October 2, 2018: “Leading Boldly” (John 6: 1-15)

October 2, 2018

Rev. Sarah TevisTownes

Bible Session Topic

This week is World Communion Sunday, and our scripture is from John 6:1-14. It tells the story of the feeding of the 5000, a story many of us know: Jesus gathers with 5000 people, and with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, feeds the entire crowd. The final verse of the text is not quite as memorable as the miracle Jesus performs, but it’s undoubtedly significant: “After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” Was the crowd really interested in “forcing” Jesus to be king? Why include this passage here and not with so many other miracles by Jesus? Is this a sign Jesus was hesitant to lead or was something else going on?

We will also be gathering on the weekend of Columbus Day and Indigenous People’s Day. Jesus preached often against the unjust policies of the Roman empire—we may consider where colonialism and the theology of empire play into this text. How might our sacrament of communion be liberating? How might it counter systems of oppression? I look forward to exploring some of these intersections with you next week!

Bible Study Scripture

John 6: 1—15

New Revised Standard Version

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.

Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages 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 boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”

10 Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11 Then Jesus 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.

12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.