The importance of the 4,000 feeding miracle even though there was already a 5,000 feeding miracle done.
Mark 8: 1-10 “During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.” 4 His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?” 5 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied. 6 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. 7 They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. 8 The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 9 About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, 10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.”
In case you may question whether there was a 4,000 feeding as well as a 5,000 feeding, then read these words from Matthew 16:9-10, “(Jesus said) Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?” Jesus makes it clear there were 2 miracles, so this was not a mistake by Mark and Matthew who record 2 similar miracles.
So what was similar with the 4,000 and the 5,000 feeding miracles?
- Each obviously had a ‘large crowd’ gathering.
- Jesus had ‘compassion’ on both crowds.
- They were in a ‘remote place’ in both miracles.
- Jesus asks the disciples how many loaves they had.
- Jesus tells the crowds to sit down.
- Jesus takes the loaves, gives thanks, breaks them and gives them to his disciples for distribution.
- The crowds ate and were satisfied.
- The disciples pick up the left-overs.
So why do 2 miracles that are so similar?
The answer is found in where the miracles occurred and how many baskets of left-overs were gathered.
The 5,000 miracle occurred near Bethsaida, a Jewish region; the 4,000 miracle occurred in the Decapolis, a Gentile region.
The 5,000 Jewish miracle had 12 basketful of broken pieces perhaps referring to the 12 tribes of Israel; the 4,000 Gentile miracle had 7,000 basketfuls where the number seven is known as complete perfection (that the complete gospel is for the Jew and the Gentile). The feedings by Jesus were for both groups of people, the gospel is for all.