Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, "Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here." (Luke 9:12)And after he said "You give them something to eat," they stated:
"We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd."What happened next is the key to the lesson Jesus was giving them:
Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. (Luke 9:16-17)
So what is the lesson here?
What did Jesus do to feed them all?
If we assume that the lesson here is about Jesus feeding people we have it wrong. If Jesus' purpose was about feeding people why didn't he feed everyone who was hungry? Why didn't he set up restaurants or feeding centers in every village? We know that during this period there were many people who were destituted by the Romans - resulting in poverty and hunger throughout the region at that time.
Furthermore, if Jesus' purpose was to feed people why were so many hungry then, and why have so many people starved since Jesus' time? Did he not care? Why didn't he feed them all and why have so many people gone hungry over the centuries since Jesus walked the earth?
Over the past two thousand years billions of people have gone hungry all over the world. Many over the centuries have in fact starved to death, including many young children. Many of us have seen pictures of starving children in Africa and other regions - with distended bellies and other symptoms of starvation.
Indeed, many - even many who have been followers of Christianity - have died from starvation over the centuries since this feeding of the five thousand.
Why hasn't Jesus fed these people?
Aren't they hungry too? Or did Jesus forget about them? Or is he just ignoring them?
Many will, in fact, use this very point to argue that God must not exist. Why would God and His son Jesus allow some of us to suffer so much? Doesn't He care about us?
This reminds us of the old story about a platoon of the Soviet communist army that came upon a group of starving people who were praying for food. The communist army commander said to them, "go ahead and pray for food and we'll come back tomorrow to see if you've gotten any food." They came back the next day and the people still didn't have any food.
The communist army leader then said, "Now ask us for some food." The people then asked them for some food and the communist army trucks came the next day delivering food to the people. The leader then said to them, "So who do you believe in now."
This story, and the fact that so many people - including children - go starving indicates something very critical about the Supreme Being and the physical world:
The physical world was designed as a place of learning.
Oh, but doesn't this go against every notion of sectarian teachers - that their sect members will "inherit the earth" and such? Absolutely.
The notion that sectarian teaches is that if we accept Jesus as my savior and that he died for our sins then I will not suffer - everyone else will suffer, however, because they did not accept Jesus as their savior.
Wow, so easy. But what about the starving children? Most are too young to even understand the concept of accepting Jesus as their savior. Why are they suffering?
And what about those people now in Africa and elsewhere who plead with charity organizations to help feed them? Why are they still suffering? Doesn't God care? Or perhaps He has just lost control?
What this teaching says basically is that those who accept Jesus as their savior will "inherit the earth" and enjoy life on earth after Jesus' second coming. But everyone else - even innocent children - will suffer because they haven't heard that Jesus is their savior.
But what if they have accepted Jesus - as many in Africa have - and they still suffer?
But it is not as if they can inherit the earth now, or once they accept Jesus as their savior, the ecclesiastical teaching goes. But they must wait until his second coming. They must endure suffering until Jesus' second coming.
But what if he doesn't come before our bodies die? And how will our decomposed bodies inherit the earth?
Inheriting the earth is a ridiculous notion
Our decomposed bodies simply cannot inherit the earth: They will become earth. They will decompose right back into the soil.
What does this say about those sectarian institutions over the centuries who waited all their lives for the second coming and then died? Their bodies are now decomposed.
Enter the "dancing on their graves" teaching of some sectarian institutions. This says that those who died before Jesus' second coming will be a state of limbo until Jesus comes. Then they will rise out of their graves and "dance on their graves" as Jesus comes to destroy all the miscreants.
Where are all these people now though? If you dig up their graves there is nothing left but dirt and maybe a few bone fragments.
This notion that we will rise up out of our graves to dance on them even though our body has been decomposed is simply a ridiculous notion. It is nonsense.
Furthermore, Jesus never taught this. This is a twisting of a few words lifted from scripture out of context, and that is all it is. There is no reality to this teaching. It is pure speculation - not only without substance: But without any logic nor consistency with nature.
The reality is, our bodies die and decompose, yet each of us, spirit-persons, live on. We leave our body at the time of death.
This is confirmed, even regarding Jesus:
Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)
"It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)Jesus also said:
"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matt. 26:41 and Mark 14:38)And when Jesus revitalized the daughter of Jairus, the following was described - certainly by either Peter, John or James because they were the only ones there and Jesus asked Jairus not to speak of it:
Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. (Luke 8:55)These statements indicate that Jesus taught that we are not these physical bodies. We are the spirit-persons who reside within and operate these physical bodies.
We might compare this to a car.
A person will sit down inside a car and drive it for awhile. The car might last 5-10 years and then break down. The person will then get out of the car and sell it or have it hauled off to the junkyard. The car is no longer useful to them. So they get out and walk away.
It is the same with the physical body. It is a vehicle. It is a temporary machine meant to allow us to operate it for awhile, and as it ages or otherwise gets damaged, it dies. And then we leave it.
This has been scientifically proven in over a million cases of clinical death, where after having clinically died and been resuscitated a person tells of leaving their physical body - rising out of it and watching it from above and then traveling elsewhere while the body lie dead on the hospital bed.
