelief (Mark 6:49-52). Even believers have trouble with unbelief. "Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief."
(Vs. 21) Matthew records Peter's attempt to walk on the water (Matt. 14:28-33). The wind ceased when He came into the ship, and they were soon on land. Note their confession of faith and strong assurance in Matt. 14:32-33.
(Vs. 22-25) The people whose hearts were set on making this "miracle worker" their king began to search for Him. They knew that He had not entered the boat His disciples had taken to the other side. When they did not find Him, they also got on board ships and went to Capernaum. When they found Him, they said, "Master, when and how did you get over here?"
(Vs. 26) There was nothing wrong with their question. But to have answered them with, "I walked across," would have only added fuel to their ambition to make Him an earthly king, further distracting them from His true mission. Instead of explaining how He came to Capernaum, He showed them that He was acquainted with their motives and desires. Outwardly they appeared ready to honor Him, but He read their hearts. Whether it was the miracles or the loaves and fishes, these people were interested in the flesh, materialism, earthly kingdoms, and earthly comforts. They had no concern for their souls nor their relationship with the living God (John 2:23-25).
(Vs. 27) The word "labor" is used figuratively and signifies intense and earnest desire and effort toward obtaining that which is of great and eternal value the Bread of Life, or the salvation of our souls. A man is foolish to be overly concerned about earthly treasure and comfort which will all perish (Mark 8:35-36; Matt. 6:31-34). Salvation is not by labor nor works but is the gift of God. Our Lord tells these people, "The meat which endureth to eternal life the Son of Man SHALL GIVE YOU, for Him hath the Father SEALED" or to Him the Father hath given ALL AUTHORITY to give eternal life (John 17:1-3). But those who ENTER do so willingly and sincerely. Those who RECEIVE the Son do so lovingly in faith. Those who FEED upon the Bread of Life and WIN CHRIST do so in earnest dedication and full commitment. Those who find Christ SEEK Him! Those who are saved CALL upon Him! Those who enter in STRIVE to do so!