Feeding the 5,000
There are two occasions where Jesus feeds a large multitude, but the one one we're focusing on today is when he fed 5,000+ people with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. The disciples were worried, as they knew they didn't have enough food to feed the multitude, but Jesus made the food stretch and we are told that everyone was satisfied. Something people often miss in the narrative is that the number 5,000 only applies to the men present, there were also women and children who ate!
Healing the Blind
Jesus also spent a lot of time healing. One particular instance of Him healing is when He restores sight to a man who was blind from birth. On lookers were shocked that Jesus was able to heal someone who had always been blind. In fact, many did not believe and it caused a bit of a controversy. This miracle actually led Christ to affirm His divine nature.
Be able to feed 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish.
Based on personal experience, I had a hunch the number of people starving in the world is much greater than the number of people who are blind. In 2016, 10.7% of the world was suffering from undernourishment; this amounts to 815 million people. In contrast, about .52% of the population was blind (about 39 million people) in 2010. Feeding those without access to food seems to be the better choice as I could help more people.
However, as I thought about it, I realized there is more to it than just how many people could be helped. Being blind is unfortunate, but you can live a long and healthy life in that condition. In Biblical times, disabilities such as blindness doomed you to poverty. If a person was born blind there may be gossip about the sins of the parents causing the blindness and other manner of superstition (e.g., John 9). The result was that those born blind or who went blind during those times (and up until recently) had no income and were pariahs in society. This made it much more difficult to survive. Today, fortunately, there are tools to aid those who are blind and help them still be able to function in our society. While it's not ideal—I don't think anyone wants to be blind, it's not life or death. (Disclaimer: I recognize that since I am not blind and have not had anyone close to me that is blind, there may be a lot more to this than I think. For those who are closer to the situation, I would love to hear your perspective in the comment section!)
Conversely, not having the proper nourishment is life or death. Deficiencies in minerals and vitamins can even lead to blindness (as well as many other illnesses). A person can only live about 40 days without food (provided they have great water consumption)! Thinking back to images of the food shortage in Venezuela and reading about the starvation that claimed many lives in North Korea during the 90's, I can see so much benefit to being able to feed a large amount of people on very little.
References & Footnotes
- Matthew 14:13-21
- John 9
- Crystal Lam. "2018 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics". World Hunger Education. May 25, 2018
- "Global data on visual impairment". World Health Organization; visited August 28, 2020
- How Long Can You Live Without Food?". Healthline. January 17, 2018
- Stephania Taladrid. "Venezuela’s Food Crisis Reaches a Breaking Point". The New Yorker. February 22, 2019
- Paul Chisholm. "The Food Insecurity of North Korea". NPR. June 19, 2018
- I found many versions of "Would You Rather?: Scripture Edition"; this question was found in a version made by Stephen Pepper of Youth Workin' It