Location? Many think just northwest of Sea of Galilee or Gennesarat. Later called, as [John] has it, Tiberias.
R.E. Brown sees parallels between this passage, from v. 5 on with Numbers 11, involving Moses. Very interesting.
v.2: Crowd saw signs, rather than the reality to which the signs point. That is central to this section of John.
[v.3] "the mountain": As...Brown points out, this is impossible to localize. Mountains important in OT and NT. Moses/Mt. Sinai important here.
v.3: "sat down": Teachers usually sat down. Today, pope sits down [for pronouncements]: ex cathedra.
v.4: Passover, festival God instituted through Moses, is at hand. Also important. God will compare/contrast.
v.5: Why ask Philip? If event happend NW of Sea of G, this would be close to his home territory. Some think, based on Jesus' itinerary that this happened near Bethsaida, Philip's home town.
My late mentor, B. Schein, thought this happened near Tericheae, a town whose name meant 'Dried Fish.' [The town] specialized in this export commodity. The issue [in this account then would not be] inaccessibility of food to crowd. Terichaea only 20-minute round trip by foot from where Schein thought this incident took place. Thus, feeding of 5000 here has less to do with 'daily bread' than the extravagant, unnecessary grace, blessing, and provision of God in Jesus Christ. Just as life and the world were, from God's perspective, unnecessary, so are all these things.
Even apart from Schein's interpretation we see this when, at end, there is so much untouched food. Overabundance.
[v. 7]: Philip is practical. 200 denarii is the figure he cites. A denarius was the common pay for a day of wage labor then.
v.8: Meanwhile, Simon's been scouting for food among the crowd.
v.9: "a boy": The term in Gk., R.E. Brown points out is paidarion, double diminutive for boy. This is just a little guy.
Paidarion is same term used in Septuagint, Greek NT produced in Alexandria before Jesus, commonly used, for Elisha's assistant, Gehazi. Elisha feeding incident is our 1st lesson this Sunday. Peter Leithart sees Elisha as "protoincarnational" character, a forerunning type of Jesus. Makes sense if John the Baptist is of the same type as Elijah.
v.8: Of course, Andrew doubts that the boy's bit of food is more than drop in the bucket. If Schein is right, the crowd could easily have been sent away [and they could have purchased their own fish in a place where abundant supplies of it existed.]
v.11: Jesus isn't said to "bless" the food the way it's reported in other Gospels. Instead, [in the original Greek of our text], He "gives thanks," a form of eucharisto, [the verb form of] one of the titles we give to Holy Communion, the Eucharist. This definitely foreshadows, [as did Passover].
v.11: "as much as they wanted": Again God's extravagant, unnecessary blessing.
[T]he Apocrypha] imagines a time when God's people will feast on leviathan, the monster of the deep...the deep representing primordial chaos, sin, life without God. Think: fishers of people. Think: Jesus frying fish on John 21.
v.12: Similar to Moses' instructions in Numbers 11.
v.14: The crowd associate this sign with Moses. They fail to see what the sign points to, make a wrong assumption. They see Jesus as "the prophet," a Moses-figure. John 1:17: Law came from Moses; grace--overwhelming amplitude of undeserved blessings, forgiveness, provision--comes from Jesus. In fact, in Jesus, we receive "grace upon grace" (John 1:16), [something Moses never could provide. Only God can do that.] Also: John 1:12-13: All who received Him became children of God, born not of flesh but of God. [Moses can't bring new birth, John 3:3, either.]
v.15: Jesus realized that crowd wanted to pound Him into their compartment for him--a king of the earthly sort, one who raises armies, levies taxes, and does the bidding of his supporters. Instead of accepting their nomination, Jesus went to "the mountain" to pray. Jesus' signs weren't plays for earthly power; they demonstrated the power He already had. Had He become a puny king, all our hope for life, forgiveness, healing would be lost. Through the cross Jesus would claim the Kingship that can save us for all eternity.
vv.16-17: The disciples decide to forge on though Jesus hasn't returned from praying. They must have been accustomed to his absences for this purpose.
v.18: Those of us who have ridden in a boat on Lake Erie during a storm know how storms can whip up on a lake like Galilee.
v.19: John doesn't explicitly say WHY the disciples were afraid. Other gospel says they thought that Jesus was a ghost.
v.20: Literally, Jesus says not, "It is I," but, "I AM," in Hebrew this would be, "Yahweh," the very Name to which God refers to Himself to Moses at the Burning Bush. Jesus is not some prophet, not some puny king. Jesus is I AM, the maker of the universe. His self-identification is a counterpoint to the beliefs of the crowd. Jesus is God.
v.21: This is comical--a bit like Peter throwing on his clothes in John 21, when he recognizes the risen Jesus on the shore. After Jesus makes things explicit, the disciples want to take Him into the boat. But they're already at the shore.
Stoffregen points out that here, Jesus doesn't calm the storm. Not all storms get calmed. But we can still reach the other shore.
Friday, July 24, 2009
My Tweets on John 6:1-21
John 6:1-21 is the Gospel lesson for this coming Sunday. Here are my Tweets from Twitter on the passage: