The reMARKable thing about this miracle is how closely it resembles the first one. I love the description of Jesus’ compassion on the crowd. He KNEW that some would collapse on their way home. Again, there were fish and bread. This time, there were 4,000 present, and seven (large) basketfuls were gathered, which were possibly a representation of the seven nations represented in the area. If so, then the first miracle, which included 12 baskets, represented Israel, and this miracle represented the Gentiles. Jesus came for BOTH!
v.11 The Pharisees asked for a sign. For this explanation, we turn to John 6.
30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” They wanted Jesus to produce manna! Jesus told them that the only sign He would give them was the sign of Jonah:
39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:39-40.
Jesus did two things here: The first was to validate Jonah as a real person and a real event; the second was to tell them how long He would be in the grave. Despite public opinion, Jesus did NOT die on Friday, but Thursday (my opinion). The Sabbath referred to is a high Sabbath that begins the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread, which that year was on Friday, and not the regular sabbath. For more information, see Did Jesus Die on Good Friday? The whole point is the sign. What about all the miracles? Jesus even told John the Baptist’s disciples to “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Matthew 11:4-6. THESE WERE SIGNS!
The Yeast of the Pharisees and Herod
The disciples showed their youth (Peter was the only one married; the rest were probably teenagers). They were a little slow getting Jesus’ meaning. Yeast symbolizes sin in the Passover meal; they knew this. I love Jesus’ response, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand?” (17). He even reminded them of the two miracles. He never did explain it to them. They figured it out (Matthew 16:12).
The Blind Man at Bethsaida
The miracle of the bread and fish were like the first, but the healing of the blind man was entirely different than any other healings. Jesus took him outside the town. Evidently, the man’s faith had to be his own and it took some “building up” in order for his faith to come to fruition. “Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” (v25). I suspect that this verse is referring to more than just his physical sight! Then, Jesus sent him home without going into the village. Why? Probably so that he could ponder what had been done for him without distraction.
The rest of the chapter begins the March to the Cross.
- Caesarea Philippi. Gates of Hell It is known as the birthplace of the world, was the worship center for the god, Pan, and stood for all things worldly, including a cave that was supposed to be the “the gates of hell,” or, the entry into hell. Jesus uses this phrase in Matthew 16:18. Peter wisely declared Jesus as Messiah.
- Jesus began to predict His death. He told the disciples plainly and specifically what would happen. They had other plans for Jesus. Boy, did He set them straight! The “gentle and humble Jesus” dissolved real quick when they crossed Him concerning God’s Plan. He then laid it all out for them:
- The Way of the Cross– “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (v34). It’s the first mention of a cross and a great predictor of how Jesus would die. Peter didn’t know it, but he, too, would die on a cross. According to historical tradition, Peter requested to be crucified upside down because he wasn’t worthy to die as Christ did. WOW! How Did Peter Die?
Jesus warned them pretty sternly. It’s a warning that we should take seriously, too. ANYONE who is ashamed of the LORD, which can mean living a worldly life–or even a selfish one–so that no one identifies a person with Christ, Jesus will be ashamed of him when He comes “in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (v38). We must also deny ourselves and take up our cross DAILY (Luke 9:23) and follow Jesus. LET’S DO THIS!