Зображення сторінки
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Lord performed this miracle from compassion, there
is still the question, whether in doing it He had no
further object. If we acknowledge the answer simply
as mentioned above, we should have to assign it to
the narratives of the first group, where the pure
manifestations of the helping love lay before us. But
we can not satisfy ourselves with this. The motive for
a sign does not thoroughly exhaust its object, and
least of all in this case. Here, in fact, in no wise was
it the want in itself that awakened the compassion of
Jesus, but rather the manner in which the need had

When we read, "They have now been with me three days,' our Lord does not thus emphasize the fact that bread was wanting, but that He had compassion on the people, because they, having for His sake neglected their calling and their work the whole day, have been brought thereby into this dilemma. And this is certainly no immediate simple compassion, but a feeling resulting from a reflection which contains the point of difficulty. Others have therefore made the attempt to find out the motives of Jesus from the Johannine account of the miracle. The tendency of the fourth Gospel, as is well known, is to seek and centre the interest in our Lord as the living bread: 'Moses gave you not the bread from heaven, but my Father gives it to you: I am the bread of life.' With regard to the close connection between this doctrinal speech and the feeding preceding it, the opinion has been accepted, that Christ by the latter had desired to point out symbolically the highest end of His appearance-to communicate to man life. If this view were the correct one, we should not have arranged this narrative in the present fourth group; it should rather have found its appropriate place in the second. But we must beware of doing this. Even according to St.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

John's report, the feeding of the multitude appears by no means as the foundation for a later instructive lesson, but simply as the occasion resulting from events to which it has been annexed. Yea, this occasion of teaching was not taken by our Lord of His own movement from the miracle, but it was the conduct of the satisfied people which first gave Him cause for it. The most cursory comparison of the passage, John vi. 26, carries at once this conviction; hence it is purely impossible to see in the miracle performed the symbolical reflection of the lesson following after it, which has a special motive, and to draw from this latter any conclusion as to the intention of Him who performed the miracle. But is there not a third view?

We hope to recommend the view which we have thus attained, at least to place it safe above the reproach of arbitrariness, by the fact that we have taken our proof solely from the text itself. That our Lord wished by the miraculous feeding of thousands to bring to light an important truth, is shown not less by the repetition of the deed (this is the only case where such a miracle has been performed a second time1), than by His indignation against the disciples because they neither understood nor perceived it: 'Do ye not remember, perceive ye not yet, neither understand (Mark viii. 17, 18) what is this truth?' We find it in the answer which Jesus gave to the

1 We guard ourselves expressly against the view that our Lord had TWICE guaranteed the disciples, while sailing, a safety in their distress. For in the second case of a stormy passage there is certainly no question of a danger to which they had been exposed. Here the difficulty is in quite a different direction. Of a miraculous draught of fishes, Gospel history certainly tells us not merely of one case, but the second happens in the days of the resurrection, and does not belong to those miracles with which we have to do; besides, it should be judged by a different standard.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Twelve when they pointed out to Him the threatened
dilemma, and besought Him to send away the multi-
tude: 'It is not necessary,' He replies to them, 'that
they should depart.' However, He does not continue,
'I will feed them,' but says (and the three evangelists
report His words in the strictest uniformity-Matt.
xiv. 16, Mark vi. 37, Luke ix. 13), 'Give ye them to
eat.' This ye demands earnest attention; and that so
much the more imperatively, as it was, in fact, ac-
cording to the following narrative, the hands of the
disciples from which the hungry ones received the
satisfying bread. Certainly it stands to reason that
the increase of bread proceeded from Jesus alone, that
the disciples had no part in that; but just on that
account is it so much the more important that He
commands, Give ye them to eat. What He tells them
to do, that will He put them in a position to do.
By means of this command, which receives its accom-
plishment here through them, He gives the promise
that at all times they would be able in His name to procure
food for the people.


