Yummy, Yummy, Yummy – God Serves Up a Feast of Deliverance
A Heretic’s Guide to the Bible Bonus
Readings from Beyond the Lectionary by David Ackerman for Easter 5: April 28, 2013
Bible Cliff’s Notes
Mark 8:1-10: Jesus feeds a crowd of about four thousand people, starting with only seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. After sharing the meal, they take away seven baskets full of the leftover pieces.
2 Samuel 9:1-13a – Mephibosheth is a young man who had a debilitating injury in his feet when he was a child. He is the grandson of King Saul, whom David just defeated in battle. Mephibosheth is brought before David and begs for mercy. David welcomes him to his table and treats him like one of his own sons.
Psalm 68:17-20 – These verses talk about the glory of God. They say that God is a saving God who delivers people from death.
Revelation 19:1-10 – John of Patmos describes a vision where he sees a huge crowd of people praising God. They shout about how it’s time for the marriage celebration of the Lamb (a description of the union between Jesus and his followers) and an angel says that those who are invited to the marriage supper are blessed. There are some confusing images here, and we’ll unpack these in a bit.
WTF: Where’s the Faith? Scripture in Plain Language
Mephibosheth: Okay, it’s pronounced mê-fib´-ô-shěth. He’s the son of Jonathan and grandson of King Saul. Check out 2 Samuel 4:4, which describes his childhood injury. When David is victorious over Saul and his troops, Mephibosheth thinks he’s as good as dead. But David gives him a royal welcome instead.
Ziba: This is King Saul’s servant who survived the battles and tells David about Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9.
The Great Whore: Whoa. Time to take a step back here! When the man called John of Patmos wrote the book of Revelation, he was writing to late first-century/early second-century Christians who were facing intense persecution in the Roman Empire and were desperately in need of encouragement. He wrote the book in code because if they were busted, they’d be killed. So he used words in such a way that outsiders wouldn’t know what the heck he was talking about but insiders would get it. When he talks about “the great whore” he’s using one of a number of images to describe the Roman Empire in all its decadence. He’s definitely not talking about Hitler, Stalin, or anyone else in the modern (or post-modern!) world. Oh, and bonus points for you if you picked up on the language that he uses here as being condescending toward women. Sadly, there’s a lot of this in the Bible, and I really think we need to be critical of it whenever we see it.
Twenty-Four Elders and Four Living Creatures: Numerology is big in Revelation as code. Is this about two elders from each tribe of Israel? Is it about the four winds (directions)? Don’t lose sleep over it. The point is that it gives hope to persecuted people.
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb: The union between Jesus and his followers that reveals God’s victory over all persecuting powers.
Navel-gazing: First Thoughts
- Some scholars think that today’s reading from Mark 8 is just a rehash of the story of the feeding of the five thousand while others think that it’s different. The bigger question in my mind is to ask what’s going on here. Is this some cool magic trick where somehow Jesus multiplies bread and fish out of the clear blue sky, or is something else going on here? To me, the magic trick thing isn’t what this story is about. To me it’s about the miracle of sharing. A group of people come together in a desert in the midst of scarce resources and discover to their amazement that there is more than enough to go around.
- Mephibosheth thinks he’s a goner in 2 Samuel 9 because of the way that his grandfather treated David. But when Ziba hands over Mephibosheth, David is eager to show him kindness and welcome him to the royal table. Does this kindness have anything to do with the relationship between David and Mephibosheth’s father Jonathan? The text doesn’t say, but it does emphasize the injury to Mephibosheth’s feet, which heightens the reader’s compassionate feelings toward David.