Jesus Feeds 4,000


‘Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?” “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.” Matthew 15:32-34

The miracle of feeding the 4000 we read about here, does have a few similarities with the feeding of the 5000, Matthew 14:13-21 / Mark 6:30-44 / Luke 9:10-17 / John 6:1-15. They are similar in terms of Jesus multiplying loaves and fish, a multitude is fed, the disciples are sceptical, and they collect leftovers.

However, there are some differences, the crowds are of different sizes, the disciples speak first in the first miracle, but Jesus does in the second, they occur in discrete locations, they follow different events, the numbers of loaves and fish differ.

The numbers of baskets differ, the baskets themselves are different and finally, Jesus spends one day with the 5,000, but three with the 4,000. Jesus, Himself removes any doubt by referring to them as two different miracles.

Mark tells us that there were huge crowds following Jesus, Mark 8:1, and notice that it was Jesus who saw the needs of the people, not the disciples.

On this occasion, they had been in a wilderness area, wilderness doesn’t mean barren land it simply means the place where wild animals roam.

They hadn’t eaten for three days, and Jesus didn’t want to send them home hungry for fear they would faint during the trip. So, He asked for a food inventory, there were seven loaves and a few small fish.

Notice here that Jesus didn’t just take of their physical ailments, Matthew 9:36, also cares about their physical necessities. It appears that everyone was so amazed about all those being healed, that they forgot to eat for three days.

Jesus really showed compassion for the people and was obviously concerned about their physical welfare and didn’t want to send them away.

The disciples then state the obvious, as far as they were concerned, they are in the middle of nowhere with no way of getting enough food to feed all these people.

Notice Jesus asks them what they have with them, to which they reply 7 loaves and a few small fish. The reason Jesus asked them this question was simply to prepare their minds for what is about to happen miraculously.

The One who created all things, Colossians 1:16 / Matthew 14:15-20 / Matthew 16:8-13, is certainly more than capable of feeding thousands of people.

‘He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.’ Matthew 15:35-39

Jesus directed the multitude to sit down, and then began serving the food. Miraculously, the supply didn’t dwindle, each loaf generated a large basketful of leftovers besides feeding 4000 men, not counting the women and children, the food just kept on coming out of nowhere. Jesus’ power couldn’t be disputed.

The word ‘basket’ here is a different word from the word used earlier in Mark 6:43 for the feeding of the 5000, in Mark 6 it’s the word ‘kophinos’ which means small basket.

But here the word for basket is ‘spuris’ which means a hamper, a larger basket. This is the same word used in Acts 9:25 to describe the basket in which Paul was lowered in from the city.

Can we imagine the amount of food this took to feed 4000 men, not counting the women and children? Only the Bread of Life could do such a thing, John 6:35.

Once everyone had their fill of food, Jesus sent them away and went to the vicinity of Magadan Dalmanutha, Mark 8:10, by boat.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘As for the sceptic’s contention that Mark and Matthew’s accounts are contradictory, the explanation is simple’.

1. Christ might easily have gone to both places. The only possibility of finding a contradiction would have to lie in the discovery that one of the gospels had said he did NOT go to one or the other of the two places and, of course, no such statement exists.

2. It is far more likely that the village, so small as to have been lost to history, actually had two names, Dalmanutha and Magadan!