A new idea struck me as I was reading this account. I have often heard this explained as the 12 baskets full were representative of the 12 tribes of Israel and the 7 baskets full which were picked up in the feeding of the 4,000 (Mark 8:1-10) were indicative of the 7 Gentile nations occupying the Promised Land. I don't discount that--as I have often heard--the Bible is like an onion--you peel off one layer to discover another underneath--but this morning the meaning seemed very simple to me. As you see in verse 31, it says "they did not even have time to eat" because of the crowds. Could it be the 12 baskets full was one way of showing how much Jesus cares for His own? He made sure there was an abundance.
One of the footnotes in the Bible I was reading said the baskets in the feeding of the 5,000 were probably the lunch baskets which were carried on their bodies as they travelled. It seems to only make sense that Jesus wanted to make certain the disciples also had food after feeding everyone else so He made sure their lunch baskets were full. This explanation seems plausible, especially when it was mentioned they hadn't "even had time to eat."
I looked at the feeding of the 4,000 to see if this idea was indicated there. I found in this story the disciples had 7 loaves of bread which they gave to be used to feed the multitude. There were 7 baskets full left over. The footnotes for this story said these were probably not the lunch baskets often used, but probably larger baskets. Isn't it just like Jesus to return more than they gave!
Both stories seem to indicate how much Jesus cares for each person. No one was left out and all received in abundance.
Isn't He a wonderful Savior?