Now Jesus called his disciples and said, “I feel sorry for the crowd because they have been with me for three days and have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry for fear they won’t have enough strength to travel.” His disciples replied, “Where are we going to get enough food in this wilderness to satisfy such a big crowd?” Jesus said, “How much bread do you have?” They responded, “Seven loaves and a few fish.” He told the crowd to sit on the ground. He took the seven loaves of bread and the fish. After he gave thanks, he broke them into pieces and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. Everyone ate until they were full. The disciples collected seven baskets full of leftovers. Four thousand men ate, plus women and children. After dismissing the crowds, Jesus got into the boat and came to the region of Magadan (Matthew 15:32-39, Common English Bible).
It actually seems pretty anti-climactic. With having seen Jesus do more with less just a chapter ago. When Jesus feeds the 5000 plus women and children, he does so with five loaves of bread and two fish. When he feeds the 4000, he does so with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Why tell what seems to be a lesser story after just telling the greater story only one chapter ago?
In the little bit of research that I did on this lesson, I found a few places where the argument is made that the Feeding of the 5000 was Jesus meeting the needs of the Jews. In the Feeding of the 4000 Jesus is meeting the needs of the Gentiles. In telling both stories, Matthew is indicating that Jesus came for all humanity, both Jews and Gentiles.
As I read the lesson for today, however, there was one thing that really struck me. Regardless of other motivation, I think one thing Matthew might be saying is that the disciples needed a refresher course in “Miracles 101.”
As I have already said, only a chapter ago the disciples see Jesus feed more than 5000 people. In this lesson Jesus is saying he fears the people would fall out without giving them something to eat so he doesn’t want to just send them away.
For their part the disciples ask, “Where are we to get enough food to feed all these people (my paraphrase).” They have forgotten something from just a few days before, that Jesus is more than capable of feeding the entire crowd with just a small amount of food. While he may have done more with less at the Feeding of the 5000, feeding 4000 with seven loaves of bread and a few fish is still pretty impressive.
I would love to think that I get everything the first time someone tries to teach it to me, but I know it isn’t true. And, anyone who has ever sat through a math class with me would absolutely back me up on that one. For almost all of us, there are things it takes us more than one time to learn. The disciples would be no different. What happened in chapter 14 was no fluke. Matthew retelling the story is reinforcing what Jesus taught a few days earlier? I can’t help but think that even if this was not the intended benefit, it certainly wasn’t going to hurt anything.
What are some of the lessons God has taught you when it took more than one demonstration?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Peace,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved