The apprentices, now called apostles, returned from their mission trips to report back to Jesus. They told him about all that they had done and taught. Things were kind of hectic at that moment because there were lots of people coming and going. No one even had time to eat. So, Jesus said to the apostles, "Let's go find some alone time in a secluded place. You guys need some rest." And they left by boat so they could get to a place where there were no other people.
However, as groupies are inclined to do, they stalked Jesus. People from everywhere somehow figured out where he was going and rushed to the secluded spot. Jesus and his apprentices had been taking their leisurely time getting to the retreat site, so when they arrived there was a large crowd assembled. Instead of exasperation Jesus looked out over them and saw how lost they appeared -- like scattered sheep without a shepherd. He felt compassion toward them and instead of lashing out at them for stalking him, he started to teach them. And he didn't just throw them a few token nuggets of truth; he covered much of his curriculum -- speaking until late in the day.
Eventually the apprentices approached him and pointed out the time and that the people didn't have food with him. "Given the isolation of this place," they said, "perhaps you should dismiss the class so they have time to go buy some food in the villages or from the farmers in the countryside. They're going to need to eat."
Jesus replied to the apprentices, "You should give them something to eat."
Continuing to think very practically, and forgetting that Jesus had already sent them out on a successful mission trip, they answered, "It would take us eight months worth of wages to buy enough bread to give them each just a taste!"
"Well," Jesus matter-of-factly replied, "find out how much bread they already have."
They returned shortly with an answer, "There are five loaves of bread and two fish."
He gave the apprentices dining instructions, telling them to seat everyone in banquet style groups out on the green grass.
So, they sat in groups of between 50 and 100 people.
Then Jesus took the five loaves and two fish into his hands, looked up toward heaven, and blessed the food. He proceeded to break the loaves into pieces; which he gave to the apprentices to distribute to the hungry people. In like manner Jesus had them dish out the two fish.
Nobody went hungry. And at the end they collected 12 baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 people participated in the banquet.
THE COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE
30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. 31 Many people were coming and going, so there was no time to eat. He said to the apostles, “Come by yourselves to a secluded place and rest for a while.” 32 They departed in a boat by themselves for a deserted place.
33 Many people saw them leaving and recognized them, so they ran ahead from all the cities and arrived before them. 34 When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he began to teach them many things.
35 Late in the day, his disciples came to him and said, “This is an isolated place, and it’s already late in the day. 36 Send them away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy something to eat for themselves.”
37 He replied, “You give them something to eat.”
But they said to him, “Should we go off and buy bread worth almost eight months’ pay and give it to them to eat?”
38 He said to them, “How much bread do you have? Take a look.”
After checking, they said, “Five loaves of bread and two fish.”
39 He directed the disciples to seat all the people in groups as though they were having a banquet on the green grass. 40 They sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them, broke the loaves into pieces, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 Everyone ate until they were full. 43 They filled twelve baskets with the leftover pieces of bread and fish. 44 About five thousand had eaten.