October 18, 2021 – Monday
Matthew 14:19 NIV
19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.
Before commenting on this verse, I would like to provide some context. In most Bibles there will be a heading for verses 13-21 like the NIV’s “Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand.” The verses are as follows:
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
For clarity’s sake, the last verse shows the number fed was much greater than 5,000 and anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000 or more. The actual number is clearly unknown. However, the discussion today is not about how many were fed, but how they were fed. Our Verse of the Day tells us Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. Thus it was the disciples who somehow took five loaves and two fish and fed well over 5,000 people until they were satisfied.
Seems pretty straight forward and you will find much the same story in Mark 6:30-44 and Luke 9:10-17. This story of the 5,000 is also in John 6:1-15, but with a difference. The difference is in how the bread and fish were distributed for John 6:11 says, Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish in the NIV and many others. The versions that include to the disciples, and the disciple to are often in italics to show they were added. Ellicott’s Commentary tells us, the better (older) manuscripts omit “to the disciples, and the disciples to.” It is included in the sense, but is not here expressed in word. Then Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible tells us, The Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, only read, “he distributed to them that were sat down”: but it was not by his own hands, but by the means of the disciples, who received from him, and gave it to them; so that the sense is the same.
What to make of this? Was Jesus somehow distributing the food Himself directly to the 5,000 or did He make use of His disciples? My answer would come by looking first at John 3:22 NIV, After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized . Pretty clear, Jesus was baptizing people, or was He? If we read just a bit further into John 4:1-2 we find, Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John—although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. From this and the synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) versions, I believe it was Jesus’ disciples who were distributing the bread and fish.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Jesus’ ability to feed so very many from so little reveals once again His great power and immense unmeasurable power. Yet He went to the cross to pay the price for our sins. We are incredibly blessed.
– In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Riley D. Driver – PastorCalvary Chapel of Daytonin Beavercreek