Jesus called his disciples to Him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?” “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.” Matthew 15:32-34
“Verse 33 provides both the interpretive crux and the potential key to understanding this passage. At first, the disciples’ question seems to reflect the height of obtuseness. The solution to their problem is obviously for Jesus to do what He did before and work a miracle. But the emphatic “we” (a uniquely Matthean touch), corresponding to the emphatic “you” of 14:16, may explain matters.
Previously, Jesus had told His disciples to solve the problem themselves. They couldn’t, so He did. Nut He has consistently passed on His miracle-working authority to the Twelve, including as recently as 14:28-31 (despite the abrupt ending of Peter’s walking on the water). Most likely the disciples think that Jesus’ remarks in v. 32 imply that they should miraculously provide food for the crowd, and they are not convinced they can do it.”
Craig L. Blomberg in Matthew: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (NAC; Brentwood: Broadman, 1992) 246.
This week as I approach 4,000 daily posts over the past 11 years, we are exploring the deep nuances of the feeding of the 4,000. This miracle appears in two Gospels, Matthew and Mark, and it seems fitting to explore at this time because contains themes of compassion and generosity.
As I turned from Mark’s Gospel to Matthew’s account of the feeding of the 4,000 with help from Craig Blomberg, I was struck by the terms “obviously” and “miraculously.”
With the disciples, I would have “obviously” thought that it was time for Jesus to again work His magic. It was time for Him to feed the hungry masses again. After all, He is the Son of God.
But like only Jesus can do, He calls them to participate in it. He wants them to exhibit faith in the God who can do miracles in order to draw the people closer to God.
This is the challenge I find often in my role as CEO. God shows me He can do miracles. Then He wants me to put to work what I have and rally people to see His glory.
But like the disciples, often I am not “convinced” I can do it. Jesus said that the disciples would do greater things. But do we believe the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us?