In these cases who is looking down upon the body? The body's eyes are closed. The heart has stopped. The brainwaves have stopped (so it is not a hallucination as some portend).
Many times in these clinical death cases, the person describes accurately what the doctors and the nurses were doing to their dead body to try to revive it. They describe things they could not have known from their dead body.
This person who looks down upon the body is who we each are: This is the spirit-person who operates the physical body.
If we are not these physical bodies, and they are temporary machines, then how does this change our impression of starving children and the rest of the suffering that takes place in the physical world to these physical bodies?
The reality is, the suffering that takes place to our physical bodies is not only temporary. But it is not happening to us. It is only occurring to our temporary physical bodies - these machines we falsely identify ourselves with.
We might compare this again to the car. If someone walks by and puts a big scratch in our car, does that hurt the driver? Or if the gas tank is empty does the driver feel hungry? Certainly not.
The driver of the car may have had a big lunch. While the car may still be out of gas.
Or the car may get dented up or even totaled in an accident and the driver may still be able to walk away unhurt. This is because the driver is not the car.
In the same way, we are not our physical bodies.
This body was designed to suffer
This means that all the suffering that takes place in the physical world - whether it is starving children, violence, wars, human slavery, disease, old age and so on - are only situations of the physical body. These are taking place to these physical bodies, just as the empty gas tank or the dents on the car are only taking place for the car and not the driver.
Of course to the degree the driver is identifying with the car or attached to it - those dents and scratches will affect him. It is the same with the body. To the degree that we identify ourselves with the physical body we are affected by the things that take place with it.
This doesn't mean that when the body is starving the spirit-person within is starving, however. It just means the spirit-person has become attached to the physical body, and is in anxiety because of the events taking place to the physical body. It is the same with the entire physical world:
The suffering that takes place in the physical world is not due to a lack of God or Jesus' kindness. Nor are they the result of God losing control.
In fact it is the precise opposite. The sufferings that take place to the physical bodies of the physical world are taking place out of God's love for us. How is that?
Let's consider this carefully. There is a reason each of us are trapped within a physical body. Why is that? Because we wanted to escape our home and position in the spiritual realm - that realm that houses the spirit-person we really are.
The spiritual realm is a place of love and relationships.
This is where we are each from, and this is the reason we spend our entire physical lives continuously looking for love and relationships.
The mainstay of the love and relationships that exist in the spiritual realm is our relationship with the Supreme Being. God created us as His loving servants and playmates. This is our real identity. We were each created to share a unique relationship of loving service to God.
But God also created us with choice. This is because love requires choice. A person can't be forced to love and lovingly serve. If God did not give us choice then there would be no purpose to love, and God would experience no enjoyment from receiving it. We would just be like machines.
Just consider a young boy playing with his toy soldiers. He puts each soldier in its position, and then pretends to fight a miniature war. What is missing? The fact that the toy soldiers have no free will. They will only do precisely what the boy wants them to do. Therefore, the boy soon gets bored of that game and moves on to other games - particularly those that involve people with free will - perhaps he will take up chasing girls.
The Supreme Being is the Supreme Enjoyer. He enjoys exchanging relationships of love. But this joy only comes out of the fact that He created us with the choice to love Him or not.
And since God created us with the choice to love Him or not, some of us decided we did not want to love God. We did not want to serve God. We wanted our freedom from God.
That is the purpose of the physical world. God created the physical world to enable us to get away from Him, and pretend that we are not who we are for awhile. These physical bodies are like costumes we can wear for awhile to pretend we are not who we really are. This physical world is thus like a Halloween party - where everyone dresses up like someone they are not.
And God also designed the physical world and these physical bodies with the illusion giving us the impression that we are these bodies. He set up the mind and the senses in such a way that we identify ourselves with the body - and we forget our real selves.
You see, this is the only way the Supreme Being could grant our wish to get away from Him. We are talking about God here - how can we get away from God?
The only way is to be given the ability to ignore Him. And His design of the physical world - with our temporary physical mind and body - allows us to forget the Supreme Being for awhile.
While there are many species of life on this planet (read "The Evolution of the Self" book for more info), the bottom line is that those of us in human form of life have the option of returning to our original relationship with God. We have been given the ability to remember God or reject God.
And herein lies the purpose of suffering in the physical world. If God created the physical world as a place where there was only pleasure, then we would have no incentive to return to Him. We would find our escape from Him - together with the fact that we identify with these bodies - too good to ever leave.
This would virtually make rehabilitation impossible.
And this is not what God wants. He wants us to return to our relationship with Him. Why?
God does not need us.
While He does enjoy love and loving relationships, He has plenty of other playmates and associates who love and serve Him. He doesn't need any of us.
But He knows we will only be happy when we are re-situated in our original position as His loving servant. We will only be happy when we are back in the spiritual realm, exchanging love with Him and His associates.
So He placed within the physical dimension - along with the various temporary (fleeting) pleasures of the physical body - various types of sufferings: In an attempt to remind us that this is not our home. That this is not our permanent position.
