One day Jesus left the crowds to pray alone. Only His disciples were with Him, and He asked them, “Who do people say I am?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say You are one of the other ancient prophets risen from the dead.” Then He asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah sent from God!”
Jesus warned His disciples not to tell anyone who He was.Luke 9:18-21
Luke’s Missing Block is effectively the 74 verses which constitute Mark 6:47 to 8:27 which have been omitted from Luke. All sorts of theories have been offered to explain the reasons behind this. I will take a break at this point and leave you with the puzzle to solve for yourself.
- Following Feeding of the 5000, Luke omits:
- Jesus goes off to prayer alone
- Jesus walks on water
- The leaven of the Pharisees
- The Canaanite woman from Tyre and Sidon – crumbs under the table
- Healings in Decapolis
- Feeding of the 4000
- Return to Galilee – Pharisees looking for signs
- Leaven of the Pharisees again
- Jesus questions the disciples on their understand of Feeding the 5000 and the 4000
- Healing the blind man at Bethsaida
Luke then includes the following.
- The confession of the Christ Luke 9:18-21 // Mt 16:13-20 and Mk 8:27-30
- Prediction of crucifixion and resurrection Luke 9:22-25 // [Mt 16:21-16 and Mk 8:31-37]
- Coming of the Son of Man and judgement Luke 9:26-27 // [Mt 16:27-28 and Mk 8:38- 9:1]
- Transfiguration of Jesus Luke 9:28-36 // [Mt 17:1-8 and Mk 9:2-8]
- Healing of the demoniac boy Luke 9:37-43 // [Mt 17:14-21 and Mk 9:14-29]
- 2nd prediction of resurrection Luke 9:43-45 // [Mt 17:22-23 and Mk 9:30-32]
- Who is the greatest in the kingdom Luke 9:46-48 // [Mt 18:1-5 and Mk 9:33-37]
- Causing believers to stumble Luke 9:49-50 // [Mt 18:6-14 and Mk 9:38-50]
Then following these pericopes Luke launches his long collection of additional material which only his gospel includes. (The Greater Interpolation)
We return again to the question of why Luke omits this large chunk of material after the Miracle of the Feeding of the 5000 ?
Did you notice there are some elements in the omission that should surprise us by their omission. These include:
- the story of Jesus walking on Water
- The Feeding of the 4000
- the ensuing question time when Jesus checks the disciples’ understanding of the miracles they witnessed.
There are a number of explanations offered for the missing material
- There must have been missing sheets in the Codex and therefore this segment was the section that was lost and so it never made into Luke’s gospel.
- That Luke was writing a pro-women’s gospel and didn’t like the story related to the Syro Phonecian woman (Matt 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30). So Luke removes the whole section in order to harmonize Mark 6:46 with 8:27.
- There is another version of this debate which argues Luke was harmonizing these verses because of the apparent clash with Jesus going off to pray alone and Jesus then asking the disciples the question related to who men say He is. Thus Luke omits the section to overcome this apparent problem of being alone yet not alone.
- Luke has missed out the section deliberately to counter Marcionite debate. Anything which could be regarded as pro Marcion has been removed. It is a theological issue.
- There are those who argue Luke omits the Walking on Water story because as a physician he has major problems with its truthfulness.
I have only given you a short summary statement of each simply because I don’t believe any of these explanations offer a plausible answer to the missing sections.
I believe the answer lies in the development of Luke’s theme of the disciples training. I explained the essence of it in Gems 899, 902 and 903. Note that with the segment in focus at the moment (9:18-21) Luke returns to the question of who Jesus is once more. This is the second time he has done that. The first time was when he used Herod’s questioning to bring the matter into focus. Now Luke does it again. Only this time he borrows the segment from the Caesarea Phillipi events to make his point. To do that he sacrifices the stories in between. Luke is doing what all the other gospel writers do in using the miracle stories to demonstrate who Jesus is. Luke skilfully weaves the bread theme around the bread miracle to make his point poignantly clear. In so doing he omits the story of Jesus walking on water. I have to admit that is a major pericope to omit. But major pericopes have been omitted before. I have already commented on the fact that Lazarus was raised from the dead only appears in John’s Gospel. Why is that? Such an important foundational event one would think would appear in all four gospels. But the particular purpose for writing each gospel necessitates careful selection of the available material. Because John’s Gospel deals with Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life and he (John) is stacking miracle stories to demonstrate that Jesus is Son of God makes it clear why he wanted the Lazarus story put in his Gospel.
If this is the case why doesn’t Luke include the second story of the feeding a multitude using loaves of bread and fish? Wouldn’t this strengthen his theme still further? And why would he not include the discussion between Jesus and his disciples on their understanding of what was happening in those events and the lessons they were or were not learning? I believe Luke is keeping it plain and simple so that we don’t miss the point. That is the reason he develops his bread theme and then substitutes pericopes questioning who this Jesus is within a short space in his Gospel. The fact that he has brought forward the confession from Caesarea Philippi strengthens the argument or the point. It doesn’t detract from it and makes Luke’s point that much more powerful. To do that Luke omits everything in between to strengthen his point. Luke chooses not to use some minor healing stories (one of which happens around Bethsaida) but Luke has already extracted all he requires from the Bethsaida connection. He also discards the on-going polemic on the leaven of the pharisees which Matthew and Mark use twice but which doesn’t fit with the theme that Luke is developing. Hence he omits the Missing Block and sandwiches his Bread theme and the discussion of who Jesus is with the crowning statement of WHO JESUS IS from the Caeserea Phillipi confession.
I for one think it is brilliant in its simplicity. What do you think? Yes, he has had to sacrifice some powerful stories to do it but makes his point equally powerfully. I certainly prefer this explanation to any of those I listed above. But now the ball is your court and time for you to sort out what you think about it. Don’t just take my word for it. Do some thinking of your own and come to your own conclusion. But bottom line own your own conclusion. Know what you think and why.
Next Gem I will start to deal with the text of this segment in Luke now that I have dealt with the background to it all.
We’re NOT called to be the judge, the prosecutor, or even the defence attorney! “You will be my WITNESSES” Acts 1:8 Got it?Rick Warren
So much easier to tear things down than to build them up. Take the harder road.Louie Giglio
Encouragement is a perfume you cannot pour on others, without getting a few drops on yourself!Rick Godwin
It’s not a shame not to know, it is a shame not to ask.Turkish Proverb