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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

JESUS FEEDS FOUR THOUSAND

Matt 15:32-39 Then Jesus called His disciples unto Him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with Me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. And His disciples say unto Him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. And He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to His disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. And He sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala. (Also see Mark 8:1-9)

In Matthew 14:13-21, as well as in corresponding accounts in Mark, Luke, and John, we find Jesus teaching the will of God to the multitudes and establishing these truths with miraculous healings of all having infirmities. This took place near the city of Capernaum in Galilee. The miracle that followed this found Jesus feeding five thousand men, besides women and children with only five loaves of bread and two fishes, and afterwards gathered twelve baskets full of fragments. What occurs in the lesson text is similar to the previous events found in the text noted above.

In the three verses preceding the lesson text we find Jesus sitting on a mountain located nigh unto the Sea of Galilee. However instead of being in the province of Galilee, here we find Jesus, according to Mark's gospel account, in the province of Decapolis (Mark 7:31), which is located on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee and extending south on the east side of the Jordan River. Seated on the mountain Jesus made Himself openly accessible for all to gather around Him, hear His gospel message, and witness the many compassionate miracles He performed in their presence. Here great multitudes came unto Him bringing those having various sicknesses and maladies - those that were lame, having imperfections of their feet making it difficult, or impossible to walk; blind, unable to see clearly, or at all; dumb, mute and unable to speak; maimed, the lack of either feet or hands due to a birth defect, accident, or injury; and many others, all other kinds of diseases, malformations, or demon possessions. All of these were brought to Jesus, laid at His feet, and He healed them. The multitudes were filled with wonder and amazement at the results of Jesus' healing power. They witnessed the dumb now able to speak, the maimed had their feet and hands restored and made whole, the lame were able to walk, and the blind were able to see the beauty of God's creation which surrounded them. The result was as expected - they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus' teaching and healing captivated the multitudes so much that they continued with Him for three days, and having nothing to eat. Having compassion on the multitude, Jesus acknowledged to His disciples His desire to feed them, lest they faint in the way after they had departed. Considering their provisions, Jesus' disciples confessed that they did not have a sufficient amount to feed so great a multitude. Jesus then asked, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. As He did when He fed the five thousand, Jesus assessed the food that was available even though the quantity made little difference in the miracle that was about to take place. Jesus would make do with what was available, and the deficiency He would miraculously supply by the omnipotent power given Him by His Heavenly Father.

Requesting the multitude to sit down on the ground, Jesus gave them the life-sustaining food that was available. He broke the loaves and fishes into as many portions as necessary, gave them to His disciples, and they distributed the food to the multitude. After they had eaten and were filled, the remnants of food left over filled seven baskets full. Both Matthew and Mark tell us that on that day they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. Being filled, both spiritually and physically, Jesus sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala. The lesson to take away from this miraculous event is this: those that continually feast on the Lord Jesus Christ, will be continually filled!