Bible Study Tip: Learn to compare and study the detail in the gospel accounts. Mark is the first gospel written, then Matthew and Luke, who makes his thorough and ordered account. These are known as the synoptic gospels because they are often in sync or in parallel. Practice comparing them as the differences will shed light on each writer’s particular theme or point. John is different from the others but at times matches them. Study those passages carefully.
“The feeding of the 5000” is one of those passages where all four gospels are in parallel; study it carefully. For those of you following me in the Bible Gems and doing your study behind me I will give sometime for you to do the work and I will add other things that are not directly dealing with the text. Let me tell you what I have done in preparation for looking at this passage. I used e-sword. I firstly chose the passage starting at John 6:1 and made sure that verse was highlighted. Then I clicked on “Bible” and “Gospel Harmony” on the tool bar at the top. That selected section 72 for me. I selected it all [Ctrl A] and pasted it into a Word document using Landscape format to ensure all the columns stay the same. [I also chose sections 73 through 76 and printed them as well.] Then I stuck them all together in fanfold series of pages so that I can compare them in detail. You can choose the version you want to do this but make sure it is not a freer translation. You need to be able to follow the literal text closely. If you can use Greek, even better.
Now take note of how each writer handles this passage in detail and you will see where their emphasis lies. I used coloured markers to highlight – same passages, changes and differences, new material, additions from each writer. But in this case I am mainly looking at what John is doing – because John is my focus at the moment. Remember again to note the repetition in John. Repetition of theme words, phrases, sentences etc. You can choose what colours you want to highlight the themes or repetition or other elements you think are worthy. I choose purple for anything that related to Christ’s deity or messiahship; dark blue for believe, light blue for life and eternal life and raising up on the last day, green for truly truly and no-one was lost, yellow for bread / manna / body / blood, orange for murmuring and eating flesh etc. I don’t have all those colours available in Outlook. I used a different colour for each theme in my printed version. It is really up to you.
Even if you are not following these gems day by day you can still benefit from it by setting aside my input until after you have practised it yourself. Then compare what you have found with what I have found. Simple really. Or alternatively you simply read what I have written and be done with it. Your choice.
If you don’t have access to E-sword or a computer then you could buy a gospel harmony (see Bible Gem #24). If you don’t want to buy a gospel harmony then you can photocopy the relevant sections from your own bible to compare and contrast them. By relevant sections I mean in this case Matthew 14:13-36, Mark 6:30-56, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:1-71. we will begin looking at all of this in the next Gem.
Psa 119:18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
Psa 26:7 That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.
Only to Man thou hast made known thy ways / And put the pen alone into his hand / And made him Secretary of thy praise. John Piper
Dig deeper into the Scripture so you have more reasons to praise Him when you behold the wondrous things from His Word.
Walt Disney: He visited 104 banks before getting funding for Disney World. He was told he lacked creativity!