Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
1 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there).11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
The Demand for a Sign
1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from Heaven. 2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.
The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees
5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.” 8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Understanding what Jesus meant
When the Pharisees and Sadducees asked Jesus to show them a sign from Heaven in order to test him, Jesus saw through their hearts and said, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather today, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, you say, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”
Jesus then left them and went away. At that time, the disciples who were following him worried that they hadn’t brought any bread, but Jesus said to them, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
They discussed this among themselves and said, “He said this because we didn’t bring any bread.”
Jesus then explained about the parable that he had used, and he taught his disciples the true meaning behind his words:
You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Have you still not realized?
Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand and how many basketfuls you gathered after feeding them, or the seven loaves for the four thousand and how many basketfuls you gathered after feeding them?
Be on your guard against the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees because their teachings are like [rotting] yeast. You should be aware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:8-11)
Only then did the disciples realize that Jesus was not talking about the yeast used in bread but that he was warning them against the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees that were like rotting yeast.
The disciples realized that feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish was actually referring to preaching the Word of life to 5,000 people and filling them with grace and truth, while also pointing out about the superficial formality and teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
And having ‘twelve basketfuls’ left after feeding 5,000 people meant that after Jesus had pointed out the rotten teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees, the twelve disciples and the crowd who had heard Jesus preach the Word also came to know what the Pharisees and Sadducees were like and left their wrong teachings behind.
Be united with the Lord by knowing his Word properly
People in that time period did not trust Jesus but ostracized him instead. As a result, he could not speak to his disciples explicitly or openly but instead used parables in his teachings so that they would realize.
However, since Jesus used parables, his disciples couldn’t understand the Lord’s words, and they couldn’t realize even after seeing what he had done.
Because of this, Jesus was frustrated and remarked, “Do you still not understand what I said?” and then he spoke plainly and explicitly about what he had spoken of through parables.
In this way, when you read the Bible in detail, you can see that Jesus had to explain to his disciples in detail when they couldn’t understand his Word properly. Only then could they become united with the Lord’s Will and take action to his heart’s content.
We need to realize that considering the extreme situation of that time period, Jesus needed to speak in parables when he was unable to openly speak of things explicitly. Knowing his heart, we must always understand and know the Lord’s Word properly so that we can also take action properly in life!