On Jesus’ Feeding of the People

In Mark 6 Jesus takes up five loaves and two fish, blesses them, and feeds the 5,000.  Afterwards 12 baskets full are left.

In Mark 7 Jesus tells the Syrophoenician (gentile) woman with the discharge that it is not right to give the children’s food to the dogs, but by faith and humility she is restored.

In Mark 8 Jesus takes up 7 loaves and a few fish (more than two?), blesses them and feeds the 4,000.  Afterwards 7 baskets full are left.

He then rebukes the pharisees and “this generation,” and gets in a boat with the disciples.  When he warns of the leaven of the pharisees and Herod they immediately start to worry about only having one loaf of bread, and Jesus becomes frustrated, asking why they are worrying about this and do they not yet understand.

On one level it seems Jesus is clearly bothered that they haven’t seen that he can provide for whatever physical needs are necessary.  But I wonder if there is something more here.

First, Jesus feeds the 5,000 (sometimes the number 5 signifies incompleteness in Biblical numerology).  When he does so, 12 baskets are leftover, signifying the full provision for the twelve tribes, Israel will be fed the bread of life first.

Then, comes a question of fulfillment for gentiles (the Syrophoenician woman), and healing and wholeness extends to her by faith and humility.

Then, Jesus feeds the 4,000.  When he does so, 7 baskets are leftover.  Seven is the number of completion or fulfillment in Biblical numerology, so first the 12 tribes are fed, and then then, after doubts have been answered with humble faith as the key, all are fed.  Faith and fullness, first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

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