Monday, 10 September 2012

John 6: The next party trick is...

Back in John 2 we saw how Jesus' party trick reminded everyone of Moses and helped people to believe. In John 6 Jesus feeds five thousand people.
  • What is the largest amount of people you've cooked for?
  • What is the longest amount of time you've been without food?

Party trick number 2

Jesus is preaching to a huge crowd of around five thousand when some tummies start to rumble. So, Jesus armed with a boy's packed lunch of five small loaves and two small fish feeds them all. Not surprisingly, people say, "this is the prophet that we were told would be sent."

Back in chapter two, it was after the turning the water into wine that the disciples believed. There were also strong parallels between Jesus' miracles and the miracles of Moses. So, I thought it was worth a look into whether there were any Old Testament links with this miracle.

The most obvious parallel is with 2 Kings 4:42-44:
A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said.

“How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked.

But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’” Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.
It's strikingly similar, even with the type of bread to there being some left over. Jesus is, once again, acting like a prophet of the Old Testament.

The miracle also reminded the people, again, of Moses. When the Israelites were wondering through the desert they were hungry and they moaned (they did a lot of moaning), so God sent down quail and manna. The Israelites were also told to keep some of the manna as a reminder that God had provided them with bread. When Jesus provided the people with bread they remembered Moses and the provision of manna. In remembering Moses they also remembered what was written in the Old Testament:
The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. (Deuteronomy 18:15)
The parallels with Moses are not an accident. Jesus, in acting like Moses, is fulfilling the prophecy written down hundreds of years previous. This is why they say, "surely this is the prophet who is to come into the world." Jesus means to be recognised.

But later in the chapter, Jesus trumps Moses. Jesus isn't just a provider of barley loaves, he is the Bread of Life. He promises that anyone who comes to him will be completely sustained. Jesus even mentions Moses. Moses, he said, provided quail and manna, but those who ate it eventually died. If you get your life from Jesus, symbolised here by the eating of his body and drinking of his blood, you will live forever. The feeding of the five thousand all leads up to this amazing statement: Jesus can give us eternal life.

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