Read Matthew 14
John the Baptist Beheaded
14 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.
6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Jesus Walks on the Water
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
Matthew 14 begins with the death of the prominent Biblical figure John the Baptist. As we read how John the Baptist was killed, we clearly see the fear of man Herod has. He desired popularity and the opinions of others more than he feared God. When we put the desire to be liked over our desire to serve the Lord, we act on things we know are wrong. We read about how Herod wanted to kill John the Baptist, and we also read that he was distressed about following through with his oath. Herod was so concerned with the opinions of others that there was no right way out, and he gave into the pressure from others and ordered John the Baptists’ death.
Even so, We can have hope knowing John the Baptist led a faithful and righteous life. Jesus reacted by withdrawing from others and spending time with the Lord, setting a beautiful example of going to the Lord when we are experiencing something difficult. Jesus withdrew to spend time with the Lord, and instead was faced with a large crowd. Instead of sending the crowd away, Jesus poured out more of himself for them in love. This is our savior! In his own hurt and pain he chose to show compassion on others and challenge his disciples in faith. What started as mourning the death of a dear friend ended in a miraculous act of faith. Jesus showed the disciples what it looks like to give all that you have to the Lord, even if it seems small, and watch the Lord deliver. Jesus did not send his followers away, instead he gave them food until they were full. This is so true of our lives. There will never be a time we do not need Jesus. He wants to provide more for us than we knew we needed, and he wants to grow our faith and walk with us.
After the followers of Jesus were fed, we read how Jesus sent the disciples in the boat and went to pray. Prayer is important to Jesus in every season and emotion, and Jesus shows us that it is just as important to pray to the Lord after the miracle as it is to pray for blessing before the miracle. We also read that the disciples are in the middle of the Sea of Galilee during a storm, facing relentless wind and waves. The text says that Jesus approached the boat and immediately comforted the disciples. Jesus’s comfort assures the disciples that he is with them and is a solution to the problem they are facing. They were afraid of the very waves that Jesus was walking on top of. Not only is there no need to fear the storms of our life, we can have the courage to walk with Jesus because he has already won. Peter’s impulsive act of faith is a reflex we can learn from. Even though he expressed fear, he asked Jesus to challenge his faith and walk with him.
Peter successfully walked out to Jesus when he kept his eyes on him, and turned to him for help when he began to sink. Jesus was there every step of Peter’s journey onto the water. He answered Peter’s calling onto the water, immediately caught him when he began to sink, and encouraged him in his faith reassuring him there is no need to doubt after he was caught. This chapter ends with the disciples’ faith growing from Peter’s experience, and more followers of Jesus believing in the power of the Lord as they reach the shore. May we remember that the same Jesus that performed these miracles died for us and wants to bring us into deeper faith and relationship with him.
- What fear or insecurity are you putting in front of submission to the Lord’s purpose for your life?
- What is something tangible and (seemingly) small that you can submit to Jesus and his plan for my life?
- Would you have gotten out of the boat to walk towards Jesus? Why or why not?
In the Enduring Word Bible Commentary on Matthew 14, David Guzik walks through the chapter verse by verse. When speaking about Peter’s fear while walking on water toward Jesus, Guzik writes:
“There are two good reasons to put away fear. One reason may be that the problem is not nearly as bad as one had thought; perhaps you are afraid because you exaggerate the danger. The other reason is that even though the problem may be real, there is an even greater solution and help at hand.”
This is a great reminder that Jesus has already conquered our fears and circumstances. Not only do we have an eternal source of hope in whatever we are walking through, we have a person who wants to walk with us and bring us into new depths of love and relationship with him.
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