Harmony of the Gospels

 Harmony of the Gospels

 

-Spring, AD 29-
Near Bethsaida
(36) Return of the Twelve; Jesus Withdraws; Five Thousand Fed
Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-14

 

-Matthew (Chapter 14)-

13 When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.

The Lord heard about the death of John the Baptist, and knew that Herod would now come after Him, so He took a ship to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  The people didn’t want Him to leave; therefore they walked around the shore and met Him on the other side.  This shows how popular He was.

14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

Notice that they brought their sick with them, and Jesus healed them.  I don’t believe that we should ever compare what Jesus did to today’s faith healers.  His healing was much greater in numbers and power, and he did everything in the open and aboveboard.

15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.

I find it amusing, that the disciples are trying to advise Jesus of what to do, and that their advice is to send them away.

16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.

The feeding of the five thousand is one miracle that is recorded in all four Gospels, and for that reason alone it is very important.  The disciples believe that they know what Jesus should do with these people, but Jesus says that they don’t need to send them away, He says, “feed them.”  It was an impossible command!
 
17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.

These weren’t great big fish and huge loaves of bread; they were a boy’s lunch; probably just some small buns.  They have so little to offer the multitudes and that is the way it is with the churches today.  We send them to psychiatrists for emotional help and to the government for physical help.  All we can provide is spiritual help.  The real thing that is missing today is the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.  If we only had the power, we wouldn’t have to send the people away.  We would bring them to God, instead of sending them away.  He can transform lives and meet any need.

18 He said, Bring them hither to me.

I love this response.  He said, “Bring them to me.”  It is not what we have that matters, but what we do with what we have.  We must be willing to give the little that we have to Him; then He will increase it and use it.

19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

The disciples wanted to tell Jesus what to do; they wanted to call the shots, but instead they become waiters.  They are serving the food to the multitudes.  That’s what every preacher, Sunday school teacher, and every Christian man and woman should do.  We need to give out the bread of life, God’s word, to everyone who needs it. 

20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.

After everyone was full, there were twelve baskets of bread and fish left, which no one had touched.  At this time, many people went to bed hungry, just like they do in most places in the world today.  So this was a tremendous thing, to feed all these people.

21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

The five thousand didn’t include the women and children.  If it isn’t too much to add one child and one woman for each man, there would have been closer to fifteen thousand than five thousand feed that day.
 

-Mark (Chapter 6)-

30 And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.

At this time the disciples had returned from the mission that Jesus had sent them on; to travel in pairs through the country side preaching the Gospel.  They were telling Him the things they had seen and done. 

31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

There were throngs of people around Jesus and there was a constant movement of people around Him, making requests and demands of Him.  He was tired and the disciples needed to rest after their mission, so Jesus said, “Let’s go to a more peaceful place.”

32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.

They took a ship and sailed along the northeastern shore of the lake to a place that was thinly populated.

33 And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him.

The people saw them go aboard a sailboat and start across the lake.  They followed along the northern shore; they had farther to go, but they moved faster than the boat.  The boat only went about five miles from Capernaum, and when they landed the people were there waiting for them.

34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.
35 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed:

The people were there to see the miracles and to hear Him teach, but other than that they were just standing around and waiting; there wasn’t anything else to do, and they were hungry and undecided about what to do and where to go.  He began to teach them, because He had a deep desire for them to understand that He had brought salvation, if they would just believe in Him.  It was getting late, and there was nowhere close by where they could eat and sleep.  The disciples pointed this out to Jesus, and said, “Something must be done quickly.”

36 Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.

The disciples were also hungry, and they knew that the other people must be just as hungry.  Their solution was to send them away, so they could purchase what they needed from the local people.

37 He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?

Jesus told His disciples to feed them, but the disciples replied that it would take about two hundred pennyworth to buy enough bread. A pennyworth is what a laborer would receive for a day’s work.    I doubt that Judas’ bag held even a forth of that. 


