Who is Jesus?

Part 6 of an EasyEnglish Bible Study Course on the Life of Christ

www.easyenglish.info

 A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

Jesus feeds 5000 people

Barrie Wetherill

At this time it was difficult for Jesus and his *disciples to avoid the crowds (Matthew 14:13). They were tired, and they needed to rest. They left in a boat to go to a quiet place. But the crowds followed them on foot. When Jesus and the *disciples landed, there was already a great crowd there. Jesus loved all people. He knew that the people in the crowd needed his help. Mark records this:

Jesus wanted people to trust him. He taught them about the *kingdom of God (Luke 9:11). He also cured people who were ill. Late in the day the *disciples wanted to send the crowds away. Everybody had travelled a long way. The people would have a long journey home. But Jesus wanted to feed the people first. Jesus cared about the crowds. We read about this many times. On another occasion Mark says:

 

Food for 5000 people

In Mark 6, the people had no food, but one boy had five loaves and two small fish. Jesus took these and gave thanks to God. Then he broke them, and the *disciples distributed the food to the crowd. By a *miracle there was enough food for everybody. There was plenty for 5000 people to eat well. There was even some food that the people did not eat. In fact, enough food remained to fill 12 baskets. This *miracle was a sign with an important meaning. Afterwards there was a very important discussion.

The meaning of the *miracle

The crowd immediately understood some of the meaning of this *miracle. Many years before, God had provided bread for the Jews. This was when they were with Moses. Moses led them through the desert. Moses also had said that another *prophet like him would come. Now Jesus was here. He was a great teacher, like Moses. Like Moses, he did *miracles, and had provided bread by *miracle. Surely Jesus was the *prophet whom Moses spoke about! But the crowd thought that this *prophet would be a king. He would fight for them and defeat their enemies. He would send their enemies away and establish the Jews' *kingdom again.

The people wanted to make Jesus king

Jesus had to be very careful at this time. He was in danger. The crowd might take him by force and make him king. Also, if he went back across the lake to Galilee, there could be the same trouble.

Mark 6:34 When Jesus landed he saw a large crowd. He felt sorry for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd [that is, a person who looks after sheep]. So he began to teach them many things.

Mark 8:1-3 During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his *disciples to him. He said, 'I am sorry for these people. They have already been with me for three days, and they have nothing to eat. If I send them away now, they will fall down with hunger. Some of them have come a long distance’.

So Jesus sent the *disciples away in the boat. He himself went up a mountain to pray.

God's plan for Jesus

Jesus could have agreed to be king. That would mean that he would provide for people. He would give them food and keep them safe. But that was not God's plan. That was not why Jesus came to the world. He came to give people much more than this. People needed God to forgive them and to give them a peaceful life. They needed to know that God would give them eternal life. [Eternal life is the life that God gives to believers now. Eternal life will continue in heaven.] Only this would really satisfy people. This is why Jesus came.

We learn here how much Jesus loved people. He wanted them to trust him. He wanted them to be part of the *kingdom of God. He showed his care when he provided for them. He showed his great power by his *miracles. Jesus had great power, but he was also very gentle.

The crowd finds Jesus Jesus walks on water

After Jesus fed 5000 people by a *miracle, the *disciples left in the boat. But Jesus was not with them. He went up a mountain to pray.

On the lake, suddenly a storm began. A strong wind blew. The waves on the sea became very big. The *disciples were in danger. Jesus walked on the water to get to the boat. Immediately the *disciples were safe, and they reached the land.

But the crowd had seen that the *disciples left without Jesus. People then tried to find Jesus. They did not find him, and so they went to the other side of the lake themselves.

Jesus wanted to give better things than bread

When the rest of the crowd found the *disciples with Jesus, they had a question to ask. They wanted to know how Jesus had got there. Jesus did not answer this question. Instead, he said this to them. He wanted them to think about him seriously. He said:

They expected good things from Jesus, but he wanted to give them much better things. But first they had to trust him. The crowd then asked Jesus to prove who he was. They remembered that, for 40 years, Moses had given food to the Jews in the desert. Jesus told them that the food came from God. It did not come from Moses. Now God would give them the best food. By 'food', Jesus did not mean the food that you eat. This 'food' really meant Jesus himself. He had come to give the world the best way to live. He was here now, with them. The crowd did not understand. They asked for bread that they could put in their mouths.

God sent Jesus into the world

Then Jesus made a series of wonderful statements.

John 6:26, 27 Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth. The reason why you are looking for me is not the *miracles. You are looking for me because I gave you plenty of bread to eat.

