Then I discovered something else. Both accounts were described in the Gospel of Matthew in two consecutive chapters, with a summary to follow. (That eliminates the issue of discrepancy since Matthew is intentionally describing two similar but separate incidents).
The first is recorded in Matthew 14. The second in Matthew 15. The summary of both in Matthew 16.
In Matthew 14 we read about 5000 hungry men, in addition to women and children, that Jesus fed with 5 loaves and two fish.
In Matthew 15 there is a similar situation. Crowds clamoring after Jesus are in danger of fainting for lack of food. Water doesn’t seem to be a problem, probably because they were following Jesus along the lake shore of Galilee. This time there are 4000 men, besides women and children who are down to 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish.
When Jesus tells his disciples he doesn’t want to send the crowds away to get food for fear that they will collapse along the way, his disciples say, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?” (15:33).
Seems like such a strange question to be asked by disciples who had already seen Jesus feed 5000+ with a few ” crumbs and minnows”.
Then in the very next chapter Matthew tells us that, in yet another situation, the disciples once again find themselves without bread, even for themselves. This time Jesus warns them about the leaven of the religious leaders. They reason among themselves that he must be concerned about their failure to bring food. And the Lord says,
“O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? 9 “Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? 10 “Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? 11 “How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? — but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (16:8-11)
Now this is really something. Matthew obviously isn’t seeing a discrepancy. He’s describing separate, similar, loosely related incidents.
So now, I’m wondering… How could the disciples who had just seen Jesus feed thousands act like they don’t know where the food is going to come from the next time they are faced with the same problem?
What do you think we are supposed to take from this?