October 21, 2018 – John 6:1-71

Lesson Date: October 21, 2018

Focal Scripture Passage: John 6:1-71

AIM: To lead students to discover that some people followed Jesus out of a sincere spiritual hunger given to them by the Heavenly Father while others followed Him out of selfish motives, and to examine their own hearts to determine why they are following Jesus.


Before class: Read the notes on John 6:1-71 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Prepare the index cards described below in the “Conclusion” step.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Tell the following story to the class:

There once was a wealthy elderly woman, whose only living relatives were two granddaughters. The grandmother had a severe stroke that left her mind unharmed but her body paralyzed. Both granddaughters visited her often in the hospital. When the time came for the grandmother to leave the hospital, the two granddaughters agreed to share the responsibility of caring for her at her home. They took turns sitting with her, preparing meals and feeding them to her, cleaning her, and caring for the house.

This situation went on for many weeks. One day, the granddaughters discovered their grandmother’s will. They learned that upon her death, the grandmother’s entire estate was to be sold and all of the proceeds given to her church. After this discovery, one of the granddaughters never came back to help her grandmother any more. The other granddaughter continued faithfully caring for her grandmother until the day she died.

Ask: “Why did the first granddaughter suddenly quit caring for her grandmother? What was her motive for helping in the first place? What do you think was the other granddaughter’s motive for serving her grandmother?” Tell the class in today’s lesson we are going to look at why people followed Jesus.



