A little more on feeding 5,000 and the closing incident of John’s Gospel in chp 21. I know many experts argue that the Gospel closes at the end of chp 20, finishing with Thomas’s great declaration of faith in v28 and then the famous summary statement of the writer to the effect that Jesus did lots of other things which were not recorded, but these have been carefully selected to lead you to faith and life (v30,31). And that would make literary sense…it’s a suitably high dramatic moment on which to conclude. But instead we have this curious additional chapter.
I’m intrigued by a number of things:
- Thomas’s reappearance here in v2, (after his declaration in 20:28), as the disciples decide to return to fishing. This has always been presented to me as a loss of faith on their part evidenced in a return to the old life, and their conviction that the great endeavour with their Messiah had failed utterly. I guess it could still be; we’re all prone to these lapses, and if so, then it is remarkable that Jesus still has patience. But maybe there is something more here. Any ideas?
- The startling number of parallels with the feeding of the 5,000 in John 6.
-the lake has a prominent part – both stories happen beside it or after having crossed it.
-there is a food related question to open events:
“Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” (6:5)
”Friends, haven’t you any fish?” (21:5)
-miraculous multiplication of bread in and fish in chp6, and a miraculous catch of fish, more than ever before in
-the distribution of the food in ways eerily reminiscent of the Last Supper, (6:11 & 21:13)
-the exact same phrase is repeated ‘and he did the same with the fish’ (6:11 & 21:13)
-the asking of questions to which Jesus already knew the answers (6:6 & 21:17)
-the conclusion with a statement about force, the one referring to the attempt to make Jesus their king (6:15)
and the curious statement of Jesus to Peter concerning the death by which he would glorify God: ‘when you were
younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ (21:18).What’s going on?
- And on that last point, what is the connection between a statement about ‘feed my sheep’, the third command in the reinstatement of Peter (21:17) and the statement about Peter’s death? I mean, what leads Jesus to make that statement after having spoken to him about his pastoral duties? Is there a connection with the call in 21:19?
- Why did Jesus ask them to bring some of the fish they had caught, when he already had fish cooking (v9, 10)?
- What does it mean when John says ‘none of the disciples dared ask him ‘who are you?’. They knew it was the Lord.’ (21:12)?
- Why repeat the explanation of 21:25, which says almost the same thing as 20:30,31?
So many questions. But then the events that followed the resurrection were so extraordinary I guess.
Anyway, I’m open to further ones, or to any answers.