In WW2 over 400,000 troops were cornered by Hitler backed up against the English Channel. It was certain annhilation. When Churchill learned of the inevitable doom, he called for a national day of prayer on May 23. On May 24 a most strange occurrence happened that history still does not understand–Hitler stood down. Thousands of troops were at his mercy ready for the slaughter yet he called a hiatus. No attacking the trapped Allies. Wasting no time Churchill enacted what was called Operation Dynamo. He called for every able boating vessel to cross the English channel in a desperate rescue. It seemed futile but the British commoner responded en masse. A literal armada of simple fishing vessels braved the waters rescuing the trapped troops small boatloads at a time. Hitler continued to oddly do nothing. Over the next nine days almost 340,000 Allied soldiers were rescued by simple fisherman. It was one of the greatest rescues of history (Read More).
9/11 The Great Boat Lift
The only other time in the history of modern man that happened close to this was 9/11. When Manhattan island was engulfed in ash and clouds of debris, commercial boats as well as average fishermen raced to Manhattan island to rescue those on the island, little understanding what was happening at the twin towers.
The Rescue on the Galilee
At both Dunkirk and at Manhattan Island rescue was the impetus for massive boat armadas. It has been said these are the only time in known history that such a number of non-military boats have been moved spontaneously en masse for a particular mission. And while that may be true in modern history, we know of one more occurrence of this in Biblical history.
Jesus went to the far side of the Galilee and thousands followed him – we know at least of 5000 men, not including women and children. They all came to the mountainside to listen to Jesus. Knowing the masses were hungry from following him, he asked Philip where they would go to buy bread to feed the people? Philip was astonished and told Jesus that 8 months wages would only give them all one bite. Jesus knew though what he was about to do. “He asked this only to test him” (Jn 6:6). Andrew then presented Jesus five barley loaves a couple of fish donated by boy of simple faith. Jesus then “took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those whoe were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish” (Jn 6:11). Everyone was blessed to eat as much as they wanted and when it was all said done, there were twelve baskets of bread remaining. One for each of the Twelve to remain astonished.
Because of the great miracle the crowds wanted to make Jesus king and do so with force. So he withdrew by himself (Jn 6:14-15).
He sent his disciples in the boat on ahead to to the other side of the Galilee. When dark came a storm was roaring on the Galilee (if you’ve ever been there you know fierce the winds can be). Jesus walked right out to them on the water and then continued with them to the other side of the Galilee, to Capernaum.
Now remember there were minimum 5000 men in the crowd. If only half proceeded to look for him that still numbers in the thousands.
“Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus” (Jn 6:24). Capernaum was where Jesus was living.
Picture it for a moment. Thousands of boats rapidly deployed filled with the masses crossing the Galilee racing towards Capernaum. All to find their master.
Only this time it wasn’t the fisherman in the boats who were the rescuers as we read about with Dunkirk and 9/11. The people in this picture were looking for rescue.
- They were looking to be rescued from their political situation (Jn 6:15)
- They were looking to be rescued from needing to work for their food (Jn 6:26-27)
- They were looking to be rescued from a life that didn’t see the miracles of God like in past generations (Jn 6:30-33)
But Jesus would not and did not rescue them this way.
Rescue was available, but it wasn’t through political change, provision for their needs or present miracles.
HE was their rescue.
It was not the message they wanted to hear.
They did not believe. (Jn 6:36)
And many left. (Jn 6:66)
But we know of at least Twelve that stayed (Jn 6:67).