Monday, July 20, 2009

John 6:1-21 - The Lectionary Gospel Lesson for July 26

This is my own translation of the lectionary gospel lesson for Sunday. Please make any comments concerning the passage you want. Together, let's discuss the Word of God:

After these things, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee (that is the Sea of Tiberias). And a great crowd was following him, because they’d seen the signs which he’d done upon the weak. And Jesus went to the mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And Passover was near, the festival of the Jews. Now when Jesus lifted up his eyes and observed that a great crowd had come to him, he said to Philip, "Where might we buy bread so that these people might eat?" (But he said this to test him, for he knew what he intended to do.) Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarri-worth of bread isn’t enough for them so that each might be given a little." One of his disciples, Andrew the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, "There is a youth here who has five loaves of barley bread and two small fish, but what are these for so many people?" Jesus said, "Have the people recline." There was a lot of grass in the place. Now the men reclined (the number as about 5,000). Now Jesus took the bread and after giving thanks, he distributed to those who were reclining, so also some of the fish as much as they wanted. And when they were satisfied, he said to this disciples, "Gather the leftover fragments, so that nothing might be lost." Now they gathered, and they filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five loaves of barley bread which were left over from those who’d eaten. Now, when the people saw the sign which he’d done, they said, "He is truly the prophet who comes into the world." Now Jesus, because he knew that they intended to come and seize him so that they might make him king, withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
When early evening came, his disciples went down to the sea. And after they got into a boat, they started across the sea to Capernaum. And it had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough, because a great wind was blowing. Now after they’d gone three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking upon the sea, and he came near the boat. And they were afraid. But he said to them, "I am. Don’t be afraid." Now they wanted to take him into the boat. And immediately, the boat came upon the land to which they were going.


  1. I just read the lesson this morning as a part of my devotional time. What fascinated me was the part of the text that reads as follows:
    "And when they had eaten their fill he told his disciples, 'Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost.' So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten."

    Were I preaching Sunday (I am retired now remember.) I would write a sermon called WASTE NOT WANT NOT. It takes me back to the summer of 1962 when I was working in North Philadelphia for the Summer Evangelism Committee of Philadelphia Presbytery. I was a summer intern there to assist the Pastor who had given large amounts of his time doing Industrial evangelism for the presbytery. I lived in a western suburb of Philadelphia and took the train and then the subway to the church. Standing on the underground subway platform waiting for the next "el," as we called them, two other men appeared- first one then the other. The first man lit up a cigarette, took two puffs and threw it on the ground. The other man bent over, picked up the cigarette and put it into his mouth. As he walked on down the platform he said. "Waste not, want not."

    As I read the passage this morning that phrase came to mind. Jesus did not allow resources to go to waste. Those fragments could be used to feed himself and his disciples. They could also be used to hand out to the hungry, poverty stricken people in the area. Some things I might be tempted to continue talking about:
    1. The enormous amount of food and other possessions we waste that could be used or recycled;
    2. One person's garbage is another person's gold;
    3. The spiritual waste of our churches -- faith that is not shared -- time spent on non-essential matters, etc.

  2. This text in which Jesus is portrayed as feeding 5,000 men with five barley loaves and two fish and as walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee begins a section in which the Fourth Gospel follows the pattern established in Mark (compare John 6:1-25 to Mark 6:32-56) more closely and for a more lengthy time than anywhere else prior to the extended passion of Jesus account that begins with Mark 11:1 and John 12:12. Various possible reasons for the similarities that we see between the First and the Fourth Gospels include the following:

    1) The persons who wrote both Gospels were inspired by God in a more similar way at some points in their writings than in others.

    2) The writers of both Gospels utilized a similar strand of written and oral materials in some places more than in others.

    3) The writers of the Fourth Gospel had access to a brief early edition of Mark that contained the series of texts that begin with Mark 6:32 and Mark 11:1, and from this brief early edition of Mark the more fully developed Markan Gospel and the more fully developed Johannine Gospel were formed.

    4) The writers of the Fourth Gospel had access to a rather fully developed Markan Gospel (and perhaps to early editions of Matthew and of Luke as well) but chose to use only a few portions of the Synoptic material because they preferred to present their message in their own way.

    Regardless of which of the reasons outlined above appears to explain the similarities here most satisfactorily, in most places the Fourth Gospel was developed quite differently from the development of the Synoptics, and the Fourth Gospel was not substantially modified to make it conform closely to the Gospels According to Mark, Matthew, and Luke at a later date when people within the Fourth Gospel tradition obviously had access to fully developed copies of the Synoptics. There is much evidence from a careful comparison of the texts of the Four Gospels to indicate that the writers of the Fourth Gospel chose to develop their account quite differently from the way that those within the Synoptic Gospels tradition had done. This makes it even more noteworthy that here in John 6 the Johannine tradition did not depart extensively from the Synoptic pattern.

    Where there are differences between Markan and the Johannine accounts of the feeding of the 5,000, the Fourth Gospel tradition adds that the Passover feast of the Jews was near (John 6:4), that Jesus went up on the mountain (John 6:3), that Jesus knew what he would do to provide food for the multitude (John 6:6), specific names of the disciples (Philip in John 6:5, 7 and Andrew and Simon Peter in John 6:8), that Jesus, having given thanks, distributed the loaves to the multitude (John 6:11), and that, since Jesus knew that the people were planning to come to seize him in order to make him their king, he withdrew to the mountain by himself alone (John 6:15). Many of these additions bring the Johannine account much closer to the covenant ratification ceremonies depicted in Exodus 24:1-18 than is the Markan account.

  3. I was thinking this morning about my second point: "one person's garbage is another person's gold." Another story comes to mind.

    A few years ago I drove to NJ to visit my son and his family. I think the occasion was the baptism of a grand child. The day before the baptism I wanted to take the family to breakfast, but they had scheduled a yard sale. I think it was the day the community all put their stuff out. With three rapidly growing kids and limited income, my sons family put out slightly used children's clothing. An older Spanish couple came by and picked up much of the clothing for $20. Since I was standing nearby, I asked if they were for their Grandchildren. "No they replied, they were sending the clothing back to their village in Mexico. They said it was hard to get good clothing there.

    Our Presbytery has a connection in Mexico, does it not? Why not ask people to gather used clothing in good condition and ship it down there where people without clothing can receive it from Christians as a part of their witness. If not Mexico, then Africa or southeast Asia or somewhere else. Are there clothing closets in the churches of UOVP?


    Mac McCuen

  4. The two miracles seem to contrast the grace and glory of Christ with the expectations of the people. Philip and Andrew resist the idea that they can feed the crowd. Later, the crowd want to make Jesus king. And even later, the disciples are afraid when they see Jesus walking on the water. Their expectations seem to shape what they consider possible.

    Inspite of their errors, Jesus does his work. He feeds the crowd. He withdraws when they come to grab him. And he says to frightened disciples, "I am. Don't be afraid." There's a lot of comfort knowing you can't screw up so badly that God abandons you.