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John17 – bread for the weak

With these things Jesus came away beyond the sea of Galilee of Tiberias. 
In fact a large crowd was following him in that they were observing the signs that he was doing upon the weakening. 
In fact Jesus came up into the mountain and was sitting there with his disciples. 
In fact the Passover, the festival of the Judeans, was near. 
“With these things.” What things. At this time (John13) in John’s first century eye-witness biography of Jesus, Jesus had been in Jerusalem at a public pool. There “a large number of the weakening” lived out their days. There Jesus had enabled a man to walk who had been paralysed for 38 years.

Three other things are noteworthy – bulleted above: the “large crowd” was “following him” because of what he did for “the weakening”; he was looking at the crowd from above; Passover – the anniversary of the exodus from slavery in Egypt of God’s powerless people 1,300 years earlier - “was near”

So Jesus, having taken up eyes and perceived that a large crowd was coming towards him, states towards Philip, “From where may we buy breads in order that these may eat?” In fact he was stating this testing him, because he himself had discerned what he was about to do.

Was everyone in the crowd “weakening”? Maybe not. Although it’s true that all were dying. Like me. Above all, Jesus wants them to eat.
‘… Galilee of the Gentiles … the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.’ (Isaiah, Jerusalem prophet, writing around BC 700)
Philip answered him, “Breads of two hundred denarii do not satisfy them, in order that each one may take hold of a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew the brother of Simon Peter, states to him, “A boy is here who has five barley breads and two savoury-fishes, but what are these among so many?” 

“Two hundred denarii” would be roughly £15,000 today. A denarius was at that time a day's work for a labourer. A boy’s packed lunch box is available.

Jesus said, “Make the men to lie down.” In fact, there was much grass in the place. So the men lay down, about five thousand in number. So Jesus laid hold of the breads, thanked, and gave to those resting-down—likewise also from the savoury-fishes, whatsoever they were desiring. 

“The men”? Clearly, Israel in AD 30 was a male dominated society. But, to be fed, these males were instructed to “recline” (twice). Indeed, it was only when they were “recumbent” – totally inactive recipients – that they were given “whatsoever they wanted”.

In fact when they were satisfied, he states to his disciples, “Gather the exceeding broken pieces in order that not one thing may self-destroy.” So they gathered and filled twelve baskets full with broken pieces from the five barley breads which exceeded those eaten. 

Having fully “satisfied” the hunger of the “large crowd”, Jesus is anxious to make it abundantly clear that there is plenty more available for others. For “the weakening”? Twelve baskets of breads. One basket for each of the twelve disciples to give to others? All from Jesus.

So the men having seen a sign that he did were stating, “This is truly the Prophet who is coming into the world.” 

“Seen the sign”? This wasn’t just a miracle. It was a signpost to something else. For those who had been fed – and for others who heard about it – “the sign” pointed to the identity of this man. And pointed to many centuries’ old promises of the LORD God to all people.
‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen.’ (Moses, Israel national leader, around BC 1350)
So Jesus, having known that they were about to come and to seize him in order that they may make a king, again open-spaced into the mountain himself alone. 

Yes, this was a moment for Jesus to seize and rise to political and even global leadership. The democratic vote was not in any doubt. No recount needed. No fraud. He was there. Their king. 

But no. No. No. Instead, bread for the weakening.

Sinner Syvret

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