Matthew 14

Thursday Evening Bible Study

December 21, 2006


We’ve been in a section filled with Jesus teaching, teaching in parables.

We now move into a section telling us more of the history of Jesus’ ministry.

Matthew 14

:1-12 John Beheaded

:1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus

Herod – this is not the same Herod who had the babies killed during the time of Jesus’ birth, that fellow was known as “Herod the Great”.  This is Herod Antipas, who ruled from 4 BC to 39 AD.  He was the son of Herod the Great and brother of Archelaus.

:2 and said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him."

Herod starts hearing stories about this fellow Jesus.  Herod has known John the Baptist.  Herod had John killed.  I wonder if he isn’t feeling some guilt over what he’s done.

:3 For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife.

:4 Because John had said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her."

The family of the Herods was one super dysfunctional family.

It all starts with King Herod the Great, who had seven sons by several wives, including Herod Antipas.

Herod Antipas had first married a daughter of the king of Arabia.

Then he fell in love with his niece Herodias, who was the daughter of his half-brother, Aristobulus. Aristobulus was already dead, having been killed out of paranoia by his own father Herod the Great. Herodias was a granddaughter of Herod the Great.

Herodias was already married to her uncle, Herod’s other half-brother Philip.

Our Herod divorces his first wife and marries Herodias, who had divorced her husband Philip.


Need for light

It all sounds pretty obviously messed up to us, but not to the Herods.
In fact Herodias is upset by John suggesting that they’ve done something wrong.
By themselves, the Herods are convinced they’re doing just fine.
Our own sin blinds us.
This is why it is so important to stay in God’s Word.
We may not have a John the Baptist around to remind us of where our problems are, but God’s Word is able to shine light into our lives and help us look at ourselves correctly.

:5 And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.

:6 But when Herod's birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod.

I don’t think she danced ballet.  The dance was most likely something lewd and seductive.

:7 Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.

:8 So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, "Give me John the Baptist's head here on a platter."

:9 And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her.

:10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison.

:11 And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.

:12 Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus.


People Fearing / People Pleasing

Herod had a problem that is common to most of us – he was a people pleaser.
Herod actually liked, or rather “feared” John the Baptist.  Mark tells us that Herod felt that John was a “holy man”, and he enjoyed hearing John speak (Mark 6:20).
But Herod also liked, or “feared”, his wife.  When Herod initially had John arrested, it was to please his wife.  She had actually been his sister-in-law, but when he married her, John started confronting Herod over this sin.  The wife, Herodias, didn’t like what John was saying, so Herod had John arrested to please her (Mark 6:17-20).
Herod’s “step-daughter”, Salome, pleased Herod with her dance, so he wanted to “please” her and made the foolish promise to give her whatever she wanted (Mat. 14:7).
And now, because of the people sitting before him, people he is afraid to disappoint, he follows through on his oath to Salome (Mat. 14:9) and has John killed.
When you find yourself “fearing” people, of trying to “please” people, you will get yourself into trouble.  And you will find that you will cause a lot of trouble.
Sometimes you will find yourself “beheading” some of those very people you like.
If we are “people pleasers”, then we will find our behavior changing depending on the people we hang out with.
With Herod, he liked to listen to John.  But when he was with his wife, he was motivated to arrest John.  When he was with his crowd of friends, he was motivated to have John put to death.
You can get around this problem by just making sure you hang out with nice people – but that’s not the way God wants us to live, only hanging around nice people.
God’s desire is that we are motivated to “fear” and “please” Him.

(Mat 10:28 NKJV)  "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

He is ALWAYS around us.  The people around us may change, but our behavior stays on track because we are trying to please God, not people.

As Christians, sometimes we can even do our service for the Lord because we want to please people rather than the Lord.
It’s good to have friends that encourage you to pray and read your Bible, but you don’t want to fall into the trap of spending time with God just so that your friends won’t be disappointed in you.  You want to get to the place where you are spending time with God because it pleases God and because you find that you can’t live without Him.

:13-21 Feeding Five Thousand

:13 When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.



It seems to me that Jesus is affected by the death of John the Baptist.
There is a verse that we often use to teach about how Christians ought to feel about the death of another believer:
(1 Th 4:13 NKJV)  But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.

Sometimes we take this to think that Christians shouldn’t have any sorrow at the death of another believer.  But that’s not what Paul says.  He said that we shouldn’t have the same kind of sorrow that an unbeliever experiences.

Yes, we do have hope.  Yes we can rejoice that the person we loved is in heaven.

But we still have sorrow.  We still miss our loved one.  If we didn’t miss them, I would think something was wrong.  Perhaps we might think that feeling sorrow is a little selfish, that we’re only thinking of ourselves.  There may be some truth to that, but I’m not sure it’s wrong to feel sorrow either.

Jesus seemed to have been affected by John’s death.  Jesus even went away to be alone.

:14 And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.

I am greatly challenged by the selflessness that Jesus demonstrated here.  Even though He is experiencing sorrow, He didn’t let it keep Him from also experiencing compassion for others.

:15 When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food."

evening – the Jewish “evening” started at 3:00 p.m.

I think it is commendable that someone in the band of disciples is actually thinking ahead.  Someone is actually realizing that there is going to be a problem soon.

But the solution that’s offered is to get rid of the people.  That’s not how Jesus will want to handle the problem.

:16 But Jesus said to them, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."

:17 And they said to Him, "We have here only five loaves and two fish."

John tells us that the loaves and fish didn’t even belong to the disciples, but to a little boy (John 6).

:18 He said, "Bring them here to Me."

:19 Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes.

