Jesus Didn’t Check Credentials at the Loaves and Fishes Event
In the New Testament there are a couple different accounts where Jesus fed the multitudes. He had been preaching throughout the afternoon and evidently the people were hanging on every one of His words. Instead of cutting the event short Jesus decided to feed them a meal. He had His apostles see if there was food available. They came back with the bad news, there was only a kid with a few loaves and a couple of fish. Jesus told the disciples to start passing it out. His disciples balked at this command and reiterated that there were only three loaves and five fish. Jesus said to do what He told them and to bring back anything left over. Of course the rest of the story goes into detailing the miracle that occurred. There were about 5000 men in the crowd which didn’t include women and children, so the scripture reports. What’s more, it says that everyone ate their fill and the apostles gathered up 12 basketsful of leftovers!
This miracle is really a demonstration of what Jesus was detailing in the Lord’s Prayer. In fact, I think He prayed this prayer in His “Sermon on the Mount” where this exact kind of miracle might well have taken place. In His prayer Jesus asks His father to give people daily bread (food and sustenance) enough to live on. In His prayer Jesus isn’t asking His father for daily handouts, He’s asking Him to provide opportunity and means by which they can acquire these things for themselves and do so as a matter of course. There is a saying, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime!” This is the kind of blessing Jesus was asking His father for.
Another dynamic of this loaves and fishes event sees Jesus providing this blessing with no expectation of receiving anything in return from them. Additionally, He didn’t have the apostles move through the crowd to check people’s green cards! This may seem like a trivial point or something not worth mentioning, but in this age of the Trump Christian mentality, people just like those in the crowd at this loaves and fishes event are being turned away from our U.S. Southern border. These 10,000s of “illegals” are being refused the opportunity to partake of the bounty our country has to offer; the same bounty Jesus would offer to them, freely and without condition. Jesus isn’t there, physically on the border, there are only His disciples (or as it works out, the hirelings of His disciples) and the instructions they’ve been given are different than those Jesus would have given.
Meanwhile, deep inside the heartland of the Promised Land known as the United States, Christians are busy handing out food packets to hungry people in many needy sectors. And it is true that these Christian workers are doing good work…up to a point. The better, Godlier work they could be or could have been doing before now, is teaching these people how to fish, as it were. And this directive is not intended to be taken strictly literally, because these people come to our borders with marvelous skill sets in tow. So a slightly modified version of the old saying might go, “Let a man onto your lake and lend him your boat so he can go fishing.” Along with their skills, these southern migrants have an unparalleled determination and stamina of spirit to do long hours of hard labor. These people possess much of the character, drive and foresight our forefathers possessed. The one difference is, our forefathers’ skillsets of determination and perseverance are viewed more clearly through the rearview mirror of history with a 250 year buffer between us and their accomplishments. Another difference is that these people don’t speak the native language, English. It turns out this difference may be a bigger obstacle for them than Trump’s wall.
It’s high time that Christians stepped into the deeper waters of understanding of the messages Jesus was trying to impart to both the disciples of His day and to us: “Thy kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The invitation—to build and establish His kingdom on the earth—is still up for grabs. An ideal opportunity has been laid at our Christian doorstep. With all of the desperation surrounding us makes for an excellent reason to rethink the traditional strategies for interacting with one another and for building relationships with our fellow human beings.