Do not work for food that becomes bad. Work for food that gives you eternal life. [Jesus used the word 'food', but he did not really mean food here. Read my explanation in the next paragraph. 'Eternal life' is the life that God gives to believers now, and which will continue in heaven.] The Son of Man [Jesus] will give you this food. God the Father has shown that he approves of him’.

John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, 'I am the *bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry. He who believes in me will never need a drink’.

John 6:38 'I have come down from *heaven to obey God. I do not do the things that I want to do. I do the things that God wants me to do. He has sent me’.

 

John 6:40 'This is what my Father [God] wants. Everyone who believes in the Son [Jesus] shall have *eternal life. That person will be with me at the last day’. [The last day will be when Jesus comes back to the world. He has promised to do this in the future.]

Jesus declared that God sent him to this world. Jesus came to show people in the world how to live. He can satisfy completely those who believe in him. He also declared that they are safe for all time. They will be safe with him on the last day. [The last day will be when Jesus comes back to the world. He has promised to do this in the future.] And they will always live with him in heaven. Jesus, and only Jesus, can show us how to live in God’s way. People must believe and trust in him.

The Jews did not like this and they said so. They knew that Jesus came from Nazareth. So they did not believe that he came from heaven. They did not believe that God sent Jesus to this world.

Jesus had said some difficult things. He said that before his birth to Mary, he had already existed. That was before he came to earth (for example: John 8:23, John 3:13 and John 3:31.) Later the *apostle John wrote wonderful words at the beginning of his *gospel: John 1:1-5. These words explain this well. Men could understand what Jesus said later. Jesus died on the *cross and came alive again. After that it was easier to understand some things. When he died on the *cross, he gave himself for the *sins of other people. He died so that we can live in God’s way. Because he did this, God can forgive us. If we believe, God forgives us and blesses us.

Jesus' gift of *eternal life

Jesus then explained again what he had said.

'A man may eat it and not die.' Jesus did not speak here about the death of a person’s body. He spoke about the death of the *spirit that is inside a man. He called this the 'second death’. These verses in the Bible give a wonderful promise to those who believe in Jesus. But when he spoke these words, many people did not understand. They went away from him. Jesus turned to the *disciples. He asked if they also were going to leave him. Peter answered for them all:

There were many things that the disciples did not understand. But they knew that the promise of *eternal life came from Jesus. One day, Jesus would give his body on the *cross so that people could have *eternal life. This whole event taught them this. Jesus fed 5000 people by a *miracle. Then Jesus taught them. This *miracle showed them a wonderful truth.

The Pharisees say that the *miracles of Jesus come from Satan

Matthew 12:22-37 Jesus cures a man whom *demons controlled

We can read about another event that happened about this time. It shows us what some people thought about Jesus. Men brought a man to Jesus. The man was blind and could not speak. *Demons controlled him. Jesus immediately cured him. Then he could both talk and see. This *miracle astonished the crowds. However, some *Pharisees said, 'No! This man sends *demons away by the power of Beelzebub [the devil], who is the prince of *demons’. (Matthew 12:24)

John 6:47-51 'I tell you the truth. He who believes in me has *eternal life. I am the *bread of life. Long ago your people ate the manna in the desert, but yet they died. [Manna is the name of the bread that God sent to the people with Moses.] But here is the bread that comes down from *heaven. A man may eat it and not die. I am the *living bread that came down from *heaven. If anyone eats of this *bread, he will live for ever. This *bread is my body. I will give my body so that the world can have *eternal life’.

John 6:68-69 Simon Peter answered him, '*Lord, we cannot go to anyone else. You have the words of *eternal life. We believe in you. We know that you are the Holy One of God’.

 

To accuse Jesus like this is terrible. Jesus loved and cared for everyone so much. He was very wise. He blessed people. His *miracles helped people.

People who could make such statements were foolish or evil. We could say that they were blind in their *spirits. They were not able to look at Jesus and to understand him. (There are still people like that today.) Jesus was not angry with them – as we might be. He answered them wisely.

Suppose that this was true! Suppose that Jesus cured people with the help of Satan [the devil]. Or, with the help of *demons. Then Satan would be fighting against himself. Satan would be using his power against himself. Satan would defeat himself. This could not happen.

The *Pharisees themselves tried to cure people who were in the control of *demons. So, Jesus asked this question as a reply to these *Pharisees:

If Jesus did this with the help of *demons, how did the *Pharisees do it? *The sin that God will not forgive

Jesus also said some other very strong words to them.

People sin when they do not do what God wants. When Jesus died for our *sins, it was for all kinds of *sin. We can think about king David as an example. He took another man’s wife and he murdered the man (1 Samuel 12). God forgave him.