:20 So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.

filledchortazo – to feed with herbs, grass, hay, to fill, satisfy with food, to fatten; to fill or satisfy men.  Don’t think that the people were just being polite and each taking a teensy-weensy pinch and saying, “that’s enough”.  Don’t think of them eating as much as you get during communion.  The sense is as if the people had been to “Taco Bell”, where they guy exclaims, “I’m FULLLLLLLLL”.

:21 Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

The suggestion is that there might have been upwards of ten to fifteen thousand people who ate that afternoon.

I wonder what would have happened if the disciples had kept their mouths shut.  But they didn’t.

Jesus’ initial response was for the disciples to do something about it.


See a need, fill a need

I wonder if perhaps God will allow us to see a need because He wants us to do something about it.
Jesus didn’t let the guys off the hook by sending the people away, nor did He let them off the hook by saying, “No problem, I’ll take care of it”.
Instead, Jesus puts the problem right back in their lap.  He asks them to take care of it.
I hear all the time about things we “ought to do” as a church.
I often hear about a lot of very good ideas and some very worthy causes.  But sometimes I feel like the message to me is, “You ought to do something about this…”
There are a few times when I have enough sense to suggest to the person with the idea that they go ahead and do something about it.  But I will often hear, “I don’t know how to do that…”
I wonder if God doesn’t want to multiply what little we have, if we would just bring Him what little we do have and ask Him to bless it.


It doesn’t take much

The need seemed overwhelming.  How do you feed ten thousand people?
In the end, it really didn’t take that much to feed them, only the willingness of a little boy to give up his lunch, and the blessing of Jesus.
Don’t be quick to think that you don’t have much to offer to the Lord.
You may not have much to offer, but it doesn’t take much for God to do great things.

:22-33 Walking on Water

:22 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.

I wonder what was going through the minds of the disciples as they got into the boat. Why was Jesus making them leave without Him?  Who was going to protect Jesus from the crowds?  How was Jesus going to get back to Capernaum without a boat?

:23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.

Time to pray

Jesus needed time to pray.  He needed time to pray alone.

:24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.

:25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.

fourth watch – between 3-6 a.m.

:26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear.

:27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."

:28 And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."

:29 So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

We will often find fault with Peter because he is not too successful at walking on water.  But he at least had the courage to ask and to get out of the boat.  The other disciples just stayed in the comfort of the boat.

We often try our best to avoid failure, but the only way to never fail is to never try anything.

Show me a man who has never failed, and I’ll show you a man who has never attempted anything.

Here are the disciples in what they perceive to be a dangerous situation.  It’s bad enough being in a storm.  But getting out of the boat?  You’ve got to be kidding?

I think it takes courage in a difficult situation to step out of your safety zone and do something risky like Peter did.
It must not have been against God’s will for Peter to walk on water.  Jesus didn’t rebuke Peter for asking to walk on water.  In fact, Jesus did what Peter asked and commanded him to come.

:30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"

:31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"


Looking in the right direction

It seems that Peter began to sink when he began to look in the wrong direction.  He took his eyes off of Jesus and put them on his circumstances.
The writer of Hebrews was addressing a group of people who were going through difficult times.  The whole theme of the book is about learning to endure in rough waters.  When you get to chapter 11, we think of it as sort of a “hall of fame”, but it’s really a list of men and women who trusted God in tough times.  Then the writer encourages his readers that they are in a great race, a sort of marathon, and there’s an important tip to finishing this race well:
(Heb 12:1-3 NKJV)  Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,

The witnesses most likely refers to the men and women of faith mentioned in chapter 11.

let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,

There are things that will slow us down in the race of life, we need to be willing to lay these things aside.  When you’re trying to walk on water, you don’t want to be carrying a lot of weights.

and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, {2} looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,

Peter needed to keep his eyes on Jesus.  We need to keep our eyes on Jesus.  We need to keep spending time in His presence.  We need to keep looking to the example He set for us.

who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross,

This might mean that Jesus endured the cross because He looked forward to the joy of heaven after the resurrection.

The word “for” can also carry the idea of an exchange.  Jesus exchanged the joy of heaven He already had, in order to endure the cross.

despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. {3} For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

Look to Jesus.

:32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

This makes me think that this storm was simply a test of their faith.

When the test was over, the storm was over.

Do you look at the difficult things in your life as “tests”, as “exams”?

How are you doing with the tests in your life?  Passing or failing?

:33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God."

How do you respond to the miraculous?

The disciples have just watched Jesus walking on the water.

They just saw their buddy Peter get out, try it, fail, but be rescued by Jesus anyway.

They just saw the storm stop when Jesus got into the boat.

What does the miraculous even look like?  Is it when God does something in your life?

Has God done something in your life?  How should you respond?

I think it ought to be something like, “Oh my gosh … this was God at work!”
(Gen 28:16 NKJV)  Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it."

:34-36 Healings in Gennesaret

:34 When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret.

Gennesaret – northwest of the Sea of Galilee.

:35 And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick,

:36 and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.

hem of His garment – It could be that this was just some sort of common practice in those days, touching the hem of a famous person.  But I wonder if this wasn’t because of the woman with the flow of blood, who was healed when she touched the hem of His garment. (Mat. 9:20)

Other people are walking in the footsteps she made, following her example.

Jesus doesn’t rebuke them for being superstitious.  He heals them.


were made perfectly welldiasozo – to preserve through danger, to bring safely through; to save, i.e. cure one who is sick, bring him through; to save, keep from perishing; to save out of danger, rescue

It makes me think of what Jesus has just done for the disciples, rescued them from perishing out on the sea.

This is what Jesus does for our lives.