The Chronological Gospel –

The Bread of Life

Matthew 14:1-2, Mark 6:15-16, Herod’s deeds come back to haunt him
Mark 6:30-38a, John 6:8-13, Matthew 14:21, The Twelve return to Jesus; Feeding of the 5000 (NE of the Sea of Galilee)
John 6:14-15, Matthew 14:22-23, Mark 6:47-50, Matthew 14:28-33, Mark 6:51b-52, Jesus walks on water (Sea of Galilee)
Random Walk in a Gallery of Religious Art, Step 6: John 6:16-21, Walking on water
Mark 6:53-56, Healing near Genessaret (W of the Sea of Galilee)
John 6:22-51, The bread of life
John 6:52-70, The bread of life (concluded)

More of The Chronological Gospel

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Matthew 14:1-2, Mark 6:15-16, Herod’s deeds come back to haunt him (5/6/14)

When word spread about what Jesus was doing in Galilee, Herod got nervous about his earlier execution of John the Baptist. Here’s what we’ve learned about John the Baptist lately, in the order the readings appear in Matthew, with cross-references to Mark and Luke:
It's obvious that John first was imprisoned, then sent his disciples to Jesus, then was beheaded, and finally started to worry Herod. Only Luke presents this part of John’s story in chronological order, and even he mentions the imprisonment before Jesus’ baptism by John, and not after.

This is an especially clear example of the impossibility of determining the “true” chronology of the Gospels by using the order in which the material is presented. For other events, the “true” chronology is not obvious. If two or more Gospel writers give the events in different orders, there are at least two possibilities: The point is, I hope this study on the “The Chronological Gospel” is interesting and helpful to you; if I were you, however, I’d be more concerned about what Jesus said than about when he said it.

Mark 6:30-38a, John 6:8-13, Matthew 14:21, The Twelve return to Jesus; Feeding of the 5000 (NE of the Sea of Galilee) (5/7/14)

After the disciples’ first mission trip, Jesus tried to take them away for a brief rest out in the countryside. Many people followed him, however, and others found out about it and joined the crowd. After Jesus spent some time teaching, he performed one of the most amazing of all his miracles. The feeding of the 5,000 (which was actually the feeding of 5,000 adult men, plus women and children) is reported in all four Gospels.

John 6:14-15, Matthew 14:22-23, Mark 6:47-50, Matthew 14:28-33, Mark 6:51b-52, Jesus walks on water (Sea of Galilee) (5/8/14)

At least in my mind, the “Feeding of the 5000” and “Walking on the Water” were two separate events – until I read a commentary that points out the close connection between them. Walking on the water followed hard on the heels of the feeding of the 5000. (Mwhahaha – note fiendishly clever double pun.) Matthew, Mark, and John report both miracles together, in the same order. Only Mark, the first Gospel writer and the one routinely less reverential toward the disciples, points out that their fear and amazement over the second miracle was because they didn’t understand the first one!

Random Walk in a Gallery of Religious Art, Step 6: John 6:16-21, Walking on water (3/9/15)

All four Gospels record the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000, and Matthew, Mark, and John follow it immediately with the story of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee. Only Matthew mentions Peter’s experience, but apparently that’s a little more gripping to the mind of the artist, because two of our three illustrations center on the interaction between Jesus and Peter.

The two stories – feeding the 5,000 and walking on water – are closely related not only in time but in what they present about Jesus. In both cases, Jesus show himself to be master of the physical world. We’ll come back to that in a couple of days. I like they way today’s artist has emphasized the storm. Although Jesus has no trouble standing erect, his hair and his garments are buffeted by the wind. He beckons Peter to come to him, but Peter’s in trouble. He’s starting to sink, and he looks a little panicky, but he’s reaching out to Jesus for all he’s worth. When we’re panicky and sinking, we should do the same.

Previous Step. Next Step.
Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee. Click to enlarge.
"Christ Walketh on the Sea," from the Spencer family Bible, now in the private collection of Regina Hunter.

Mark 6:53-56, Healing near Genessaret (W of the Sea of Galilee) (5/9/14)

What we’re seeing is that no matter where Jesus goes – east or west of the Sea of Galilee, regions Jewish or gentile – he is met by or followed by crowds. And wherever Jesus is, he teaches and heals.

John 6:22-51, The bread of life (5/12/14)

People were really impressed by Jesus’ ability to feed so many with so little, so even larger crowds started following him around. He’d sail across the lake, and there they were, having followed either in boats or on foot. Jesus said that their main interest was in the food, not the message. (Probably they were Methodists.*) John reports relatively few miracles – nine, as I recall – but he is particularly interested in the meaning of each miracle. So John, unlike the other three Gospel writers, includes a discussion between Jesus and the crowds in which he explains that they need to be concentrating on him – the Bread of Life – rather than on the bread they received at the Feeding of the 5000.

* Inside joke. Practically all Methodists acknowledge that we are very big on potlucks, church meals, fellowship hours, doughnuts, teas, etc. We are also very big on singing. Naturally enough, we have a song about eating, “Methodist Pie,” here in a version from the Sons of the Pioneers.

John 6:52-70, The bread of life (concluded) (5/13/14)

I once talked to a friend for about ten minutes about “soda,” with both of us getting more and more confused as the discussion went on. She was talking about what I would call “soda pop,” and I was talking about what she would call “baking soda.” Jesus is having the same kind of discussion about “bread.” He is talking about “sustenance,” and many of the people following him are talking about “snack food.” A bunch of his disciples get annoyed and leave, but notice that “the Twelve” stay. Jesus had lots of disciples besides the ones whose names we know. Nearly all of John’s stories about Jesus end with a contrast between belief and unbelief, just as this one does.

More of The Chronological Gospel

Birth Announcements and Early Lives of Jesus and John the Baptist
Early Ministries of Jesus and John the Baptist
Jesus’ Early Ministry
Jesus’ Galilean Ministry
Sabbath Controversies
The Sermon on the Mount
The Sermon on the Plain
John the Baptist
Signs and Parables
Miracles and Mission Trips
Bread of Life
Miracles and Meanings
Transfiguration and Teachings
To Jerusalem for the Festival of Tabernacles
Some Results of Luke’s Research
More of Luke’s Research
On the Road Again
The Raising of Lazarus
Holy Week: Palm Sunday and Monday
Holy Week: Tuesday, Parables and Questions
Holy Week: Wednesday Part 1, Discussions
Holy Week: Wednesday Part 2, Be Ready!
Holy Week: Thursday Part 1, Jesus' Celebration of the Passover
Holy Week: Thursday Part 2, Jesus' Farewell Discourse
Holy Week: Friday Part 1, Jesus' Arrest and Two Informal Trials
Holy Week: Friday Part 2, More Trials
Holy Week: Friday, Part 3, and Saturday, Jesus' Death and Burial
The Empty Tomb
Final Appearances of Jesus Prior to Pentecost

Copyright 2014 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. Scripture readings are from the Weymouth New Testament (1912). This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.

The woodcut showing Jesus walking on the water is from the family Bible of John O. Spencer and Lydia Bunn, married 18 Nov. 1857 in Hector, Schuyler Co., NY. A complete listing of the posted images from this Bible is given at
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Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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