Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Our Gospel reading this week takes us to John chapter 6 and a miraculous food event. There’s certainly plenty to be said about it, but I want to look at the little, almost offhand comments about context that the Evangelist gives us. John is very detail oriented, particularly in matters of time and location. Of all the Gospels, John has historically been considered the most chronological one.
John places Jesus near the Sea of Galilee, and not only near it, but specifically on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. He was last seen in Jerusalem, so he is now in more traditionally Gentile territory. This is important when paired with the date information John gives us. It is nearly time for Passover.
Jesus, the true and lasting Passover Lamb, goes away from Jerusalem, the seat of divine power and the toyal throne, at the time of Passover, the time when God’s people remember and celebrate their deliverance from bondage. He brings that rescue to the people who would not be part of the “inside” group. They are not the Jerusalem Jews, but those who would be aliens and strangers in Jerusalem.
What happens? Jesus is surrounded by thousands of people who want to hear the Gospel and receive healing. Specifically, John says that the people saw the signs of healing that Jesus was doing. They wanted it for themselves. Or at least they wanted to see if He would do more healing. Regardless, they are swarming around Jesus.
So here John portrays Jesus as the one who leaves the place of his rightful throne, brings mercy and healing to all nations, and does it at the time of Passover, when rescue from bondage would be at the front of people’s minds. We know the rest of the story. Jesus feeds the huge crowd of people with the amount of food needed for lunch for two. They have more leftovers than they had at the start of the meal. God rescues people from every nation, cares for their needs, and reminds them that the true deliverance they need is that of eternal life. This is the Gospel of the Lord.
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