About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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ch. 14:1-12    ch. 14:13-21    ch. 14:22-36

John The Baptist Beheaded (ch. 14:1 - 12)


In verses 1 and 2 we see that Herod, the Roman governor heard about Jesus and the miracles he was performing.  So by now the news of Jesus had spread well beyond the Jewish world into the Roman world.  Herod was the one that beheaded John the Baptist. 


According to Matthew, Herod believed that Jesus was really John the Baptist who had been raised from the dead.  If this was his thinking, he might well have felt some fear over hearing about Jesus.


In verses 3 to  5 Matthew begins to retell the story of John the Baptist and his relationship with Herod.  John was imprisoned because on more than one occasion he told Herod publicly that  he should not have taken his brother’s wife to be his wife.  His brother was named Philip and his brother’s wife was name Herodias.  For this Herod wanted to kill John but feared the masses of people who accepted his preaching.


The story continues in verses 6 through 11.  It was Herod’s birthday party and his daughter was dancing before a large crowd of guests.  This was often the custom in Roman society.  Women dancers would dance before the men that would be visually and sexually pleasing for these men.  Everyone enjoyed Herod’s daughter as she danced, so much so that Herod promised to give her whatever she asked of him. 


Now Herod was the Roman governor and what he said went.  His word meant something.  He actually gave an official oath to provide for his daughter whatever she requested.  He could not change his mind.


Herodias heard of the request and she spoke to Herod’s daughter and told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.  When the daughter came to Herod with this request, he was greatly displeased, but he had made an oath and could not change his mind.  He had John killed and his head was delivered to the daughter who proceeded to give it to Herodias.  


John’s disciples took the rest of John’s body to be buried.


You could well understand that when Herod heard of Jesus and the miracles, why he might think that it was John that he had beheaded.  This being the case, and Herod being displeased with the request to kill John, you might well believe that Herod was afraid at this moment in his life. 


From what Matthew says in this passage Herodias appears to be a very self-centered and conniving person.  I don’t believe her relationship with Herod was based on true love, but more of an opportunity to have a life of prestige.  It also appears that her daughter was much like her.          


Jesus Feeds The Five Thousand (ch. 14:13 - 21)


In verse 13 we see that when Jesus heard of John being executed He “withdrew Himself to a solitary place”.  This suggests to me that Jesus was deeply effected upon hearing that John had been killed.  We don’t have any record of Jesus visiting John in prison.  We don’t have any record that Jesus had any contact with John after John baptized Him.  It is apparent that Jesus felt bad about John’s earthly destiny, yet on the other hand He would have known the eternal reward that John would receive for being the obedient servant of God that He was. 


We don’t know if Jesus had any time alone to reflect upon John’s death.  He might well have had some time alone but the verse continues to tell us that the crowds knew where He was and so they gathered by Him.  Jesus needing the time alone, most likely didn’t get much of this needed time.  The crowds were always following Him. The sad fact is that they were more interested in what they could get from Him instead of what they could give to Him.


In verse 14 we note that even though Jesus wanted to be alone, when He saw the crowd and all the sick people waiting for Him, He still had “compassion on them and healed their sick”.  Once again, we see Jesus healing the sick, and as discussed before, the healing was based on His compassion, not the faith of those wanting to be healed.  The motives of those wanting to be healed weren’t necessarily motives based on peoples love for Jesus, but their hope that this miracle worker could do a miracle for them.


In verse 15 some disciples came to Jesus to suggest that He now send the crowd away because this was “a remote place” and there was nothing here to feed the people.  So it’s pretty clear that wherever this remote place where Jesus went to be alone was pretty remote, but the crowds followed Him anyway.  By now Jesus had gained a great reputation among the people, something that upset the Jewish leadership.  Jesus was now being seen as a superstar to the ordinary person. This was a major threat to their leadership.


Jesus’ response in verse 16 was surprising to the disciples as it would be to us.  He simply told the disciples that they should feed these people. That was not a very practical answer in the eyes of the disciples.  Yet it might well have been a practical answer in the eyes of Jesus, because this might well have been a test of trust for them.


In verse 17 we see that the disciples only had 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.  That should have made it clear to Jesus that His idea was far from practical.


In verse 18 Jesus told the disciples to bring the loaves and fish to Him.  Can you imagine what the disciples thought as they brought 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to Jesus so He could feed a crowd of 5,000 plus people?


