There is only one miracle that appears in all four Gospels – the feeding of the multitude in the wilderness. It appears in two different versions in the first two Gospels, so you could say this miracle appears six times in all. Nothing else Jesus does features as prominently. It’s reasonable to assume that this was very important to the early followers of the Way.
We tend to imagine that in a time of military occupation, the people of Israel were looking for a messiah that would deliver them from that bondage – but we don’t remember what sign they imagined would signal that the Messiah had come. Reading the literature of that time, the defining sign of the true Messiah was the return of the Manna, the food that God provided for the people in the wilderness.
This feeding of a multitude, on a mountain, in a lonely place from the simple meal of a poor boy, signals clearly to the people of the time precisely who Jesus is, though they misunderstand the implications. After demonstrating that evening, following the miracle, that his advent means much more than they imagined, he begins to teach them about the true bread and what it means for the community he is gathering.
It’s striking that it’s the poor who provide what is necessary (we know this because barley bread was the food of the poor in those days). There’s a profound spiritual lesson here – beyond the sign and the teaching.