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The Leftover Baskets of Bread and Fish in John 6

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Question:   I have a question about John 6:1-14.  I take it that this was a literal miracle as the scriptures state.  More specifically I would like to know what connection if any this may have to communion, and also the significance of the numbers 7 (5 bread 2 fish) and the number 12 (for the left over baskets that were collected).

Response:  The numbers seven and twelve are both numbers of perfection and fulfillment in scripture, e.g., the seven Genesis days of restoration (see The Seven Days of Re-Creation); and the twelve tribes of Israel into which the whole Body of Christ will one day be organized (see Israel the Ultimate Measure).  God's provision for us, however small it may seem (i.e., the five loaves and two fish, or the seven loaves in the feeding of the four thousand: Matt.15:29-39), is ever perfect and full in every way, and that is something we can always count on.  No matter how insufficient our means may appear to us, when we look back upon times of trial in our lives, we are always forced to confess that He did indeed provide for us bountifully, so much so that an abundance remained (cf. the twelve baskets remaining from the five thousand and the seven from the four thousand).  Before one assumes that the remains of the second miracle were less than those of the first, it should be noted that the word for basket is different in the two instances in Greek.  The term in John 6:1-14 and in the synoptic gospels is kophinos, a miter shaped sort of "bushel basket".  However the word used in connection with the feeding of the four thousand, spyris, indicates a larger container which was big enough at any rate to lower Paul down from the top of the wall when he escaped from Damascus (Acts 9:25). 

As to the relationship to communion, Jesus makes this connection Himself in the rest of John chapter six where He describes Himself as "the Bread of life".  The essential idea behind communion is the remembrance of Him, who He is (the bread representing His Person, His body given for us), and what He has done (the cup representing His work, His blood poured out for us [a metaphor for His death]).  He tells those listening that they must eat His body and drink His blood to be saved, and the fellowship in the divine provision of the only One through whom salvation comes is at the heart of this metaphor and of the meal and of the communion meal to come.  In all the Old Testament sacrifices, the same idea is present: by the eating of God's sacrifice on our behalf (represented there by a slain animal or a grain offering brought through the fire), we enter into fellowship with Him on the basis of what He has given to us.  Therefore our eating is a symbol of faith, of accepting what God provides, just as the thing eaten (and drunk) is a symbol of that provision (our Lord's Person and work).  And in our relationship with Him, though we consume all we want and need, there is ever an abundance remaining, welling up unto eternal life when we will forever be with Him who gave Himself up to death for us all. 

Please see also this links:

Communion and the Blood of Christ.

The Communion Ceremony outside of the local church.

The Meaning of the Communion Memorial.

In Him who bought us with His blood and who is the Bread of life, our true food and drink, Jesus Christ. 

Bob L.


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