I was studying Torah one afternoon and I ran across something of which I had never before been aware. Most of us have heard about the feeding of the five thousand found in Matt.14: 13-21, Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14. However, are you aware there was another miraculous feeding during Yahshua’s ministry? Let us explore the more familiar account first.
The account of this event is the only account, previous to Yahshua’s last visit to Jerusalem, which is recorded in the synoptic gospels; the only series of events also in the entire course of that Galilean Ministry, and which commenced after His return from the Last Supper (John 5), which is referred to in the Fourth Gospel, and that in John 6:4 where we read that “Passover was nigh”. Let’s paint a mental picture.
The district of Bethsaida-Julias was only a few hours sail from Capernaum and even a shorter distance by land. It was natural that Yahshua, wanting to avoid publicity, would have gone by boat, and even more so that those who saw them leaving and the direction of the boat, where they were headed. As these people went around the head of the sea, others from neighboring villages joined them to meet Yahshua on the other side. Some of those who ran on foot even reached the place before Yahshua and His disciples. (Mark 6:33). The largest proportion arrived later, and soon the throng numbered about 5,000 men, besides the women and children. The fact that Pesach was nigh, so that many must have been starting on their journey to Jerusalem, round the sea and through Peraea, partly accounts for the vast number of people. Furthermore, in conjunction with their reaction to John the Baptist’s murder, may also explain their eagerness to gather round Yahshua.
Imagine it… Yahshua with His disciples, and maybe those who had outrun the rest, retired at the top of a hill, conversing with each other (John 6:3). Soon he saw flocks of people gathering. They must have seemed like a multitude of sheep searching and finding their Shepherd. True to His character as The Shepherd, he was “moved with compassion towards them (Matt.14: 14). Now think for a moment. If you work at a store, hospital, office, and you wanted to get away from crowds of people, how many of us would be moved with compassion to see throngs of people headed toward us! As He did, we should see such activity as opportunities to serve Him as he did the Father and not think of the inconvenience to ourselves. I also want you to think about this: Yahshua was omniscient of all these events before they occurred. Therefore, I believe it even more significant that He was able to show pity and compassion knowing He would not get any rest, even though He felt fatigue, as would you and I. You might say to yourself, “If He knew about all of this ahead of time, where was the free choice to die for us? I submit to you the choice was made in heaven before He was manifest as human form. Why? Because the Echad of YHVH, Yahshua and the Ruach are energy which is manifest to as wavelengths. If Yahshua had any doubts about the choices that would need to be made, the wavelengths, the energy would have been disrupted and out of synch, much as one who lies on a polygraph. There is an obvious change in wave patterns when there is a disruption in the harmony of the energy. Now how many of us could have or would have given up our place in heaven knowing what Yahshua knew and would still have set the example of ultimate self-nullification repeatedly? This is the miracle of our Meshiach! In human form He assumed the role of a conduit; a lesser, although necessary part of the whole. In John 6:44 we read; “ No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Webster’s New World Dictionary defines conduit as “ a channel for conveying fluids; a tube for electric wires”. In the medical field there is a procedure for people with bladder cancer by which a conduit is made from a small piece of disconnected intestine to allow urine to exit the body from the ureters. Although the conduit is disconnected from the intestines, it still maintains all the properties of intestinal tissue. So it was and is with Yahshua. Although part of the energy of G-d or Torah was manifest as a human in Yahshua, He was and is still part of the whole of the Echad with a different role that had to be played out at that time to provide us a path of reconciliation to the Father Echad of the Deity! There was no chance of rest or relaxation now. He must have known that He had to take every opportunity to attempt to gather the sheep under His watchful staff of righteousness, for His opportunities as a physical being were coming to a close and rest was not yet to be had. We need to emulate our Meshiach. With the self-nullification He demonstrated over and over again. Ya know, in the Nurse Practitioner program we were taught “ to order a diagnostic test and have it come back negative, means money lost but a life saved.’ ‘To not order a diagnostic test because of money or the inconvenience of follow- through may mean money saved but possibly opportunity lost to save a life.’ We cannot waste a chance to do the best we can in whatever capacity we are serving G-d for the sake of our own comfort or convenience. Some of the most special and unexpected blessings are shown to us only after going the extra mile in situations where we could not have anticipated such kindness from G-d.
