The gospel text continues along in the Gospel according to Matthew, and we are in chapter fourteen for the next two weeks. This week the text is usually called 'The Feeding of the Five Thousand', and the title has a nice ring to it. But there were probably many more there since the five thousand count only includes the men. I sometimes feel like I should apologize for that since some people could easily get the idea that they 'don't count'.
Even more important than studying the culture of that day is the study of the Savior who walked around on earth in those days. And what he did on some of those days is important, mainly because some of those things that he did continue on in another way.
This miracle of feeding the 5000 is so important that it is in all four gospel accounts. That essentially puts it on the level of the crucifixion and resurrection. Both the Gospel according to Matthew and the Gospel according to Mark all have another similar account, that of the so-called 'Feeding of the Four Thousand'. Again there is this nice ring to it, and, again, only the men are counted, and, once again, there is a connection to what our Savior continues to do.
In the Gospel according to Mark, Jesus makes a point that there are twelve baskets of leftover fragments with this first feeding and seven with the second. I hope it does not sound too crazy to say that the first number is more Jewish, while the second is more universal.
Another point that could be made is to see the different contexts of the various accounts as they begin. Jesus, like a man, withdraws, after he hears of the death of John the Baptist (14:13). When the text says Jesus 'withdrew', that was a nice way to say he 'retreated'. That does not sound too 'manly'.
I do not think it is a coincidence that, after Jesus' final withdrawal in 15:21, he comes upon a Canaanite woman, and Jesus ends up saying that she has a great faith.
Sometimes a retreat is a good, military move. Jesus' move to a desolate and non-Jewish place was a great move that mirrored his coming to earth. His was a serious rescue mission. He was to leave no one behind.
Jesus continues his rescue mission by delivering his body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 14:20a (ESV): 'And they all ate and were satisfied.'