Sunday, April 30, 2017

When What Jesus Asks is Too Hard

The disciples gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.
Mark 6:30 (NIV)

We gloss over details in familiar stories like Jesus Feeds Five Thousand.

This story is the only miracle recorded by all four Gospel writers. Does this increase its significance and credibility? Is it worth careful study?

Have you let the story rattle around in your mind? What have you learned? (I’ve included my combined account below. Recent posts #1 and #2 introduce the miracle.)

What’s the context? What’s happening prior to the miracle?

Jesus’ reputation draws a crowd and prevents him and his disciples from finding a quiet place to rest and eat. Jesus recently learned about his cousin’s cruel death (Matt 14:13) and seeks solitude to grieve. In addition, the disciples have returned from traveling in pairs to teach, heal the sick, cure diseases, and cast out demons (Luke 9:1-2). After exercising such power and authority, these fishermen and tax collectors probably have some fascinating experiences to share. (Mk 6:30-34).

So when Jesus asks Philip about feeding the crowd, Philip’s response strikes me as small minded. Philip took nothing with him as he traveled from village to village preaching and healing, “no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic” (Luke 9:3). For the duration of his trip, he depended on strangers to provide as he healed their illnesses. Philip performed miracles he had never seen from anyone besides Jesus.

Yet Philip is shaken by Jesus’ suggestion to feed the crowd. If he had perceived the setup he might have responded humorously “What? Too big a miracle for you Jesus?” Instead, Philip and all the disciples respond

“You want us to do what?”

Do you doubt God’s power? Do you doubt his ability to work through you?

Jesus, are you serious? You want us to do what? (tweet this)

#SeedsofScripture #Feeds5000 #miracle

Mash-up of Matthew 14:15-21, Mark 6:35-44, Luke 9:12-17, John 6:5-15 (NLT)
Late that afternoon or evening the disciples came to him and said “…Send the crowds away so they can go to the nearby farms and villages and buy food and find lodging for themselves.”

Turning to Philip, [Jesus] asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.

Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!

But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary – you feed them.”

“With what?” they asked.

“How much bread do you have?” Jesus asked. “Go and find out.”

Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?

“Bring them here,” [Jesus] said. “Tell [the people] to sit down on the green, grassy slope in groups of about fifty each.” So they sat down in groups of fifty or a
hundred.

Then Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven and gave thanks to God. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share. (The men alone, not including the women and children, numbered 5,000.)

And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.

When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.

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