John 6

New Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2002), 113–15


timeline

Introduction

Consider the following sequence of events: a multitude follows a prophet to a solitary place, Jehovah supplies bread in a miraculous way to feed them, the prophet goes alone into a mountain, the Lord saves His disciples in the course of a miraculous sea crossing, the people murmur and debate among themselves and criticize the prophet, and the prophet delivers a discourse explaining the meaning of these events. This sequence describes the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. It also summarizes the events in John 6. The Gospel of John shows Jesus at the head of a new Exodus, leading His disciples out of the bondage of the world, through the trials of mortality, and on to eternal life.

Prayerfully study John 6and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 90–93.

Suggestions for Teaching

Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for John 6.

John 6. John 6reflects the same pattern as the Exodus and the plan of salvation.

(35–45 minutes)

Read the following statements or write them on the board.

Elder Boyd K. Packer said:

“The plan is worthy of repetition over and over again. Then the purpose of life, the reality of the Redeemer, and the reason for the commandments will stay with them” (The Great Plan of Happiness [address to religious educators at a symposium on the Doctrine and Covenants/Church history, Brigham Young University, 10 Aug. 1993], 3).

President Ezra Taft Benson asked:

“Are we using the messages and the method of teaching found in the … scriptures of the Restoration to teach this great plan of the Eternal God?” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 106; or Ensign, May 1987, 84).

Ask students:

  • Why is it so important to learn and review the plan of salvation?

  • What are some principles you have learned in your past studies of the plan of salvation that are important to you?

  • Do you agree that learning something repeatedly helps us remember it?

  • What do you think might be the best way to teach the plan of salvation?

  • What methods do the scriptures use to teach the plan?

Explain that although the scriptures often teach the plan of salvation directly, they also teach it indirectly through the use of symbols, or “types” and “shadows” (see Mosiah 3:15; Moses 6:63).

Have students quickly read the following scriptures: Isaiah 11:11, 15–16; Jeremiah 16:12–15; Acts 3:22–23; Romans 9:17; 1 Corinthians 10:1–6; 1 Nephi 4:1–4; 3 Nephi 20:23. Ask: Why do you think so many different prophets have referred to the ancient Exodus?

The following events of the Exodus are in historical order. Write them on the board in random order and ask the students to put them in the correct order.

  1. 1.

    The Israelite multitude followed a prophet into the wilderness.

  2. 2.

    They crossed the Red Sea in a miraculous way.

  3. 3.

    The multitude murmured (repeatedly).

  4. 4.

    The Lord fed the people with manna from heaven.

  5. 5.

    The prophet went into a mountain to receive the law.

  6. 6.

    Many of the Israelites rebelled against God.

  7. 7.

    Israel, led by Joshua, finally entered the promised land.

Tell students that John 6has many parallels to the Exodus. The accompanying chart lists a number of them. Make a transparency or handout from the version of the chart in the appendix, which leaves the “New Exodus” column blank (see p. 293), and fill it in as a class.

Ask: Why do you think John 6 includes so many allusions to events of the Exodus? (Possibly this was a way of making the Jews more open to Jesus’ message, and also of helping them understand the meaning of their history.) Divide the students into three groups and assign each to read one of the following passages looking for events in John 6that parallel the Exodus and for how we might apply these passages of scripture to ourselves.

  • John 6:1–14 (The multitude followed Jesus to a place of solitude where Jesus fed them miraculously. As we follow the Savior and His prophets, we receive spiritual nourishment.)

  • John 6:15–21 (The Savior walked on the sea to save His disciples. When we are beset by problems, Jesus Christ is the only true source of peace. He will help us in our journey to the eternal promised land.)

  • John 6:22–71 (Christ’s discourse on the bread of life gave meaning to the events. Christ’s words guide us and help us understand the meaning of mortality.)

Have each group share their findings with the class.

Have a student read aloud 2 Nephi 11:4 and Moses 6:63. According to these verses, which things testify of Christ? Discuss how these verses relate to the Exodus pattern in John 6. Encourage students to be more aware of types and shadows that testify of Jesus Christ as they study the scriptures.

John 6:5–14 (see also Matthew 14:14–21; Mark 6:34–44; Luke 9:11–17). Jesus Christ served because He loved Heavenly Father and all mankind. Our motives are pure when our love for God and our fellowman influences us to keep the commandments.

(15–20 minutes)

Relate the following example: Mary awoke late one morning and hurriedly dressed for school. Her bed was left unmade and her room looked as if a tornado had hit it. When she returned in the afternoon, she found her bed made and her room tidy. On her bed was a note: “Dear Mary, You returned so late last evening from your date that I know you must be exhausted. I have cleaned your room and made your bed. I hope you had a good day. Love, Mother.” Ask:

  • How would you feel if you were Mary?

  • Why would a mother do something like this?

Write Motivation on the board and ask the students to define it. Ask:

  • What are some reasons people do the things they do? (Discuss their responses.)

  • Read John 6:5–14. Why do you think Jesus miraculously fed the five thousand people?

  • Read John 6:22–26. According to Jesus’ word, why did the multitude go in search of Jesus? (Discuss how Jesus’ motives differed from the crowd’s.)

