Only a few instances exist in which all four of the Gospels tell the same story. Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the synoptic Gospels because they are so aligned that, often they use the same words. The Gospel of John is different. John frequently reports incidents that the other three Gospels do not. One of the incidents that all four report is the feeding of the five thousand.
The miracle of the five loaves and two fishes is reported in Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:1-14.
Jesus and his Disciples had just learned that John the Baptist had been beheaded. They went across Lake Galilee to be alone. But, the people had anticipated their travel and when they arrived, a huge crowd was waiting for them.
After healing the sick and teaching about the Kingdom of God, the time had come that the people should eat. The Disciples came to Jesus and asked that he send the multitude away so that they could go into the countryside and buy food. They said, “…this place is like a desert.”
Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.” [Luke 9:13]
The Disciples, of course, began to come up with all the reasons that it was impossible for them to feed the huge crowd. They talked about the cost and finally Jesus asked them what they had to give.
John is the only one that reports the source of the food. In John 6: 8 “Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the disciples. He spoke up and said, 9. “There is a boy here who has five small loaves of barley bread and two fish. But what good is that with all these people?”
All the other Gospels just mention that the tiny amount of food was available to feed the crowd. Only John says a boy had the food.
You know the rest of the story: after blessing the food, Jesus broke the bread and divided the fish and everyone was fed and there were twelve baskets of leftovers.
The Disciples were, once more, being taught lessons. First, they were given what appeared to be an impossible task. “You give them something to eat.” Their reaction was natural. They could not do it. Notice the word, “they.” It wasn’t feasible for them to meet the needs of such a massive crowd. It was not, of course, impossible for Jesus. With Him, anything was, and is, possible.
Think about the boy John mentions. Why did he have the food with him? Was he the only person present who had enough foresight to pack a lunch?
The Apostles must’ve gone through the crowd asking if anyone had food with them. When the boy came forward, it was a generous gesture. He could have hidden his cache of food away and eaten it himself, but he chose to answer the call.
He could have said, “What I have is too little to make a difference.” Yes, and he would’ve been right if he’d tried to do it alone.
He didn’t. He placed all that he had in the hands of Jesus and The Lord made it more than enough.
When Christians are called upon to do tasks that appear impossible, they can follow the example of the unnamed boy. They can put all that they have in the hands of Christ and He will make the offering more than enough.