“How many loaves do you have? ...” (Matthew 15:32-34)

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way." His disciples answered, "Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?" "How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asked. "Seven," they replied, "and a few small fish." He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 15:38)

How did Jesus feed four thousand people?

Jesus had been traveling along the Galilee Seashore, and he went into the hills and some four thousand people followed him. Jesus illustrates with these words, his love and compassion for those who were following him.

Then it appears that somehow seven loaves and some fish were turned into enough food to feed these thousands of people. How did it happen?

What is notable about this miracle is that the seven loaves that were counted turned into more pieces of bread than seven loaves could possibly make, but only after Jesus offered them to the Supreme Being. The NIV translation for this in the text is:
When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people. (Mark 8:6)

Was Jesus offering to God when he 'gave thanks'?

What does given thanks mean? Notice that the given thanks was done prior to giving the bread to the disciples. What does this remind us of?

As we investigate the Old Testament, we find that God requests that we offer to Him our foods before we eat them:
"Tell the Israelites to bring Me an offering. You are to receive the offering for Me from each man whose heart prompts him to give.” (Exodus 25:1-3)

“When someone brings a grain offering to the LORD, his offering is to be of fine flour.” (Leviticus 2:1-3)
In fact, the giving of an offering to the Supreme Being was considered extremely important to the prophets such as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David and others. We find them building great altars for the Supreme Being, and people would bring their grains, fruits, and other food offerings to God's altar for an offering.

In fact, the Greek word being translated to "giving thanks" is εὐχαριστέω (eucharisteō), which has been translated as "giving thanks" but also "a blessing" according to the King James Version and others. Strong's lexicon states "in the Fathers εὐχαριστέω is to consecrate a thing by giving thanks."

The word "consecrate" denotes something becoming "sacred." How is a "thing" "consecrated" then? We see from Jesus' statement in Matt. 8:4 that once a "gift" is offered by the Supreme Being, that gift becomes "sacred" - "consecrated."

Thus we can conclude that while an eye witness might have only observed Jesus making a quiet prayer over the food - it is clear that what he was actually doing was making an offering to the Supreme Being - and this offering made the food become "sacred" or "consecrated."

Did Jesus teach others to make offerings to God?

Jesus supported making offerings to the Supreme Being:
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24)

“See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” (Matthew 8:4)

"You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the Altar that makes the gift sacred?" (Matthew 23:19)
We can see from this that not only did Jesus agree with making offerings to the Supreme Being; he instructed his students to make offerings and he also understood the deeper aspects of making offerings.

And with regard to this last quote from Matt. 23:19, we see that Jesus taught that making an offering made what was offered "sacred." This means what is offered to the Supreme Being becomes purifying - it is considered sacred.

In Jesus’ case, he understood that the Supreme Being can also be offered food through the altar of the heart. A person can make an offering to the Supreme Being from any location, with a simple prayer beseeching Him to please accept this offering by the mercy of God’s representative.

This ancient and sacred practice of offering to the Supreme Being has been lost in the translation of the New Testament, and unfortunately replaced by “giving thanks.” How did this come about?

Would Jesus, who gave great respect and followed the teachings of the great prophets, simply ignore this great tradition of offering to the Supreme Being before eating, and make up his own ceremony of 'giving thanks'?

The fact that sectarian institutions have misinterpreted what Jesus was doing is not surprising. They have also misportrayed many things about Jesus' life.

Consider the grotesque ritual of the "Eucharist" being performed in many churches today. During this ritual, followers supposedly (symbolically) consume the "body and blood" of Jesus in the form of a little cracker and some wine or grape juice. What is the purpose of this ritual? It is a grotesque self-centered ceremony based upon the motivation to become cleansed by eating the body of Jesus.

What is occurring here could be likened to symbolic cannibalism. Eating the physical body of Jesus?

Rather than hearing Jesus' instructions and teachings to love and serve the Supreme Being, the focus of this ritual is the cleansing of sins. Consider Jesus' response:
“Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21)
Jesus' example during the feeding of the loaves is that the Supreme Being should be worshiped by making offerings. This is giving not taking. We should be offering to God, not consuming in the form of "eating" the body of God's representative.

Is 'giving thanks' wrong then?

There is nothing wrong with giving thanks. But offering our food to God and singing praises to Him produces another dimension of our relationship with God. Giving thanks creates a relationship of "you give and I take." This is what Jesus was doing, and what this even teaches us.

Making offerings to God creates a reciprocating relationship. One where we may receive from Him, but we also seek to serve Him.

What the Supreme Being wants is our love. He doesn't need our stuff - He owns everything. But He wants us to come closer to Him and renew our loving service relationship with Him. For this reason, He and His representative give us a process for coming to know Him and love Him.

When God instructed the priests to “receive the offering for Me from each man whose heart prompts him to give,” He was communicating that the offering should be from the heart and should come from free will.

No one can force us to love and worship God. Real love requires freedom. The Supreme Being and His representative Jesus both want us to freely re-develop our natural love for Him. There can be no force involved. That would not be love.