Then Jesus called His disciples, 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.”
And His disciples say unto Him, “Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?” And Jesus saith unto them,
“How many loaves have ye?”
And they said, “Seven, and a few little fishes.” And He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. 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. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. Matthew 15:32-38
Matthew 14:13-21 gives a similar miracle of Jesus but it is in fact and truth a different miracle. For instance, in Matthew 14 the number of men is clearly 5,000; in chapter15 it is 4,000. The numbers of fish and loaves of bread is different; 5 loaves and two fish verses 7 loaves and a few fish. A “few” being more than two.
One thing that surprises me in this event in a day, and the life of Jesus and His disciples is that they had just recently seen the earlier feeding of more people, and they ask Jesus, “Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?”
Now, about the numbers; 4,000 men, because the women and children were not counted. Many have commented on this I am fairly sure; but think of this; since there was 4,000 men there is a great probability that there could have been a total of 12,000 or more. That is in figuring a wife, and one child for each man. The Scriptures ends this account, and the one in chapter 14 with the phrase, “beside women and children”.
The point is that many of these people had followed Jesus for receiving healing for various sicknesses, diseases, deliverance from demons, etc.. He looks at them having been with them three days and without food. Now He feeds them without any worry or fear, but faith in the power of His Father to provide.
For the Christian today, we should be able to see Jesus’s compassion for the multitudes and be convinced that He is compassionate toward us as well. He will also supply and meet the individual needs as well.
Trust the work of Jesus, especially His work on the cross dying for our sins, His burial, and resurrection. The greatest miracle of Jesus, is the power of His grace to save a wretch like me.