32nd Sermon of Jesus… The Feeding of the Four Thousand
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April 7th, 1872
“In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from afar. And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.”
This chapter deals with another feeding of the multitude gathered around Me, namely, four thousand people. In the end seven baskets with bread are left over, whilst at the start there were only seven loaves of bread and some fish available.
Once before I worked a similar miracle, feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fishes, when twelve baskets with bread were left over. You already know the spiritual meaning of the five loaves and the two fishes. In this second instance, too, when instead of five thousand I fed only four thousand people with seven loaves of bread and some fish, whereby seven baskets full were left over – compared with twelve the first time, everything has its spiritual meaning, which I shall now explain to you.
The twelve baskets of leftovers from the first miracle denoted the twelve tribes of Israel as well as the twelve commandments which were to remain with men after I had gone. The seven baskets that were left the second time denote My seven main attributes which were to remain with men to strengthen them and serve as their guiding principle when they no longer had Me. These seven attributes are: Love, patience, meekness, forgiveness, perseverance, self-sacrifice and mercy.
When I preached to the Jewish people, I sometimes had to say to them: “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear!” This clearly pointed to the fact that with them much went in at one ear and out at the other, and that most of them did not understand My teaching as I wanted them to understand it.
The feeding miracle at the end of My address to them, which has to be interpreted metaphorically, shows how the most important thing is left over. Just as they consumed the bread and fish to satisfy their physical hunger and left seven baskets with bread, they grasped the contents of My words only superficially and ignored their essence, that is, My seven fundamental attributes which I wanted to impress upon them through parables, miracles and acutal teachings.
Although all My parables, teachings and the miracles I worked were to open the eyes of the people, there were always plenty of scribes and Pharisees present, who did their utmost to diminish or even destroy the impression My deeds had made upon the people. And the fact that I and my disciples did not observe the ceremonial customs of the temple, as the ablutions etc., – gave rise to insinuations on their part. They were scandalized by good works, the healing of the sick and other things, if they were performed on a Sabbath or any other day of religious observance. They became enraged if I did not observe the prescribed fasts or if I associated with people who, in their eyes, were great sinners or dishonest. Thus they were inclined to regard as suspicious everything I said and did.
This gave rise to the various admonitions I directed towards My disciples and the people who followed Me, to whom I wanted to prove that with Me only the spiritual counts, not the material. Therefore the words: “There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man!”
For the same reason I warned My disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the leaven of Herod and pointed out what a prophet had prophesied: “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me!”
When I had fed these four thousand with seven loaves of bread and some fish, thus satisfying them materially, seven baskets full of bread were left over. Although they appeared to be also spiritually satisfied, they ignored the attributes I had denoted as the highest. Each basket with its various contents of large and small crumbs of bread clearly points to the diversity of ways in which My aforementioned attributes might be used in this life, if man did not’have his own life’s basket usually filled rather with other, worldly things leaving no room for My bread and my spiritual attributes.
There are not many who think like the Syrophenician woman who, when I said that My bread should not be cast unto the dogs, answered full of confidence that the dogs under the table were allowed to eat of the children’s crumbs, which means: If the weak, the still immature, are not worthy or able to partake of the food from heaven directly, they should be allowed to pick from the scraps whatever is beneficial for their particular spiritual state.
In those times there were not many such souls full of faith, and today they have become an extreme rarity.
As I had to fight against all the existing notions, whether they were worldly or religious ones, and – as I sometimes said Myself – I did not expect as much from the Jews as from the Gentiles, thus it is also in the present time, when not much can be expected of those who call themselves Christians and really believe themselves to be such if they only observe the prescribed church rites.
Especially those who were intended to be the most fertile field for My teaching, they above all others, are the worst opponents of all that which awakens them from their so very conveniently arranged religious doctrine, demanding self-sacrifice and self-abnegation which are beyond them because they lack the moral strength for overcoming the rites and ideas they have become accustomed to.
They resemble the majority of listeners of that time. They keep looking for Me everywhere int he churches, but not on the road of life where they are to prove by their deeds what they so often promise in the churches. They, too, are hungry like the others, but leave the essence of My teaching, the seven baskets, untouched, consuming only that which tastes best to them at the moment.
If I give you this example of the feeding of four thousand people with seven loaves of bread and a few small fishes as the subject for a Sunday sermon, it is meant as a warning to every listener to My Word not to content himself with the superficial impression of My words, but to find the spiritual nourishment contained therein, to act in accordance with it, and also encourage others to do the same.
That My listeners then were not very fertile soil for My teaching I was quite aware of; but I knew that I was not speaking and acting only for them, but for all mankind after them. I did not build for that time alone; My plans were reaching much farther. As the plans of a divine, infinite Being, they were everlasting and eternally effective.
To their request for a miraculous sign, I even answered to the Pharisees and scribes that this generation would not be given a sign by Me, which meant that where My visible appearance was the greatest miraculous sign, no additional proof of My deity and the truth and everlasting continuance of My teaching was needed.
And what I then told the Pharisees and scribes, applies also today to all hypocritical churchgoers and to all the scholars of your time developing their philosophies about matter. They, too, will not be seeing any signs because they do not want to accept the greatest sign, the voice of a God and Father in their own hearts. Thus many of your scientists, notwithstanding the constant discoveries of laws of nature, do not believe that there must also be a law-giver. They would rather dispute their own self away than admit defeat through factual evidence of the existence of God.
In this time, too, there is a constantly raging battle between ceremony and spirit, between delusion and truth, which excites all minds. All sects, all believers, are endeavouring to adapt the new ideas to the old and blend them into that which has become a habit; but in vain. It is not possible to serve two masters, – either it is matter or it is spirit! And because many cannot or do not want to make a decision, this is responsible for the fact that, much as I want to feed men with spiritual bread, they – with only few exceptions – enjoy that which is insignificant, even strain after it, leaving untouched the real, the essential, and the spiritually true.
Thus My disciples of the present time, just as those of the time of My ministry, have to keep gathering up the leftover crumbs of My celestial teaching, or of the spiritual bread, and try their luck with others who are hungry, until finally the seven baskets of my divine attributes have been emptied and passed into mankind’s big basket of life as well as that one of every individual.
You, too, are being admonished: Make every effort to adopt My seven attributes! Do not be superficial where spiritual food is concerned and do not think that listening and reading is sufficient! Not by far! For once I shall send the gatherer to you also and have what is left put in baskets and kept for the better and worthier who are more capable of making use of the spiritual contents, whereas you – in your illusion that you already know everything – have not even made the first grade in spiritual knowledge.
Therefore, take great pains to become worthy of My direct communication – as My disciples once did! You, too, as those disciples did, should spread My Word. Sow it, but in such a way that it does not fall upon stony ground. Remember that everything you now so richly receive from Me is not intended for you alone, but through you also for others. One or the other will meet with circumstances where he will have to test what he has read and heard; he will have to show to what extent he has comprehended and adopted it in order to pass it on to others, just as I gave it to him.
So do not leave over any of My bread! Digest it spiritually! Make it your own, so that you – as living evidence – can prove through deeds, not only with words, that love, patience, meekness, forgiveness, perseverance, self-sacrifice and mercy are the foundation of your faith, the seven baskets into which you want to gather your good deeds, so that in your own basket of life you can hand them to Him Who has always showered upon you many favours and a great deal of light from His heavens! Amen.
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