FEEDING OF 5000 (The Fourth Cup & Lamb of God)
Jesus grows and enters into His ministry. He teaches and performs many miracles. One of the most important miracles and the most remembered is the feeding of the 5000. The reason I’m saying it’s the most remembered is because it’s the only miracle that Jesus performed that was recorded in all four gospels. I’m going say this again, “It’s the only miracle that Jesus did that was recorded in all four gospels.” Some miracles that Jesus performed are just in Matthew. Some are just in John. Some are in two of the books in the Bible, but they’re not in all four. The feeding of the 5000 is in all four gospels and recorded very similarly. We will study just how it is recorded. So Jesus is teaching to this crowd of 5000 men, not including women and children. He’s on the side of a mountain talking to the crowd, and they’re hungry. They’re hungry. Does that sound familiar? They’ve been with Him all day, and He tells the disciples don’t send the crowds away. Let’s get some food. And they said we don’t have enough money, and there is no place to buy this much food. And Jesus says to them, "There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves." (Matthew 14:16)
“But they said to Him,” and you can look at Matthew 14, “They said to him "Five loaves and two fish are all we have here." Then he said, "Bring them here to me," and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over --twelve wicker baskets full.”(Matthew 14:17-20) Now we should all know this miracle, but let’s look at this from a different perspective. I want you to take your pencil and circle the words “Taking,” “Blessing,” “Broke,” and “Gave.” We will see this pattern recorded at least ten times. If you will notice also the recording of the picking up of the fragments left over. We talked about the lamb that was eaten in Egypt during the Passover, that original night, they couldn’t waste the lamb. We talked about the manna that they ate in the desert for forty years. They couldn’t waste the manna. Nothing was wasted. Now we read about Jesus feeding the 5000 people and nothing is wasted. They picked up the wicker baskets full - and by the way the twelve baskets are symbolic: one basket for each tribe of Israel. Jesus took, blessed, broke, and gave. It’s saying that He handled the bread in a special way. Now if you think about it, Jesus feeds 5000 people. Do you think that maybe He had a poor menu selection, or do you think that maybe He didn’t know our bodies? Or, do you think He chose to feed bread for a reason? I mean, He’s God. He could feed them anything He wants to. He could have fed the crowd fruit, vegetables, nuts, meat. He could have fed them anything, but He didn’t choose just anything. He chose to feed them bread. God chose to feed a million slaves in the desert bread for forty years. It was carefully chosen then, and it’s carefully chosen now by Jesus. This is a prefiguration of the Eucharist, the perpetual gift that Jesus will leave for His Church. And we will see that in a little while.
Matthew records it in this way, but let’s look at how Mark records the feeding of 5000. You’ll find a lot of similarities. “Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to (his) disciples.” He took, He blessed, He broke, He gave. He “gave them to (his) disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied.” (Mark 6:41-43) Mark also notes that they picked up the fragments left over.
Let’s take a look at Luke: Took, blessed, broke, and gave, and picked up the twelve wicker baskets. “Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.” (Luke 9:16-17)
St. John lived a lot longer than the other apostles. He’s the youngest of the disciples and he lives a long time in prison. He witnesses Christianity unfold and sees many of the disciples martyred. He may have actually looked at the synoptic gospels and noticed that they don’t have the time of year that this miracle took place. So he actually includes the time of year in his gospel. Look at John on your handout. “The Jewish feast of Passover was near.” (John 6:4) John thought it was important for us to realize that this feeding of 5000 people happened near the time of Passover, and that it is important that it happened then. Probably around a year before Jesus dies, John records that, “Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them,” which is broke and gave, “to those that were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, "Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted." (John 6:11-12) Again, he notices that nothing is wasted. This is the miracle of the feeding of the 5000.
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