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Luke 9:7-17; Mark 6:14-56; Matthew 14:1-36; & John 6:1-21

10.11.2010

Two of the more famous Jesus stories are contained in this reading.

First, though, Herod gets things started with the question that is fundamental to all of scripture (and thus of human history).  If you think this is a tall order, you’re right.  Herod asks, essentially, ‘Who is this Jesus?’  That’s the question put to all of us, individually and collectively.  The Old Testament details the need for Him and foretells of His coming.  The New Testament describes His ministry, how He accomplished the redemption of the world, and what the completed picture of restoration will look like.  As Jesus puts it to Peter, ‘Who do you say that I am?’  If we understand who He is, we ‘get it.’  If not, then everything else is pointless.

Then Jesus feeds 5000 people.  Well, there were actually 5000 men there; with women and children, the crowd is estimated to have been as large as 20,000.  This miracle is the second main example of Lewis’ point about miracles being a short-term copy of the grand miracle of creation unfolding all around us all the time.  Just like God is continually turning water to wine through the natural processes of irrigation and fermentation, He is also always turning a little grain into much grain and few fish into more fish.  Plant a wheat kernel and watch it grow into a stalk with many more kernels.  Watch two fish get it on and create dozens of eggs containing more fish — or maybe don’t because that’s kind of creepy.  The point, again, is that these miracles are more than just magic tricks; they’re meant to demonstrate Jesus’ identity as the God of creation.

I think Jesus’ aquatic stroll is His most famous miracle — other than the resurrection, that is.  It’s a testament to how well known this episode is that to walk on water has become a cultural reference point for perfection.  Again, though, this is not a parlor trick Jesus performs to impress His friends.  There are multiple Old Testament references wrapped up in this story.  Most notably, Jews considered ‘trampling the waves’ to be a signature aspect of God, as described in Job 9.  Additionally, when Jesus tells the disciples to fear not, ‘It is I,’ He is using the same language that God used to identify Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14.  It’s fitting, therefore, that this is the incident that prompts the disciples to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God for the first time.

If we take the chronology of these passages to be as given, it’s as if Jesus heard Herod’s question and responds with the miracle of the loaves and fishes and then walks on water.  ‘Who am I?  I am the God of creation and of life.  I am the God worshiped by Job and obeyed by Moses.’

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From → [constant], [cs/gk]

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