A phrase from C.S. Lewis’s book The Four Loves discusses the need for friendship with other believers to help us come to a full understanding of God: “For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. . . . The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall have.”
When I read those words, I thought of the scripture, “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” (Eccl 11:1) I’ve always interpreted this passage as referring to blessings received from generosity. Lewis’s use of the term, “the Heavenly Bread between us;” however, refers not to actual bread but to spiritual insights.
From there, my mind skipped to the feeding of the 4,000. I’ve sat through many Gospel Doctrine lessons where members speculated about how seven loaves and a few little fishes could miraculously feed 4,000 hungry people. I think we were missing the real point. Possibly the author of Matthew was using bread metaphorically to show how the spiritual experience of Jesus’s teachings was magnified through the participation of a large group of believers.
I wonder—Are we missing the spiritual lessons in some of our Bible stories by concentrating on a too literal interpretation? What’s the point in asking: Did the flood cover the entire earth? Did Balaam’s ass really speak to him? How did Jonah survive three days in the belly of a whale?
We read the parables of Jesus as allegories. We don’t get hung up trying to decide in which country the Prodigal Son sowed his wild oats. Nor do we seek the exact identity of the Good Samaritan. Perhaps the best way to read Bible stories is as parables—fictional stories told to express truth.