Bible Workbench: Proper 12: July 26, 2009

Text: John 6: 1-21

Reading Between the Lines

I enjoyed the stories about Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe, when I was little. They opened a real world of burly, rough-and-ready lumberjacks, strong, exuberant, and impetuous for me, a far cry from the chemists and executives in suits who peopled Wilmington, Delaware. Did I take those tall tales for fact? Of course not; but they did tell me there was another way of being than the one I knew–and that was true.

The story of feeding in the wilderness must have been told (in different versions) many times by people who were alive in Jesus’ time, for it is a miracle that appears in all four gospels. What do you think people were trying to say about the Jesus they may have known when they told about abundance in the wilderness? Why didn’t they just use adjectives? How may they have been trying to describe a difference Jesus had made in their lives when they told this story? What kind of life may they have been trying to open up for their listeners? Is the life described in this story one that we dare live? What would be demanded of us to live it? What might be the promise of another way of being?

– Caroline Wohlforth

Art in the Christian Tradition from Vanderbilt Divinity Library

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