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Source: (consider it) Thread: The Feeding of the Five Thousand
# 16378

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Ever notice the parallels between the feeding of the 5,000?


It happened in a wilderness after Jesus had crossed the Sea of Gallilee. The people ran around the lake and did not go through it like the Isrealites had done with Moses. But they were in a place with no food but Jesus comes through by multiplying what was available.

Commentators will point out that this parable is a call for justice. At a time when food was scarce and only the upper 1% had all the food they wanted--yes, there was an upper 1% back then, leaving most everyone else facing food shortages Jesus tells the disciples to feed the people themselves.

Food security was a big issue back then. We don't necessarily have that problem now--though you might say some of the more recent conflicts have centered around food shortages. The upper crust hoarding the food leaving others very little--one of the main reasons for the Arab Spring.

Oh, sure in the first world, where most of us live, our food prices can fluctuate quite a bit do to harvest yields, but I doubt anyone here has to use food rations.

It is no wonder the people reacted to this miracle by wanting to make Jesus a Food King. When he refuses to take that role people begin to turn away from him

It is easy to make the comparison to the Exodus story, true. But note how Matthew and Mark place this after the story of the beheading of John the Baptist. Note the contrasts of the two meals


Herod's birthday party was in the context of celebration of power, wealth, alliances, and status, are collisions of the ruler and the prophet, the powerful and the poor, Rome-allied imperial rule power and the purposes of God. As a result, John loses his head, served up grotesquely on a platter like another dish for the party (14:11). Imperial power is dangerous for nay-saying prophets. Jesus hosts not a death-bringing meal contextualized by tyranny, but a life-giving feast embodying the gracious abundance of God.

How do you share the gracious abundance of God in your life?

Posts: 2193 | From: Pullman WA | Registered: Apr 2011  |  IP: Logged

Like as the
# 4991

 - Posted      Profile for Adam.   Author's homepage   Email Adam.   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I hope this kind of response is acceptable in Keryg. It is kind of a "Heck call lite," but I'm going to try hard to discuss the post, not the poster.

Gramps, I'd love to discuss this passage of Matthew with fellow shipmates in Keryg, not just because I'm preaching on it this weekend, but also because of how powerful a passage it is, with so many depths to explore. But, your post doesn't invite this. The subtext it communicates to me is: "let me give you some exegesis and preach the text to you, and now let's all sit around and discuss this one application question I've drawn out of it." It doesn't say, "let's all discuss the text together."

Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Preaching blog

Posts: 8164 | From: Notre Dame, IN | Registered: Sep 2003  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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A parallel to Exodus is hardly surprising, given that Matthew constantly re-iterates a "Jesus as the new Moses" theme in his Gospel - slaughter of innocents in chapter 2, giving of law from a mountain from chapter 5, etc. And, here a miraculous feeding to parallel the manna and quail of the Exodus.

As with most passages of Scripture there are multiple layers of interpretation. Near the top are the obvious ones:
  • God providing for his people, in abundance
  • The lack of faith of the disciples in not thinking "outside the box" (picked up again in the following story of walking on the water) ... and, again in the next chapter when he goes through the whole "find them something to eat" scene again!

Personally, I would put speculation by unnamed commentators that this story is about justice much further down the list. Yes, there is a lot in the Gospels that relates to justice. But, I don't see ideals about sharing the food available that all would have enough being high on what Matthew wanted to communicate - although it's clear this was something that the early church seemed to accept as those who were rich shared their wealth so that all may have enough.

Use the story to make people think about where their food comes from, the justice of us having food enough to throw away while others starve, etc. That would be a good challenge in a sermon. But, don't pretend that that's what Matthew was trying to say when he included this account.

Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

Posts: 32413 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
# 16378

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My point was not so much to compare the feeding of the 5,000 (plus, if you include women and children) with the wilderness experience of Moses, as to contrast it to Herod's birthday bash. I find it significant that Matthew follows Mark's lead and puts both stories together. Seems like they are making an obvious connection. I think that connection needs to be explored.

In both Matthew and Mark it appears that the ministry of John continued until sometime after Jesus had begun his ministry

Luke, on the other hand, relates that John was imprisoned shortly after the baptism of Jesus but before Jesus began his ministry. There is no report the incident leading to John's death in Luke that I know of (goes with the motif Luke uses where people leave the scene of action just as someone else picks up the mantle)

Instead of the report of the birthday party Luke says Herod was perplexed at the reports of Jesus, as to who he was. Luke only says Herod admits he beheaded John. Next is the story of the 5,000

John has the story of the feeding of the 5,000 but there is no direct connection with John the Baptist the Baptist--as in Matthew and Mark, or indirect connection as in Luke.

Here is where the Redaction Critic in me kicks in. Why did Matthew and Mark connect the feeding of the 5,000 to Herod's birthday party, whereas, Luke makes only a brief mention of the beheading of John the Baptist? Seems like the contrasting parties, if you can call them that--would fit Luke's anti=establishment themes even better than Matthew and Mark's themes.

Going to the two parties--while Herod had a big bash and people ate a lot and got drunk and had dirty dancing, culminating in the presentation of the head of John the Baptist, one gets the distinct impression that the party goers left unfulfilled and dissatisfied; whereas, in the feeding of the 5,000 we are told the people ate until they will full and satisfied--and there was food left over.

Now, that can be a sermon in itself, but I will not go there.

It just seems we often draw the parallels between the feeding of the 5,000 and the Exodus experience; but we overlook the contrasts between it and Herod's Birthday Bash.

True, one could write whole dissertations on how the exodus people eating manna from heaven still left the people unsatisfied much like the unsatisfied party goers at Herod's bash; whereas, the feeding of the five thousand (plus) had everyone full and satisfied.

Just a gold mine here. How can a preacher reduce it all to a fifteen minute talk?

Posts: 2193 | From: Pullman WA | Registered: Apr 2011  |  IP: Logged

Famous Dutch pirate
# 3216

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You're not the first one to make the connection between Herod's banquet and the feeding of the 5000. For example, this book does so too.

I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

Posts: 9474 | From: Brazil / Africa | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
# 16378

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Thanks for the reference. I looked at the table of contents. Appears to be an interesting read. I will have to get a copy.

No, I did not think I came up with anything new, just saying I think more sermons should be on that connection.

Posts: 2193 | From: Pullman WA | Registered: Apr 2011  |  IP: Logged

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