32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late.36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”
Having recently read this same account in Matthew, some things stick out. Like Jesus' compassionate response to the people. He saw them in their need and met their need. But food was not the first or primary need. He saw them as lost sheep, so He gave them teaching: He gave them hope and direction. This is what they (and people of our day) need most. He followed by meeting more immediate and physical needs, but He addressed first things first. The two went together as consistent with His compassionate character. "Give them something to eat: first the "bread of life,", then bread for the day. They will see you care, and they will remember what you say.