This event occurred when the Twelve returned from their mission trip. Jesus took them to Bethsaida, evidently with the intent of listening to what they had done and having time with them. However, the crowds learned where they were and followed them. (10)
Jesus did not tell them to go away because he and the Twelve had things to do. Instead, he welcomed them. (11) He taught them about the kingdom of God. He healed the sick. He did this all day long.
At the end of the day, The Twelve told Jesus to send the crowd away for food and lodging. (12) The reason for this is not given. It may be that the Twelve wanted to call it a day, so they wanted Jesus to wrap it up. In the alternative, they may have been concerned for people who had been there all day and would have to travel home in the dark with no food and no place along the way to stay. Jesus did not go along with their idea. Instead, he commanded the apostles to give the crowd something to eat. They canvassed the crowed for food and came up with only five loaves of bread and two fish. Evidently, this was a kid’s sack lunch. They also brought up the idea of getting take out, going and buying food. They surely did not have enough money for that, since there were about five thousand men there, along with a number of women and children.
The apostles were trying to obey Jesus. But they only went about it in practical, physical ways. They tried to find food in the crowd. They suggested an alternative, although an untenable one. They did not look beyond the practical. They also did not think about the lesson they had just learned on their mission trip: that God will provide for those who preach and minister in his name.
Jesus, on the other hand, took what the disciples had and multiplied it into enough to feed the crowd. He also made enough leftovers to have 12 baskets, no doubt one for each of the Twelve who were still limited in their thinking.
God had miraculously provided food to his people before this. He fed the Israelites in the desert with manna and quail. (Exodus 16-18)
The Lord also fed 100 prophets who followed Elisha with 20 loaves of barley and some grain from a man’s sack. (2 Kings 4:42) These events, along with Jesus feeding the five thousand, are things only God could do.
These events also show us Jesus’ compassion for people. He was not willing to send them away angry. He was not willing to make them fend for themselves.
It also shows us something of the nature and character of the Father. Jesus revealed the Father to us. John 1:18 says “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known”.
As Jesus had compassion on the crowds and met their physical needs, so the Father cares for us, has compassion for us and provides for our physical needs. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast or anxieties on God because he cares for us.
Rest in that.