Twelve Baskets

Why twelve baskets?

Twelve Baskets
John 6:8-12 Jesus Feeds 5000

John 6:13 Twelve Baskets

John 6:14 Prophet Like Moses
JOHN 6:13  13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves that were left over by those who had eaten.

How many baskets will filled by the left over pieces of the bread?
“Twelve” (John 6:13).

Is there a significance to the left over bread filling twelve baskets?
It isn't explicit but there is, as there is with many numbers in the Bible. Grasping the significance of the “twelve” baskets requires knowing about Jesus' 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 home, they will faint on the way, for some of them have come from afar.” 4 And His disciples answered Him, “How can anyone satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?” 5 Then 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 and kept giving 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 pieces. 9 And 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 west of the Sea of Galilee in a Jewish region, the feeding miracle recorded in Mark took place in “Decapolis” (Mark 7:31), which is southeast 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” (Mark 8:8) 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 gentile nations that God told Moses He would cast out of 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” (Mark 7:31), where Jesus' second feeding miracle took place as recorded in Mark 8:1-9 above.

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

As what did Jesus refer to Himself?
I am the bread of life (John 6:35), 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 pieces were collected?
κοφινους (kophinous), the original Greek word translated “baskets” in John 6:13, means little baskets, while σπυριδας (spuridas), the word translated “large baskets” in Mark 8:8, means much bigger, duffel bag-sized baskets.

So, 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.

Who is the unsung hero in the feeding miracle in the Jewish region?
The “boy” (John 6:9, see Jesus feeds 5000) who gave up his meal.

Do you think the meal was forced out of his hands?
The boy most likely gave it voluntarily.

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

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

Do you think the boy went away hungry?
The “they” (John 6:12) includes the boy, 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.