“Feeding the Five Thousand”
Feeding the Five Thousand
by Jeff Curtis
Some people think the feeding of the five thousand and the feeding of the four thousand are two accounts of the same story that was somehow corrupted. A close study of the two miracles will show this to be untrue.
- Different Occasions. While we can’t be sure how time had elapsed between the two events, they were definitely separate occasions. When warning His disciples about “the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” Jesus clearly distinguished the two events (Matthew 19:9-10).
- Different Locations. The feeding of the five thousand took place near Bethsaida (Luke 9:10) and involved mostly Jews from Decapolis probably involved non-Jews.
- Different durations of time. The five thousand had been with Jesus one day (Matthew 14:15, 23), while the four thousand had been with Him for three days (Matthew 15:32).
- Different Amounts of Food. Jesus worked the first miracle with five barley loaves and two fish (John 6:9). Before the second miracle, seven loaves and few small fish were found (Matthew 15:34). Also, we see a difference in the amount of food retrieved after all had eaten. After the first miracle. Twelve small baskets of food were retrieved, (Matthew 14:20); but after the second miracle, seven large baskets were gathered (Matthew 15:37.
The books of Matthew and Mark feature both miracles. Why would the writers have recorded the same incident twice? Since they were guided by the Holy Spirit, they wrote the truth about each of these miracles.
What should we do? What can we learn from Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand? Here are four good lessons. (1) We must use what we have. Five loaves and two fish were not much for a multitude of people, but Jesus used His meager supply to perform His most recognizable miracle. (2) We must be willing to give what we have to offer. Andrew wondered how so little could feed so many. God can provide for any need. When we think we have nothing, God may be planning something. Faith is being able to see the invisible, believe the incredible, and receive the impossible. (3) We must obey the Lord’s commands even if we don’t understand them. Considering the amount of food available, the disciples must have thought it strange when Jesus told them to have the people to sit down on the ground. What seems impossible becomes possible with God. (4) We shouldn’t waste our blessings. All the leftovers were collected. Nothing was thrown away. If our Lord considered it necessary to conserve, shouldn’t we do the same?
The Many Sides of Jesus
Jesus challenges the attention of this world by His many-sidedness. He meets the needs of all classes and conditions of men. As deep answers unto deep, so does He respond to the movings of each soul of men. Ask the worker of this world, “What think ye of Christ?” Their answers amaze us:
To the artist, He is the One altogether lovely.
To the astronomer, He is the Sun of Righteousness.
To the baker, He is the Living Bread.
To the biologist, He is Life.
To the builder, He is the Sure Foundation.
To the carpenter, He is the Door.
To the doctor, He is the Great Physician.
To the educator, He is the Great Teacher.
To the farmer, He is the Sower.
To the florist, He is the Rose of Sharon.
To the geologist, He is the Rock of Ages.
To the philanthropist, He is the Unspeakable Gift.
To the servant, He is the Good Master.
Who is He to you?