“During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.” 4 His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?” 5 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied. 6 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. 7 They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. 8 The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 9 About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, 10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha. 11 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.” Mark 8.1-13
Have you ever wandered why Jesus feeds 5,000 men followed up by 4,000 men, not counting women and children? In my research on this question I found a good article. Feel free to skip my thoughts and read this from — https://restlesspilgrim.net/blog/2014/08/05/whats-the-difference-between-the-feeding-of-the-4000-and-the-5000/ ). But if you want to hang with me. I’d love to give it a shot too!
Jesus had recently fed 5,000 men in Jewish Galilee and now is feeding 4,000 in Gentile Decapolis. The author above points this out and gives what he deems as significant for the difference in these miracles.
I want to focus less on why he did this using a different audience and a different number of loaves of bread (five in the first feeding and seven in the second) and more on the repeat of the miracle. Maybe Jesus was so impressed with himself by the first miracle, and the amazement of the people, that he thought he’d do it again just for kicks! This might have been the case If had Jesus had an ego — but I think it was done more out of necessity then cleverness. God never needs our approval!
Twice now Jesus is teaching to large crowds, Jews and then Gentiles, in remote places where people don’t have access to the grocery store. No one thought about calling the local food truck brigade. So here they are listening to Jesus, three days now, and they are without food. Four thousand men plus their wives and kids. If only half the men were married with two children each, that would give us a total of ten thousand people. That seems like a very conservative number to me.
Jesus needs to feed the people. He even says that if he were to let the people go without food then many would pass out because many have a long way to return home. Jesus didn’t want healthy people becoming sick just because they watched him preach, teach and heal for three days. He wanted them refreshed and spreading the good news of God’s grace on their way homes. So he fed them.
The disciples were either testing Jesus or had amnesia. Had they forgotten about his previous miracle? It’s unlikely. Then why would they say to him, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?” It’s either because of their short-term memory or they were setting Jesus up to do what only Jesus could do by asking a question. (On a side note, the Jews are notorious for asking their rabbi/teacher/father a question on every Passover — “Why is this night different than all other nights?” (https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-four-questions/).
Can you picture Peter nudging John saying “Watch this,” and asking Jesus, “What are we doing to do? We don’t have enough food to feed them all,” and then waiting in anticipation to see God-in-the-flesh do another amazing miracle. Just because Jesus did it once, doesn’t mean he won’t or can’t do it again. Who would get tired of watching him perform miracles?
Jesus repeats this miracle out of necessity, perhaps to affirm he can do this again, and to demonstrate his power. He didn’t have to keep the people for three days. He could have let them go sooner but why? He’s God. He can take care of both the physical and spiritual needs. And besides, the Jews were blessed by this amazing miracle so why not the Gentiles?
Bottom line is this – Jesus is amazing. His ability to create something out of nothing is nothing short of incredible. Not only did he do this with bread and fish, he does this with us. Could his multiplication of fish when he fed the five thousand be reflective of the multiplication of disciples after hearing his message and seeing his miracles?
Jesus is God, plain and simple. What he’s done in the past, he is willing to do again. And those who put themselves close to Jesus will receive God’s blessing. No doubt about that.
Are you drawing near to the Lord? Are you expecting him to do a repeat of a miracle in your life? Why not seek his favor this very moment? Why not find yourself wrapped in his Presence, seeking his face and immersed in his Word?
“O Lord God you are good. In my weakness you are strong. In my limitations you are unlimited. From my sinfulness you bring salvation. Come now, Holy Spirit, and redeem your church. Heal the broken, restore the lost and win this world back to yourself. Bring your Kingdom today. I love you Lord and praise your name. Thank you for your grace and for loving your people. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen