The Feeding of the 4,000


Matthew 15:32-38 - 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. 33 And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? 34 And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. 35 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. 36 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. 37 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. 38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.


Mark 8:1-9 - In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. 4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. 8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.


I.    Does this miracle seem familiar? 

A.     Note similarities to the feeding of the 5,000.

1.       The multitude needed food.

2.       The number of the multitude was approximate. 

3.       There was nothing to eat in the wilderness. 

4.       Jesus wanted to feed the people because they had faithfully followed him. 

5.       The disciple had no money to buy food. 

6.       The disciples had no food to distribute. 

7.       Jesus asked the disciples to take inventory of how much food was available. 

8.       The disciples took inventory and told Christ how much food they had. 

9.       The inventory revealed there was not enough food. 

10.   Christ instructed the disciples to prepare the people to eat. 

11.   Christ prayed, giving thanks for the supply. 

12.   Christ distributed the food to the disciples who distributed the food to the multitude. 

13.   Everybody had plenty to eat. 

14.   The leftovers were carefully collected and an inventory taken of the amount. 

15.   There is no Biblical record of what happened to the leftovers. 

16.   The multitude was sent away – Jesus did not continually fed them. 

B.     There was a lesson Jesus intended the disciple to understand, therefore the miracle is “repeated”. 

1.       After the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus sent the multitude away, send the disciples to a ship, where they were to cross the Sea of Galilee that night, and himself departed into a mountain apart to pray. 

a.       The disciples had trouble in obedience, and Jesus came to them, walking on the water. 

b.       The disciples did not understand the power of Christ when they participated in the feeding of the 5,000, but they understood the power of Christ only when it directly related to them, as revealed in mark 6:52: The disciples did not consider the miracle of the loaves because their hearts were hardened. 

2.       After the feeding of the 4,000 Jesus makes a point about false doctrine. 

C.     Notice the background to this miracle. 

1.       Mark 6:34-44 – Jesus feeds the 5,000. 

2.       Mark 6:45-53 – Jesus walks on the water, coming to the obedient disciples as they toiled in rowing. 

3.       Mark 6:54-56 – Jesus came into the land of Gennesaret, where many people brought their sick and afflicted to Christ for healing. (The obedience of the demon possessed man of Matthew 8:28-34, mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39 is evident.) 

4.       Mark 7:1-23 – the Pharisees came from Jerusalem to harass Christ concerning the disciples not washing their hands when they eat bread. 

5.       Christ leave the Pharisees and goes to Tyre and Sidon, desiring to hide himself, but could not because of two miracles. 

6.       Mark 7:24-30 – The healing of the Syrophenician’s daughter. 

7.       Mark 7:31-37 – Jesus leaves Tyre and Sidon, returning to the Sea of Galilee, traveling through Decapolis, where he heals a deaf man who has an impediment in his speech. 

8.       Mark 8:1-10 – Jesus feeds the 4,000. 

9.       Mark 8:11-21 – Christ then goes to Dalmanutha, (a town on the west of the Sea of Galilee, in the border of Magdala) where the Pharisees come to him, tempting Christ to give them a sign. 

a.       There is no Bible record, of course, that the Pharisees saw any of the miracles Christ performed, but they might have heard of them. 

b.       They are seeking more to criticize than understand. 

c.       The disciples have “forgotten” to take bread, therefore they think Christ is talking out of his head when he tells them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, but Christ informs them he means to beware of the doctrine of the Pharisees. 

d.       John 4:32 – On another occasion when the disciples go away to purchase bread, Christ speaks to the woman at the well, and she is converted.

1.)    When the disciples return with food, Christ tells them he has meat to eat they know not of. 

2.)    Spiritual food satisfies so completely the body needs no food. 


II.    Points concerning this miracle. 

A.     Jesus had compassion on the multitude.  

1.       He knew their faithfulness in being with him for three days with little food. 

2.       He understood they had willingly forsaken all their business and homes to be with him. 

B.     Jesus knew they were hungry. 

1.       Christ must have also been hungry. 

a.       John 4:32 - …I have meat to eat that ye know not of. 

b.       While this is true, the body still requires food to exist. 

2.       The disciples were probably also hungry. 

3.       Jesus would not send the people away hungry, because he understood the limitations of the flesh. 

C.     Jesus knew the people came from afar. 

1.       This indicates he had conversed with them, had gotten acquainted with them. 

2.       He was personal with them, doing more than just healing their sicknesses and illnesses. 

3.       God is a personal God, aware of our personal sacrifices, and desires. 

D.     The lessons Christ wants his disciples to understand. 

1.       Matthew 6:33 – He can supply all their needs if they will only trust him, and put him first. 

2.       Matthew 15:11-12 – Beware of the false doctrine of the Pharisees. 

a.       The disciples were thinking one thing, while Christ was thinking another. 

b.       The disciples reasoned together, but all their human reasoning was error. 

c.       Christ desires us to think as he thinks, not as we think. 

d.       It is good that the disciples were willing to listen to Christ and change the way they were thinking.