Feeding the four thousand
Text: Matthew 15:32-39
The feeding of the five thousand is recorded in all the gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But this feeding of the four thousand is only recorded by Mark and Matthew. First off it’s important to know these are two different events. I mention this because it’s apparently said by some who teach the Bible that these feedings are the same events that contradict themselves. But these are clearly two different events. Look at Matthew 16:9-10. The Lord Jesus Christ says these are two different events.
Differences between feeding 5000 and 4000
- The fact that these are two different events let’s look at some of the differences.
- The amount of bread and fish is different.
- The crowd size is different.
- What’s leftover is different.
- This event is in a different location. This feeding of 4000 happens in a heavily Gentile area, so this is undoubtedly a mixed multitude of people. Both Mark and Matthew highlight the healing of Gentiles immediately before this showing the work of God in Jesus Christ is effectual by faith, not by birth.
- Another difference is this group has been following the Lord Jesus Christ for three days. The five thousand had only been following Him a day. So these have followed Him a long way, which He mentions saying some have traveled too far to go home without anything to eat (vs 32).
Motivated by compassion toward followers
- One of the most endearing qualities of the Lord Jesus Christ is compassion. Several times Matthew records this description of the Lord’s compassion on a needy, wandering crowd (Matthew 9:36, 15:32, 20:34). Jesus Christ looks over the mass of humanity following him and has compassion. Jesus Christ sees the weakness in those following Him and feels compassion for them: compassion because they follow me and are hungry (vs 32).
- Psalm 103:13-18 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. 17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; 18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
- There are some qualifications for participating in this blessing. These people have been following the LORD Jesus Christ because they believe in Him. Jesus is not going to feed all of Nazareth, He’s not going to feed all of Jerusalem, but He does have compassion on people who are hungry who have been following Him for three days. There were probably hungry people in Nazareth. There were probably hungry people in Jerusalem. But this provision the LORD makes is specific to those following Him.
Jesus provides for the people
- How did the the Lord Jesus Christ work? Here’s the LORD’s method. There is no magic spell. Once again, whatever happens in verse 35 is sufficient to transition from not even close to enough to feed the crowd to an overabundance.
- ORDER …sit down… The point of this is to do things decently and in order. This is not “be still and know that I am God.” This is order to ensure the needs are met.
- 1 Corinthians 14:36-40
- GAVE THANKS for what was given. He set it apart and designated it for service to God by giving thanks for it.
- BRAKE what was given. If it isn’t broken it can’t be multiplied. Do you want the LORD to use you? Probably not. It’s going to require breaking. This is the thing no one asks for. We’d love to see the miracle, but we don’t want the breaking required.
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.
- Nature teaches you this truth as well. In order to get nutrition from most things you have to cook them, peel them, crush them, process them in some way.
- GAVE to his disciples to give to others. The only thing that can be given is what’s been blessed and broken. Jesus Christ is the broken Shepherd saying this is my body, broken for you. And that body of Jesus Christ is distributed through preaching for centuries and over the face of all the earth. The giving is a logistical matter. This is how the multiplication works. God gives gifts so God can do His work through more people and multiply His work: Ephesians 4:7-8, 11-16.
- The people ate, were filled, and they TOOK UP seven baskets full. After the disciples distributed the baskets to the people they went back around and gathered up the leftovers.