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Commentary on Matthew 15:32-39 by Dr. Knox Chamblin

THE FEEDING ITSELF. 15:32-39.

A. Parallels with 14:13-21.

We may note the following common features. On their significance, see comments on 14:13-21.

1. Jesus' provision.

a. Jesus both heals and feeds members of the crowd.

b. The food is provided in an emergency.

c. Bread and fish are multiplied.

d. On each occasion, "they all ate and were satisfied" (the Greek of 14:20a is identical to that of 15:37a).

2. Jesus' appeal.

a. Jesus shows compassion for the people. (In 14:14, his compassion is immediately associated with his healing ministry; in 15:32, with his feeding the people.)

b. Jesus ministers to the crowd through the disciples.

c. The three aspects of Jesus' "visible parable" are again present.

B. The Distinctiveness of the Present Passage.

The most notable difference between the two passages, is that Jesus here ministers to Gentiles. His compassion provides just as lavishly for them as it had for the Jews. His Jewish followers (here represented by the disciples) are therefore, in obedience to his example and command, to impart the Kingdom's blessings of the Gentiles (cf. 28:19). In doing so, they may count on Jesus to supply the power needed to multiply their resources (15:33-36). The threefold lesson of the loaves is meant for Gentiles just as surely as for Jews.

Some consider that the difference between the Jewish setting of the first story and the Gentile setting of the second, is heightened by the Evangelists' choice of numbers. See the interesting (but to my mind, largely fanciful) discussion in Alan Richardson, The Miracle Stories of the Gospels, 97-98.

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