Fairfield Church 29th July 2018
We met last Sunday at 1 Broadway Road, our home for the next few weeks as the builders transform the hall in Fairfield. We were pleased to be able to use the Podcast from Worcester Diocese recorded by Georgina Byrne about the week’s set reading – in relation to Mary Magdalene. Georgina posed three questions at the end of her talk and it was those we used for our discussion. So I went in search of similar material for this coming Sunday and was pleased to find another one for this week by Karen Chaplin, Reader in the Halas Team in Halesowen. It is posted underneath the YouTube playlist and the reading for Sunday.
John 6:1-13 The Message (MSG)
Bread and Fish for All
6 1-4 After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee (some call it Tiberias). A huge crowd followed him, attracted by the miracles they had seen him do among the sick. When he got to the other side, he climbed a hill and sat down, surrounded by his disciples. It was nearly time for the Feast of Passover, kept annually by the Jews.
5-6 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?” 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.”
8-9 One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “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.”
10-11 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. 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.
12-13 When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves.
The feeding of the 5000 is one of the most familiar stories in the Bible and is one of the very few to occur in all four gospels. It is frequently interpreted as an illustration of God’s abundant love and provision, or as an alternative of the last supper in John’s gospel. But John’s telling of the story, particularly paired as it is with Jesus walking on the water, bears sitting with again.
Picture the scene.
Crowds have come out to see Jesus – men, women and children, whole families. John counts 5000 men; we can’t be certain of the exact total; say an average group of 4 people would be 20,000 – a small Premiership football crowd!
Jesus has the men sit down to eat. Normally the women would prepare the meal, the men would sit down and the women would serve them. Women and children would eat separately.
But here, Jesus himself distributes the loaves and the fishes, walking amongst the men, serving them, taking on the role of the women.
Now there’s a problem. The men have eaten their food but the women, who haven’t prepared the meal, have nothing for themselves and their children. As Jesus only distributes the food to the men, it is now for the men to share their food with the women and children, thus completing the role reversal.
And as if that were not enough, that evening, as the disciples are rowing back across the lake, Jesus meets them as he walks across the water. In doing this he shows that it is not only our relationships with each other which need to be challenged, it is our relationship with the whole of creation. We may wonder whether it is easier to walk on water or to change peoples’ hearts.
- The NRSV Bible uses more inclusive language than the NIV translation. Does that affect your understanding of the narrative?
- What aspects of our view of the world would Jesus turn on their head?
- To what extent do the events of this Gospel reading prefigure the death and resurrection of Jesus?