"When evening came, the disciples came to Him and said, 'This is an isolated place and the hour is already late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.' But Jesus said to them, 'They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!' They replied, 'We have nothing here except five loaves and two fish.' He said, 'Bring them here to Me.' Then He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and He took the five loaves and the two fish and, looking up toward heaven, He blessed and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up twelve full baskets of the leftover broken pieces. There were about 5,000 men who ate, besides women and children." Mark 14:15-21 AMP
What you are looking at in the photo is a beautiful mosaic at the base of the altar that commemorates the feeding of the 5,000 at the Mount of the Beatitudes. If you zoom in, you’ll see that there are 2 fish and 4 loaves of bread at the base of the table on the floor representing the food that Jesus used to feed the 5,000. This depiction isn’t accurate. It’s actually 5 loaves and 2 fishes. My intentions in not to point out the artist’s mistakes; in fact, he did not actually make a mistake. The artist intentionally left a loaf out to remind us that when we gather as a Church, we are that 5th loaf of bread, and we complete the story.
There is another meaning to the gathering of the 5,000 that we might miss because of our modern minds' view of 5,000 people. Many people believe that Jesus existed, but claim He was simply an insignificant rabbi. The reason they say this is because there is overwhelming evidence to His existence, yet they choose not to believe His teachings. In the Jewish culture, the words of important rabbis shape people's interpretation on scripture. The main divide with Jews and Christians today is a belief in Jesus as the Messiah. The Jewish community believes the Messiah has not come yet. Why? Because of the accepted interpretation of the rabbinical community. If Jesus was an important rabbi, then they would have to follow His teachings. So they choose say, "He was just an insignificant rabbi.” However, there is a problem with this statement: Jesus had thousands of followers.
To put this into perspective, most towns 2,000 years ago had 500-3,000 people. On two separate occasions, Jesus fed 4,000 and 5,000 people. By Jewish standards, only men were counted in record keeping, so the feeding of the 5,000 is actually considered to be 12,000 to 20,000 people when adding the women and children that would have been there. He had a massive impact. People would travel for days to attend Jesus’ meetings, and many scholars believe that He would have taught the Sermon on the Mount more than once. Jesus had the heart of the people back then, and He still does today. There are billions of followers of Jesus worldwide, and it’s our privilege to gather in our communities to be His Church.
Why is it different to gather as a church than to worship alone?
Lord, when we gather as Your Church, we are declaring together that You matter to our community. We are making a bold statement of faith that Jesus is Lord. Help us be a light to the world and stay open to growth so we can have impact on the world.
God has gifted you, which is amazing, but when you join with others in community, it has legendary impact.