Seventeens in Scripture (11)

The gospel of Mark records two occasions when Jesus fed thousands of people by multiplying loaves and fish. Between those two events, several incidents are recorded which refer in different ways to ‘bread’. These incidents include:

  • Jesus walking on the water and calming the storm which ends with a thought about bread
  • Jesus confronting the Pharisees over their attitude towards the way his disciples ate bread
  • Jesus indulging in repartee about bread with a woman who had come to ask him to cast a demon out of her daughter.

This so-called ‘Bread Portion’ of Mark’s gospel contains—you guessed it!—seventeen references to bread all up.

The Bread Portion ~ Mark 6:33–8:10

  1. Mark 6:36—Send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves bread.
  2. Mark 6:37—But He answered them,  ‘You give them bread!’
  3. Mark 6:37—And they said to Him, ‘Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?’
  4. Mark 6:38—And He said to them, ‘How many loaves do you have ? Go look!’
  5. Mark 6:41— And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven…
  6. Mark 6:41— He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them.
  7. Mark 6:43— …they picked up twelve full baskets of leftover broken bread, and also of the fish.
  8. Mark 6: 44—There were five thousand men who ate the loaves.
  9. Mark 6:51–52 —Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished,  for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.
  10. Mark 7:1–2—The Pharisees…had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed.
  11. Mark 7:5—The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, ‘Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?’
  12. Mark 7:27—And He was saying to her, ‘Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’
  13. Mark 7:28—But she answered and said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.’
  14. Mark 8:4—His disciples answered, ‘But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?’
  15. Mark 8:5—‘How many loaves do you have?’ Jesus asked. ‘Seven,’ they replied.
  16. Mark 8:6—He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so.
  17. Mark 8:8—The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of leftover broken bread.


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