Are you old enough to remember television commercials from the 1980s? If so, do you recall the one for Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum? It featured identical twins doing exactly the same thing, including putting a stick of Doublemint gum in their mouths at the same time and chewing. (If you are too young to have ever experienced this you might want to check it out on YouTube).
I think the marketing strategy behind that product was simply brilliant. There is just something about seeing identical twins doing exactly the same thing. At least for me, this really captured my attention.
How many commercials do you vividly recall? In my mind, most are tossed into my mental recycle bin immediately after viewing. However, there are a few that have stuck with me and are most effective. A measure of success was when I then saw the product, instantly recalled the commercial, and amazingly enough, found myself humming their jingle. I will remember this for the rest of my days.
There are a good number of “twins” in Scripture. They are not identical, but twins nevertheless. For instance, in the Gospel of Mark, what is this about two feedings? There is the one where there are 5,000, fed with five loaves of bread, two fish, and 12 baskets full of leftovers. Then, later on, there is a separate feeding of 4,000 with seven loaves, an undetermined number of fish and seven baskets full of leftovers. What’s with that?
One theory — and one that I subscribe to — is that the first was for Jewish folks and the one that followed for Gentiles. The numbers are not “just numbers,” but are “code” that convey a deeper meaning. (I apologize. You will have to trust me on this. I cannot explain this properly within my 400-word limit). After these occur, Jesus is in the boat with the disciples, and they discover a single loaf of bread in the boat. Jesus then reviews the numbers associated with the prior two feedings and asks them the meaning of the single loaf against the background of the numbers associated with them and they don’t get it. The interpretation I have is that both Jews and Gentiles are invited to the table, and things are complete when this occurs. Once I understood this, I will remember God’s commercial for the rest of my days; all are invited to the table.
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 25 years.