Lectionary Year A
August 4, 2002
Matthew 14:13-21

Step II: Disposition

Bailey and Vander Broek [Literary Forms of the New Testament, 137-8] suggest that we are confronted in this pericope with a "miracle story," i.e., some sort of narrative which is built around a "miracle." This "miracle" can also be divided in several ways: one might say it is a "provision" story or a "gift miracle." While I can see elements of all of the above in our pericope, I want suggest that this is a story that narrates and shows how Jesus "answers" to violence (see also step III), a "counter-action story." It is a "compassion story" that is narrated within the framework of the ancient Jewish custom of table blessing that is prayed by the head of the household before each meal.


- v.15 "apoluo" seems to be a rather strange verb here. If one translates, as I have chosen, as "release," I wonder if Jesus held the people "hostage?"
- The disciples seem to be rather demanding here (v.15) ... note the imperative!
- Why "did" Jesus "say" (past tense) but the disciples "are saying" (present tense)?
- Who is "them" in v.18? The loaves and the fishes, or the crowds?
- Is this a story about food "quantity" (feeding of 5,000 people) or food "quality" (you! give them to eat)? Or perhaps both?
- v.19 Note the row of participles (3) ... There is a lot of preparation before Jesus finally blesses the bread and gives it to the disciples to give to the hungry people.
- Why did Jesus not give the bread to the crowd himself?

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