Wednesday 01 December 2010

Bible Book:

"The Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 'I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me for three days and have nothing to eat, and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.'" (v. 32)

Matthew 15:29-37 Wednesday 1 December 2010


It's all too easy to look at a Bible passage that is familiarand think we know it all already. Has this happened to you withtoday's reading? If so, then look again: it's the feeding of the4,000 (Matthew 15:38), not the 5,000; there are sevenloaves and a few fishes, not five loaves and two fishes; sevenbaskets of leftovers were collected rather than twelve. (Thefeeding of the 5,000 is also recorded in Matthew 14:15-21.) 

The details of the story also suggest that this is a very differentcrowd. For example the word for baskets in chapter 14 is'kophinoi'. The kophinos was a narrow-necked, flasked shaped basketwhich Jews often carried with them, so they would not have to eatanything that was touched by a Gentile (non-Jew) hand and so berendered unclean. In chapter 15 the word for baskets is'sphurides', which is more like a hamper and big enough to carry aman. This is a container that Gentiles would use. 

Biblical scholars trying to understand the inclusion of two verysimilar episodes so close to each other in the Gospels suggest thatone (the 5,000) refers to Jesus feeding the Jewish people and withthe 4,000 Jesus is demonstrating his love and care for theGentiles. God's love and the kingdom of the king knows nobounds. 

In verse 33 the disciples ask Jesus how on earth would they havefind enough food to feed the crowd, even though they'd faced asimilar predicament in the previous chapter (verses15-21). Had they forgotten already? Did they expect Jesus to dosomething different? Had they learnt never to make assumptionsabout him? 

To Ponder

How often do you make assumptions about God, andthink you have got the measure of God? And how does God surpriseyou?

What can you do so that God is able to surpriseyou?

The two miracle stories show that there is nolimit to God's kingdom and the rule of Christ as king. Where arethe no-go areas in your life or people in your community which youfind difficult to accept that God is present? Spend some time inprayer offering them to God.

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