“When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.”
Matthew 14:15-20 NKJV
“Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” Then His disciples said to Him, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven, and a few little fish.” So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left.”
Matthew 15:32-37 NKJV
A tale of two baskets
Jesus came into this world to seek and to save what was lost. He came to claim the children of Israel, His chosen possession that had gone after other Gods and forgotten the One who loved them. Little did the children of Israel know, but God had a bigger plan: to save the world.
As I have read through Matthew, I have spent a little more time examining the two miracles where the Lord provides for the feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000. In these great miracles we have the plan of God laid out, of how Jesus came to save not only Israel, but the entire world.
From His earliest promise to Abraham, until the Jesus went to the cross, the promise to the world was apparent.
“Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.””
Genesis 12:1-3 NKJV
The first great miracle, the feeding of the 5,000 came on the heals of the rejection of Jesus in His hometown of Nazareth, and the beheading of John the Baptist. Upon receiving the news of John’s death, Jesus went to be alone. He was soon joined by a multitude from the cities who were seeking Him. These were Israelites, humble people who came looking for Jesus. He took compassion and healed the sick.
After feeding them, there were twelve baskets of leftovers, symbolizing the sufficiency of the Gospel to meet the needs of the twelve tribes and Israel, with plenty of more to go around. Such is the grace of God. Jesus came primarily for the Jews, but His grace had to power to save even the gentile.
It is sign of the shift in His ministry, as He has come to His own and they had received Him not. As if to illustrate that point, Jesus encounters a woman from Canaan, the very land from which the LORD had called Abraham to leave and strike out on faith.
“Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”
Matthew 15:21-28 NKJV
By faith she came to Jesus, knowing He could deliver her daughter. Her gentile heart was opened to the Lord, fulfilling what God had told Abraham, that in him all nations would be blessed.
Then we come to the feeding of the four thousand. These were people who had come from great distances, to being their sick, their lame, and their maimed. The were like the woman from Canaan, seeking Jesus by faith, facing uncertainty counting on the grace of God.
Many if the people were from Decapolis, a gentile city full of people who did not know the Lord.
“Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.””
Matthew 15:32 NKJV
They had forsaken all, remaining with the Lord three days. They had strong faith, not seen in all Israel. Jesus fed them, this time 4,000. After all had been fed to fullness, there were seven baskets of leftovers. These baskets were different than the ones that held the leftovers in the previous miracle.
The first set were small wicker baskets, whereas those that held the fragments after the gentile meal were huge, woven hamper like baskets. The Lord was providing a foreshadowing on the great work that would be coming into the world.
Brothers and sisters, let us rejoice in the abundance of Grace the Lord has provided for us, the gentile believers grafted into the olive tree. May we be faithful to go and share the fragments of grace that we have received with all who will hear.
Jesus came to save all humanity from its sins. May this be a Christmas where many come to know the Lord and enjoy the wonderful feast of God’s grace.
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