These *Pharisees said that the work of Jesus by the *Holy Spirit was really the devil's work. This is the sin that God can never forgive. Jesus' statement should have made these *Pharisees think! Nobody should say that the work of God is *Satan’s work. God will forgive anyone who is really sorry. But to say that God’s work is *Satan’s work is a different kind of *sin. It means that a person has decided to oppose God. That person has chosen to be very wicked. But Jesus continued:

If Jesus had been a servant of *Satan, what Jesus did could not be good. It is impossible for a servant of *Satan to do good things.

How do we know whether someone is good or bad?

How do we know whether someone is good or bad? We look at what that person does. We see how that person behaves. A good person speaks good words and does good things. An evil person speaks bad words and does evil things. Everybody had seen how Jesus behaved. They had heard his words. Now we can understand what kind of people these *Pharisees really were.

Evil deeds begin in a person's heart

Jesus said words like these on another occasion. The *Pharisees declared that Jesus’ *disciples had not obeyed a law. The *disciples did not wash their hands before they ate food. This was not really a part of the Jewish law. It was a tradition of the *Pharisees. Jesus said this:

Food, which goes into the mouth, does not spoil a man.

But the things that come out of a man's mouth can spoil that man. Jesus meant that evil words and ideas make a person bad. He said this:

Matthew 12:31, 32 And so I tell you this. God can forgive men for every *sin except one. He will not forgive men who speak against the *Holy Spirit. God will forgive anyone who speaks a word against the *Son of Man [Jesus]. God will never forgive anyone who speaks against the *Holy Spirit, now or ever.

Matthew 12:33 'A good tree has good fruit. A bad tree has bad fruit. We know a tree by its fruit.'

Matthew 15:18-20 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart. These are the things that make someone 'unclean’. [By unclean Jesus meant evil, or bad.] All these things begin in a person's heart: [We might use the word 'mind' instead of 'heart' today]

Evil thoughts

 

Murder Sex with another man's wife Any sex when the couple do not obey God's rules Theft [that is, when a person steals something] Lies Untrue words about other people

This is the behaviour that makes someone 'unclean’ [evil or bad]. If you do not wash your hands before a meal, that does not make you 'unclean’ [evil or bad].

In the discussion, these *Pharisees had really shown their true character. Jesus knew very well what man is like. He knew that we all need a new heart with new desires and new behaviour. This is what he came to give us. He gives it to everyone who believes in him. He gives it to everyone who trusts him.

What Peter said at Caesarea Philippi

Matthew 16:13-28

A very important conversation

A very important conversation happened about
his time. The *disciples had been with Jesus for some time. They had seen his *miracles. They had heard him teach. They had seen the great love and care that he always showed. They were near Caesarea Philippi.

Then, Jesus asked his *disciples this question:

Whom did people say that Jesus was?

The *disciples replied with many answers:

Some people thought that John the Baptist had become alive again. These people guessed that Jesus was really John.

Some people thought that Jesus was perhaps Elijah or one of the prophets. But Peter said this:

Jesus is the *Messiah and the son of God

This was a wonderful answer. 'Christ' means the same as *Messiah. Peter realised that Jesus was the son of God.

Jesus had an explanation for what Peter had said. The *disciples could only say this because God had told them. God had helped them to believe in Jesus.

Wrong ideas about the *Messiah

Jesus immediately told them not to tell anyone. Why did he say this? It was because of the Jews’ idea of a *Messiah. They expected that the *Messiah would be a military leader. They thought that the *Messiah would defeat the Romans. The security of the Jews was important. But Jesus had come to do something that was far more important.

Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’.

 

Jesus speaks about his death

Immediately Jesus started to teach his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem. There, men would attack him and kill him. The Jews did not think that this should happen to a *Messiah. The *disciples could not understand it. Peter even blamed Christ for saying it! Jesus tried many times to tell the *disciples what would happen at Jerusalem. He tried to tell them that he would die on the *cross. Then he would become alive again. They did not understand until afterwards. The actual events were a great shock to them.

This conversation was an important event in Jesus *ministry. Afterwards, Jesus prepared to go to the *cross. Soon, he would leave Galilee, and start his last journey to Jerusalem.

The *disciples see Jesus as he is in *heaven Matthew 17:1-13

In Matthew 16, Peter said that Jesus was the Christ [that is, the *Messiah].

Jesus appears in a new way

Six days after Peter said this about Jesus, Jesus led Peter, James and John up a high mountain. (It was probably Mount Hermon, which is near Caesarea Philippi.) This event is called the 'transfiguration'. On the mountain, Jesus appeared to them in a new way. His clothes became white and shone brightly. Jesus' face shone like the sun.

