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The Loaves and Fishes, a Parable of Spiritual Abundance

Wednesday, May 06, 2015    

“My children, do you not perceive the law of the spirit which decrees that to him who has shall be given so that he shall have an abundance.” (The Urantia Book, 151:1.4)

“Today, while [the Son of Man’s] absence prevents such material manifestations [like the loaves and fishes], you should refrain from placing any sort of limitation on the possible exhibition of his spiritual power. Though the Master is absent as a material being, he is present as a spiritual influence in the hearts of men.” (The UB, 152:1.5)

Quite a few years back, prosperity theology preachers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_theology began teaching that financial blessings were the will of God for faithful Christians. Though not a new idea, with origins in the New Thought movement of the 1800’s, it took hold and helped create a religious revival. There is much confusion between material wealth and spiritual abundance, many believing that good spiritual behavior, faith, will be rewarded materially. Some of the teachings of Jesus have been stirred into the confusing mix, most famously his “Consider the lilies of the field,” speech: “Your heavenly Father knows that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:32-33, The UB, 165:5.3)

Jesus was not teaching a quest for prestige, wealth, and power that would set a person apart, elevated to a position higher and more powerful than others. He ministered and taught, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee (John 17:21).” The abundance comes from achieving this unity of will and purpose with God.

In January, when our Unity Church of Walnut Creek pastor, Rev. David McArthur, urged us to create a prosperous year, he said, “The Infinite Presence we are connected with wants to pour abundance into our lives. It is the only power; it’s not God and materiality, it’s how we connect with Spirit.”

In The Urantia Book, Jesus says, “Let your supreme delight be in the character of God, and he shall surely give you the sincere desires of your heart.’ "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act." "For the Lord hears the cry of the needy, and he will regard the prayer of the destitute.” (146:2.9)

Reverend David retold the story of the loaves and fishes (given in all four gospels) not as a miracle, but as a rational parable, a scientific step by step approach, on how to focus attitudes and emotions to achieve something greater than prosperity—abundance.

The UB makes the revealing statement, “And this is the first and only nature miracle which Jesus performed as a result of his conscious preplanning (152:2.10).”

By performing this miracle so publicly, did Jesus intend to teach us an important lesson about spiritual power, its potential for multiplying opportunities and blessings?

For a moment Jesus stood in silence. There was a faraway look in his eyes. The apostles said nothing. Jesus turned suddenly to Andrew and said, "Bring me the loaves and fishes." And when Andrew had brought the basket to Jesus, the Master said: "Direct the people to sit down on the grass in companies of one hundred and appoint a leader over each group while you bring all of the evangelists here with us.” (152:2.8)

“Jesus took up the loaves in his hands, and after he had given thanks, he broke the bread and gave to his apostles, who passed it on to their associates, who in turn carried it to the multitude. Jesus in like manner broke and distributed the fishes. And this multitude did eat and were filled. And when they had finished eating, Jesus said to the disciples: "Gather up the broken pieces that remain over so that nothing will be lost." And when they had finished gathering up the fragments, they had twelve basketfuls. They who ate of this extraordinary feast numbered about five thousand men, women, and children.” (152:2.9)

“It is true that his disciples were disposed to call many things miracles which were not, but this was a genuine supernatural ministration. In this case, so we were taught, Michael multiplied food elements as he always does except for the elimination of the time factor and the visible life channel.” (152:2.10)

Our pastor offered insights into this miracle of Jesus, viewing it as a psychology, a visualization, a set of instructions on how to manifest in the physical realm the true (consecrated) desires of our heart. These archetypal patterns in “The Feeding of the Five Thousand” were described in his sermon like a procedure manual for partnering with the consciousness behind the cosmos. I’ll quote here from more of Reverend David’s sermon, the steps we can take to “create” abundance:


1. Awareness: Jesus said, “Bring them (the 5 loaves and 2 fishes) to me.” Be aware of what is provided not what is not there. What is wanted is already present in the spiritual realm. 

2. Serenity: “He directed the people to sit down on the grass.” Make the people in your head, your critics, sit down. You can’t get rid of them, but it brings you into balance within.

The UB adds an interesting detail about this moment, “And when Andrew had brought the basket to Jesus, the Master said: "Direct the people to sit down on the grass in companies of one hundred and appoint a leader over each group while you bring all of the evangelists here with us," (152:2.8) similar to Luke 9:14, “groups of about 50 each.”

3. Acceptance: Reverend David pointed out, that by “Taking the five loaves, two fishes…” Jesus was accepting what is there. “It is the way it is. Acceptance is a beautiful thing. You know you’re not in a mode of acceptance if you’re complaining.”

4. Love: “…and looking up to heaven (Mark 6:41) …” Raise your awareness to a greater level. Thoughts don’t do it. It takes feeling, a different consciousness. God works through feeling. There is amazing power here … everything is love.

This is depicted slightly differently in The UB than in the gospel account. In Paper 152, Jesus’s experience of spiritual power and grace is an internal one of communion with God. Rather than looking up to heaven, “he had a faraway look in his eyes.”

5. Gratitude: “he gave thanks…” I am grateful! The new creation is happening in our spiritual world and flowing into this [material world] by way of our hearts.

6. Release all limits: “…broke the loaves” Break the old patterns. Pure spiritual love flows through our hearts and heals us. The hurt we carry is healed by that love. It removes those limiting ideas.

7. Active giving: “then he gave them to the disciples…” Send it on. In the physical world if you want more of something you take more. The spiritual world looks opposite to the physical world; if you want more you give more.

8. Openness: “and the disciples gave them to the people.” It is given to that part of us that is busy with the outer. We become open to both giving and receiving. It invites us into open receptivity. It fills us and satisfies the “yeah, but” people in our head. We experience the love, the divine power.

Recall how in step 4 (love), “we enter into this with and through … feelings of love and gratitude, [we] move to the places within us where we carry pain and we heal. I am grateful! … And there was more than enough!”

“And when they had finished gathering up the fragments, they had twelve basketfuls.” (The UB, 152:2.9)

The Unity sermon didn’t include the episode that happened next, demonstrating how the people were moved by the miracle to place him on Israel’s throne. “[The five thousand] were determined to give up their pilgrimage to the Passover, and then and there proclaim the Galilean Teacher Israel’s King. If He were the Messiah, such was His rightful title. Why then did He so strenuously and effectually resist it?” (Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah)

The disappointed crowd deserted Jesus when he refused the crown (John 6:15), stating once again that his kingdom was not of this world. “In less than one month's time the enthusiastic and open followers of Jesus, who numbered more than fifty thousand in Galilee alone, shrank to less than five hundred. Jesus desired to give his apostles such an experience with the fickleness of popular acclaim that they would not be tempted to rely on such manifestations of transient religious hysteria after he should leave them alone in the work of the kingdom, but he was only partially successful in this effort.” (152:6.2, John 6:66)

“Only yesterday did I feed you with bread for your bodies; today I offer you the bread of life for your hungry souls. Will you now take the bread of the spirit as you then so willingly ate the bread of this world?" (153:2.9)

Jesus had long before taught his apostles this truth “about man’s communion with God.” "I have come forth from the Father; if, therefore, you are ever in doubt as to what you would ask of the Father, ask in my name, and I will present your petition in accordance with your real needs and desires and in accordance with my Father's will. … Avoid praying much for yourself; pray more for the spiritual progress of your brethren. Avoid materialistic praying; pray in the spirit and for the abundance of the gifts of the spirit.” (146:2.10)

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