The apostles returned to Jesus from their preaching tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they didn’t have time to eat, Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”
So they left by boat for a solitary region, but many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns to get there ahead of them. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he was filled with compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them about many different subjects.
Late in the afternoon his disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the nearby farms and villages and buy something to eat.”
“You give them something to eat,” said Jesus.
“With what?” they asked. “We’d have to work for months to earn enough money to buy food for all these people!”
“How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”
They came back and reported, “We have five loaves of bread and two fish.”
Then Jesus told the disciples to make the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of fifty and a hundred.
Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and gave thanks. Then he gave the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share. Everyone ate as much as they wanted and, afterwards, the disciples gathered up twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish. (The total number of men who were fed was five thousand.)
Following this, Jesus instructed his disciples to get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he remained on the shore to dismiss the people. Then, when everyone had gone, he went up into the hills to pray.
Later that night, when the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he alone on land, Jesus could see the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Then, just before it was dawn, he went out to them, walking on the lake. He intended to pass by them, but when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they all cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost.
Jesus immediately spoke to them.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “It’s me” Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples were completely amazed, for they didn’t understand the significance of what Jesus had done with the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.
When they had crossed the lake, they anchored at Gennesaret. The people on land recognized Jesus at once, and they ran throughout the whole region, carrying sick people on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went—in the villages, the towns, or the countryside—they brought the sick into the marketplaces. They begged Jesus to let the sick touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.