You’ve heard the adage: give a person a fish and they eat today; teach them to fish and they’ll eat every day. It’s a good plan most of the time. But you’ll recall that there are stories in the Bible of Jesus doing both, and both are important.
There are several instances in which Jesus fed thousands of people with just a few fishes. Most of the people gathered probably already knew how to fish, and maybe even made their living doing so. But they were hungry then and there, and Jesus, through understanding his heavenly Father’s abundant provision, fed each one of them. And not just fish but bread too. There were even leftovers.
Jesus was always meeting the need of the moment whether it was healing the sick, feeding the hungry, raising the dead, or encouraging the downtrodden. And he expected nothing in return, not even gratitude. He simply gave, and gave graciously. It was his way of sharing the good news of Immanuel, or God with us, promised by Isaiah several centuries earlier (7:14).
At the end of his ministry, after his resurrection, he directed his disciples to shift their nets from one side of the boat to the other after they had fished all night in vain. It was actually counter intuitive for these trained fishermen to do this, but they obeyed and found their nets overflowing. This was the kind of teaching Jesus had provided to his closest followers throughout his time with them. He challenged them to look at the things they thought they knew and perhaps took for granted in a different and deeper way.
Just as Jesus didn’t accept the outward appearance of things as the final verdict, neither did his disciples once they learned that God’s power was available to all, for good. After Jesus’ ascension, they each had extensive healing ministries, touching the lives of thousands through their words and works.
The Science behind that early Christianity is still active today, still requiring its followers to look deeply beneath the human circumstances, to the safe and holy truth naturally abiding there. Jesus promised his works would be done by us today, tomorrow, and forever. And to the extent that we practice his Christianity will we accomplish those works, and greater works.
Give a fish or teach to fish: both are part of meeting the need.
Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link. If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.