Some of the Christian teaching that has stayed with me the longest I received at Sunday school. If you know me or you’ve read the weekly thought before, you’ll know I have a way of thinking of song titles that link to certain spoken words. While doing my daily bible study, I learnt something about a passage in Matthew’s gospel I’d read many times before, the miracles of feeding crowds of people. This learning immediately linked to a chorus I remember from Sunday School, ‘read your bible, pray every day!’ a chorus still sung today.
I’ve often wondered why there were two miracles of feeding large crowds of people in the bible. What I’d missed to date was the significance of where the miracles took place. The feeding of the 5,000 was near Bethsaida, close to the sea of Galilee, a Jewish region. The feeding of the 4,000 was in the region of Gerasenes near Decapolis, a Gentile, non-Jewish, region.
The message is clear: Jesus’ love is for everyone. I already knew this through Jesus’ teaching and healing of non-Jews and Paul’s letters to the new churches where he describes himself as the apostle to bring the word to the Gentiles, but it was good for me to embrace this new learning.
Re-reading Matthew’s accounts gave me further insight as at the end of the passage in chapter 14:21, he writes ‘The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.’ I’d read this many times, but the significance had escaped me. Biblical scholars believe the feeding of the 5,000 was to approximately 20,000 people when you include women and children, similarly the feeding of the 4,000 was for 18,000 people. A bigger miracle than I thought and as a result of learning this, I now understand God’s word more clearly.
I went on to look for the Sunday school chorus and found an added second verse which reveals that not reading your bible can make you shrink.
The importance of growing spiritually is addressed several times in the bible. In Romans 10:7 Paul writes. ’We grow in faith from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ’. Our faith says who we are, our hopes, our dreams and our values. It is faith which gets us through the good and bad times.
Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians 5:7 ‘For we walk by faith, not by sight’. Our faith is important as it helps us keep our eyes set on God. When things are difficult in life, when we are confused, don’t know where to turn and can’t see the way ahead, it is our faith which anchors us to God. It is how God wants us to confront the problems in our lives, with Him. A quote from the Australian evangelist Christine Caine, “When we feed our faith, we starve our doubts” underlines the importance of our faith.
Are you growing in faith or are you shrinking?
Read your bible and pray every day and you will grow!