by Jason and Jessica Wilde
Pop quiz: When Jesus fed the crowd, how many people were there?
Today's reading from Mark about the feeding of the crowd of four thousand (Mark 8:1-9) provided an unexpected opportunity to expand on our prior experiment on accurate reporting and perspective. Now, you may have just said to yourself "I thought it was a crowd of *five* thousand" - and this is the interesting part. In both Mark and Matthew, there are two distinct by very similar events recorded (e.g. compare with Mark 6:34-44), with only differences in the numbers of fishes and loaves, crowd size, and leftovers.
Many theologians will say that there were two distinct events, one with a Jewish crowd, and another with a Gentile crowd. But there is some debate - some say it could be the same event told by people from different backgrounds (Jewish and Gentile). Kind of like different news reporters writing about the same event, but having different details and conclusions.
After explaining to the kids how this could happen due to the verbal and sometimes inaccurate nature of stories being passed down in the early Christian Church, we decided to have our own little experiment on perspective. We found a Picasso drawing ("Bullfight and Pigeons") that the kids had not seen before, and we gave them each one minute to study the piece of art. We then separated them and gave five minutes to draw their own rendition of the Picasso drawing from memory.
To no surprise, the three memory drawings turned out pretty similar in general nature and structure, but each had distinct characteristics which relate very well to each child's style.
Our detail girl, Brecklyn, complained that she didn't get to finish the drawing but the figures that she did complete were very well defined and particularly detailed, even with some shading on the pigeons. This is in contrast to Alex, whose drawing was action packed, but the figures themselves were nearly silhouettes. Grace's drawing was balanced, with accurate renditions of the scene as a whole, but each figure was not as detailed as Brecklyn's.
We discussed with the kids how different people who attend the same event and tell that same story again would naturally tell the same story, but in different styles and with varying details. The Gospel writers had to then take these stories and make sense of them, much like present day news reporters. Sometimes, this results in variances on the events themselves (or even blatant discrepancies which can lead to arguments on how may times Jesus fed a crowd), though most of the time the differences are only in details.
On a Mission
Two passionate parents and their four children are excited to bring His Word to everyone in need while living a life of Gospel poverty as missionaries. They invite you to join them on a journey to encounter our global neighbors that Jesus commands us to love through works of charity and service.