Bread (Matthew 16:5)

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

Matthew 14 describes the feeding of the 5000 just outside Jesus’  hometown. In that  instance, Jesus had withdrawn to a solitary place by boat. When the disciples were told to feed the large crowd that gathered, they replied, “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish.” That would’ve been about one basketful – the loaves being little more than large buns. Jesus miraculously transforms that small supply to enough to feed the whole crowd, enough to have twelve basketfuls left over. 

Matthew 15 describes the feeding of the 4000 in Decapolis. In that instance, Jesus had gone up on a mountainside. When the disciples were told that He wanted to feed the large crowd that gathered, they reported their supply as being only seven loaves and a few fish. Again, Jesus miraculously transforms that into enough to feed the whole crowd, enough to have seven basketfuls left over.

Now Jesus has again withdrawn and crossed the lake. Matthew 16 includes, “When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread.” This is unusual, because the last two occurrences inform us that they had obviously been bringing something to eat pretty much everywhere they went. It is even more unusual because by now they’re learning that Jesus loves to be hospitable – to the point of expecting to feed very large groups of people with little to no preparation. The fact that Matthew mentions that they ‘forgot’ to take bread with them at all is yet another attention flag, because to this point there has been no mention of what provisions the band typically carried. 

In light of these three facts, one can see that the issue is probably not that the disciples assumed Jesus would again want to feed a large crowd and had erroneously assumed the other would bring the meager supply, but that they had deliberately forgotten the bread to see if Jesus could feed the next large crowd without a starting point at all. 

It is always error to presume upon God. Jesus had Himself proved that when Satan tried to temp Him the second time. One recalls what Matthew had said earlier; “Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 

To presume is to expect another to overcome your own lack. It is to test the goodwill of the other, and as such it is not merely a demonstration of lack of faith, but a form of betrayal. For it betrays your perception of your relationship as nothing more than a source of supply. Jesus is more than that to us – at least, He ought to be. The Father is not someone or something to be milked. He is our King and our God. He is to be honored by us, not to be presumed upon. 

Not even for helpful miracles and wonders. 

There is no sense in not appreciating things, and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them.

G.K. Chesterton

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Let us give thanks for God’s provision without forgetting our responsibility.