What’s the difference between the feeding of the 4,000 and the 5,000?

Watch full sermon here: Do You Still Not Understand? – Mark 8:1-26
Well, hi, friends. If you joined us in my message this last Sunday, you know that one of the passages in Mark chapter eight that we took a look at is Jesus feeding of the 4000. And that may echo in our minds a little bit because just a couple chapters before Jesus feeds 5000, in Mark chapter six, just two chapters apart, a feeding of 5000. Then two chapters later a feeding of 4000. So are these the same event?

That’s what a lot of people have asked. Anytime they hear about the feeding of the 4000 they think that Mark, who’s writing all this down in the Gospel of Mark is just a little bit confused here. But I just want to point out a few different details that these are indeed separate events. And I’ll tell you why this is important in just a moment. But with the feeding of the 5000 it says that in Mark chapter six that there were 5000 men that were fed.

Now that doesn’t count the women and the children and everybody else that was there. And so experts have estimated that in the feeding of the 5000 you’re really talking about anywhere from maybe twelve to 15, maybe even 20,000 people that were fed in that one occasion. In the feeding of the 4000. In Mark chapter Eight it just says literally 4000 people total. In Mark chapter six it says that they were in the wilderness in some remote place and that Jesus fed them on the same day as after having heard some teaching.

Whereas in Mark chapter eight, the feeding of the 4000, these folks had been there for three days and they’re very very hungry. And Jesus was concerned that they would collapse on the way. And so there’s a different time period there. In the feeding of the 5000 it says that that took place in northern Galilee in the springtime. And the feeding of the 4000, it doesn’t give us a particular time period but it says it takes place in around southeast Galilee.

In the feeding of the 5000 we have the five loaves and the two fish and then afterwards there’s twelve basketfuls afterwards. In the feeding of the 4000 it says that there’s seven loaves and a few small fish and then there’s seven basketfuls after. And the feeding of the 5000, Jesus prays. It says just one time for both the bread and the fish. Whereas Jesus prayed twice in the feeding of the 4000, once for the bread, once for the fish.

The point is that these are two separate events. And the most clear evidence of this is that Jesus himself, in Mark chapter eight, in recounting the feeding of the 4000 for the disciples, mentioned that this was a separate event. So even Jesus himself in Mark eight points out, these are two separate things. Now, of course, we could get caught up in the trivia of all of this, but ultimately, both events stand apart as being demonstrations of God’s power through his son, Jesus. And we know that Jesus could do anything with just a word.

He could do it from a distance. And in these two occasions, he’s demonstrating a level of compassion and mercy that just shows a personal touch that Jesus has and feelings of love for the crowds and for the people and for their well being. But more than that, these are evidences of Jesus full fledged deity, that he is 100% fully God. And even in Mark chapter eight and in Mark chapter six, after Jesus performs these two separate miracles, people are skeptical. You have the Pharisees who are saying, we want to see a sign, Jesus, to prove that you are really who you say you are.

And Jesus is saying, I’ve already just shown you all the signs that you need to see. And even the disciples are not fully comprehending what’s going on here. And the point is that time and time again throughout the Gospels, sometimes Jesus repeats a miracle, or he’ll repeat a teaching, because we don’t always get it the first time or the second time or the 10th or the 11th time. So I hope that this encourages you to just know that God is fully all powerful. He’s always at work, and he’s able to do things, whether, again, it’s in one setting or in another setting.

And all of these things point to the purpose of Jesus coming to the earth. Ultimately, is our bread from heaven that we can partake of. And as the sign that Jesus himself, as the bread comes from heaven, Jesus himself comes from heaven. Well, I hope that that’s helpful to you. Thanks so much for joining me today.