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FIVE THOUSAND



Matthew, the tax collector-turned-apostle, recorded the story of Jesus sending Peter to the Sea. There, Peter caught one fish … a fish with a coin in its mouth … a coin worth the exact amount of their combined tax invoice (Matthew 17:24-27). Interestingly, the other Gospel writers skip that story.


Luke, the physician, recorded the story of the man who had “dropsy” (Luke 14:2, NKJV). The Christian Standard Bible helpfully translates “dropsy,” the Greek word “hydro-pikos,” as a “man whose body was swollen with fluid” (Luke 14:2). Luke also recorded the story of a woman “who had been disabled by a spirit for over eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all” (Luke 13:11). While Dr. Luke recorded Jesus’ miraculous healing of these two incurable diseases, Matthew, Mark, and John don’t mention them. Interesting?


Only one miracle, other than the resurrection of Jesus, is recorded by all four of the Gospel writers. Matthew (14:13-21), Mark (6:30-44), Luke (9:10-17), and John (6:1-15) all record the memorable and important miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. Now, that’s interesting!


It occurred immediately after Jesus had been informed of John the Baptist’s martyrdom After hearing the sad and disturbing news, “he withdrew from there by boat to a remote place to be alone” (Matthew 14:13). As a human, Jesus was grieving and needed rest, so He invited His disciples to “ ‘come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.’ For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place, but many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they ran on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them” (Mark 6:31-33). His schedule was so hectic, his calendar so full, that He and His disciples often didn’t have time to enjoy a simple meal.


After rowing the seven or eight miles, they arrived at the northeastern corner of the Sea of Galilee near the town of Bethsaida. I imagine Jesus and His disciples walking to the crest of a grassy knoll and finding a shady spot under a small tree. With a panoramic view, and with the vast Sea as a backdrop, Jesus watched as multitudes of weary, wounded, and worried came, arriving from every direction. Jesus “saw a large crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34) and He “healed their sick”(Matthew 14:14).


“When it grew late, his disciples approached him and said, ‘This place is deserted, and it is already late. Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages to buy themselves something to eat’ ” (Mark 6:35-36). Miles from the nearest markets, Jesus miraculously met their needs. When a generous young man offered his sack lunch, Jesus multiplied the resources. “Everyone ate and was filled” (Luke 9:17).


Why did the Holy Spirit inspire all four Gospel writers to record this account? Maybe God wants us to see that we’re much like the five thousand men and their families, like a flock of dumb, dirty, and defenseless sheep who desperately need a Shepherd. And maybe God wanted to clearly display the generous, powerful, and gracious compassion of our Lord!




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