The Not-So-Insignificant Gift: Matthew 15:32-39

Focus Passage: Matthew 15:32-39 (NLT)

32 Then Jesus called his disciples and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way.”

33 The disciples replied, “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?”

34 Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”

   They replied, “Seven loaves, and a few small fish.”

35 So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd.

37 They all ate as much as they wanted. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food. 38 There were 4,000 men who were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children. 39 Then Jesus sent the people home, and he got into a boat and crossed over to the region of Magadan.

Read Matthew 15:32-39 in context and/or in other translations on!

During the lesser famous miracle of the feeding of the 4,000, we see a unique detail that makes this event distinctly different from the more famous miracle where 5,000 were fed. This detail comes in the form of a question. Jesus asks the disciples: “How much bread do you have?” (v. 34a)

This detail doesn’t seem significant or unique on the surface, except that we have more details about the miracle where 5,000 were fed, and we can use this additional information to determine some unique aspects of this seemingly less significant miracle.

In the feeding of the 5,000 miracle, all four gospels tell us that the entire miracle was prompted by the disciples suggesting to Jesus that He should send the crowd away. In our feeding of the 4,000 miracle, the disciples don’t question Jesus, but Jesus realizes that some of those in the crowd are in trouble. This is a difference worth considering.

Next, we learn from John’s gospel that the initial food that was provided for the miracle where 5,000 were fed originated with a boy who happened to be the only one left in the crowd who had food. It is this detail and difference that I will focus in most closely on: While the feeding of the 5,000 happened because food came from an outside source (i.e. a young boy), the feeding of the 4,000 happened because the disciples gave all the food that they had left.

When Jesus asks the disciples, “How much bread do you have?” the disciples reply saying, “Seven loaves, and a few small fish.” (v. 34)

The miracle where the crowd of over 4,000 people is fed is prompted by the generosity of those who are followers of Jesus. While the feeding of 5,000 happens using an insignificantly-sized gift from an outside source, the feeding of the 4,000 happens because Jesus’ closest followers choose to be generous with what they have and Jesus uses it to bless those present.

Regardless of where we are at in life or the amount we feel we can offer, Jesus can use our gifts (however insignificant we feel they may be) for His glory!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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