Matthew 14:1-36 - Outline of Matthew (Book Notes menu page)
14:1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,
14:2 And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist;
he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.
14:3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him,
and put [him] in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.
14:4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.
14:5 And when he would have put him to death,
he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
14:6 But when Herod's birthday was kept,
the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.
14:7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
14:8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said,
Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.
14:9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake,
and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded [it] to be given [her].
14:10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.
14:11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel:
and she brought [it] to her mother.
14:12 And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
Herod- ie., Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great (see Notes at Mat 2:19).
Herod's reign illustrates ''justice'' in the absence of the King of kings.-
  1. Knowledge confused by superstition (v.1,2), cp. Mark 6:14-16; Luk 9:7-9
  2. Authority wasted in debauchery and foolishness (v.3-8), cp. Mark 6:17-25
  3. Decisions directed by public opinion and peer pressure (v.5,9)
  4. Justice perverted to preserve a pretense of honor (v. 9-11), cp. Mark 6:26-29
    For his ''oath's sake,'' Herod committed murder.
the king was sorry {GK=lupeo, sorrowful, annoyed with himself}-
Did his conscience bother him? Perhaps not. He would have killed John earlier, except for political expediency (v.5). He was sorry because he had foolishly 'promised' {GK=homologeo, confessed, spoke openly before everyone} with an 'oath' {GK=horkos, from root word: herkos, fence}, he had boxed himself in. He was forced to act contrary to his best political wisdom, in order to save face.
he commanded... and... sent...- Herod's authority was unquestioned.
The executioner did his bidding
John's head... was given...- Herod had the right to give half his kingdom (as he promised in Mark 6:23).
No doubt, that offer was lustful, since it would have amounted to making the girl his queen, in place of her mother. But the head of John was not his to give. No wonder he was haunted by the thought that Jesus was John, come back from the dead.
14:13 When Jesus heard [of it], he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart:
and when the people had heard [thereof], they followed him on foot out of the cities.
When Jesus heard of it {ie., of John's murder}... - He sought a place of solitude.
As a man, Jesus must have been emotionally torn by this senseless act: the murder of his cousin, the forerunner sent by God to prepare for the Messiah's coming. Yet, He set aside His own needs, for the needs of others.
14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude,
and was moved with compassion toward them
{cp. Mat 9:36}, and he healed their sick.
14:15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying,
This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away,
that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals
{ie., food}.
...send the multitude away, that they may... buy themselves victuals...-
While Jesus had compassion on the multitude (v.14; Mark 6:34), the disciples' plan was practical.
They lacked the financial ability to provide for this crowd. See Mark 6:37; Joh 6:5-7. - A penny {GK=denarius} was a day's wage for a laborer. Two hundred pennyworth was probably all that the disciples had in their treasury. Yet, it would be insufficient.
14:16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.
14:17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.
14:18 He said, Bring them hither to me.
14:19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass,
and took the five loaves, and the two fishes,
and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake,
and gave the loaves to [his] disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
14:20 And they did all eat, and were filled:
and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.
14:21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.
Jesus - the rejected, righteous KingHerod - a king reigning in unquestioned, but corrupt authority
- was moved with compassion for others (v.14) - was moved by self-indulgence (v.3,4,6,7)
- ministered healing and nourishment to all who came to Him (v.14,20) - ministered death (v.10)
- led according to the compassionate and righteous counsel of God, 'looking up to heaven.' (v.19) - catered to the influence of subordinates in his decisions for evil, looking at popular opinion (v.5,9).
The King's agenda at this point is to prepare His disciples for His absence,
by stretching them beyond the limits of their faith, first through the Feeding of the 5,000 (v.15-21), then through His Walking on the Water (v.22-33). We also need to look beyond human wisdom and possibilities, to His authority.
The Feeding of the 5,000 - cp. Mark 6:30-44; Luk 9:10-17; Joh 6:1-14
[For a more detailed look at this event, see the Book Notes at John 6:1-14.]
Jesus involved His disciples in this miracle, to teach them...
  1. to follow His lead. He commanded them to feed the crowd (v.15,16).
  2. to understand their powerlessness and faithlessness (v.17; cp. Joh 15:5).
  3. to trust Him and obey (v.18-21).
    • Their 'little' was more than enough when committed to Him. ''Bring them hither to me.''
