Twelve Baskets

Why twelve baskets?

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John 6 Bible Study

John 6:11-13 Twelve Baskets

John 6:14-17 The Prophet
John 6:18-21 Do Not Be Afraid
John 6:22-25 Seeking Jesus
John 6:26-29 Work of God
John 6:30-34 Bread From Heaven
John 6:35-71 I Am the Bread of Life
JOHN 6:11-13  11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.

Honestly, do you believe the details of this account?
 

How can anyone feed thousands with a kid’s lunch, and then end up with more food after than before?
 

Do you believe a baby can run a marathon?
Of course not.

Do you believe an Olympic marathoner could?
What someone can or cannot do is a function of the task relative to the ability of the doer. If Jesus is God who made the universe, feeding a few thousand would have been a piece of cake, and this applies to all other miracles recorded in the Bible.

How many baskets of the barley loaves' fragments were left over?
"Twelve" (John 6:13).

Might there be a significance to the bread that filled the twelve baskets?
While it isn't explicit, there is, as there is with many numbers in the Bible. Elaborating on this one is made easier by contrasting this miracle with the other feeding miracle recorded in Mark 8:1-9: "1 In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.” 4 Then His disciples answered Him, “How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?” 5 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” 6 So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. 7 They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. 8 So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments. 9 Now those who had eaten were about four thousand. And He sent them away." The first thing to note is that while the feeding miracle recorded in John took place near Bethsaida, which is on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee and had a predominantly Jewish population, the feeding miracle recorded in Mark took place in "Decapolis" (Mark 7:31), which is on the southeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee and had a predominantly gentile population.

How many baskets of bread were left over after the two feedings?
"Twelve" in the Jewish region and "seven" in the gentile region.

What might the twelve baskets of bread in the Jewish region represent?
Food for the twelve tribes of Israel.

How about the seven baskets of bread in the gentile region?
The seven nations of gentiles that God told Moses He would cast off the Promised Land: “When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you..." (Deuteronomy 7:1)

Where did the remnants of those seven nations end up?
In the region of Decapolis, where Jesus' second feeding miracle took place.

In both miracles, what was left over?
Fragments of bread (as well as fish - see Mark 6:42).

What did Jesus refer to Himself as?
“I am the bread of life,” (John 6:35 below) as well as the "Word" of God (John 1:1)

And is there any difference in the types of baskets in which the left over fragments were collected?
As a matter of fact, there is. The Greek word translated "baskets" in John 6:13 is kophinos, meaning little wicker baskets, while the word translated, "large baskets" in Mark 8:8 is spuris, meaning the much bigger, duffel bag-sized baskets.

So putting it all together, what could the baskets of bread represent?
The "bread of life" - "Word" of God - satisfying the initial hearers, and then being carried to all nations - Jews and Gentiles - by those who were fed, and the bigger baskets for the gentiles alluding to their greater numbers.

By the way, how would you compare Philip and Andrew’s answers to Jesus’ question in John 6:5?
Philip looked at the task and gave up (John 6:7). Andrew was a bit better (John 6:8).

But who is the unsung hero in the first feeding miracle?
The boy.

Do you think Andrew stole the kid's meal or forced it out of his hands?
No, the kid most likely gave it up voluntarily.

And did he give a part of his meal or the whole thing?
The whole thing.

What lesson is there for us?
If you want to serve God, hand everything you have over to Him - your time, body, skills, etc., and ask Him to do with them as He pleases - and then watch Him to do things beyond your imagination.

By the way, do you think the kid went away hungry?
The "they” in John 6:12 includes the kid, who got to eat as much as he could.

Could Jesus have fed the crowd if the boy hadn't volunteered his meal?
Of course. He created the universe with just His words. Jesus doesn't need anyone to work His will. When He has us play a part in His work, it's a blessing and a favor from Him to us, not vice versa.

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