Jesus did two feeding miracles. In both occasions, the crowd were with Jesus Christ in a desolate place – the five thousand Jews and the four thousand Gentiles (Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-10). Jesus feeding the five thousand Jews was mentioned across all four gospels of the New Testament Scripture, but only Matthew and Mark recorded Jesus’ feeding of the four thousand Gentiles. See Matthew 15:29-38.
29Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And He went up on the mountain and sat down there. 30And great crowds came to Him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at His feet, and He healed them, 31so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel. 32Then Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” 33And the disciples said to Him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” 34And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36He took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks He broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 38Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.
Take note of Matthew 15:31. After Jesus had fed the four thousand, the crowd recognized His deeds were from the God of Israel, a clear reference to distinguish the crowd were Gentiles. Whereas, with the feeding of the five thousand, the crowd recognized the sign of Jesus and they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” See John 6:14, clearly a reference from the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 18:15-18).
In Matthew 15:33, the disciples may appear to have forgotten Jesus’ previous feeding of the five thousand people, but no, they didn’t. The crowd recognized Jesus’ sign – the Prophet who was to come into the world. Again in John 6:14, that is a statement of acknowledgment reminding them of Moses’ declaration at exodus. The Jews were similarly fed by God with Manna in the wilderness, also a desolate place. See Exodus 16:29-32.
“See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day He gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” So the people rested on the seventh day. Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.‘”
While in the wilderness, Moses pronounced God’s covenant before Israel. See also Deuteronomy 18:15-19.
The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to Him you shall listen— just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And whoever will not listen to My words that He shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.
All Israel therefore was looking forward to the coming of the promised Prophet of God – someone similar to Moses, a prophet sent by the LORD – and He did came, in the person of Jesus Christ. John 6:14 said the crowd recognized the sign – that Jesus Christ was indeed the promised Prophet pronounced by Moses. Could the disciples, Jews likewise, be naive enough not to recognize the sign? The disciples actually recognized the sign but perhaps they didn’t expect Jesus would extend the same grace to the Gentiles, so they questioned Him. See Matthew 15:33.
And the disciples said to Him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?”
The apostle Paul explained clearly the predicament or misunderstanding of the Jewish people. See Romans 10:1-4.
“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them (Israel or Jew) is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
The disciples, for a moment, also misunderstood Christ’s mission, thinking that He came for the salvation of Israel alone. Actually we can’t totally blame them; see Matthew 10:5-6.
“These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Then, in Matthew 15:24, Jesus told the Canaanite woman who came pleading Him to heal her daughter, saying “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
It might be confusing, but Jesus certainly never does things contrary to the revealed Word of God – the Old Testament Scripture. Read Paul’s explanation concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ; see Romans 1:16-17.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.””
Every letter of Paul serves as a commentary to the Words and Deeds of Jesus Christ. However, unlike non-apostolic commentaries, Paul’s expositions were all based on Scripture (the Old Testament). The New Testament letters therefore is a commentary to the Old Testament Scripture. To prove my point, Paul mentioned that the Gospel – God’s power for salvation – was to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Gentiles). Paul’s assertion was actually based on the Word of God found in Isaiah 49:5-6, the Messianic prophecy about Jesus Christ.
“And now the LORD says, He who formed Me [Jesus Christ] from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob back to Him; and that Israel might be gathered to Him— for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and My God has become My strength— He says: “It is too light a thing that You should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make You as a light for the nations, that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.””
Obviously, it was Christ Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity God, who spoke through Isaiah. Paul and Barnabas went out preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ before the scattered or Jews in diaspora. After they had rejected their message, Paul said:
“It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” Act 13:46-48
Without a doubt, Paul was quoting Isaiah 49:6, the Messianic prophecy concerning Jesus Christ. We have to understand the apostles’ serves as an extension of Jesus’ mission. See John 20:19-21.
“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”” (John 20:19-21)
True enough, Jesus’ mission and covenant of salvation encompasses even the Gentiles. See the same was proclaimed through Isaiah 42:6-7.
““I am the LORD; I have called You [Jesus Christ] in righteousness; I will take You by the hand and keep You; I will give You as a covenant for the people [Jews] , a light for the nations [Gentiles], to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.”
So we see Jesus granting the request of the Canaanite Woman because she confessed faith in Him. See Matthew 15:28.
“Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.”
