While illustrating the miraculous feeding of the 5000 and the feeding of the 4000 recorded in Matthew 14:15-15:36, I discovered a treasure of references "to chew on" between the feedings regarding eating and bread.
Jesus miraculously feeds 5000 men, not including the women and children, with just two fish and five loaves of bread. In the middle of the night Jesus walks out on the water to His disciples struggling in the wave-tossed boat, eventually causing the wind to cease. When they reached the other side, immediately the people brought their sick begging Jesus to touch just the tassel of his rob, and all who did were healed.
According to my "Harmony of the Gospels" it's this crowd who Jesus teaches, "I AM the Bread of Life" (John 6:22-71). They want a sign from Jesus in order to believe Him, like the miracle of manna, bread from heaven, which they received from Moses. Jesus assures them that Moses didn't give them the bread from heaven, but His Father; saying, "For the bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I give for the life of the world is My flesh."
Scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem observing some of Jesus' disciples eating their bread with unwashed hands, question Jesus, accusing them of transgressing and violating the rules handed down by the elders of the past, that of not washing their hands before they eat. Jesus reprimands the Scribes and Pharisees for transgressing and violating the commandment of God. Did you catch that? The Pharisees argue about the commandments of men. Jesus brings up their violations of breaking the commandment of God, that of not honoring your father and mother for the sake of the rules handed down by men, calling the Scribes and Pharisees hypocrites and blind guides.
Jesus explains to His disciples the obvious: that which is eaten goes into the stomach is then eliminated. But, "from out of the heart come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, lewdness, stinginess, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. These are the things that defiled a man; but eating with unwashed hands does not defiled a man."
Next, Jesus is approached by a Canaanite woman begging Him to heal of her demon possessed daughter. They have a conversation where Jesus asks her, "Is it right to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs?" Her answer causes Jesus to commend her great faith and He heals her daughter.
Are you seeing this picture? Jesus reprimands the Jewish religious leaders calling them hypocrites, yet commends a non-Jewish woman as having great faith and blesses her.
The Pharisees accuse Jesus. The woman believes Jesus.
Jesus has pity on the 4000 who remain. Repeating the last miraculous feeding them with just seven loaves and a few fish, the scripture says, "And they all ate and were satisfied."
I believe Jesus is saying: it's not about when or how you wash your hands (man's traditions handed down), or the bread that was multiplied (the actual miracles that filled their stomachs), it’s about Jesus Himself.
It's all about Him. He is whom we seek. He gives life.
The struggle is exactly the same today.
Do we ignore God’s commandments for the sake of man's rules?
Or do we believe God and receive His Life-giving Bread, Jesus, and live?
This is just a paraphrase of the story, where the Holy Spirit caused me to notice the various mentions of bread while illustrating in my Bible, along with the challenge to live a life pleasing to Jesus. I do not negate the vast teachings these passages have to offer, and I encourage you to read the text in its entirety found in Matthew 14:15-15:36, Mark 6:30-7:30 to discover what the Holy Spirit can teach you personally.