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Humble Bread

In modern Western culture, much ado has been made about what we should be eating. This privileged conundrum has given us countless books, blogs, movements and lifestyles all in the name of self-betterment. This is what can happen when we stop worrying about starvation; we begin to worry about everything else. In our case, this has made us rather ridiculous. To illustrate, the joke is now made that if Jesus multiplied bread and fish for a crowd today we would ask if it was organic, gluten free and made of non-GMO ingredients. Amusing as this commentary is, its insight goes beyond our diets into our theology. How many of us believe in a “GMO Christianity”? Genetically modified in order to survive what we perceive to be a new and hostile climate. It’s something to consider.

How many of us believe in a “GMO Christianity”?

In Jesus’ day however, he could still provide the humble miracle of feeding the grateful 4 and 5 thousand. Humble because the Gospels tell us that Jesus multiplied barley loaves, the bread of the poor (Matthew 14:13-21, 15:32-39; Mark 6:30-44, 8:1-9; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15). Flour was ground by the women of the house in poorer conditions, female servants in more well to do houses, and at least in Roman cities there was an industrial mill available. Flour could then be sifted to remove bran and stone grit, creating two products, finer white bread and coarser dark bread. That Jesus multiplied poor barley bread, likely made of the gritty cheaper flour, might irk some of us today. After all even skeletal remains show us by the wear on their ground down teeth that gritty flour took its toll, not to mention that the fish Jesus multiplied as a side may have been salted –– oh the sodium!

I’m poking a bit of fun at us here, but if you catch yourself seeing a sort of moral dilemma over the nutritional profile it may be time to reevaluate. Culture effects the way we read and interpret Scripture, part of our job as a reader is to understand this and try to find the true meaning of the passage, rather than only addressing our cultural concerns with it. Sure, God could have miraculously changed the nutritional profile of the bread and fishes, but that’s hardly the point is it?

 

Corie Bobechko | October 1, 2019 – 12:30 PM EST.