He also set up the physical world to teach us, so that we can grow and evolve. This is why the physical world is programmed with consequences - every action has a consequence.
We might compare this to loving parents who discipline their child. The parents are not disciplining their child because they want to cause suffering to the child. It is not as if they don't care. Their discipline is meant to help the child realize they will be happier if they do the right things.
For example, a parent might punish a child with more chores and being grounded as a consequence for the child stealing something. They want the child to realize that there are consequences to their actions. They don't want the child to become a criminal later on, because they love the child. They know the child will not be happy being put in jail during their adult life.
It is the same with God. These sufferings that take place to our body (and each body receives a particular amount of suffering depending upon our stage of learning) are a form of discipline to encourage us to reach out to Him and return to Him.
So what was Jesus' lesson in the feeding of the five thousand?
Consider carefully this verse:
"Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them."The Greek word being translated to "gave thanks" is εὐλογέω (eulogeō). This word has elsewhere been translated to "blessed." According to Thayer's lexicon the primary meaning of the word is related to praise: "to praise, celebrate with praises."
What does "to praise" have to do with giving thanks? Nothing.
Yes, the translation of "giving of thanks" from this word and from Jesus' act as he looked "up to heaven" is wrong.
In fact, "giving thanks" has nothing to do with the situation at all. One might say that by giving thanks, the food was multiplied. But what does giving thanks have to do with multiplying the food and feeding all the people? Nothing.
The fact is, Jesus was praising the Supreme Being. He didn't just look up and say "hey thanks God." This is the interpretation of those who have no entrance into the loving relationship between God and Jesus.
The reality is that Jesus was making an offering to the Supreme Being. The word εὐλογέω (eulogeō) relates to praising God because this is what occurs when a person makes an offering to God. They make the offering, and praise God as they make the offering.
This aspect of offering food to God has been largely ignored by sectarian institutions because they do not worship God.
We see offerings made to God throughout the Bible. Cain and Able made offerings to God. Abraham made offerings. Noah made offerings. Isaac made offerings. Jacob made offerings. Aaron made offerings. Moses made offerings. Joshua made offerings. David made offerings. Throughout the scriptures we see God's servants making offerings to God and we see that this was advisable:
" 'If you bring a grain offering of firstfruits to the LORD, offer crushed heads of new grain roasted in the fire." (Lev. 2:14)
"Present a loaf from the first of your ground meal and present it as an offering from the threshing floor." (Num. 15:20)It is also described by David that offerings to God are accompanied by praising Him:
"Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His Name; bring an offering and come before Him. Worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness." (1 Chronicles 16:29)This verse and many others indicate that it was well-accepted that making an offering to God is done together with praising God. Praising God also means praising His Holy Name, as indicated here.
A person who sincerely makes such an offering of food with praises to God before eating effectively spiritualizes that food. It makes the food itself holy because God has touched it.
This is what Jesus was doing. He was offering the food to the Supreme Being with praises. He was giving the food to God before it was distributed.
Once the food was distributed they found it fed everyone. This was intended to illustrate the power of offering our food to God. And the power of praising the Supreme Being - εὐλογέω (eulogeō).
In other words, the "miracle of the loaves and fishes" as referred to by sectarian teachers was not a miracle performed by Jesus. The Supreme Being performed the miracle. Jesus provided the platform - as His loving servant - for the miracle to occur. Other texts confirm early followers understood this about Jesus:
"Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know." (Acts 2:22)These indicate that Jesus' early followers accepted that Jesus was God's loving servant and God performed those miracles through Jesus.
And we see throughout the scriptures that Jesus' miracles resulted in people praising God:
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen (Luke 19:37)
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:20)
Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. (Luke 5:25)
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. (Luke 17:15)
Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. (Luke 18:43)
And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. (Luke 24:53)And we see that Jesus' focus upon praising God was reflected by the teachings of Jesus' disciples - as indicated by this statement:
"And everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.'" (Act 2:21)These verses indicate the focus Jesus' teachings had upon the praising of God's Holy Names - reflected by these descriptions and statements as well as others.
This was Jesus' purpose - he wants us to return to our loving relationship with God. By honoring and praising God's Holy Names - in song, prose and speaking to each other - we begin to regain our lost love for Him.
And we can put these lessons into practice quite easily. Each of us can partake in this ceremony of offering our food with praises to God before eating. While "giving thanks" is not necessarily wrong, it does not bring the same spiritual benefits that offering bears. When we offer our food to God (or offer other gifts - such as a flower, water and so on) we are learning to participate in a loving-service relationship with God. A relationship that is akin to our true status as God's servant.
Just thanking God or Jesus - as though their purpose is to give us stuff and our purpose is to take it and be thankful - may acknowledge God, but it does not portray our real relationship with Him. We are God's servant - He is not ours. Sure we can thank God for everything He has given us, but seeing God as our order-supplier is not our true relationship with Him.
While God will take care of us and we can rely upon Him - regardless of the condition of our temporary physical body - we can embrace our true relationship with Him when we praise Him, work for Him, and humbly and sincerely make offerings to Him.