Sunday, May 7, 2017

When Every Word Holds Meaning

“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.
From Jesus Feeds Five Thousand

This scripture seems as important as a pastor declaring “the congregation may be seated”.

Is there meaning below the surface?

We’re in the middle of our story about Jesus feeding a massive crowd with a small boy’s lunch. We’re reading slowly, intentionally trying to discover new meaning in the familiar account.

Today’s verses seem insignificant, but we know the gospel writers wrote intentionally to inform their readers about Jesus’ life and teaching.

Let’s ask questions of these three sentences:
  • What do we learn from Jesus’ choice of words?
  • Why is the lush, green grass mentioned?
  • Is the sloped terrain important?
  • Why organize people into groups of a specified size?

The list is too long for one post, but let’s dig in.

First, both ‘bring’ and ‘tell’ are commands in the original Greek: active, immediate, and authoritative. Jesus was in charge.

The lush, grassy slope? We don’t know without studying the weather patterns near the Sea of Galilee and work life of these people who had stayed with Jesus three days. Is this ‘long weekend’ away from home unusual? Would they normally be tending crops or flocks?

I’ve always learned that the slope amplified Jesus’ voice like an amphitheater. Is there another explanation?

Is the snippet about groups simply functional? Or are communities serving each other and sharing conversation more personal? Are they like small churches? What else can we glean from this detail?

Dig beneath the surface. Ask questions of the scripture. (tweet this)

What do you find? What do you wonder? Please share so we can all learn!

#SeedsofScripture #Feeds5000 #miracle

You can read the four previous posts in the series by clicking the following links: New Eyes on a Familiar Story, Is this Jesus’ Most Important Miracle, When What Jesus Asks is Too Hard, and Following a Child’s Example.

Below is my version of Jesus Feeds Five Thousand combining accounts from
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?” [the disciples] 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.


No comments:

Post a Comment