Read Matthew 15
This pericope may be one of the most difficult to understand. It sounds very much like the account from the previous chapter.
The geography is about the same. Magadan, Capernaum, Gennesaret—they are all in the same locale.
The situation is about the same, except here Jesus noted that the people had been with him for 3 days. If I am at a seminar for three days, I expect coffee and those fancy croissants on a table in the back of the room and mega snacks at happy hour. I’m talking roast beef, meatballs, sandwiches—not just some pimento cheese spread across a celery stick.
These folks had been with Jesus for 3 days.
There is some discussion over logistics. Collectively the disciples asked Jesus, “Where could we get enough bread to feed all of these people?”
Jesus added that if they were sent away at this point, they might collapse along the way. So, Jesus asked his disciples, “What do we have?”
In this account, the disciples inventoried 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish. Evidently, somebody brought something to eat when this whole thing began, but it had been 3 days.
Here’s something familiar. Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, broke the bread, and sent his disciples out to feed the multitude. Everyone ate and was satisfied. The disciples collected 7 baskets worth of broken pieces.
Here is why I say this verse is difficult to understand. Consider the response of the disciples when Jesus begins to talk about getting these people something to eat.
His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”
Were these men not present in the previous chapter?
Did Jesus not perform a miracle feeding over 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish?
Were these same disciples not a part of that miracle?
Did they all get a case of Sometimers Disease?
Did none of them ask, “Hey! Are you going to do that feed everybody when we don’t have much thing again?”
So, was this the same gathering or a separate one? It was from the same gospel author, so the default setting here is that it was a second feeding of a slightly smaller multitude and not an editorial oversight. The default interpretation was that this was a different multitude.
You think that somebody would have started a betting pool on how many baskets of left overs there would be when all was said and done?
There are a whole bunch of questions that have a whole bunch of speculative answers. Here is the answer that I can give you with certainty.
Jesus fed a multitude with very little food. This was a mighty act of God that Jesus performed through the disciples. Everyone was satisfied. There were even leftovers.
This was a mighty act of God done through the disciples. We can apply the same lessons to ourselves in this instance as we did in the feeding of the 5000.
Trust in the Lord.
Do your part.
Let God’s mighty acts work through you.