6:30 And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.
6:31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
6:32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.
They head out for some R&R (rest and relaxation) on the north east side of the lake near Bethsaida. The wind may have been calm or they experienced a bit of a headwind which gave those who guessed or may have even overheard their intended destination a chance to go around the head of the lake and arrive shortly before or about the same time as Jesus and the disciples. As they were going, the numbers have swelled.
6:33 And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him.
6:34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.
When Jesus stepped ashore, He could have been annoyed, instead, He recognized their need and began to minister to them.
6:35 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed:
6:36 Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.
After Jesus has been teaching for a few hours, the disciples tell Jesus that He better let these people go so that perhaps they may be able to go find some food. Jesus says, “You feed ‘em.” Actually, He is reminding them that they need to perform the duty of hospitality. The disciples probably all blanched and experienced something akin to a panic attack at this point. The mission they had been on expected them to depend on the law of hospitality and Jesus has just told them that it applies now, with and for these people. They know He has spoken accurately. Therefore, it is a wide-eyed, nervous, response that is uttered when they tell Him it would take six month’s, or more, wages to be able to pay for the food to feed all these people. Additionally the nearby villages most likely could not have accommodated this crowd. As for the food, all they have been able to come up with is one person’s lunch consisting of 5 small buns and the equivalent of two sardines.
6:37 He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?
6:38 He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes.
6:39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.
When Jesus told them to have the people sit down the disciples, probably hesitated, thought about some of the things they have already seen Jesus do as well as what He has enabled them to do, and then they followed His instructions.
6:40 And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.
6:41 And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all.
Jesus did not distribute the food Himself. He allowed His disciples to do this. He allows and desires that we should do (Eph 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”). He’s still got this habit of allowing us to be participants in the work He does on this earth and in our fellow man. We are expected to do good works for the glory of God and the benefit of our fellow man.
6:42 And they did all eat, and were filled.
They had plenty to eat. Attempts to explain away this miracle by those who harbor disbelief in their heart are completely inadequate. If Jesus really was who He claimed to be then the miracle presents no difficulties whatsoever. God had promised that when the true shepherd came the dessert would become a rich pasture where the sheep would be gathered and fed (Ezekiel 34:23-31), and here the Messiah feasts with followers in the desert (Isaiah 25:6-9). Jesus is the Shepherd who provides for all our needs so that we lack nothing (Psalm 23:1). The Holy One Called Isa
–Pastor Ward Clinton