What does Matthew 14:20 mean?
ESV: And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.
NIV: They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
NASB: And they all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces: twelve full baskets.
CSB: Everyone ate and was satisfied. They picked up twelve baskets full of leftover pieces.
NLT: They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers.
KJV: And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.
NKJV: So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.
Verse Commentary:
This miracle is impressive for several reasons. First, it begins with an impossible command to Jesus' closest followers. He seems to want them to understand that what He is asking them cannot be done—not by their own power or resources—and then for them to see Him do it. Lacking a clear supernatural miracle, there's no way five loaves of bread and two fish should be able to fill up thousands of people for an evening meal.

The miracle is also impressive because it replicates and adds to the miracle God did through in Elisha in 2 Kings 4:42–44 where a hundred men ate and had leftovers from 20 loaves of barley bread and some grain in a sack. What Jesus does makes that look quaint by comparison. If Elisha feeding a hundred with 20 loaves showed he had the power of God, then Jesus feeding thousands with even less food shows even more power.

Not just a little was left over. After everyone had eaten their fill, twelve full baskets of broken pieces were left over, one for each of the core disciples. The message of this miracle is both challenging and uplifting: when Christ asks us to accomplish, and give Him what little we have, He'll empower us to accomplish that task above and beyond what we could have imagined.
Verse Context:
Matthew 14:13–21 begins with Jesus and His disciples leaving behind the crowds to escape by boat to desolate place. Instead, they find the crowds waiting there for them. Jesus heals people and eventually tells the disciples to feed everyone. The disciples have no food beyond five loaves and two fish. Jesus miraculously feeds more than 5,000 from that simple meal. Twelve baskets full of leftovers remain after everyone has eaten as much as they want. This miracle is recorded in all the four Gospels (Mark 6:30–44; Luke 9:10–17; John 6:1–14).
Chapter Summary:
Matthew 14 begins with a backstory about the arrest and execution of John the Baptist by Herod the tetrarch, the Jewish ruler of the region. Jesus and the disciples take a boat to a desolate place only to find crowds waiting. Jesus heals many and then feeds as many as twenty thousand people with five loaves and two fish. Later, the disciples row against a strong wind until Jesus walks on the water to meet them and calm the wind. Peter walks on water briefly and then doubts and begins to sink. The disciples worship Jesus. On the other side of the lake, Jesus continues to heal the sick.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 13 included more of Jesus' parables and an unfortunate incident where His own hometown rejected His ministry. Chapter 14 begins with news that Herod the tetrarch—the man who killed John the Baptist—is aware of Jesus' fame and power. Jesus and the disciples intend to withdraw to somewhere desolate, but a crowd is waiting for them. Jesus heals people, miraculously feeds thousands, and walks on water. When they reach the other side, Jesus heals more people. Chapter 15 sees Jesus once again debating with His critics and performing more healings.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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