The Mystery of the 12 Baskets

And they did all eat, and were filled: 
and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.  

Matthew 14:20

This is one of the more popular stories on the miracles of Jesus Christ.  Even today, when we see symbolisms of bread and fish, we are reminded of God’s abundant blessings which connects to the miracle of feeding the 5000.  While we have heard about this story time and time again, there are still some elements which leads to more questions. Say for example, what was the meaning of the 12 baskets which were left over?  Why did The Gospels specifically have to mention this?

In my job as a Christian Counsellor, you’d be surprised on how many people ask me about this particular story (as if I can interpret everything in The Bible). There was a time when I would just point to the infinitude of God and His love for the 12 tribes of Israel but I am personally not satisfied with this superficial message.  There has got to be something there that The Lord wanted us to see. And so, I asked The Lord for a deeper revelation of the 12 baskets and here is what came out of it.


I am posting this so in the future I can just refer people to this page when asked about The 12 Baskets.  It is important to note that what you read here are simply my interpretations and that I do not claim to say that these are “Gospel Truths”.  I also will NEVER EVER claim that my interpretations are true while others are wrong. However, I sincerely believe that these are revealed to me by The Word; I am super open to your possible objections and disagreements (or contributions for that matter).  Lastly, I have to remind everyone reading that the one writing this is heavily biased by the lenses of psychology. As a psychologist, I see and interpret my world through this discipline in which I was trained and immersed in for almost 20 years (it is close to a hammer seeing everything as nails). I am almost a victim of this mode of thinking and perception, that I WILL see and interpret things psychologically as The Lord intended.  Please keep these in mind while considering my attempts at interpreting these extremely holy stuff.

Interpreting The 12 Baskets

I love verses that unlocks the meaning of other verses.  While inquiring about the 12 baskets, I was led to this verse:

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much,
and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
Luke 16:10

I love this verse because it shows Jesus Christ establishing the validity of personality theories.  Theories of Personality posits that people’s behaviours are consistent and stable, such that when one is a nice person at home, they are predicted to be a nice person when it comes to their friends or their colleagues at work.  The Lord Jesus is showing us that a person who cheats in small matters will also cheat in larger matters.

As with all stories in The Bible, especially those that came from Jesus Christ, these stories are meant to provide revelations about God.  The story of the prodigal son was about The Father, The Good Shepherd was about Him, The lost coin was about The Holy Spirit. That’s what Scripture is all about, it is revelations about God.  In this case, by using the same rules, The 12 Baskets were meant to reveal something about God. Luke 16:10 is Jesus telling us: “study the small behaviours and you will understand the bigger picture”.  Had Jesus Christ been a wasteful man, then all of us should be nervous. For if He had no trouble discarding these useless leftovers, then He wouldn’t look twice on sinners and those that are least in His Kingdom. But thank God for the illustration of the 12 baskets!

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:26

In Matthew 6, The Lord Jesus is telling us that if God is good to birds, then He will definitely be good to us.  If He is good to the lost sheep, the missing coin, and the prodigal son, then He will treat you and me in the same way!

The 12 baskets of left over doesn’t just show Jesus’ infinite and omnipotent power as The Provider.  It also shows His love and care to the very least of us. Jesus is telling us to study the consistency of His behaviours, and this is how he treats left overs!  If He “saves” mere fishes and breads which were no longer needed and no one else wanted (leftovers), then we are assured that He is to save everyone of us from the lost sheep, the lost coin, the prodigal son, to the left over crumbs.

It doesn’t really matter if you see yourself as a bread crumb, a rotten fish, or a champion of the faith.  It is the goodness, the love, and the grace of The Lord Jesus Christ that saves us.