Day 21: Wonder Bread

Sometimes I fear that we become so familiar with Biblical events that we lose our sense of wonder of them.

It makes me think of a family vacation we took to Colorado in my teen years. The first time the majestic Rocky Mountains came into view during our drive in, they took my breath away. They were so enormous, so astounding, so unlike anything I’d ever seen. I couldn’t take my eyes off them.

But by the time we packed our bags to leave, my sense of wonder had waned. I’d spent six days waking up to and being around the mountains constantly. They were as awe-inspiring as always, but I’d become jaded to their presence.

I think this can happen with Biblical events, too. Seriously think about the following events that really happened. These are not fables. They’re historical events.

  • A man was swallowed by a giant fish, survived for three days in its stomach, and was spat out onto dry land (Jonah 1:17-2:10).
  • Three men were thrown into a furnace so hot it killed their captors, yet they survived (Daniel 3).
  • The waters of a giant sea parted to let the Israelites pass through, then came crashing down on their would-be Egyptian captors (Exodus 14:15-31).
  • An army of 300 Israelites defeated the Midianite forces nearly 135,000 strong without striking a single blow with a sword (Judges 7).

These are but a taste of all the events the Bible has to offer, but I fear one of two things keeps us from realizing how incredible they are:

  1. We’ve heard them so many times they come across as another fairy tale.
  2. They seem so outlandish and out of line with today’s reality that we don’t consider them “real.”

That second category is where I think the feeding of the 5,000 falls. We read Matthew 14 and think, “Oh cool, Jesus multiplied some food and fed a giant crowd.”

I want you to stop right now and actually think about what happened here. Try to put yourself in the shoes of one of the disciples as you witness this miraculous chain of events:

  • The disciples find five loaves of bread and two fish and give them to Jesus.
  • Jesus thanks God.
  • Jesus breaks the loaves and hands them to the disciples, who distribute them to the crowd.
  • More than 5,000 people are fed.

Wait, what?!?

The way this event is told, the Bible skips over a very important detail: how did Jesus multiply the meager offering? Did more bread and fish simply appear in baskets that the disciples distributed? Did it fall from the sky? Did Jesus keep pulling loaves out of His cloak?

How does this miracle work?!?

In the end, I don’t think the “how” matters; if it did, the Bible would further explain. Instead, we’re called to simply marvel at the miracle that Jesus performed.

About a month ago, I had a dish that forever changed the way I looked at pasta at my favorite restaurant in Omaha, Au Courant. It was an agnolotti (basically a supple pasta pocket) stuffed with unctuous, fatty short rib and glazed with a spinach butter sauce. There were several times during the meal I put my fork down and closed my eyes to absorb the flavors and take a moment to appreciate how lucky I was to experience this.

If I can get that feeling from a plate of pasta, what’s holding me back from fully experiencing God’s word?

Bread and fish appeared from nothing. Put your tablet or phone down for a moment and really think about that. Imagine what the scene looked like as Jesus accepted a few ingredients and used them to feed close to 10,000 people.

Sometimes, I think we just need to take a step back and revel in God’s majesty. I encourage you to make this one of those moments.