Verse 19 tells us that Jesus received these loaves and fish from the disciples and gave thanks to His Father and then broke the loaves and fish into pieces and gave the pieces to the disciples, then the disciples proceeded to distribute what they received from Jesus to the crowd.


Verse 20 tells us that the whole crowd ate the food and had enough to eat so that they were no longer hungry.  After everyone had eaten there were 12 baskets of food left over, more than what they had started with. 


This would suggest to me that each of the Twelve were there passing out food, and each had a basket, and each had a basket full of food left over.  It might well have been enough food for them to eat for themselves.


Verse 21 says that the number of men in that crowd was about 5,000.  Beyond that, there were also women and children.  There could have easily been 50,000 or more people in that crowd.  You can easily see why the Jewish leadership felt threatened by Jesus’ popularity.


Jesus Walks On Water (ch. 14:22 - 36)


In verses 22 and 23 we see Jesus telling His disciples to leave and cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee .  You will notice that Jesus often crosses the Sea of Galilee from one side to the other and back again throughout His three year ministry.  Most of His ministry took place around the shore of the Sea of Galilee .  As the disciples left, Jesus dismissed the crowd and went off to be alone. Jesus needed these times alone with His Father for strength and encouragement. We should note that if Jesus needed such time alone with His Father, how much more should we need this time.


In verse 24 we see Jesus sitting on a hillside all alone while the disciples were in the boat experiencing a bad storm.  Did Jesus know that He was sending His followers out into a bad storm?  He probably did, but once again, part of life living with Jesus is experiencing the tests that He puts us through.


In verse 25 Jesus gets up from the hillside location and proceeds to the shore of the Sea and then walks on the water out to where the disciples’ boat was.  We know from the last verse that when on the hillside, Jesus was a considerable distance from the boat.  This was probably quite a walk in a bad storm.


In verse 26 Jesus approached the boat.  The disciples were probably afraid enough from the storm, but Matthew says that great fear came on them when they saw Jesus walking on the water because they had concluded that they saw a ghost.  They did not recognize that it was really Jesus coming their way.


Jesus knew their fear, as He knows all things, and in verse 27 He tells the disciples to take courage and not to be afraid because it was Him approaching them. 


In verse 28 Peter comes up with a brilliant idea.  This is typical Peter.  He wanted proof that it was really Jesus walking on the water.  So Thomas was not the only doubter among the Twelve.  So in verse 29 Jesus tells Peter to come to Him.


Now at times Peter was quite impulsive, not thinking of doing something until after he had already begun to do it. I’m sure this event was a mixture of recklessness and faith.  If Peter had have had total trust that it was Jesus, he would not have asked if it was Jesus in the first place.  Peter was willing to step out of the boat, partly due to his personality and partly due to the fact that he felt this might well have been Jesus and Jesus would not let him down.


In verse 30 Peter takes his eyes off Jesus.  He sees the wind around him and second guesses himself and begins to sink.  Then he cries out to Jesus for help.  This often happens when we second guess what we believe we’ve heard from the Lord.  If we know that Jesus has spoken and has asked us to do something, we should go ahead and do it and not think twice about it after we begin the task.


In verse 31 Jesus reaches out and catches Peter as he began to fall. Jesus then asks Peter why he had such little faith, and why he began to doubt.  Peter began to doubt when in his heart and mind, the storm became bigger than Jesus.  When Peter focused on the storm, he lost all courage and Jesus faded from his sight. 


We all go through storms of life.  The question is, “will we allow the storm to take hold of our lives or will we follow Jesus through the storm?  This walk on the water for Peter tested his trust in Jesus.  His trust was found to be weak. 


At the sight of all of this, in verse 33 we see that the others in the boat “worshipped Jesus” because of what they just saw.  This was a very emotional time for these men.  One moment they were in great fear and the next they saw Jesus walking on the water and Peter trying to walk on the water too. No wonder they worshipped Jesus.  They worshipped Him as being the Son of God.  Who else could Jesus have been?


In verse 34 to the end of the chapter we see Jesus and the disciples on the other side of the Sea of Galilee .  When people heard that Jesus was their, everyone came from all over, and especially those who were sick.  They felt that they just needed to touch the edge of Jesus’ clothing and they’d be healed.  Matthew tells us that everyone who touched Jesus was healed.  So once again, we see that Jesus did not turn anyone away who wanted to be physically healed.  Yet as we saw in the last chapter, even though many people got healed, not all had real faith in Jesus. 

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