Friday, March 14, 2014

Tabgha- The Church of Multiplication

A Byzantine mosaic from the early church- 
built to commemorate the miracle
 of Jesus' Feeding of the Five thousand
Mark 6:34-44

The Luke 9 story places this perhaps in Bethsaida, rather than this very site. Nonetheless, it is a story that tells of Jesus meeting the people right where they were.

The name Tabgha comes from an Arabic version
 of the Greek word-
 Heptapagon, which means "seven springs".

The earliest building at Tabgha was a small chapel built in the 4th century A.D. This was probably the shrine described by the pilgrim Egeria at the end of the 4th century:

Mosaic of fish and bread on the church floor.
In the same place (not far from Capernaum) facing the Sea of Galilee is a well watered land in which lush grasses grow, with numerous trees and palms. Nearby are seven springs which provide abundant water. In this fruitful garden Jesus fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish.

The mosaic of the fish and loaves is laid next to a large rock, which has caused some New Testament scholars to speculate that the builders of the original church believed that Jesus stood on this rock when he blessed the fish and loaves just before the feeding of the crowd who had come to hear him.

Interior of the church.
The large monastery and a church were built in the fifth century. While some date the destruction of the site to the time of the Arab conquest, the church was most likely destroyed in 614 during the Persian invasion, for already in AD 670, Bishop Arculf had reported that only columns from the church remained.
In 1932, after nearly 1300 years of "solitude", two German archaeologists (Mader and Schneider) uncovered a number of the Byzantine church's walls and mosaics. the most famous of these depicts two fish flanking a basket containing five loaves of brea.
In 1981, after further excavations, the church was finally restored by German Benedictines to its Byzantine form, incorporating portions of the original mosaics.

                                                                                                       J. Denninger
The story in Mark shows Jesus was compassionate
 and took care of feeding His followers.
But, it is our spiritual hunger 
that He fills as the Bread of Life.
Do I follow Him, because of what He can do for me?
Or do I follow Him, for who He IS?

Though the story here is that Jesus feed the 5000- that was men. 
There also were women and children in the crowd
 and estimates make the number
 total possibly nearer to 10,000. 
That would be just about every living soul
 in this region on the Galilee at the time of Jesus.  
One man- who so connected to the people-
 that EVERYONE came.  
Imagine that in your neighborhood. 
Though the numbers are listed,
 they are simply used to show the care
 and serving that Jesus was helping 
the disciples better understand in ministry. 
That is 833 people to serve for each disciple. 
 Big numbers in any food court.
And yet the numbers are not the bottom line
 because they don't limit God.
The big numbers were simply used to help the disciples
 see how woefully inept they were to do
 any of their ministry WITHOUT Jesus. 
The lesson was to help them remember
 that they continually need Jesus-
 day in and day out- EVERY DAY.
And a lesson for me.

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