Since I’m getting ready for BYU Education Week and the classes I’ll be teaching on the Messages in the Miracles of Jesus, I’ve been studying the miracles again. I’ve been doing this off and on for the past six years, and they never cease to amaze me. One of the things I’ve learned came from the miracle of the feeding of the five-thousand. Can you imagine the feelings and thoughts the disciples had when they told the Savior He ought to send the people home and instead He told them to feed them? Five-thousand men plus their wives and children! And can you imagine how the one small boy felt when the disciples asked if he would give his five loaves of bread and two fish to feed the multitude?
The numbers here are very interesting. To the people gathered numbers had symbolic meaning. Five is a symbol of the Atonement and God’s grace. Two is a symbol of opposition-good vs. bad. The elements used in this miracle are also symbolic. Bread is a symbol for Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life. And Fish are a symbol of man. Five loaves of bread plus two fish equal seven which is a symbol of perfection or completion and of covenants. Thus we trust in the Atonement of Christ (5), and endure the trials and opposition of life (2) His grace is sufficient to bring us to perfection or completion (7).
But there is more. Remember the small boy who gave all he had. So often in life we are called upon to do what seems way beyond our ability. We are called to positions in the Church. Or we feel overwhelmed by parenting, or jobs, or relationship. Or sometimes life and its trials just seem way beyond our ability to cope with. But from this miracle we learn that if we just give or use whatever we have, if we just do our best, the Lord makes it enough. We give what we can and the Lord makes up the difference.
And there is more! After feeding the thousands of people until they are full and satisfied, the disciples gather up the left-over bread and fish and discover that there are 12 baskets full. Twelve is a symbol of the priesthood, and there is one basket for each disciple so that they can continue, through the power of the priesthood, to assist in feeding all those who follow Jesus.