Johns gospel-feeding of 5000
Not much of a blog this, is it? Probably the bare minimum you expect is a few words, possibly a picture or two and then again being a blog devoted to a bible study maybe even a few word of wisdom or quotes or even memorable quips. Instead nothing for nearly two months.
Why? Well that's because we are an occasional bible study. So yes the good news (Hhhm a memorable quip, maybe?) is that we have met and spent an evening discussing John 6:1-25.
What an evening it was, a study of the feeding of the five thousand that led us into posing a question: just how are we to understand the miracles nowadays?. After the evening a quote came into my head from a book called 'Reading the New Testament written by C Tuckett in 1982.. It's a long quote but the sense of it is something like this. Maybe it helps some, maybe not. Here it is.
.While we might question the historical accuracy of the gospels and know that the evangelists have put their own stamps on the stories, most people would acknowledge that there is at least something of the pre-Easter Jesus we can see in the stories. We don't get much more from the other books, but what we do get is a response from people like Paul to the whole event of Jesus life, death and resurrection as these people dwell on particular points for their own situation. These reflections are the starting point for us as we shape our response to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in our own lives in 2016.
In other words the whole purpose of reading the Bible is to bridge the gap between our day and first Century in a responsible way.
Wow, some thought that emerged from our study this week.
Back to the miracle in hand.
What did jump out at us?
Well we wondered about that large number, 5000. We could see how bringing all that you had to Jesus as the boy pulled from the crowd did, and expecting Jesus to do what he would with it was central to faith today.
The position of Andrew was interesting too. Another person identifying and supporting as the boy offered the little he had for Jesus to use in creative ways. Then again, something about the way that resource in abundance lies there waiting to be used nestles with those leftovers in the baskets. Maybe thinking about that after the discussion, we should ponder more on the idea of a church as a place where belonging before believing is in action week, by week.
We did digress a few times into other miracles. Water into wine. Huh that shows how Jesus was God compared with Dionysus, whose story would have been familiar with people of Jesus day. He filled jars, but how much more would you be impressed with Jesus who changed water into wine.
A lot of chatter and thought that night, but what was our conclusion? Maybe two fold. Firstly, that these miracles from the first century were great stories but they sometimes took some believing and secondly, the idea that when it comes to faith sometimes you just have to make a choice to believe. Look at the birth stories of Jesus for example compared with what is being deduced about Jesus the man.
A post bible study thought:
See the agreed facts of the life of Jesus listed in 'The Historical figure of Jesus' by E.P Sanders.
And maybe a quote from Bonhoeffer might help us to reflect further on these miracles, faith and our lives today:
'One cannot simply read the Bible like other books. One must be prepared to put questions to it........I would rather confess that I do not yet understand this or that passage in scripture with the certainty that it too will one day reveal itself as God's own word. I would rather do that than on the basis of my own opinion declare: this is what is divine in it and this is what is human.
Food for thought indeed-maybe even 12 overflowing baskets of manna from heaven
Books referred to and available to borrow form the manse:
Creation and Fall-Bonhoeffer page 153
Reading the new testament -C Tuckett 1982 -Scripture and canon
The Historical figure of Jesus E P Sanders.
Books that are also on the bookshelves in the manse that may be of interest:
Making sense of church by Spencer Burke 2003
the wounds of Jesus-Christina Baxter p33
One book in the manse contains a question, a theological question that was prompted as the writer watched a friend keep attending church through some 'of the most horrible personal tragedies you can imagine.
The question is:
To be a Christian is it necessary to believe that Jesus really (as in literally) healed the blind, made the lame to walk, rose from the dead and ascended into somewhere called heaven where he sits with some one he calls his Father?
What's your answer? want to borrow the book as discover and contemplate the answer the writer gave?
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BTEC Bible Study group
A group of us get together from the East church every so often to discuss our thoughts about living the questions that jump into our lives from the Bible.