Indeed, Paul was right in explaining that “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith‘ (Romans 1:17)”. Truly the Jews were zealous for God, but not according to knowledge that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).
Let me be clear here, Christ did not nullify the law that believers may live outside the mandates of the law. Rather, Jesus Christ fulfilled the law so that He may satisfy the demands of the law, subsequently offering salvation to everyone who believes. See 1 John 2:1-2.
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
PROPITIATION [pro pish ih AY shun] — the atoning death of Jesus on the cross, through which He paid the penalty demanded by God because of people’s sin, thus setting them free from sin and death. The word means “appeasement.” Thus, propitiation expresses the idea that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for sin that a holy God demanded.
Although Jesus was free of sin, He took all our sins upon Himself and redeemed us from the penalty of death that our sins demanded. As the writer of 1 John declared, “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world”Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Propitiation
On the other hand, Christ’s sacrifice and death did not nullify the spirit of the Law. See 1 Corinthians 5:7-13.
“Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.””
Incidentally, 1 Corinthians 5:7 is a clear declaration from Scripture that Christ had fulfilled Leviticus 23:5-6, the feasts of Passover and the Unleavened Bread. See previous blog entitled “The Essence of Our Faith” for further explanation.
See 1 John 5:16-19.
“If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”
What sin leads to death? See 1 Corinthians 15:21-22
“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
It’s the sin of Adam leading to death. Adam broke God’s covenant. See Hosea 6:7, “But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with Me.”
Let me tell you Adam did not die the moment he broke God’s commandment, though the LORD clearly said, “For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (Genesis 2:16-17)”. That may become our perception if we understood death as biological death. Yet, Adam indeed died, but it was a spiritual death; he was rendered naked of God’s covenant. Go to my blog entitled “Death is not the End” for a comprehensive understanding of the implication of Adam’s sin and death.
To conclude this blog, spiritual death comes to all humanity because everyone was/is born to Adam after he had broken God’s covenant; therefore we have inherited Adam’s death – that is, born out of God’s covenant. Hence, Jesus Christ said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). And again, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom” (John 3:5).
For clarification, though both statements were spoken to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, an adherent of the Mosaic Law, Jesus’ words apply even today, though of different context. The apostle Peter explained clearly the manner by which a person is “born again”. See 1 Peter 1:23, “Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” To be born again then is not a magical experience, wherein God bestowed upon the born again experienced upon a person. Rather, it is by the Living Word of God abiding in us. That is, we should have understood, embraced and allowed the Word of God to dwell in our person, believing and obeying the Scripture.
On the hand, Jesus clearly explained “the Spirit” in John 6:63, saying, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” Therefore, by Spirit, Jesus actually meant, once again, to be born or transformed of Word of God. Jesus speaks of the life-changing experience brought about by His Words.
Now thankfully, the apostle Paul explained the implication of being born of water. See Ephesians 5:25-27.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her (the church) by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
A side note: herein lies the error of modern Christianity on their understanding of ecclesiology – the doctrine of the Church. Scripture clearly declared that Christ’s mission was to cleanse the church by His Word. As per your understanding of the church, do you see the church cleansed by Christ’s word, ready to be presented in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or such thing, holy and without blemish? Tragic stories of misbehaviors involving local Christian congregations are rampant, many not reported but kept as a secret. If I had not known better, perhaps I would be pressed to agree that Christ failed in His mission. But of course, He did not. Jesus Christ is victorious and He had fulfilled His mission concerning the church. But I’m not gonna explore on this topic else we digress from our study.
Lastly, see Titus 3:5-7, Scripture said:
“He [Jesus Christ] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
The Word of God then is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, by which we experienced the washing of regeneration and renewal demanded or required for entrance to God’s kingdom, leading to eternal life.
Consequently, Paul said:
“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that One has died for all, therefore all have died; and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh [Circumcision, the Mosaic Law]. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old [Covenant] has passed away; behold, the new [Covenant] has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He [God] made Him [Jesus Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-21)
Let us therefore be careful not to add human traditons to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Salvation clearly comes only by grace through faith in Christ Jesus – nothing more, nothing less. Learn to read and apply Scripture according to its context. Be careful not to misrepresent Christ Jesus, abiding only in His Word and the essence of His revelation.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. It is sufficient for the salvation. Yet, Jesus Christ said: “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” (John 8:47)
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