Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the five-thousand men and their families is recorded in all four Gospels (Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, and John 6).
There is a second miracle, similar but distinct, recorded by only Matthew and Mark. In this second miracle, “there were four thousand men ... besides women and children” (Matthew 15:38, CSB).
When Jesus fed the five-thousand, the crowds had been with him for most of a day (Mark 6:35), but when Jesus fed the four-thousand, they had been gathered around the Rabbi for three days (Mark 8:2).
In the first miracle, a young boy donated his lunch which consisted of five small biscuits and two little fish (John 6:9). In the later miracle, Jesus multiplied seven biscuits and “a few small fish” (Mark 8:7).
After feeding the five-thousand, they picked up twelve baskets (small picnic baskets) of leftovers. After feeding the four-thousand, the left-overs filled seven large baskets (wicker hampers like the one used to lower Paul over the city wall – Acts 9:25).
The feeding of the five-thousand was a miraculous sign to the Jews. That miracle happened, probably on a hillside above the northern shores of Galilee. The feeding of the four-thousand occurred in the Decapolis (Mark 7:31), the ten cities southeast of Galilee, the home of the Gadarene (Mark 5:20), an area populated primarily by Gentiles.
Jesus wanted His Chosen People, the Jews, to know that He was the Bread of Life. After feeding the five-thousand, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died... I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:48-51, ESV). Jesus also wanted the Gentiles to understand His great compassion and His miraculous ability to provide. In both cases, these miracles shout the truth of His omnipotence!
When Jesus fed the Jews, there were twelve baskets of leftovers, enough to symbolically satisfy each of the twelve tribes of Israel. When Jesus fed the Gentiles in the Decapolis, there were seven baskets of leftovers. Seven is the perfect number... the number of completion. Remember, God finished His perfect creation in seven days. The seven baskets were a sign that God’s ability to meet our needs is always greater than our need.
Do you have needs... troubles? God is bigger!
This is supposed to be a blog about the messed-up people in Mark’s Gospel. Let me tell you, there wasn’t one of the five-thousand, or the four-thousand, who had it all together. Every single one of them was a hundred-eighty degrees from right! They were upside down and backwards without Jesus... they were hungry, and only Jesus could meet their need.
“They ate and were satisfied” (Mark 8:8, CSB).
Yes! His grace is always sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9)... bigger than every crisis.
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor