July 27, 2003

John 6:1-21

    [1] After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee (some call it Tiberias). [2] A huge crowd followed him, attracted by the miracles they had seen him do among the sick. [3] When he got to the other side, he climbed a hill and sat down, surrounded by his disciples. [4] It was nearly time for the Feast of Passover, kept annually by the Jews.

    [5] When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he said to Philip, "Where can we buy bread to feed these people?" [6] He said this to stretch Philip's faith. He already knew what he was going to do.

    [7] Philip answered, "Two hundred silver pieces wouldn't be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece."

    [8] One of the disciples -- it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter -- said, [9] "There's a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that's a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this."

    [10] Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. [11] Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted.

    [12] When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, "Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted." [13] They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves.

    [14] The people realized that God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done. They said, "This is the Prophet for sure, God's Prophet right here in Galilee!" [15] Jesus saw that in their enthusiasm, they were about to grab him and make him king, so he slipped off and went back up the mountain to be by himself.

    [16] In the evening his disciples went down to the sea, [17] got in the boat, and headed back across the water to Capernaum. It had grown quite dark and Jesus had not yet returned. [18] A huge wind blew up, churning the sea. [19] They were maybe three or four miles out when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat. They were scared senseless, [20] but he reassured them, "It's me. It's all right. Don't be afraid." [21] So they took him on board. In no time they reached land -- the exact spot they were headed to.

[The Message]


1. For some reason we jump to John to hear what was elided last week. There are telling differences between the stories. One of them is the demeanor of Jesus. In Mark he was tired and had compassion and walked toward the crowd. In John the crowd is coming to Jesus and he deals with the practical matter (even if it is described as a trick on the disciples) of feeding all those on their way to him. What do you make of this difference and why did the lectionary folks choose to go to John here?

2. In Mark the feeding is taken for granted. It is just part of who Jesus is. In John it is a big whoopty-doo sign that stirs folks toward political revolution to crown Jesus as king. Where are you in simply appreciating the gift of the moment and trying to institutionalize your experience?

3. In Mark we have another of those "immediate" responses from Jesus and he sends them off while he goes to pray. In John there is a more measured response. Eventually evening comes and off they go. It's almost like they forgot Jesus at the gas station and took off without him.

In Mark, Jesus is about to pass by and he pauses with them to still the storm and they still need to get to port to moor the boat. In John, Jesus comes near and before he can step in, shazam, they are in port.

It would be interesting to query a class about these stories and to see if they story they retell is more Matthean, Markan, Lucan, or Johanine. Between these two I am more drawn to Mark than John. What about you and why?