If this view is assured by the words of the text,
there arises the further question, In what sense are
the apostles who are called to be able to communicate
in the future course of their evangelical mission the
satisfying bread to the people in need?
As we
steadily oppose the opinion that the whole event is to
be symbolically understood, still more decidedly do we
reject the typical comprehension of a single feature.
The fact that Scripture now and again represents the
apostolic annunciation under the picture of food
offered (see 1 Pet. i. 25, ii. 2, 'the gospel which is

1 The complaint of many expositors, that the manner of increasing the bread is not made more evident,—that, in fact, it cannot be said whether it is done already in the hands of Jesus or in those of the apostles distributing it, or even if only in those of the people receiving it,-is explained solely by the want of insight into the signification of the incident.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

preached unto you.. the sincere milk of the word; also Heb. v. 13), by no means justifies the view of the forcible 'Give ye them to eat,' which, though before shown as the conception of duty, would now decide it to be a beneficent promise. Also, if we look on the miracle of feeding as a prophecy given to the disciples, the 'bread' then retains rather its natural significance; it is to be understood thoroughly in the sense of the 'daily bread' in the Lord's prayer. Thus the disciples are placed in a position to help the starving ones to their daily bread. Which starving ones? All, without distinction? We call to mind how our Lord had had a motive for His miraculous bounty in this, that the people had continued with Him three days. The desire to hear His preaching (ETITоleiv, 1 Pet. ii. 2) had repressed the earthly necessity, the higher care had driven away the lowerthe assembly was a multitude of Marys. Those who for His sake had forgotten themselves, them has the miraculous hand of Jesus cared for. His ministers also should in like manner only remove a want that has thus arisen; but that they should really be able to accomplish this, that is the promise which is given to them, and inculcated by the miracle that was performed.

[ocr errors]

There is the question as to whether the prophecy comprised in this miracle has been really accomplished. An affirmative answer cannot certainly be given in any particular case. It even appears as if the apostles

1 We firmly believe that in the fourth petition of the Lord's prayer the earthly bread is exclusively meant; yea, that the OÚGIOS even characterizes the bread asked for as earthly,' Give us this day our earthly bread.' The explanation warranted by the text, that it signifies the bread for the future' or 'for the morrow,' however it might be applied, irremediably fails from the passage in Matt. vi. 34. We are hence positively referred to the root ovcía, as now the usual acceptation of the thus derived ἅπαξ λεγόμενον, necessary bread, panis quotidianus, τροφὴ

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

had expressly declined the solution of this problem:
'It is not reason that we should leave the word of
God and serve tables' (Acts vi. 2). But let us look
closer. Our Lord has, as is known, announced a
similar prophecy, not by the symbolical language of
a miracle, but one plainly spoken: 'Seek ye first the
kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these
things shall be added unto you' (Matt. vi. 33). No
one doubts that this prophetic expression has been
fulfilled. The difference between it and the result of
the narratives under consideration is only this, that in
the latter case the circle of the recipients, on the one
hand, is more closely defined than the crowd of those
who eagerly press after the word of God; and that, on
the other hand, the consequent blessing appears effected
by the service of the apostles. But have they not, in
fact, really proved by their preaching and activity
that it is effective?—' Godliness with contentment is
great gain' (1 Tim. vi. 6); 'Godliness has promise of
the life that now is' (chap. iv. 8). It behoved the
apostle, in appealing to facts of experience, to make
assertions to the Corinthians which, in a variety of
respects, prove how the Lord gave to His own the
glory manifested by Him in the wilderness, and caused
it to be seen conspicuously in their favour. See 2 Cor.
viii. and ix. (especially chap. ix. 8, 10, and 15). To
himself could Paul well apply the words full of
triumph God will both minister bread for your food,
and multiply your seed, and increase the fruits of your
righteousness, that you should be enriched in every-


ἐφήμερος, would form a tautology with the σήμερον ; as, besides, the οὐσία in
the only passage in which it meets us in the New Testament is to be un-
derstood of temporal goods (Luke xv. 12, 13), we can consider the true
value of the ouσios only as the designation of the earthly bread that is
needful for the sustenance of the body. In the clause of the present
narrative (Mark viii. 3), 'If I send them away fasting, they will faint by
the way,' lies the true import of the fourth petition of the Lord's prayer.


[ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »