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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bread, with a Twist

People just love to distort the Bible, and nobody does it with as much smugness as members of the political left who post such things as this image and then sneer, "Yeah, those Republicans say they follow Jesus." The implication seems to be that Jesus would approve of an enormous Federal bureaucracy set up to provide food stamps. 
I wonder how many have read the accounts of Jesus' feeding the 5,000 by miracle-- or even know where the story appears. BTW, it's in Matthew 14 and John 6.
Here's what happened. A huge crowd followed Jesus out into the countryside, and it got to be dinner time. The disciples saw no way to feed them. "Send them away," they said. "You give them something to eat," Jesus said. But they had no money and no place to buy. Andrew observed that a boy had five loaves of bread and two fish, "but how far will they go among so many?" Jesus thanked the Father for the food and started passing it around. Every one of the thousands of people ate his fill, and the disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. No human agency could give the people what they needed in this situation; only the Creator God could. Jesus multiplied the food with ease, just as He called life out of the earth and the sea and created Eve from Adam's rib. 
He'd been healing all sorts of illnesses, and now He was handing out food! Sounds pretty good. But these physical things were beside the point of Jesus' actions. See John 6: 14,15. "After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, 'Surely this is the prophet who is to come into the world.' Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself." So much for government as the source of sustenance. I think it's plain that the people were mistaken in seeing Jesus as a permanent source of bread. They were quite ready to "create dependency," but that was not what Jesus wanted for them. This feeding was a one-time demonstration of His pity and power that represented something much more important than a full stomach. He explained later when the people asked  for (another) miraculous sign and mentioned the manna their ancestors ate in the wilderness. He said, "... it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.... I am the bread of life.... If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever."
This is not about setting up a welfare state. It's about faith, salvation, eternal life. Taking the story out of context and twisting it for political purposes is dishonest, dangerous and just plain wrong.
 More on this topic. "God and Gimme"

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