Much Depends on Dinner
by: Steven Bouma-Prediger
Much depends on dinner. Matthew tells the story of an opulent feast of death in the palace of Herod. An over-the-top birthday party for the king, with perhaps too much rich food, too much wine, and bit of an erotic dance by the king’s daughter. Before you know it, things get out of hand, rash promises are made, and John the Baptist’s decapitated head is on a platter along with the dessert offerings.
In contrast to this feast, Matthew tells a story of a radically different kind of meal. The contrast to Herod’s decadent birthday bash is a messianic party in the desert. Jesus is in the wilderness, and the people are hungry. What will they eat? Where will they eat it? How will food be provided? Jesus tells the crowds to get ready for a picnic in the wilderness, and then five loaves and two fish miraculously feed five thousand people, and there are twelve baskets of food left over.
Food in the wilderness? Twelve baskets left over? Could this be a sign of a new exodus? Could those twelve baskets suggest a restoration of the twelve tribes of Israel? Is this a party to celebrate the rebirth of Israel? Could Jesus be the long-awaited Messiah, a new Moses leading his people home?