This past fall, our stake president introduced me to a new way to look at the miracles of Jesus feeding the multitude, which I wanted to share here. The feeding of the multitude is the only miracle that is mentioned in all four gospels, and in Matthew and Mark, there are multiple versions of the miracle. It has obviously touched the hearts of the early Christians for it to be recorded so often, and is dear to us today.
To feed thousands of people to the point of being full with only a few loaves and fish is huge and with baskets of leftovers is huge. To try to figure out how you’d have to physically do that (would you re-arrange the molecules? beam extra loaves in from a hidden teleportation device?) is mind boggling. We don’t know. My stake president offered another idea.
Who was in the multitude? Probably a range of people of different socioeconomic status, families, tribes of Israel. Perhaps there were people in the crowd who had brought some extra food in their own bags. Perhaps, when the basket came around, they saw that the crowd was huge and they had a little extra, and maybe moved by the compassion and healing miracles they saw Christ demonstrate or the teachings of love and charity they heard, or the example of Christ’s examples in giving all their own bread and fish, they took from their own bags and placed their extra into the baskets.
And thousands of people were fed. And there was plenty left over.
I don’t believe that this version makes the miracle of feeding the multitudes less miraculous. It is a miracle to have power over the physical world, but I think it may be even more of a miracle to have the power to change the hearts of human beings.
Do we have extra in our bags that we can put into the baskets and share with our community? Does Christ inspire us to action?
“Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.” John 6:14
This Christmas, as we celebrate the man who changed the hearts of millions of people, let’s remember to let him change ours as well.