A Skimpy Meal
The Lucan mass feeding narrative which I have been studying this week is only seven verses. It is the one miracle recorded by all four gospels. Both the Matthean and the Marcan accounts are, not only longer than Luke, but also include a second mass feeding account having no parallel in Luke.
In Luke’s account of the feeding of the 5000, we learn that Jesus not only feed the crowd but also he healed and taught them. Matthew says nothing about the crowd being instructed by Jesus. Mark says nothing about the crowd being healed. Since it is widely believed that the longer pericopes are the results of expansions by their authors, it seems that Luke being shorter is probably the more original account which formed the source for both Matthew and Mark.
The Lucan mass feeding account follows the pericope of the fundamental question raised by Herod Antipas as to the identity of Jesus. In Luke, this miracle is followed by Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ. Thus Peter answers the fundamental question and there is command that the identity remain a secret within this small group. Luke, unlike the other Gospels, has no intervening events between the miraculous feeding of the 5000 and the confession. This serves to emphasize the Lucan placement of these three pericopes that bring the Galilean ministry to an end. Luke has crafted a literary inclusio that has the effect of framing the feeding of the 5000 within Herod’s question and Peter’s confession.
 The inclusio was first noted by Joseph A. Grassi, Loaves and Fishes, the General Feeding Narratives (1991).