14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
Having seen this miraculous sign (sēmeion), the people recalled Moses’ prediction that a Prophet like him would arise (Deut. 18:15). Moses had fed the people and had led them out of bondage. Jesus had fed the people. Jesus could lead the people out of the hated Roman bondage.
The people saw His sign, but they did not perceive its meaning. They wanted to seize Him and make Him a king. This marks the highpoint of Jesus’ popularity with the general population.
This verse is the sequel to the events of verses 1-13. Christ manifested divine power. Although Jesus showed His glory, the crowds did not grasp the meaning behind the miracle. They wanted to make Jesus a human king (Jn 6:15) for their own purpose. They wanted their physical needs met, whereas Jesus wanted to minister to their souls. Many people of our day want to make Jesus a prophet of their own making—a great moral teacher. They utilize the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount but they despise their need for the cross to save from sin.
14 Then those men [people, not males],
The people of Jesus’ day recognized His authenticity by the miracles He performed.
when [because] they had seen the sign that Jesus did,
The word “sign” (sēmeion) means not only a miracle but a particular kind of miracle. It is a miracle that points to something specific. We find the first occurrences of “sign” in 2:11, 23.
said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
The crowd viewed Jesus as an earthly, political prophet. The effect of the miracle of feeding the 5,000 men (plus women and children) was so great that they wanted to declare Him the Messiah and make Him king of Israel. This, however, was not genuine faith but a faith in a political leader who would save them from troubles with the Roman Empire. They believed on Him as a miracle worker and not for the true reason He came into the world as the “bread of life.” The next day God would test their faith and find it not to be genuine.
The people recalled that Moses predicted that a prophet would come one day (Dt 18:15-18). Moses fed the people in the wilderness and led them out of bondage to Egypt. The people of Jesus’ day wanted freedom from the bondage of Rome. They wanted to make Jesus king of Israel. John did not say that the people were wrong in their interpretation that Jesus was “the Prophet”; he did argue that the way they applied it was wrong.
The purpose of a sign-miracle was to point to Jesus as the true Messiah.
When Jesus performed a genuine miracle, people recognized its authenticity by its meaning and sufficiency. There is a striking contrast between people of our verse and those Jesus met the next day (Jn 6:22).
The miracle of feeding the 5,000 men reminded people in Jesus’ day of the feeding of Israel with manna. This is the recognition of a miracle authenticating who and what Jesus was.