What a site to behold on the hillside, thousands of men, women and children. The Pesach was nigh (John 6:4), with its remembrances of the Paschal night, the Paschal Lamb, the Paschal Supper, the Paschal deliverance- and most of them were Passover-pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. They were truly as ‘sheep having no shepherd (Mark 6:34). The environmental surroundings set the stage. A wandering, straying multitude, the desert sweep of country and the very want of provision. This was a Pesach indeed. But now He would be the Paschal Lamb, the Bread which he gave, the Supper, and around which He would gather the scattered sheep into one flock to which His disciples would bring the bread which he had blessed and had broken, to their more than sufficient nourishment; from which they would carry the remnant-baskets full, after the flock had been fed, to the far –off heathendom. Remember this statement. This provision which the disciples were to carry from His hands- a provision never exhausted by present need, and which always leaves enough to carry thence and far away. In John 6:48) we read the symbology of this bread, the humble barley: “I am the Bread of Life” And then in verse 51;” I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” Full of the thoughts of the great festival, which was symbolically to link the Passover of the past with that of the future, and its Sacramental continuation to all time. He turned to Philip and asked: ‘Whence are we to buy bread that these may eat?’ It was to ‘try him’ and show how he would view and meet what, spiritually and temporally, has so often been the great problem. This-‘ two hundred denarii (between six and seven pounds) worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little,’ is the reality of the situation, not of unbelief, but of an absence of faith which, entirely ignoring any higher possibility, has not even its hope left in a ‘Thou knowest L-rd.’ Now the disciples figured it would be best to have Yahshua send the people to buy their own food and arrange for their own lodging. But as they must have suspected, this was not the action taken. Yahshua would have them fed. Were they expected to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of loaves? No, they were not to go and buy, but to give of their own store! The lad had carried this food for the traveling fishermen and Yahshua.How many loaves had they! In Mark 6:38 Andrew went to see what the fisher lad carried and found that he had 5 barley loaves and 2 small fishes. When we read that these five were barley-loaves we learn that, no doubt from voluntary choice, the fare of the L-rd and of His followers was the poorest. This lad is thought to have been carrying provisions for the fishing party from the boat occupied by Yahshua and His followers. Indeed, barley-bread was, almost proverbially, the meanest. Hence, as the Mishnah puts it, while all the other meat offerings were of wheat, that brought by the woman accused of adultery was to be of barley, because (so R. Gamaliel puts it), ‘ as her deed is that of animals, so her offering is also of the food of animals’ (Sotah.2.1). There is also an interesting use of the word for fishes. The word used in the Gospel of Yochanon is ‘opsarion’ which properly means what was eaten along with the bread, and specially refers to the small, and generally dried or pickled fish eaten with bread, like our ‘sardines’. Small fishes were recommended for health. The Sea of Galilee was rich in these fishes, and we know that both salting and pickling of them was a special industry among its fisherman. Now of great interest to me is the fact that when Yahshua arose and manifested Himself on the Sea of Galilee to them who had worked all night fishing with no success, He had provided for them miraculously the meal, when on the ‘fire of charcoal’ they saw the well-remembered ‘little fish’ (the opsarion), and, as He bade them bring of the ‘little fish’ (the opsaria) which they had miraculously caught, Peter drew to shore the net full, not of opsaria, but ‘of great fishes’. And yet it was not of those great fishes that He gave them, but ‘He took the bread and gave them, and the opsarion like-wise’ (John 21:9, 10,13). Thus, in infinite humility, the meal at which the Risen Savior sat down with His disciples was still of ‘bread and small fishes’-even though He gave them the draught of large fishes; and so at that last meal He recalled that first miraculous feeding by the Sea of Galilee.
After the feeding of the multitude, Yahshua bade the disciples to gather up the fragments before each group of people. So doing, each of the 12 had his basket filled. We can mentally see the parallel between this Messianic feast and that banquet of ‘the latter days’, which Rabbinism pictured so realistically. But as the wondering multitude watched, ad the disciples gathered the fragments into their baskets, the murmur ran through the ranks: ‘This is truly the Prophet, “the Coming one” (Abba) into the world.’ And so the Baptist’s last inquiry, ‘Art Thou the Coming One?’ was fully and publicly answered, and that by the Jews themselves. So here we have the feeding of Jews; the bread and fish, with 12 baskets left during Pesach eve. There were 5,000 men not counting the women and children. There was enough Bread for the disciples to carry out into the world to feed others after feeding the Jews first. Think about it; enough bread, representative of the Bread of Life to carry out to the rest of the world. The Jews first, then the Gentiles…Now the rest of the story.
The Galilean Ministry had closed with the feeding of the five thousand, their guests being mostly from Capernaum and the towns around, as far as Bethsaida -Julias), many in the number probably on their way to the Paschal feast at Jerusalem. But now at the second provision for the four thousand, which His Decapolis Ministry closed, the guests were not strictly Jews, but semi-Gentile inhabitants of that district and its neighborhood. Now this gets really Good. On the former occasion there were 5,000 fed with 5 loaves, when 12 baskets of fragments were left. On the second occasion, 4,000 were fed from 7 loaves, and 7 baskets of fragments collected. It is at least curious, that the number 5 in the provision for the Jews is that of the Pentateuch, just as the number 12 corresponds to that of the tribes and Apostles. The number 12 also represents government. On the other hand, in the feeding of the Gentiles we mark the number 4, which is the signature of the world or creation, and 7, which may represent the number of the Sanctuary. On all general points the accounts of the two feedings run so parallel, yet the surrounding circumstances are so different that only the most reckless negative criticism could insist, that one and the same event had been presented by the Evangelists as two separate occasions. The broad differences as to the number of persons, the provision and the quantity of fragments left, cannot be overlooked. Besides, on the former event the repast was provided in the evening for those who had gone after Yahshua, and listened to Him all day, but who, in their eager haste, had come without victuals, when He would not dismiss them faint and hungry, because they had been so busy for the Bread of Life, they had forgotten the bread of the earth. But on the second occasion, of the feeding of the Gentiles, the multitude had been there three days with Him, and what food they must have brought must have failed, when, in His compassion, the Messiah would not send them to their homes fasting, lest they should faint by the way. Now another profound difference lies in the designation of ‘the baskets’ in which the fragments left were gathered. At the first feeding, there were, as the Greek word shows, the small wicker baskets which each of the Twelve would carry in his hand. At the second feeding, they were the large baskets, in which provisions, chiefly bread, were stored or carried on longer voyages. On the first occasion they were in Israelitish territory and would not have had to stay away from home for a very long time. The second time they were on a lengthened journey, and passing through, or tarrying in Gentile territory. But the most noteworthy difference seems to be this- that on the first occasion, they who were fed were Jews- on the second Gentiles.
So, what was the lesson for the disciples and for us besides what we have been talking about thus far? That YHVH/Yahshua provides what we need when we need it and not a moment before. With these two miracles He provided surplus as well. We must learn to believe, that the needed provisions supplied by Yahshuah was not a ‘sign’, such as the Pharisees had asked, but what faith might ever expect from Him, when following after, or waiting upon Him. Then they truly understood that it was not of the leaven of bread that He had bidden them beware- that His mysterious words bore no reference to bread, nor to their supposed omission to bring it for the purpose of eliciting a sign from Him, but pointed to the far more real danger of ‘the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees,’ which had underlain the demand for a sign from heaven.
Here, as always, Yahshua rather suggests than gives the interpretation of His meaning. And this is the law of His teaching. There are many people in our society today including many clergy who teach the practice of asking for signs from Him in evidence of His claims. Furthermore, many claim to have received a ‘great revelation’ or a sign confirming that which they claim so that they may fool others into thinking these individuals are favored or chosen vessels more worthy than those who do not purport such visions, signs or revelations. Seeing the scanty store in our basket, our little faith is busy with thoughts about possible signs in multiplying the one loaf which we have, forgetful that, where Yahshua is, faith may ever expect all that is needed, and that our care should only be in regard to the teaching which might invade and corrupt that on which our souls a re fed. In other words, we must remain steadfast and diligent in our study of Torah so that we will be able to discern that which is true and that which is the attempt by hasatan to infiltrate and divide the true believer according to the seven fold witness in Revelation from the Word of G-d. Deceit and lies come in very attractive packages and you can know for sure that it will be delivered to you in ways that hasatan knows you find hardest to resist. We cannot fight any war, let alone a spiritual war if our guns are not loaded. Arm yourselves with Torah; know your weapon. AS Yahshua said in John 5:24: “ Verily verily I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” And in John 6:51,” I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” “ I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine… and other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and their shall be one fold, and one shepherd (John 10:14,16). Jew and Gentile believers, lovers of the bread of Life, Torah, Yahshua, brought together under the kippur, the covering of the blood of Yahshua into one flock. Blessed be Yahshua for the choices He made, that those who seek him diligently and love him according to Deuteronomy 6:4 will one day soon spend eternity in His pasture.
Baruch HaShem YHVH/Yahshua.