Miracle 23:
                Feeding the 4000(+)
            
  

 

Contrasts Between the Feeding of the 5000 and the 4000. 

(Some think it is the same, but that is not possible.  Matt and Mark record both.)

5000

4000

At Bethsaida

Decapolis

Sat on the grass

Sit on ground (no grass mentioned)

Jesus wanted rest before

Jesus traveling before - no mention of rest

Afterward there is a storm

No storm

Multitude from nearby

Multitude from a long distance away

Jewish

Gentiles

5000 fed

4000 fed

With him 1 day

Been with him 3 days

5 loaves and 2 fish

7 loaves and a few fish

Not enough money

Can’t find enough

Different word for basket (hand basket)

(Big basket)

Remain: 12 basketsfull

7 basketsfull (not tied to Israel’s number 12)

Found in all gospels

Found only in Matt and Mark

Jesus mentions both Matt 16: 5-12, Mk 8:20

 

I. OBSERVATION

A. Passage Selected: Mark 8:1-10 1In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. 4And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 5And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. 8So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away. 10And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.[i]

 

Also in Matt 15:32

 

B. Progression Stated - Some people feel that the feeding of the four thousand, which opens this chapter, is a duplication of the feeding of the five thousand, and they practically ignore it. This has caused some to say that the feeding of the four thousand is the neglected miracle of Jesus.

1.       When the critic comes to this parable, in his usual way he seeks to rid the Bible of the supernatural.

2.       His explanation of this miracle is that it was included after the feeding of the five thousand to strengthen the claim of the apostles that Jesus was a miracle worker.

3.       Obviously, if this were true, the second miracle would be greater than the first—instead of four thousand, it would be nearer ten thousand—because when men fabricate, they exaggerate. But here it is restraint, by the way.

4.       The two miracles of feeding the multitudes are strikingly similar in several features. He feeds the thousands, one time it is five and the next time it is four. But there are seven points of dissimilarity that we need to call to your attention:[ii]

a.       In the first instance the multitude had been with the Lord one day; in the second instance it had been three days.

b.       Upon the first occasion the disciples were told to “go and see” what supplies were available, while upon the other they were ready with the information before they were asked.

c.        When the five thousand were fed there were five loaves and two fishes, while for the four thousand there were seven loaves and a few fishes.

d.       The first time, which was near the Passover, the multitude was told to sit in companies “upon the green grass,” while the second time, later in the year when the green of the Near East would be burnt by the oriental sun, they were instructed to sit “on the ground” (literally, “on the earth”).

e.       In the first instance our Lord is said to have “blessed … the loaves,” while upon the second occasion He is said to have given thanks, first for the loaves, and later to have “blessed” the fish.

f.         After the five thousand were fed twelve baskets of fragments remained, but when the four thousand were satisfied there were seven baskets left over.

g.       Obviously, the number that was fed was different in each instance.[iii]

 

5.       It seems that the sharp contrast between the two is found in the time that Jesus fed the multitudes.

a.       In the feeding of the five thousand, it was at the conclusion of the first day. Jesus had been teaching them, but according to John, He followed the feeding of the five thousand with the discourse of the Bread of Life. This important discourse was sort of an after-dinner speech, you see.

b.       In the feeding of the four thousand, the multitude had been with Jesus for three days listening to His teaching. The physical food followed the teaching. In other words, the crowd had not come out to eat but to hear the teaching of Jesus.

c.       I think this is an important lesson for us. Are we using church dinners to get the crowd? If so, then our motive is wrong. Many churches can get people out in the middle of the week only if they have a banquet. Some Bible classes depend upon the food to draw people in for the message. Can God bless such efforts regardless of how pure the motive? Well, I’ll let you answer it. The end does not always justify the means.

d.       As we begin to read now, notice that “in those days” places this incident during the time He was in the Decapolis. The multitude evidently had followed Jesus into a desert place, which was convenient for teaching but not readily accessible to supplies. Great multitudes are following Him now.[iv]

C. Presentation Summarized:

1. Context   (Contrasts between the 5000 and the 4000)

Syrophoenecian woman’s daughter healed in Tyre.  Now He’s in the Decapolis.  Dealing with Gentiles.

Dietary Laws in Matthew - shows movement toward Gentiles since Israel was rejecting Him.

2. Content

a. The problem  8:1-5
(1) Of the multitudes  (1-3)   In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far[v]

a. No food.

(2) Of the disciples  (4-5) And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 5And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven[vi]

a.       No faith.  How could they commit the same sin twice in a row?  We would never do that.

b.       There is something quite interesting here. It looks as though the disciples had forgotten about His feeding of the five thousand.

c.       I’m of the opinion that many of us have the same kind of experience. God does some very gracious and good thing for us, and we forget it by the next time.

d.       When a new emergency arises, we find ourselves neophytes; that is, it is all brand new to us again.

e.       They had made an inventory of the crowd, though, because they knew how many loaves there were.

f.         This time there were more loaves for fewer people but it was still true, “What are these among so many?”

g.       And who had the loaves this time? We don’t know. Some unknown person had them, and even though we don’t know who he was, he will have his reward someday.

h.       In this instance they sat on the bare ground, while at the feeding of the five thousand they had been told to sit on the grass, as I have mentioned.

i.         And how many fish? It just says “a few small fishes.” The number really is unimportant, and He’s not counting the fish.

j.         When God is in it, you will notice, there is always a surplus. Whether He feeds five or four thousand, He doesn’t give them just a snack; He gives them a full dinner.

k.        Incidentally, if we add one woman and one child for each of the men, we probably would be nearer to the actual number of people who were fed—about twelve thousand.[1]

b. The solution  8:6-10
(1)     The supply (6-7) And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.[vii]
(2)     The satisfaction (8-10)  8So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away. 10And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.[viii]

a.                   The location of Dalmanutha cannot be ascertained accurately. Apparently it was on the coast of the Sea of Galilee and they had to cross the sea to get to it, which means they came to the west side.

b.                   They traveled by boat and evidently the spot was somewhere on the northwest coast. Now the bloodhounds of hate are on His trail again.[2]

(3)     Gentiles experiencing the blessings of Messiah.

II. INTERPRETATION

·          The bread of life, Jesus, is now ministering in Gentile territories as he did in Jewish territory.  He is available to them as well.

·          By the work of God, they can have the provision of God as well.

III. APPLICATIONS

·          Sometimes we need repeated lessons to learn the truth.

·          How do you handle failure in your students or your children?  Patiently teach them.

·          Patience and persistence is the hallmark of ministry.

·          If Jesus thanked God for provisions, shouldn’t I?

·          Start with what you have. Don’t wait until you think you have enough. Move out in faith.

·          If I reject God, I will be replaced by someone else.


 



[1]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[2]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.



[i]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.

[ii]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[iii]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[iv]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[v]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.

[vi]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.

[vii]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.

[viii]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.