Many years afterwards, God allowed John to see Jesus as he is in *heaven (Revelation 1:13-16). On this mountain, the three *disciples saw something that was like that.

Moses and Elijah

Then Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus. They spoke about the death of Jesus, which would happen at Jerusalem. Then Peter offered to make shelters for each of them. (Peter's words were stupid. He did not think about his words before he spoke. Perhaps he was too excited when he saw this wonderful event.)

Then a cloud covered them. The cloud was a sign that God was there. God spoke to them, but they could only hear his voice. They could not see him. He said this:

The disciples were afraid and they fell to the ground. Jesus touched them. When they looked up, Jesus was there alone.

Lessons from this event

This event shows several things:

Moses and the *prophets recognised Jesus. Jesus was doing all that they had said. After he came alive again, Jesus would teach his *disciples more about this (Luke 24:25, Luke 24:45-49).

Jesus would die on the *cross. This was the way that he would go back to *heaven. It was also the way that he would bring people to God.

Jesus is the one and only Son of God. Everyone should listen carefully to his words. The experience of the *disciples on the mountain showed them what would happen in the future.

Jesus would have great *glory in *heaven. The *disciples would be with him there.

But Jesus told them not to tell anyone about this experience at that time. The time would come for them to tell about him. First, Jesus would die. Then, he would become alive again. The time to tell people would be after those events.

'This is my Son, whom I love. I am very pleased with him. Listen to him!’ (Matthew 17:5.)

 

The *prophet's words about Elijah

One point worried the *disciples. They were sure that Jesus was the promised *Messiah. But a *prophet had said that Elijah would come before the *Messiah.

'Where was Elijah’? the *disciples asked. Jesus replied that John the Baptist had made the *prophet’s words true. But, Jesus added, the people did not recognise John's importance. Now Herod had killed John. Similarly, Jesus himself would soon suffer. Evil people would kill Jesus.

Malachi's words had come true by John the Baptist. And the words of other *prophets who wrote about the *Messiah's death would soon come true as well.

The *Kingdom, and what it means

Jesus came to set up an entirely new *kingdom. His *kingdom was for people who trusted Jesus. The *Holy Spirit now lived in these people. Jesus did not want to change things in a small way. He was a real revolutionary. (A revolutionary is a person who starts a revolution. But Jesus' revolution was not political. Instead, Jesus set up the *kingdom of God.) That was why he was born in an animals’ shed, and not in a palace, or into a royal family.

People in this world often want only what will give them pleasure. Some people desire money and some people desire power. We recognise such attitudes in the way that the *Pharisees and other people behaved towards Jesus.

But Jesus came to establish a new *kingdom. People who belong to this new *kingdom love perfectly. They serve other people humbly.

A *kingdom for new men and new women

Like any other revolutionary, Jesus saw wrong things in society. For this new *kingdom, he would need new men and women. He needed people whom the *Holy Spirit had changed. They would have new hearts and they would love in a different way.

Also like any revolutionary, he asked us to obey him totally. But he is also not like today’s revolutionaries. His methods are totally fair and loving. Other revolutionaries would not hesitate to use cruel methods to achieve their ambitions. But Jesus was gentle and humble.

How to follow Christ

Just after Peter’s words at Caesarea Philippi, we read these words.

Do we want to follow Christ? Then we must give up our own desires. We must give up the desire to do what other people do. We must give up our jealous ambitions. In these verses, Jesus showed that people are very foolish in this world. Whatever they gain in this world is not really useful. It will have no value when Jesus comes again to *judge the world. It will have no value when we live with him, after death. But suppose that someone did gain the whole world. That person would lose his soul. And he would lose his life with Jesus. Jesus came to give us a completely full life (John 10:10). This only comes to people who follow him completely. So, when we serve Jesus, we should be totally sincere.

Malachi 4:5-6: See, the great day of the *Lord will come. Before that, I will send the *prophet Elijah to you. He will help fathers to love their children. And he will help children to love their fathers. If not, I will come. I will bring bad things to the land.

Matthew 16:24-28 'If anyone would come to me, he must give up his own desires. He must take up his *cross. [That is, he must be ready to suffer.] He must follow me. Whoever wants to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for me will find it. A man may gain the whole world, but lose his *soul. That would be terrible. A man's *soul is more important than anything else that he could gain. The *Son of Man [Jesus] will come in his Father’s *glory with his *angels. Then he will reward each person for what he has done. I tell you the truth about some people here. They will not die before they see the *Son of Man’s *kingdom’.

 

Earlier, when Jesus taught his *disciples on the mountain, he said this. We cannot trust anything that we own. It is not safe to do this. In the end that thing will disappoint us. If we have money or valuable possessions, thieves can steal them. Many possessions will lose their value because time will spoil them. If we trust only our family or friends, they will also disappoint us. God made people. He designed people so that they would trust him alone. We are completely safe only when we do that. Jesus came to forgive us. He wants to give us peace with God. [That is, Jesus wants us to be friends of God.] And Jesus wants to give us *eternal life, and security. Because of Jesus, anyone can trust God. First, that person must be really sorry for his *sin. Then that person can turn to God. God will make that person a citizen of the *Kingdom of God. But we must give up the behaviour and attitudes of people who do not obey God.

What does a Christian have to give up?

What does the Christian have to give up? Jesus asks us to give up our *sin. He offers to forgive us. He gives us *eternal life. We trust him. So, we believe that God’s word [the Bible] is true. And the Bible teaches new attitudes to us.

The life of the *apostle Paul shows us this. When he became a Christian, he gave up a good career. He gave up the chance to be an important man in his nation. Even although he was young, he was already a leader. He gave all this up for Christ. There were more things that he had to give up later. But Paul always said that he gained so much more. What he gained in Christ was much better than his old life. Paul had new attitudes now. To do well in his career was not important to him now. Popularity was not important now. What was important was to please God. We can see this when we read his letters. Nothing else in life could satisfy him. He was really happy only when he was pleasing God. Here are his words.

The *apostles could not possibly know this when Jesus was with them. Their ideas about Jesus' *Kingdom were still wrong. But they knew enough to understand this. Jesus was the *Saviour. God had promised this *Saviour. So, they should trust him. And they should obey him.

Read: John 6

Word List

angel ~ a servant from God who brings messages to men.

apostle ~ one of the 12 men that Jesus chose to be his helpers. He chose them to teach other people about him. Paul is also called an apostle.

bread, bread of life ~ Jesus used these words to describe himself. Jesus was not talking here about the bread that you eat. He meant that he gives us life. Ordinary food and drink make us strong for a short time. But Jesus always satisfies us. He gives *eternal life to us.

cross ~ two pieces of wood fixed together. Jesus died on a cross, and so the cross is now the sign of the church.

demon ~ a servant of *Satan [the devil], who is God’s chief enemy.

disciples ~ men whom Jesus chose to be with him and to share his work; people who believe in Jesus and obey him.

Philippians 3:7-10 I achieved many things. But these things do not seem worthwhile now that I know Christ. In fact, I think that everything in this world is of little value. But I have received something much better: I know Christ Jesus my *Lord. I have lost everything because of him. But I consider that these things are like rubbish. I have gained Christ. I belong to Christ. The law could not make me good. But Christ makes me good as I trust him. God makes me really good because I believe in Christ. I want to know Christ and the power of his life. I am willing to suffer like Jesus and to become like him in his death. Then I will also become alive again, as he did, after death.

 

eternal life ~ the life that God gives to believers now. When people trust in Jesus, they belong to God in a new way. They know him in a different way. They have a new experience of him. All this will continue in heaven, where God is.

glory ~ the power and greatness of God.

Gospel ~ one of the books of the Bible which tells about the life of Jesus Christ. It can also mean the good news for everybody that God can deal with our wrong actions. Because he does this, we do not need to go to hell.

heaven ~ where God lives and rules Holy Spirit ~ God’s Spirit, whom Jesus sent to help people. judge ~ decide if a person is good or bad. kingdom ~ land that a king rules over. kingdom of God ~ all the people who love and trust God.

living bread ~ Jesus used these words to describe himself. Jesus was not talking here about the bread that you eat. He meant that he gives us life. Ordinary food and drink make us strong for a short time. But Jesus always satisfies us. He gives *eternal life to us.

Lord ~ a name that we call God or Jesus, when we obey them

Messiah ~ Messiah means the same as Christ. That is, the one whom God chose as *Israel's special king. God forgives us because Jesus, our Messiah, suffered the punishment for our evil deeds.

ministry ~ special work for God. miracle ~ a wonderful event that shows that God is at work.

Pharisees ~ a group of Jews who thought that they kept all of God’s commands. Many Pharisees did not like what Jesus said. They thought that they were always right. They became very proud.

prophet ~ a person who can tell other people what God wants. Satan ~ God’s chief enemy, also called the devil. saviour ~ Jesus, who brings us to God, and rescues us from wrong things in our lives. sin ~ when people do not do what God wants. Son of Man ~ another name for Jesus, which he often called himself. soul ~ the part of us that that we cannot see. This part is in us during life, and lives on after death. spirit ~ the part of a person which is alive, and which we cannot see.