“Joy of Discovery”

At the Tuesday Night Prayer Group, we did a Bible study session using the “Joy of Discovery” method that one of the leaders was familiar with. We studied John 6:1-14 which reads as follows:

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiber’i-as. And a multitude followed him, because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!”

It’s interesting what you find studying these texts in detail. For example, only in the Gospel of John (perhaps the most mystical of the four) would you find Jesus asking the question (“how are we to buy bread?”) in this situation; the disciples take that role in the other Gospels. This is to reflect Jesus’ status as Moses’ successor, who asked similar questions to God (in the Book of Numbers, I think). This is fitting, since the miracle of multiplication of bread also fulfilled Elisha’s version of the same but in a greater scale (5000 vs. 100s).

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