By Carl S. ~
As a child, I was fascinated by the “Miracles of the loaves and ﬁshes.” As an adult, I find the “miracles” interesting. Consider the times in which they happened: the Romans dominated over the Jewish people, the Roman Empire was vast. Any and all unusual news would spread like wildfire. The first miracle, as recounted, is a report of a man who fed five thousand men alone, not counting the women and children, on this repast. Not just once, either; in a repeat performance, he fed four thousand-plus people. That’s a hell of a lot of people. You can imagine how fast the news would have gotten around. Free food!
Okay, so the Romans had spies among the Jews; for sure, you know, worries about rebellions and all that. And let’s not forget the historians at the time: Jewish, Greek, Roman. Events such as these would be news, big time. So, in actuality, the Gospel accounts should be unnecessary.
And can‘t you just see the Roman equivalent of a minister of agriculture racing into Caesar’s presence to proclaim, “There‘s a Jew out there who’s feeding around ten thousand with a few loaves of bread and a few fishes. And he has baskets filled with leftovers. And he changes water into wine!” And Caesar would answer, “Hire that man!!!”
But Wait. There’s more. This makes sense: the great physicians have a meeting with Caesar. And they say, “Our Roman and Greek and Jewish colleagues in Rome and Galilee are up in arms because of this Jesus who is curing cripples, eliminating blindness, deafness, and boils, and restoring sanity to the mentally ill. Why, one of your own Centurions is telling everyone how this man brought his daughter back from the dead! This miracle worker spends entire days in curing! If this keeps up, we will all be out of business.” To which Caesar replies, “Bring in those he is reported to have cured. There must hundreds by now, then shall I hire him and he will teach his healing, or tricks, to all physicians so that the entire empire shall prosper. And I shall write of all these things in my memoirs.”
As a child, I was fascinated by the “Miracles of the loaves and ﬁshes.” As an adult, I find the “miracles” interesting. “But there is a catch to allowing him to teach us,” say the physicians. “He is using his powers to preach a new version of Judaism, one which teaches people to sell everything they have and give the money to the poor, to trust in their god to provide for their needs exclusively, and to nevertheless keep paying taxes to Caesar from what money they do have. Although, he does say his kingdom is not of this world.”
“No problem there, says Caesar. “No threat to me. And the less Rome has to pay to provide services, the better for Rome. What are we waiting for? And what’s the problem with yet one more religion? Rome welcomes them all. Whatever he’s selling is probably being bought. Hell, if he’s that good, I myself might be tempted to join with him. Together, we could save the world!”
To give you an idea of the impact an actual historically authenticated miracle such as feeding thousands would have in Roman times, you only have to compare it to something in our own. Supposing you’re researching UFOs on the Web, and you read: “Two days ago, a ﬂying saucer miraculously landed in a suburb of New York City, and several aliens exited it, distributing food to thousands.” Of course, you turn on the news networks for verification. No mention. You check out the newspapers, especially those in New York. Nothing. Wouldn’t you question the truthfulness of the source, the tellers? (Some wouldn’t, if it’s a miracle-matter of ”faith.”)
Are “miracles” proof that the Gospel writers are telling the truth, as they say, telling you to take their word for them on faith? Are they just conning you? If they do so with an obvious lie as the loaves and fishes tale, what about the whopper about a resurrected man? Just because that “miracle” tells many what they want to hear, is the story any less false?