  • Read John 6:38. According to this verse, what motivated Jesus?

Tell the students that Jesus Christ is motivated by His love for Heavenly Father as well as for His spirit brothers and sisters, whereas the crowd was motivated by their desire to get more food and to see signs. Explain that people are often motivated by different things. For example, most of us attend church, but perhaps for different reasons. Ask: What do you think are some reasons people attend church? Write the responses on the board and have the students rank them according to which they feel are the purer motives.

Ask students to consider whether their own motives for doing good ever differ from Christ’s motives. Ask:

  • What can we each do to improve our motives?

  • What benefits come to someone with pure motives?

Testify that the purer our motives, the more we will follow and become like Christ.

John 6:32–51. Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life.

(15–20 minutes)

Bring a fresh loaf of bread to class. Break off a piece for the students to see and smell. Ask: How can Jesus be compared to bread? List responses on the board. (Possible answers include that both offer nourishment and satisfy hunger; both give us life; both are blessings from Heavenly Father; Christ was born in Bethlehem, which means “house of bread.”)

Have students read John 6:32–51looking for how Jesus compared Himself to manna or “bread from heaven.“ Ask:

  • What are the benefits of this “bread of life”?

  • What would be the consequences of rejecting this bread?

  • How does spiritual malnutrition compare with physical malnutrition?

  • Read John 6:32–35, 44–51. According to these verses, how do we eat the bread of life?

  • Why does Jesus promise that if we come to Him and believe on Him we will never hunger nor thirst again? (see v. 35).

  • What does it mean to you to come to Christ?

Have students read the Joseph Smith Translation of John 6:44 to show that one comes to Jesus Christ by doing the Father’s will. Read the following by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

“We come now to the crowning teaching of the sermon on the bread of life, which is, that men are saved by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God. …

“The bread of life, of life eternal, living bread, the bread which came down from heaven—such is the language he uses to describe himself; and since his body is one of flesh and blood, to eat the heavensent bread, men must eat his flesh, the flesh he ‘will give for the life of the world,’ the flesh to be broken in his infinite and eternal atoning sacrifice. Knowing what Jesus’ words meant but being wholly unable to understand how they applied to salvation and to the works they must do to gain eternal life, the Jews ‘strove among themselves.’ …

“To eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God is, first, to accept him in the most literal and full sense, with no reservation whatever, as the personal offspring in the flesh of the Eternal Father; and, secondly, it is to keep the commandments of the Son by accepting his gospel, joining his Church, and enduring in obedience and righteousness unto the end. Those who by this course eat his flesh and drink his blood shall have eternal life, meaning exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world. Speaking of ancient Israel, for instance, Paul says: They ‘did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.’ (1 Cor. 10:3–4.)” (Mortal Messiah, 2:377–79).

Ask:

  • How can we remember our covenants to come unto Christ?

  • Why do we have the sacrament every week?

Explain that we partake of the bread of life by accepting Jesus as the Christ, joining His Church, keeping His commandments, and enduring in righteousness to the end. If we do this we will never hunger or thirst for spiritual nourishment. However, we need to be continually reminded of our covenants by eating the bread and drinking the water of the sacrament. Read Doctrine and Covenants 20:77and ask:

  • What do we promise the Father we are willing to do when we take the sacrament?

  • What promise does God give us in return?

Read and discuss the following statement by Elder Melvin J. Ballard:

“I am a witness that there is a spirit attending the administration of the sacrament that warms the soul from head to foot; you feel the wounds of the spirit being healed, and the load being lifted. Comfort and happiness come to the soul that is worthy and truly desirous of partaking of this spiritual food” (in Melvin J. Ballard … Crusader for Righteousness [1966], 133).

Sing “While of These Emblems We Partake” (Hymns, no. 174).

Encourage the students to always remember what the sacrament represents when they take it each week.

John 6:60–71. We must resist being offended by the Savior’s teachings and commandments.

(20–25 minutes)

Bring a screen or sieve to class and use it to sift some gravel. Or mix some small pebbles or grains of wheat with some flour and use a flour sifter to separate the flour from the large objects. Have students read John 6:66, and ask:

  • How was the Savior’s sermon on the bread of life like this sifting process?

  • Why do you think so many of Jesus’ followers left Him at this point?

  • Do you think people who leave the Church or become less active today are more likely to do so because they lack understanding or because they lack the desire to live the gospel?

  • What do some people find hard about living the gospel today?

  • What can we do to ensure that we overcome such difficulties and stay true to our covenants?

Have students read John 6:67–69 looking for how Peter responded to the Savior’s question, “Will ye also go away?” Testify that Peter was able to answer the way he did because he had a testimony by revelation (see Matthew 16:16–17). Explain that we can only answer the Savior’s question with the strength of Peter’s conviction if we have our own testimony. Such a testimony can only come by revelation, and such a revelation can only come from obedience and prayer. Ask students to ponder, the next time they are in a difficult situation, how they would answer if the Lord were to ask them, “Will ye also go away?”

Have the class sing “Lord, I Would Follow Thee” (Hymns, no. 220). Testify that one of the main purposes of mortality is to be tested. Read Abraham 3:25and explain that facing challenges is the way we show the Lord that we will do all that He commands us.