Why were there leftovers at the feeding of the 5000?

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We know the answer don’t we? It’s obvious.  Ny providing an abundance, Jesus was demonstrating his ability to provide all that his people needed. The Twelve baskets meant that each disciple had something to take away. More than that, they symbolised the 12 tribes, so that we saw Christ’s abundant provision for his people.

However, I want to suggest that it gets better than that.  The Feeding of the Five Thousand has echoes of the Exodus.  Jesus, like Moses provides food in an isolated place. Moses gave the people manna – bread from heaven. Jesus multiplies food because he is the true bread of life from heaven. 

Now, with the manna, on normal days, you got just enough food for you and your family that day. There’s no suggestion of leftovers. So at first glance it seems that there is a difference there between the two miracles. That is until we read this:

22 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much as usual—four quarts[e] for each person instead of two. Then all the leaders of the community came and asked Moses for an explanation. 23 He told them, “This is what the Lord commanded: Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for the Lord. So bake or boil as much as you want today, and set aside what is left for tomorrow.”

On one day of the week, there was meant to be an excess, there were meant to be leftovers.  God was providing not just for today but for tomorrow. God was providing for the Sabbath Day. 

I want to suggest that by providing leftovers, Jesus was signalling his ability to provide for tomorrow as well as today. But he was also indicating the kind of tomorrow that was coming.  A Sabbath or Jubilee rest was coming for God’s people.

We learn from the Feeding of the Five Thousand not just that we can trust God to meet our needs in Christ but that he truly satisfies by giving us rest. We can rest in his promises as we learn to trust him more and more.

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