NIV - 20 "And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?" They answered, "Seven."
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Just before the verse cited in the question, Jesus had told the apostles to beware of the "leaven" of the Pharisees and the Herodians. (Leaven, or yeast, is a fungus or bacteria used in the baking of bread to make the dough rise while being baked.) The apostles (as they often did) mistakenly thought that He was speaking literally, and that He was referring to the fact that they had brought only one loaf of bread along in the boat in which they were crossing the Sea of Galilee. However, Jesus (as HE often did) was speaking instead in metaphorical (not literal) terms, and was comparing the false teaching of the Pharisees and Herodians to yeast, because of the way in which it would "infect" those who heard or followed it, in the same way in which a little yeast would permeate an entire loaf of bread. When Jesus responded to the apostles' misunderstanding by asking them about the many baskets of "leftovers" that had been gathered when He had miraculously fed 5,000 (Mark 7:35-44) and 4,000 (Mark 8:1-9) people with just a few loaves of bread, He was trying to get them to see both that He was not speaking of bread in literal terms (as noted above), and also that they should not be concerned about such earthly matters, because He had already made it obvious that, if there were not sufficient bread, He (as God) could supply it, which He wanted them to have the faith to understand and believe.
I see it like this. The 5000 ate and that was that. They ate. Ask yourself where were foes food go when you eat? How long will it sustain you? Jesus had 7 and they had 7 after the feeding. The disciples ate, I'd assume, but also had the same number left over. Key points 1. Jesus Christ and his words could be a metaphor for the bread and fish. Spiritually people are starving. His disciples had the same bread. They had leftover bread. They could not only feed others but also sustain themselves when Christ left. 2. The numbers stayed the same both times. That seems symbolic of his disciples not only doing spreading the gospel, but also a promise that true followers of Christ are guaranteed the same persecution when we do as he did. 3. Because they had plenty from Christ, enough for later, and some to share, they didn't need false religion. Why eat tainted bread when you received Christ's bread and fish? The bread isn't only better, but Christ gives you extra. 4. The symbolism of the broken peices hit me as I was closing out. Christ already. If the bread is his body, followers don't need to let pastors lie to them about what sin really is. That's the yeast. The self defeating definition of sin. Repentance is so much better. They add to the message of Christ and consumers suffer for it. You can look at it as Christ’s message is enough. We as followers can start with the 4 gospels of Christ to spread the word. Christ filled the baskets up. No need for added ingredients. Broken down food is easy to digest also. The people who need the gospel the most need it served in a way they can ingest it safely, broken down by Christ and given freely by his followers.
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