Later in the day his disciples approached him and said, “This is a secluded spot and the time is late – send them away into the surrounding fields and villages so they can buy themselves food – because they don’t have anything to eat.” But he replied, “Give them something to eat.” So they asked, “Should we go and buy two hundred denariis worth of breads to give them something to eat?” Jesus replied, “How many loaves do you have? Go check." So they counted and said, “Five – and two fishes.” Then he instructed them to have everyone sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of fifty or a hundred. Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes and looked up towards the sky and offered them to God. He then broke the breads and divided the fishes and gave them to his disciples to pass out to everyone. Then everyone ate and was filled. When they picked up the broken pieces of bread and fish, they filled up twelve baskets. And about five thousand people had eaten the loaves. (Mark 6:35-44)This miracle of five loaves was also described in the Gospel of John. The central question that comes from the portrayal of this miracle is what was its purpose? Was Jesus trying to prove to the people how powerful he was? Was he trying to prove that he was the Messiah? Or as some sectarian teachers propose, that Jesus was the Supreme Being?
Certainly, if Jesus wanted to prove to people that he was the Supreme Being or even the Messiah he could think of something a little less subtle than this.
Certainly, if the point was to prove Jesus' power and authority then he could have produced a more obvious and dramatic miracle to prove this. And certainly, the miracle would not have been limited to 5,000 people. If Jesus was trying to prove he was the Supreme Being, couldn't he have fed the entire world? And with respect to his other miracles of healing, couldn't he have healed everyone in the world and made it so no one had a disease?
That is, if the point of Jesus' miracles was to prove Jesus' power and authority, or that he was the Supreme Being, then certainly he could do something more fantastic.
Jesus offered the food to God
Rather, we find that Jesus was not displaying his own power at all. In fact, Jesus offered the food to God.before it was distributed:
Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes and looked up towards the sky and offered them to God. (Mark 6:41)Most sectarian translations of this event say that Jesus "gave thanks."
But this is a faulty translation made by sectarian officials with no access into the relationship between Jesus and the Supreme Being. It is a mistranslation made by those who see the Supreme Being as their order-supplier. They see God as someone who, like a waiter, is asked for stuff and then thanked after it is delivered.
The phrase "offered to God" is being translated from the Greek word εὐλογέω (eulogeō), which means, according to the lexicon: "to praise, celebrate with praises;" "to invoke blessings;" "to consecrate a thing with solemn prayers;" "to ask God's blessing on a thing;" "pray God to bless it to one's use;" "pronounce a consecratory blessing on."
All of these terms point at, but still miss the central factor involved. To consecrate something or invoke blessings is not like waving a magic wand over something. It is not that God is being asked (again as if he is our order supplier) to make the food somehow blessed. As if God would wave His magic wand over the food and it became bright and crispy or something.
Rather, we are speaking of a person wanting to reach out to God and offer Him something out of love and devotion. Such an offering, as taught by Jesus and all the Prophets, pleases the Supreme Being. As such, the food becomes spiritualized because it was used to please God.
Jesus taught making offerings to God
Did Jesus teach his students to make offerings to God? Certainly, he did:
“Show or tell no one, but go on your way and show yourself to the Altar priest and make an offering of a gift – which Moses instructed – as your testimony.” (Matt. 8:4)What is "which Moses instructed"? Making offerings to the Supreme Being. The fact that Jesus accepted this act of offering and instructed his students to do the same is mentioned elsewhere as well:
“Therefore, if you are making your offering before the Altar of God, and you are reminded that your brother has something against you, leave your offering before the Altar of God and go – first become reconciled with your brother and then return and present your offering." (Matt. 5:23-24)The altar is most certainly the altar of the Supreme Being. Jesus is speaking of making offerings to the Supreme Being, which can be done in front of an Altar. Or as Jesus was illustrating as he offered the loaves, an offering can be made privately through personal prayer:
"But you, when you pray, go into your closet and shut the door, and pray to your LORD who is in secret; and your LORD who sees what is done secretly shall reward you openly." (Matt. 6:6)Jesus also taught that once something is offered to the Supreme Being, it becomes sacred:
"Blind fools – which is greater, the offering – or the Altar of God that sanctifies the offering?" (Matt. 23:19)Offering one's food to the Supreme Being before eating is clearly taught not only by Moses, but throughout the Old Testament, as God commanded His devoted ones, going as far back as Cain:
In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. (Genesis 4:3)We also find Abel made offerings to God. Abraham made offerings to God. Jacob made offerings to God. Jethro made offerings to God. Moses made offerings to God. On and on this goes, from Eli to Samuel to David to Solomon to Jeremiah to Job to Jonah. All made offerings to the Supreme Being.
What is the purpose of offering to God?
The primary purpose of offering is to express our desire to build a relationship with God. This is why a boy offers flowers to a girl he wants to date. Or why a child will offer their toys to their friends. Because offering is part of personal relationships.
It is also an element of love, which is what both Moses and Jesus taught is the first and foremost instruction. Just consider this statement by the Supreme Being to Moses:
“Tell the Israelites to bring Me an offering. You are to receive the offering for Me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give." (Exodus 25:2)God is speaking of Moses accepting offerings from people on behalf of God. The phrase "who heart prompts them to give" illustrates that the Supreme Being does not need any offering. He doesn't need any of our food.
Rather, the Supreme Being is giving us a facility to increase our personal relationship with Him. He is allowing us to relate with Him directly, by making an offering to Him. Whether this offering is in front of the altar, or through His representative as He is requesting of Moses, or directly through a private prayer, the Supreme Being will accept gifts that are sincerely offered to Him with devotion and love.
Because God owns everything, He doesn't need our stuff. What He is interested in is our love. He wants our love and He wants us to commit ourselves to Him. This reality was also emphasized by Moses elsewhere:
"But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other." (Deut. 4:39)
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (Deut. 6:5)This instruction by Moses to "seek Him with all year heart and with all your soul" is clear. The Supreme Being is not wanting any of our food or other stuff. He is simply wanting our love. And He knows that by loving Him, we will become fulfilled and happy.
And making offerings to the Supreme Being is part of the process of regaining our loving relationship with Him. It is elemental to learning to love Him again.
Offering to God and taking shelter of Him
So Jesus' demonstration of feeding the five thousand from the five loaves and the fish is not about proving Jesus' power. It is about giving our heart to the Supreme Being and depending upon Him. The reality that this has sacred results is demonstrated by the miracle that followed Jesus' humble offering of the five loaves and fish to the Supreme Being.
Jesus is showing by example how we should offer whatever we have to the Supreme Being and then simply rely upon Him. This was also spoken of Jesus' elsewhere:
“For this reason I say to you, don’t be anxious about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body and what you will wear." (Matt. 6:25)In fact, Jesus clearly instructed his students that we are not these physical bodies, but rather, are the spirit-persons within, who will at the time of death depart from the physical body:
"And don’t fear those who can kill the body but are unable to kill the soul." (Matt. 10:28)This combination of teachings - that we are not the physical body and we should not focus our lives upon the needs of the physical body comes with Jesus' teaching of where to focus our lives:
"Don’t store up treasures on earth, where moths and rust will ruin, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in the spiritual realm, where neither moth nor rust will ruin, nor where thieves cannot break in and steal." (Matt. 6:19-21)and
"But first seek His sanctuary and His devotion and everything else will be taken care of for you." (Matt. 6:33)The goal of this focus is love, just as Moses taught. Jesus not only accepted Moses' instruction of making offerings to God - "the gift that Moses commanded." He also accepted and taught Moses' most critical instruction:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)
(The New Testament verses in this article are quoted from the Gospels of Jesus)