Multiplying Bread and Hope

Multiplying Bread

This is a note from an old journal. It’s an interpretation of Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 from a productivity lens. While I’m wary of presenting the Bible as a quasi-productivity manual, I think there are interesting things to draw from the story. It’s a contradiction I’ll have to live with for now. Anyway, my thoughts were most probably a digest of similar sermons I’d heard over the years and there might be something useful here for someone. Here goes…

Why did Jesus ask that his disciples make the people sit in groups of 50? (Luke 9:10-17)

For order.

Order comes before multiplication. Order makes it possible to sift through distracting elements, to see the real issue, the one you should address, and where to direct your prayers.

Did the Twelve or Jesus know there were 5,000 men before they were arrayed in 50s? (Jesus knew all things! )

We can safely assume the disciples didn’t know.

So the act of grouping the men revealed the real situation. The groups of 50 (Mark 6:30-44 reads as “hundreds and fifties”) helped them to accommodate the situation. Each group of 50 could be attended to as a model of the whole. Psychologically, the possibility of meeting the needs of 50 per time seemed easier than facing a disorganized crowd.

Another way to look at it would be by creating models or abstractions to accommodate complex things. This is why businesses, armies, governments, and builders write, sketch or create micro-representations of their goals. What was once grand and overwhelming becomes less so, accessible to be acted on by the mind before it comes into the material world.

Take stock. What do you have? (Mark 6)

Jesus said, “How many loaves do you have?” “Go and see.”

Start with what you have where you are. It’s weird, but there’s usually some asset or resource of yours you can deploy to resolve the situation.

Appreciate your resources

Jesus gave thanks for what was available. A grateful heart draws God’s light into the heart, lifts up your eyes and your head, and allows light and life to flood your soul. Then the idea, the instructions, and the perspective you need to address the situation will emerge.

Division comes before multiplication

Jesus gave thanks, broke the loaves, and handed them over to his disciples…

  • Jesus said about the word of God as a seed. It has to be scattered, then fruit in abundance
  • The early church ‘divided’ under intended and unintended circumstances before the spread, or multiplication, of the Gospel’s reach
  • We understand that happening in living things through meiosis and mitosis
  • In math, division operations are done before multiplication if you follow BODMAS (but it could be argued)
  • Henry Ford’s division of labour and the assembly line

I used to ask a question when trying to help students understand a complex topic: “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer: one bite at a time, bit by bit.

Order is important in the head and in the spirit

  • It is easier for the mind to process situations correctly when things are organized
  • Order prepares the situation for God’s intervention
  • Order comes before a miracle
  • Attaining order lessens agitation, brings calm and rest. Jesus asked the people, through His disciples, to sit on the ground, to relax, to rest and wait, not to agitate, not even to queue.

From my quotes archive


In a previous post, I wrote about hope as a passive emotional state. I found a quote showing another angle to it

“Hope is paradoxical. It is neither passive waiting nor is it unrealistic forcing of circumstances that cannot occur…. To hope means to be ready at every moment for that which is not yet born, and yet not become desperate if there is no birth in our lifetime. There is no sense in hoping for that which already exists or for that which cannot be. Those whose hope is weak settle down for comfort or for violence; those whose hope is strong see and cherish all signs of new life and are ready every moment to help the birth of that which is ready to be born.”

Erich Fromm

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