God used Moses to feed thousands of people in the wilderness, through many years. Exodus 16 & Numbers 11. There was always more than enough manna and quail. God in Jesus comforts us in the reality that the “bread of life” we have in Jesus will always give us sustenance and more, for the power we need to live and do what is right. Read John 6:31-58. Why? Because he was moved with compassion when he saw weary crowds of people. We should learn that Jesus fed many different kinds of people, on two different occasions. Teaching the world that he is truly our souls provider and without him we would starve to death spiritually.
The first event of 5000 men, recorded in Mt. 14 & Mk.6 was predominantly a Jewish crowd, because both accounts feeding 5000 use the word “kophinos” for baskets, Mt. 14:20 & Mk. 6:43.
The second event of 4000 men, recorded in Mt. 15 & Mk. 8 is predominantly a Gentile crowd, because both accounts feeding 4000 use the word “spuris” for baskets, Mt. 15:37 & Mk. 8:8. Which may explain why the disciples don’t seem to expect Jesus to feed them, even after they saw him feed the Jewish crowd beforehand. Notice in the first event the disciples come to Jesus asking about food for the crowd, but in the second event, it is the other way around. Jesus asks the disciples about feeding the crowd.
Notice, regardless of what kind of people are in the crowds, in each case, Jesus performs the miracle, but the disciples are commanded to distribute the miracle. Setting people in segregated groups of 50 – 100. Is there a lesson for the church to learn from this in the distribution of God’s word? His word is certainly produced miraculously and abundantly, but how do we distribute it?
Paul taught in 2nd Corinthians 9:8-12, “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that in everything, always having all self-sufficiency, you may abound to every good work; As it is written, “He scattered; he has given to the poor; his righteousness remains forever.” Now He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for eating, may He supply and multiply your seed, and increase the fruits of your righteousness, you being enriched in everything to all generosity, which works out thanksgiving to God through us. For the ministry of this service not only supplies the things lacking of the saints, but also multiplying through many thanksgivings to God”. Herein may be the whole point of preserving these miracles in the Bible, that is: God’s generosity towards us through His word, is what promotes praise & thanksgiving so that others in the world will get fed. The immediate reaction of the crowd in John 6:14-15, is to assume Jesus is the “prophet” which Moses said would come into the world. As soon as Jesus knew their conclusion, he withdrew because he knew they expected him to make an army in the world and defeat the idolatry of the Roman Empire, as Elijah defeated the idolatrous Baal worshipers in ancient times. Since Jesus had this kind of power, he could easily feed an army which could defeat any nation. What kind of army is Jesus feeding today?