Luke said that Jesus told the apostles and disciples (εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς) to give this crowd something to eat (Δότε αὐτοῖς φαγεῖν ὑμεῖς.). However, they responded (οἱ δὲ εἶπαν) that they only had (Οὐκ εἰσὶν ἡμῖν πλεῖον) 5 loaves (ἢ ἄρτοι πέντε) and 2 fish (καὶ ἰχθύες δύο). Otherwise, they would have to go to buy (εἰ μήτι πορευθέντες ἡμεῖς ἀγοράσωμεν) some food (βρώματα) for all these people (εἰς πάντα τὸν λαὸν τοῦτον). The fact that Jesus wanted to feed everyone was recorded in all four gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:16, Mark, chapter 6:37, and John, chapter 6:5-7, plus here in Luke. Despite the fact that the disciples wanted to send the crowds home, Jesus wanted to feed them there. Mark indicated that Jesus answered his disciples, telling them to give the people something to eat. Only Mark has this response of the disciples explaining the problem of buying food. The disciples said to Jesus if they were to go to buy food, that it would cost about 200 denarii to buy enough bread for all these people to eat. A denarius was worth one day’s pay, so that that 200 denarii would be over a half year’s pay, a large amount of money. The disciples thought that Jesus wanted them to buy some bread for the crowd. In John, there was a conversation between Jesus and Philip about this. Mark indicated that Jesus told his disciples to go and see how many loaves of bread they had. Once the apostles found out, they said to Jesus that they only had 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Matthew said that despite the fact that the disciples wanted to send the crowds home, Jesus wanted to feed them there. Jesus said to his disciples that the crowds did need not to go away, because Jesus and his disciples were going to give them something to eat. The disciples replied to Jesus that they had practically no food to eat, only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. How much food do you need to eat well?
Luke indicated that Jesus said that David entered the house of God (ὡς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ Θεοῦ). He took (λαβὼν) the show bread of the Presence (καὶ τοὺς ἄρτους τῆς προθέσεως) and ate it (ἔφαγεν). He also gave some to his companions (καὶ ἔδωκεν τοῖς μετ’ αὐτοῦ). However, this was not lawful for them to eat it (οὓς οὐκ ἔξεστιν φαγεῖν), since it was only for the priests (εἰ μὴ μόνους τοὺς ἱερεῖς). Matthew, chapter 12:4, and Mark, chapter 2:26, are similar to Luke, so that perhaps Mark may be the origin of this saying of Jesus. Jesus cited the example of David in 1 Samuel, chapter 21:1-6. Luke did not mention some of the incorrect details about the high priest that were in Mark and Matthew. In 1 Samuel, David went to the Levite town of Nob, not the house of God as mentioned here. There Ahimelech was the high priest, not Abiathar as Mark and Matthew indicated. David said that he was hungry and needed bread for himself and his men. However, they only had consecrated holy bread for the sacrifices, not common bread. This showbread, the bread of the Presence, was 12 loaves or cakes of bread that was replaced weekly in the holy place in the Temple that symbolized communion with God. Either he took it or the priest then gave him the holy bread anyway. He and his companions ate the bread of the Presence or sacred Levite bread. However, it was not lawful for them to eat it, because only the Levite priests were allowed to eat this sacred bread. Thus, Jesus used this example of David to answer the Pharisees, although there are some discrepancies in this story about David.
This is the only miracle that is recorded in all four gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:20-21, Luke, chapter 9:17, and John, chapter 6:13, plus here, but there are slight differences. All agree that there were 12 baskets of food left over, symbolic of the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles. They also agree that it was about 5,000 men. Obviously, there was no exact count taken. Only Matthew added the remark about women and the children. Mark said that they took up 12 full hand baskets of the broken pieces of bread (καὶ ἦραν κλάσματα δώδεκα κοφίνων πληρώματα), and the pieces of fish (καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν ἰχθύων). Those who ate the loaves (καὶ ἦσαν οἱ φαγόντες τοὺς ἄρτους) were about 5,000 men (πεντακισχίλιοι ἄνδρες). Without a doubt, this was a very large crowd to feed.
This is the only blessing miracle that is recorded in all four gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:19, Luke, chapter 9:16, and John, chapter 6:12, plus here. The blessing of the bread and the fish is exactly the same in the synoptic gospels, but merely summarized in John. This feeding of a large group of people harkens back to the Exodus story, chapter 16:1-36, about the manna and the quails in the wilderness. Yet the blessing itself has almost a foretaste of the Eucharistic Last Supper of Jesus, when he blessed and broke the bread. Mark said that Jesus took (καὶ λαβὼν) the 5 loaves (τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους) and the 2 fish (καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας). He looked up to heaven (ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν). He blessed them (εὐλόγησεν). Then he broke up the loaves of bread into pieces (καὶ κατέκλασεν τοὺς ἄρτους). He gave the loaves of bread to his disciples (καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς). They, in turn, set the broken pieces of bread or served them to the crowd (ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν αὐτοῖς). Jesus also divided or shared the 2 fish among them all (καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας ἐμέρισεν πᾶσιν). This almost sounds like a large later distribution of Holy Communion.
This is similar to Mark, chapter 8:18-21, where the disciples responded to these questions. Jesus clearly reminded them of the two times that he had multiplied the loaves of bread. Was that not good enough for them? They did not yet seem to understand or perceive what was going on (οὔπω νοεῖτε). Did they not remember (οὐδὲ μνημονεύετε) the 5 loaves of bread for the 5,000 people (τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους τῶν πεντακισχιλίων) and all the fragments that they gathered in the hand baskets that was left over, since it had just happened in chapter 14:30-31? Did they not remember (οὐδὲ) how they had 7 loaves of bread for the 4,000 people (τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους τῶν τετρακισχιλίων) and the many big baskets of fragments were gathered of left overs (καὶ πόσας σπυρίδας ἐλάβετε), since that had just happened in chapter 15:32-38? How could they be so forgetful?
Mark, chapter 8:4, has a similar statement about the disciples questioning Jesus. The disciples of Jesus asked him (καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταί) where they would get enough loaves of bread (Πόθεν ἡμῖν ἄρτοι τοσοῦτοι) to feed or satisfy such a great crowd (ὥστε χορτάσαι ὄχλον τοσοῦτον) in the desert (ἐν ἐρημίᾳ). In the earlier feeding of the 5,000, the place was deserted, while here it is a desert or uninhabited place also.