13 When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14 And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. 15 When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.”
16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”
18 He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 19 Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. 20 So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. 21 Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children. — Matthew 14:13-21.
The feeding of the 5000+ is the only miracle of Jesus described in all four gospel accounts (Matt. 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, and John 6).
Enough time has elapsed following the death of John the Baptist for reports of Jesus’ miracles to come back to Herod Antipas. Jesus hears about Herod’s renewed inquiries, and leaves there by boat and goes away to spend some time in a private place. The crowds, of course, follow Jesus on foot from their cities. Though Jesus wants solitude, when He sees the crowds, He has compassion on them, and He heals the sick. Jesus sacrifices his own time and comfort for the people.
In the evening, the disciples are concerned about the well-being of the crowds since they are in a fairly remote place, and it is getting late. They urge Jesus to send them away so that they may have time to get back to the villages and get something to eat. Jesus says that they do not need to go away. He challenges the disciples to feed the multitude!
The disciples reply that they have only five rounds of flatbreads and two fish (dried fish most likely). Jesus tells them to bring whatever they have to him. Jesus tells the people to sit down on the grass. He takes the bread and the fish, looks up to heaven, gives thanks, and then He breaks the bread and fish. Jesus gives these to the disciples, who distribute the food among the people; everyone eats and is satisfied. When everyone has eaten, the disciples pick up 12 baskets of the remaining fragments of food. There were 5,000 men there, besides the women and children.
Our Lord was always moved by compassion. He always healed the sick who came or were brought to him. He fed the hungry. Jesus never sent anyone away empty. He is still the same today and will remain so forever.
This miracle, as well as the others in the context, were designed to make people aware that Jesus was far more than a prophet. The miraculous works would authenticate His claims, and He claimed to be the Son of God, the King of the Jews, the LORD of all creation. The proper response would have been for people to follow Him and learn from Him. Sadly, we know from John that they started to leave Him (John 6:66).