There are a lot of stories from the Bible that we know so well, we've forgotten what they actually say (let alone what they actually mean (assuming we ever did know that)). The Feeding of the 5000, as I told you before Final Jeopardy last night, appears in all four Gospels. The feeding of a multitude appears six times in all. We get it. Jesus did a lot with a little.
As I said yesterday, it is The Miracle of Jesus.
But what we miss, is that it happened in the midst of a whole lot of other miracles. (I'll stretch the context outside of the pericope tomorrow). Jesus, trying to find some peace and quiet, sees that the crowd has followed him, sought him out, and has compassion on them. Then, Matthew tells us, he cured their sick. The word he uses here isn't the typical word for healing (iaomai) but instead is the basis for our word "therapy" (therapeuo). The first definition of which being "to serve."
Jesus' Big Miracle of feeding, where the disciples participated by serving the crowd is precipitated by Jesus' many smaller miracles of healing, where he himself served the crowd. Maybe this is a superfluous detail, but I think it shows us something big. God does miracles in two ways.
Sometimes, he takes care of it himself. BOOM - miracle done, person healed.
Sometimes, he invites disciples to be the agents of his miracles by handing out food, teaching the forgotten, loving the unlovable, starting an IV, whatever. Sometimes big miracles happen because a lot of people listened to God and acted as his agents of change.
The Miracle in this story, the one we learn about our call to discipleship, is the feeding of the 5000, but we learn that lesson only because we know from the many other examples, that God is quite able to do it all on his own.