Friday, August 7, 2009

Loaves and Fishes

The feeding of the five thousand is a great story in the Bible. I’ll assume you are familiar with the basic idea - Jesus and the disciples want to feed the 5,000 gathered to hear Jesus speak. There are only five loaves and two fish. However, after Jesus blesses the food, there is enough to go around - so much so, that 12 baskets of leftovers are collected.

Numbers like these are often quite symbolic in Scripture. 12 often signifies the 12 tribes of Israel (like the "12" disciples, for instance). This story could very well be a symbolic tale, showing how the message and life of Christ represent a new blessing of God for the 12 tribes - a new abundance from God. I think this is the story’s main function. However for the purpose of this entry, let’s assume that an actual event happened which the story is based on. Which is certainly possible.

Here are two hypothetical scenarios:

Number 1: Jesus has supernatural abilities. By blessing the loaves and fishes, new loaves and fishes appear out of thin air. It’s magic. People eat and are nourished by what did not exist a few moments before. Jesus has created new matter out of nothing, violating the law of conservation of mass/energy. Or he could have telekinetically transported existing fishes and loaves from elsewhere. Either way physical laws, as we know them, are being broken.

Jesus has power in his physical presence. If he were physically here today, he could perform supernatural works for humanity.

Number 2: Jesus hears that people are saying there is not enough to eat. However 5,000 men, not counting women and children, are present and they are hungry. Jesus has access to five loaves and two fishes. Instead of hording the food, he brings it out for all to see. He blesses it and gives it out to others instead of eating it himself. Inspired by his actions, members of the crowd take out their food, which they had been afraid to reveal lest it be taken from them. Everyone shares together. Those with extra give it away. Those who had none eat their fill. At the end of the communal meal, there are 12 baskets of food leftover.

Jesus has power in his physical presence, but in this case he also has power in his spiritual presence. In the act of sharing with others, of affirming our ultimate oneness, the same power Jesus demonstrated then can be demonstrated today by us. Jesus' power can still be displayed anytime someone decides to imitate him and become "God with skin on."

In the first story, we do not have the ability to imitate Christ. But in the second story we do.

-to be continued-


  1. Or do we have the power to create bread out of thin air also but we just don't know how to utilize that power due to our lack of faith in God to give us that same power that Jesus had (because he had such powerful faith)?

    I think that would be the other argument out there, meaning, perhaps we can all break the laws of physics/nature/etc. if we just had enough faith.

    Anyway, I don't think anybody created bread out of thin air unless they had a wand. Particularly one made out of phoenix feather. But even then, in the laws of Magic you can't truly create bread out of thin air, you can only summon it from somewhere else. Hmmmm

  2. I guess you never know. Another thought though....if you had enough faith to conjure bread out of thin air and you were successful....would other people see the loaves too?

    And if they didn't, does that mean the loaves are not there? But what if you see them? Do they taste good?

    If you look down and see no extra loaves, and you let this defeat your faith, then I suppose you don't have enough faith to conjure loaves. Does a lack of faith defeat loaves, or does a lack of loaves defeat faith? "I'll believe it when I see it" OR "I'll see it when I believe it"?

    I've never heard the idea that Jesus may have had a magic wand!

    "Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a STAFF (WAND?), for the laborer deserves his food" Matthew 10

    Does this imply not to bring your wand, and that the wand could have supplied food?

    Of course, everything IS magic.

  3. You're right - everything is magic :-)

  4. Strange question as I research, even the thoughts or ideas of men, on what happened with the left overs? Were they all given to others, did Jesus and the disciples take them with them, or were they just all scraps to be discarded?