How can a multitude be fed with such little food and be content?
Why are fish throughout the Bible? They represent the fecundity, the multiplication of life but specifically the wealth of new ideas with the possibility of increase. Jesus taught about the realm of spiritual ideas, the inexhaustible abundance both above and below (on earth, the material, as it is in heaven, the spiritual). Passages of Jesus and others eating fish symbolize the appropriation of ideas, they were talking about the mental level, not the physical. Jesus did not attract a multitude that was hungry for food, they were hungry for his words of wisdom, his new ideas. How often have you gone to a church service seeking real food?
Loaves and bread represent spiritual substance (Bethelehem in Hebrew means maker of bread), food for the soul. Any real food eaten is consumed and gone by the next day, but ideas and wisdom of spiritual substance are with you for a lifetime. The multitudes came and heard new ideas, ideas of deep wisdom and spiritual meaning (substance), and were thus blessed and content.
For many, this story increases their agnosticism and skepticism, for others, yet another physical miracle; it’s because many do not understand symbolism, metaphors, or parables. It is for this reason that most (the masses hence the term Mass) are told to just take it on faith, and not to question; unfortunately they may never really understand. Jesus was not a magician and did not need to dazzle people; these stories have another meaning. Even Jesus’ disciples asked, “Master, why do you so often speak in parables.” The reply was that the truly spiritual, those with pure intentions, honestly seeking God, would understand the true meaning.