38 He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes.

It appears that the disciples didn’t have any food, but they found a boy who had a lunch consisting of five loaves and two fish.  The loaves were actually thin and small, more like crackers, and the fishes that the Galilee was noted for were about the size of sardines.  The lunch was intended to feed only one small boy, but now each loaf must feed a thousand and each fish, twenty-five hundred.

39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.

Jesus accomplished several things by having them set down in an orderly fashion.  First, it assured that everyone would get fed.  Second, it made the distribution of the food easier for the disciples.  Third, a more accurate count could be made of all the people who were fed.

40 And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.
41 And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all.

Jesus blessed the loaves by returning thanks for them.  This is the basis for our giving thanks or “asking the blessing” before we eat a meal.

42 And they did all eat, and were filled.
43 And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes.

The fragments which were picked up, after everyone had eaten, were not pieces which had a bite taken out; they were pieces that had not been touched, because everyone was full.  They couldn’t eat any more.

44 And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.
 
Eastern tradition would have prevented the women from setting with the men, so the women and children would have set some distance apart from the men.  If there were 5000 men, then the crowd was much larger, when the women and children were included.


-Luke (Chapter 9)-

10 And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.

Jesus took the disciples to a secluded area, probably in the fields outside the city of Bethsaida.

11 And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.
12 And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place.
13 But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people.

The disciples did not have anything to give the crowd, unless they went into a city and bought some food.

14 For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company.
15 And they did so, and made them all sit down.
16 Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.

Jesus thanked God for the loaves and fishes and prayed that God would multiply them so they would feed the whole multitude.  He asked that this whole banquet would be to the glory of God.

17 And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.

-John-

1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.

This is a remarkable passage, that describes Christ feeding 5000 men with only five loaves of bread and two fishes; and it is the only event of Christ’s life that is recorded in all four Gospels. 

2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.

Jesus went up into the mountain, so that He could be more easily heard by the multitude that crowded around Him.  This served as a natural pulpit.  It was the custom of that day for the teacher to set when he taught, so He set and taught with authority.  We are said, to set with Him, in Ephesians 2:6, “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” 

4 And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.

It was customary for the Jews to begin preparing for the Passover about thirty days ahead of time by some solemn observances, and so the disciples had all gathered to Him.  All Jews were required to go to Jerusalem to observe the feast of the Passover, and Jesus always kept the Law. 
 
5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?

Those that He saw coming toward Him were both rich and poor, but He doesn’t make any difference between them at this time.  He would feed even those who had plenty of money and could have easily purchased bread for the whole multitude.  He asked Philip where they would get enough bread to feed them.  It wasn’t just because Philip was from Bethsaida and would know where to purchase bread, but because He had been with Him from the beginning and had seen the miracles, especially turning water into wine.  He should have replied, “You can feed them all, if you desire to.”

6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

Jesus asked Philip, “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”, but he already knew what he was going to do.   He was testing Philip’s faith.  He should have answered, “If you will use your power for them, we will not have to buy food”; however:

7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

Philip thought that two hundred pennyworth of bread might be enough for everyone to have a little, but they did not have that much money and probably the town could not provide that much bread without sufficient planning. 

8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him,
9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

Now another disciple, Andrew, brings Jesus the news that there is a young boy who has five loaves and two fishes.  But he shows his lack of faith when he says, “But what are they among so many?”  He believed it was a waste of time and would mock the people to offer them such a trifling amount.

10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

We should also thank God for our food, because it is a sign of His mercy toward us.  We read in I Timothy 4:4-5, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer." 

12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

Jesus could have left the fragments for the birds and other creatures, but He had them gathered up, so that none was wasted.  This is a reminder to us not to waste what God so graciously provides.

13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

The twelve baskets were a witness that the miracle was real, not just a fantasy: and of the greatness of the miracle, that they were all fed and yet so much of the abundance still remained.  There was bread enough and bread to spare.  Note that there was a basket of bread for each disciple. 

14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

The miracles which Christ did, clearly demonstrated that He was the Messiah.  There were many who acknowledged that He was indeed the Messiah, but they did not accept His doctrine and would not live by it.  The same inconsistency is still here today.  Many believe in Him, but have not accepted Him as their Savior and Lord. 

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