Let’s review those changes. After all it has been a while since we were working on it.
- John refers to the location generally rather than the specific location of Bethsaida as Luke does. He is not interested in the particular location. There is something behind John making it vague and referring to the location as being on the far side of the Sea of Galilee. Maybe you can tell me, I haven’t solved that bit yet.
- John adds “now the Passover, the Feast of the Jews was approaching.” [6:4] – What is he doing with this repeated refrain? How many times are things set at the time of Passover? You will get my input on this when we look at the longer insertion. In the meantime you can think about it.
- “Turning to Philip, He 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.” [6:5-6] John has changed the text. In all of the other Gospels the disciples approach Jesus with their panic about what to do. But here Jesus takes the initiative and asks Philip, then adds that He was testing him. This was a test for them all, Jesus planned it that way. Should we get hung up about the difference and suspect errors? No, it could be that John only was privy to Andrew’s approach and question to Jesus.
- John picks up on Mark’s verse about the cost of the bread [6:7] being around 200 denari ($40.00). Then he adds that the boy was a young boy’, the loaves were barley and the fish were small. And then adds “But what good is that with this huge crowd?” [6:9] Each of these additions seem to add to the magnitude of the miracle. These loaves and fish were likely sourced from a little boy who was a seller of such given the use of the word [paidarion]. These little lads were the ones who usually followed crowds around selling their wares. The loaves were barley loaves, coarse, rough, cheap quality loaves and the fish were small. Not a good start to feed such a huge crowd. What good was this going to do? But don’t forget they had been with Jesus at the wedding at Cana (actually not far from Bethsaida) that should have reminded them – they had returned to the scene of the event so to speak) and seen what He did there. They ought to have known they could expect anything from this One they were with. That is the reason for the test. The matter of coming to faith / belief / trust is a process. Also it is noteworthy that John uses the term “miraculous signs” twice. No other gospel writer uses this term in this segment, only John. John is setting the meagre resources against the astounding act of what Jesus did. This should make anyone come to faith. After all that is what his gospel is all about. He told us so.
- John adds that the grass was thick – [6:10] I have no idea why that detail was added. Maybe you can solve that issue too. Maybe just something that John noticed and added for interest sake. But it helps us to know where to picnic when we go there.
- John closes the specific “Feeding the 5000” pericope with the 12 baskets left over. No different from the other gospels but designed to show how amazing it was that from such meagre resources 5000 people were fed and more was left over at the end than there was at the beginning. Now that is miraculous!
Note what is to come. In the next Gem we will look at the shared segment between Matthew, Mark and John about Jesus walking on the water.
Then we come to John’s long insertion (John 6: 22-71) I will go through and pick out the themes one by one.
The insight of children:
One day on the way home from church a little girl turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, the preacher’s sermon this morning confused me.”
The mother said, “Oh! Why is that?
The girl replied, “Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?”
“Yes, that’s true,” the mother replied.
“He also said that God lives within us. Is that true too?”
Again the mother replied, “Yes.”
“Well,” said the girl. “If God is bigger than us and he lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?”Anonymous
Is God showing through you?
He who makes no mistakes makes no progress.Theodore Roosevelt