The Morality of Jesus in Feeding the Multitude

When some people hear the story of how Jesus fed a multitude with five barley loaves and two fish, they stumble at the supernatural aspect.  However, I have always been just as impressed with the morality seen in this story as I have been the miraculous.  Let us count the ways:

1. Jesus was willing to have compassion on others and go out of His way to help them.  Do you provide food to people in such situations or are you more focused on when and where you’re going to have your own lunch?

2. Jesus was willing to give up what was His in order to make sure others were fed.  Those loaves and fishes were going to be Jesus’ own source of sustenance.  He was giving that up.

3. Jesus was giving away the sustenance of His followers, too.  How many leaders do you know who are willing to deprive their staffs in order to meet the needs of others?  More pointedly, how many leaders could keep their staffs around if they did such things?

4. Jesus did not ask for anything in return from the crowd.  He did not use the gift to get some return favor from them.  He gave to the crowd without any thought of receiving from the crowd.

5. Jesus did not try to capitalize on the fame that would have come from His gift.  In fact, He spoke rather forcefully about God’s requirements of people – to the point that many of the disciples withdrew and stopped following Him (John 6:66).

6.  Jesus took no credit for the provision but rather gave the credit to God.  He was as humble afterward as He had been before.

Human leaders just do not act this selflessly.  Even the best of them have egos that must be stroked, passions of some kind that must be filled.  It is just not normal to see that much power wielded in such a humble and selfless way.  The moral dimension of this story is as rare in human experience as the miraculous dimension.

4 Replies to “The Morality of Jesus in Feeding the Multitude”

  1. Here’s a Hudibrastic verse on woo,
    for superstitious folk like you.

    The Christian’s Jehovah, an Almighty God,
    is a capricious and cantankerous clod;
    and, so far as I can tell,
    the Christian often is as well.
    Confused by dogma, the foolish fogey
    can’t fathom the nature of that Bible Bogey.

    Is it a father, his son, and a g-g-ghost too?
    Well, it should be obvious that’s ridiculous woo.
    And Christians claim this god, in its Empyrean lair,
    is omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent and fair,
    but, with the problem of theodicy,
    their dogma is Christian idiocy.

    The Jew’s Yahweh, the meshugener, the jerk,
    set Jews strict rules on when to work,
    how to dress, and what to sup or sip,
    and giving baby boys the snip.
    Myths of Bronze Age, goat-herding nomads,
    have them, metaphorically, by the gonads.

    The Moslem’s Allah, a fierce desert djinn,
    demands under ‘Islam’, literally, ‘Submission’.
    Apostasy is treated just like a crime;
    they’ll threaten to kill you, to keep you in line,
    and if you dare draw Mohammad in a comic cartoon,
    there’ll be riots and killings from here to Khartoum.

    Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist,
    Zoroastrian, Baha’i, Mormon, and Scientologist,
    Confucianist, Shintoist, and Taoist too,
    Spiritualist, Wiccan, and the New Ager into woo.
    Yea, verily, those of each and every religion,
    are mired in the miasma of superstition.

    So, why should yours be the one true faith,
    in a magic, phantasmagorical wraith?
    Belief, without evidence, is just plain crazy,
    ignorant, stupid, or thoughtlessly lazy.
    When evolution happens, it’s due to Natural Selection,
    and life derives no purpose, at a theistic god’s direction.

  2. To believe that, given enough time, natural selection can produce a poem from primal ooze (or even nothing at all) requires a leap of faith from an absence of evidence that is way beyond anything a reasonable person can muster.

    1. Not really… Your reply -Mike- “given enough time, natural selection can produce a poem from primal ooze (or even nothing at all)” is based off the same line of thought that monkeys, when given enough time, will eventually type Shakespeare… When actually tested, the monkeys tended to type series of single letters, like for instance “s”. Why because random causality has nothing to do with it; the monkeys just got a kick out of pushing buttons, likely because it moved and made noise… Just like natural selection. Some of the process is indeed random. But the outcome is not; it is structured. And one can make predictions on the outcome based on a set of rules. These rules are the facts given by the various themes defined in the theory of evolution, which have been proven again and again by repeated tests throughout the 100+ years the idea has been around.

      Oh and your point in #5 up there is that JHC does not try to capitalize on the people getting free food, then in the same breath (figuratively speaking) you say that he speaks about god in such a way as to scare off those lazy followers. My thought is that a truly compassionate person would give the free meal for nothing in return; the guests listening to a sermon is not nothing-in-return (to think of it another way, “I’ll give you this cruise, but you have to listen to me talk about time shares”. A truly compassionate free meal would be just that; food because those people were hungry. And if I remember correctly this isn’t a story about him feeding the poor, but about a wedding party were the host could not afford to feed the multitudes. So Jesus was only compassionate to the hosts. The other people came expecting a meal, just like people do today and got a lecture, where the text states that some did not agree with.

      And I disagree with your statement about JHC’s humble nature. You read “I did not do this it was God’s doing.” I read “I have it in with the big guy upstairs so you better listen to me.” Not very humble in my opinion.

      BTW I’m one of those that actually reading the bible sent me to atheism. A little knowledge you know…

  3. R,

    If your first paragraph was intended to be a defense of natural selection’s ability to create the world we see from primal ooze, or nothing, you failed. But let me give you an easier test: If natural selection has shaped our world, who shaped natural selection?

    As for your comparing Jesus feeding the multitude to someone hawking timeshares, you’re not only presenting a false analogy, you’re demonstrating how little you have actually read the Bible. People were coming to Jesus on their own. He was not touting that a meal would be provided. That came as a surprise – even to His closest disciples.

    You would consider Jesus more humble if He had let the people think that He was entirely self-sufficient? You have strange ideas about humility. You must think that Academy Award winners who claim all the credit for themselves and thank no one are more humble than those who sincerely share credit with others.

    Yes, if your reading of the Bible sent you to atheism then you are indeed proving that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Besides, it’s not reading the Bible that impresses God – it practicing the principles therein that gets His notice.

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