  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that we are studying the Gospel of John.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 20:31.
    • Ask: “Why did John write this account of Jesus’ life?” (so his readers would believe that Jesus is the Son of God and have everlasting life by trusting in Him).
    • Ask: “Have you told anyone about Jesus this week?”
    • Briefly review chapters 1 – 5, using the following outline:
      • Chapter 1 – Jesus was identified as the Word of God, the Lamb of God, the Messiah, and the Son of God.
      • Chapter 2 – Jesus perform a miracle and cleansed the Temple, which really upset the Jewish religious leaders.
      • Chapter 3 – Jesus told Nicodemus that to go to heaven we must be born again.
      • Chapter 4 – Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, many Samaritans believed in Him, and He healed a nobleman’s son.
      • Chapter 5 – Jesus healed the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda and gave the Jews proof that He is the Son of God.
  2. Jesus Miraculously Fed Thousands of People.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 6:1-2.
    • Locate the Sea of Galilee on the map, and explain that Jesus crossed over from the west side of the sea to the east side.
    • Ask: “Why did multitudes follow Jesus out into the wilderness?” (they were amazed and fascinated by His healing miracles and wanted to see more).
    • Read John 6:5-10.
    • Tell the class there were 5,000 men plus unnumbered women and children present – perhaps 20,000 or more people.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 6:11-14.
    • Tell the students Jesus fed the thousands with five barley loaves and two small fish. Everyone ate until they were filled, and there were abundant leftovers.
    • Tell the class this was the fourth of the seven sign miracles recorded in the Gospel of John.
    • Ask: “What did the people think about Jesus after He performed that miracle?” (they thought He was “that prophet” which they expected: the Messiah – see Deut. 18:15-19).
    • Summarize: Tens of thousands of people saw Jesus perform an amazing miracle, causing them to believe that He was the promised Messiah.
  3. Jesus Miraculously Walked on Water.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 6:15-21.
    • Tell the class Jesus withdrew from the crowds because they wanted to forcefully take Him and make Him their king. That was not His mission.
    • Jesus’ disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee back toward Capernaum (locate Capernaum on the map), but a storm arose during the night.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus do?” (came to them walking on the water).
    • Tell the class this was the fifth of the seven sign miracles John described to help people believe that Jesus is God.
    • Explain that verses 22-25 tell us the next day the people Jesus fed in the wilderness realized He and His disciples were gone, so they crossed over to Capernaum.
    • Read John 6:26.
    • Ask: Why did Jesus say the people were seeking Him? (to get more free food).
    • Read John 6:29.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus tell the people to do?” (believe in Him).
    • Summarize: Jesus’ disciples saw Him walk on water, but the people He fed followed Him simply to get more food. Jesus clearly told the people to believe in Him.
  4. Jesus is the Bread of Life who Gives Everlasting Life.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 6:30-35.
    • Ask: “According to verses 30-31, why do you think the people were following Jesus?” (to see another sign; specifically, to receive more food from Him).
    • Tell the class Jesus then told them to seek “bread from heaven” rather than physical bread.
    • Ask: “According to verse 34, what did the people want?” (a daily supply of bread for the rest of their lives – similar to the desire of the Samaritan woman described in John 4:15).
    • Ask: “What did Jesus say about Himself in verse 35?” (I AM the bread of life).
    • Remind the students that “I AM” is the way Almighty God identified Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14.
      • Jesus referred to Himself as “I AM” 24 times in the Gospel of John, including 4 times in this chapter.
      • By doing so, Jesus clearly identified Himself as God.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 6:36-40.
    • Ask: “According to verse 40, what is God’s will?” (that those who see and believe in Jesus would have everlasting life).
    • Summarize: Jesus Christ is the bread of life who came down from heaven to give everlasting life to those who believe in Him.
  5. Jesus is the Source of Everlasting life.
    • Read John 6:41-48.
    • Ask: “According to verses 41-42, how did the Jews respond to Jesus?” (they murmured against Him; since they knew His parents and grandparents, they didn’t believe He had come down from heaven).
    • Tell the class how Jesus replied to the Jews:
      • In verses 43-44 He told them not to murmur against Him, because no one can come to Him or even understand Him unless the Father draws them.
      • In verse 46 Jesus said He was the only one who had ever seen the Father.
      • In verses 47-48 He told the people to believe in Him so they could have everlasting life, because “I AM that bread of life.”
    • Tell the students these were very strong and direct
    • Jesus continued to use strong words. After saying twice more that He is the bread of life (verses 48 & 51), He then said no one can have eternal life unless they “eat” His flesh and “drink” His blood (verses 53-58). These expressions are symbolic of receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior.
    • Summarize: Jesus clearly and emphatically stated that He is the bread of life and only source of everlasting life.
  6. Some Turned Away from Jesus but Others Believed.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 6:60-66.
    • Ask: “According to verses 60-61, what was the reaction of Jesus’ followers to this teaching?” (they said it was hard to understand and questioned how they could accept it).
    • Tell the students the following:
      • Jesus asked if they were offended by His words.
      • He then explained that His teaching was spiritual and can only be understood by those to whom God gave understanding and illumination.
      • Jesus also told the people He knew some of them did not believe in Him.
      • He then repeated His previous statement that no one can come to Him unless “it were given unto him of my Father.”
    • Ask: “According to verse 66, how did this teaching affect some of Jesus’ disciples?” (some turned back from following Him).
    • Read John 6:67-71.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus ask the twelve?” (if they would turn away also).
    • Ask: “How did Peter answer?” (where else could we go, you tell us about eternal life; we now believe and are sure that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God).
    • Tell the class verse 70 says Jesus knew all along that Judas was motivated by the devil and would one day betray Him.
    • Summarize: Some people wouldn’t accept Jesus’ clear claims of deity so they turned back and stopped following Him. Peter and His disciples, however, clearly expressed their belief that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Remind the students that today’s lesson began with multitudes following Jesus, but ended with many turning back and following Him no more. Ask: “Why do you think the multitudes initially followed Jesus?” (to see the miracles and get what they could from Jesus). Ask: “Why did some of the disciples remain with Jesus when everyone else left?” (they were drawn by the Father and had faith to believe in Jesus).

Read the lesson aim to the class. Tell them they have accomplished the first part of that aim. They have discovered why some followed Jesus only for a time and why some others remained faithful. Tell the students to apply this passage to our lives we must ask ourselves the following:

  • “Why am I following Jesus?”
  • “Am I following Jesus for what I can get from Him?”
  • “Am I following Jesus because I sincerely believe He is the Son of God and my only hope for eternal life?”

Ask the students to answer those questions privately. Tell them if they realize they have been following Jesus only from a selfish motive and they now have a desire to truly submit their life to Him and follow Him because the Father is drawing them to do so, they should pray and tell God of their desire. Lead a closing prayer of commitment.


CONCLUSION: Give each student an index card on which you have written:

“Why am I following Jesus?”

Ask them to place the card in a conspicuous place where they will see it every day. They can then examine their motives on a daily basis. Ask everyone to memorize John 6:37. Urge them to follow Jesus wholeheartedly this week.

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