Twelve baskets

While doing my BSF homework on Sunday I noticed something new. I was reading about Jesus feeding 5,000, and how when everyone was satisfied, the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. I had read it many times before. This time, the number of baskets in Mark 6:43 stood out: twelve.

The eager crowds had come from the towns to hear Jesus teach, but it was getting late and they were in a remote place, so the disciples said to Jesus, “Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” When Jesus replied, “You give them something to eat,” Philip said emphatically, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” In other words, “What you’re asking is impossible!”

The disciples were thinking logically, from their head. But Jesus already knew what he was going to do. Giving thanks and breaking the loaves, he passed around two fish and five loaves. The crowds ate and were satisfied. All 5,000 were full! Then the same disciples who would have sent the people away were able to fill twelve basketfuls of leftover scraps. I used to believe baskets got passed from group to group seated on the ground with instructions to pick up any food lying around, and it just so turned out to fill 12 baskets. But as I read this story on Sunday, using my sanctified imagination, I wondered if the disciples wouldn’t have each grabbed an available basket, ‘you go that way,’ ‘I’ll go this way,’ and made his way through the thinning crowds, bending over, picking up crumbs and fish,

“and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.” Mark 6:43

until all reconvened – each one surprised to find that the others held full baskets, too. For a second, the very same doubters, each one holding a miracle.

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