bible blog 1399

This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:


"when I see your world in the light of death, rare is its lowliest seat, rare is its lowliest life" (Tagore)

“when I see your world in the light of death, rare is its lowliest seat, rare is its lowliest life” (Tagore)


After this, Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee — otherwise called the Lake of Tiberias. A great crowd of people, however, followed him, because they saw the signs of his mission in his work among those who were sick. Jesus went up the hill, and sat down there with his disciples. It was near the time of the Jewish Festival of the Passover. Looking up, and noticing that a great crowd was coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip: “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he meant to do. “Even if we spent a years’ wages on bread,” answered Philip, “it would not be enough for each of them to have a little.”

“There is a boy here,” said Andrew, another of his disciples, Simon Peter’s brother, “Who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that for so many?”

10 “Make the people sit down,”said Jesus. It was a grassy spot; so the people, who numbered about five thousand, sat down, 11 and then Jesus took the loaves, and, after saying the thanksgiving, distributed them to those who were sitting down; and the same with the fish, giving the people as much as they wanted. 12 When they were satisfied, Jesus said to his disciples: “Collect the broken pieces that are left, so that nothing may be wasted.” 13 The disciples did so, and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves, which were left after all had eaten.

14 When the people saw the signs which Jesus gave, they said: “This is certainly ‘the prophet who was to come’ into the world.” 15 But Jesus, having discovered that they were intending to come and carry him off to make him king, went again up the hill, quite alone.

5000xJohn links the feeding of a great crowd with a) the Jewish passover and b) the manna in the desert and c) the Christian eucharist. In one way or another all the gospel writers are conscious of these links which point to Jesus as the bread from heaven, the bread of life, the one whose life feeds the people of God (symbolised by the 12 baskets).

The other gospels emphasise that Jesus taught the crowd whereas John mentions only the feeding. Only John mentions the boy who offers the 5 loaves and the 2 fish. Most ancient commentators agreee that the five loaves are a symbol of the 5 books of Moses and the 2 fish of the other sections of the Hebrew bible, the writings and the prophets. These clues suggest that as in the miracle at Cana, here again Jesus takes something from his own faith and gives it a new and greater meaning. All that God did through Moses to feed his people is fulfilled and expanded in what God does through Jesus: in his offering of himself in love Jesus becomes food that gives eternal life.

Only John says that the crowd was attempting to make Jesus into the leader of a holy war against Rome. John is awake to the political implications of Jesus ministry. He sees that Jesus does offer hope to those who groan under oppression; that he is the true king promised by God; but he insists that Jesus’ rule is accomplished through teaching and healing rather than by violence.The crowd see him as the prophet who is to come in the end time to prepare for God’s judgement, sometimes identified as Elijah. The mis-interpretation of Jesus’ ministry as a traditional messianic claim is what got him crucified.

John on the other hand wants to explore the true meanings of Jesus as the bread of life.

4th century mosaic

4th century mosaic

In the Anglican eucharist worshippers are encouraged to “feed upon Him in your heart, by faith with thanksgiving.” Whatever else that may mean, it certainly means nothing less than meditating on the teaching and example of Jesus as food for one’s own  life, day by day. I have to remind myself that my daily blog shoud never be a mere public interpretation of the scripture, but always the result of situating the scripture in me and me in the scripture, so that I am judged forgiven and renewed. It is of no use to me that Jesus fed a crowd of people 2000 years ago if I do not let him feed me now.

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