Socialism’s Stale Loaf vs. The Bread of Life
The Lord Jesus Christ does not command the governments of the world. Nor does He force His children to live the Gospel through the extortion of law.
The Lord does not coerce. He persuades. Socialism is a system in which the police power of government forces one to give to another as determined by arbiters holding power within the government. The Savior’s doctrines, and His actions, are not coercive. Charity, obedience, the choice to give or not to give, are voluntary. This is the law of agency that proves whether or not one is worthy of the blessings of Heaven. Comparisons of the ministry of Jesus to the machinations of Socialism are at best specious, and at worst, blasphemous.
People who have no authentic interest in religion or religious practice manage to become well acquainted with The Savior and His ministry when they think there may be a defense of Socialism, or some other adored dysfunctional formulation of the Left, to be found in the Holy Scriptures. The story of the meager Loaves and the Fishes that fed 5000 disciples is a favorite, supposed, act by Jesus of redistribution of substance (wealth) to the poor. And like all great stories in history, those on the Left feel compelled to turn it into a piece of Socialist propaganda. Of course, people who are disingenuous and selective when it comes to Biblical doctrine, probably ignore some important points in the story, since they don’t actually read or revere the scriptures.
The miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes is an example of the Lord’s superlative ability to teach through example. The miracle of taking a little bread and a few fish and producing a meal for thousands is really secondary to His purpose. Jesus ordered his Apostles to have the multitude sit in orderly groups so that each person would be assured a good meal. He then blessed the meal. The food was distributed among the crowd and everyone ate to their satisfaction. The Lord, who fed them because He had “compassion towards them,” was then ready to instruct them in His gospel as a Master teacher. And all good teachers know that exhaustion and hunger distract the mind from learning.
But The Lord perceived that the multitude so appreciated the “substance” which He had provided them, that their minds were focused on their stomachs. Their appreciation of a good meal compelled the people to desire that Jesus Christ become their king; not the King of the Jews, or the King of Heaven and Earth, but a figure of political authority who could forevermore provide for their physical comforts and appetites.
Jesus Christ would wait for another opportunity to teach the lesson that was lost on the sated multitude. They were so enamored with His ability to feed them, that the greater, eternal precept of spiritual nourishment would have to wait for another time. The Lord departed with His Apostles for an excursion to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. When He arrived at Capernaum some of those who had eaten of the loaves and fishes spotted Him. They asked Jesus how long He had been there. He rebuked these people, for He must have known that their hearts had turned from His gospel to the sustenance He had provided them.
26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
Jesus instructed those who had been fed that bread was not the gift that He desired to give them; it stands as a symbol for the nourishment to the spirit offered by Him. The miracle would serve no purpose if it built faith only in the calories and nutrients that were in the bread and fish eaten by the people. They were taught to understand that He is the “bread of life” and that there is no earthly substitute that could so fill and make whole the individual who partakes.
Jesus Christ is the “Author of Liberty.” The success of His Plan of Salvation hinges on the immutable agency with which we are endowed by our Creator. We are born free to chose for ourselves. But the gospel of Jesus Christ also has the power to liberate us from our focus on the fleeting materialism of our existence. He doesn’t remove need, or discomfort, or hunger, or even mortal suffering. He displaces it with hope and faith, and the powers of Heaven; things unseen, but eternally real, and endlessly resilient.
The Gospel liberates humankind from spiritual bondage. Socialism is temporal and spiritual bondage. The Gospel warns against covetousness. Socialism is the active coveting and confiscation of the wealth and property of one, so as to be given to another. Jesus Christ is the teacher and exemplar of the magnificent and irrevocable fruits of exercising faith in God. Socialism is faith in the “arm of the flesh.” Socialism is a demoralizing, and failed experiment of putting faith in an impersonal and inhumane bureaucracy. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Liberty and Justice for all.
By Marjorie Haun 1/19/14