Reflections on Jesus feeding the 4000 (Mark 8: 1-10)
The performing of a miracle in this passage is well known but it wasn't this as such that caught my attention when looking at it recently. To me, this was a parable about the earth having sufficient resources to supply our needs if they are well managed and administered. The desire to be fed is a basic human need and here we have a large crowd who, having followed Jesus for several days, were no doubt hungry - hungry on several levels: spiritually, physically and certainly hungry out of curiosity. For me, this was an opportunity for Jesus to be a spiritual symbol of the earth that sustains all life. Here, He is able to produce and provide food for those around Him. The loaves and the fish become a sacred embodiment of the body of Jesus that is shared amongst others. This is a Communion service. The food becomes a symbol of life, faith and of the provision of sustenance. It is a sign of the miraculous wonder of the ability of the earth around us to feed its people. All people are fed by the disciples and there is more that is leftover. This provision of food is well managed. It is amazing that a little can be so very productive and satisfying. This mirrors many ecological or garden habitats and permaculture ideas where the productivity of small area of land can be very high if well managed. This is a lesson against global exploitation and resource depletion.
A concurrent thought flowing along side this for me was about a 'Jesus Supermarket' mentality. Jesus is often seen as The leader, The answer to all problems, The answer to the provision of all our needs. Just like a big shopping trip to a local supermarket where we can buy all that we need to sustain us in our consumerist lifestyle, so we can see Jesus as performing a similar function. This can be good as long as we keep a healthy perspective. Sometimes it can be good to step away from an expectation of getting all we need, to put away the shopping list of requests and take a different look at what it is we really want or need.