      To our shame, the modern Church has not learned these lessons.
    • We have spiritual bread (eg., Joh 6:35,41,51; 2Pet 1:3),
      but in our faithlessness, often we send the multitudes away to government, psychiatrists, etc...
      But only One can truly satisfy their need. Isa 55:1-4
    • Jesus still breaks the 'bread of life' for distribution to, and through, His disciples, today.
      But, there will be nothing in our vessels, unless we look continually to Him, whose compassion ought to move us. The empty and inadequate servant, who comes to Him in obedient faith, knows the joy of His endless supply.
14:22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship,
and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
14:23 And when he had sent the multitudes away,
he went up into a mountain apart to pray:
and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
straightway Jesus constrained {ie., compelled} His disciples...- This a word of urgent necessity.
  • Some who were filled with bread wanted to make Him king, on their own terms.
    Jesus, knowing that this was the desire of the disciples, may have sent them away, lest they be caught up in the fervor of this effort (Joh 6:14,15).
  • It may be that His personal need, for time alone with God, had become overwhelming,
    following a long day of ministry to others, while carrying a load of grief.
Jesus... went... to pray... alone...- He approached the Throne of Grace, in time of need.
What needs might have been on His heart?
  • His grief at Herod's murder of John.
  • His righteous anger at the injustice characteristic of a world under Satan's sway.
  • His need to displace His human sorrow, by drawing near to the Father,
    in whose Presence "there is fullness of joy." (Psa 16:11)
  • His need for the Father's hand to direct Him in His human weakness, lest He turn aside from following the Father's will.
    Perhaps, if the people were to make Him king, on their terms, He might depose corrupt leaders, like Herod, and right the wrongs of His day. How He ached to reign in righteousness. But to permanently destroy Satan's dominion, He must walk a much more difficult path, to the cross. "Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day." (Psa 25:4,5)
  • His disciples' need, to truly know and trust Him.
    In His humanity, the Lord Jesus lived a life of dependency upon His Father. He illustrated His teaching (of our dependency upon Him) by His own perfect example. Mat 11:29,30
14:24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea,
tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
14:25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
14:26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying,
It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
14:27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying,
Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
14:28 And Peter answered him and said,
Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
14:29 And he said, Come.
And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid;
and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth [his] hand, and caught him,
and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
14:32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
14:33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying,
Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
Jesus... walking on the sea - cp. Mark 6:45-52; Joh 6:15-21 (also see the Book Notes at Joh 6:15-21)
Here again, Jesus teaches that...
  • He is able to do what I cannot.
  • He will enable me to do what He bids me to do, if I will trust Him.
Here also is a picture of the believer's situation today:
  1. Jesus is in the heavenly mount, in the place of prayer,
    from where He sees us "toiling in rowing." (cp. v.23; Mark 6:47,48; Rom 8:34)
  2. His disciples toil in obedience to Him, in His absence,
    in the darkness and unrest of this sinful world, and against contrary winds of opposition.
    cp. v.22,24; Isa 54:11; Eph 4:14
       The course that Jesus had set for his disciples was a distance of about 6 miles. After 9 hours of toil in rowing, they had barely covered 3 miles. Yet, when Jesus came into their boat, they were immediately at the destination (Joh 6:15-21). Likewise, it often appears to Christian workers that our work is in vain, that no progress is being made. We cannot see what He is doing, but we can be sure that He will bring us through, and accomplish His purposes.
  3. Jesus will come again to His own, just before the night ends
    (the fourth watch was between 3 a.m. and sunrise). cp. v.25; 2Pet 1:19; Rev 22:16,20
Jesus tested their faith, in order to strengthen it.
They experienced...
  1. the fear of the unknown - comforted by His Word. v.26,27; cp. Isa 43:1,2
  2. the fear of unbelief - arrested by His Hand. v.28-31; cp. Psa 46:1-5
    • Note that although Peter's faith was small and failing, it was greater than that of the others.
      Only he was willing to step out of the boat when Jesus called. The others watched as he walked on the water... they heard as he cried out in fear and began to sink... but he felt the grasp of the unfailing hand, and knew the fellowship of walking with His Savior where no other man has gone. From a distance, the others saw what Jesus did. But Peter experienced the power of Christ in person.
    • Not only was his faith small, his prayer was short. It is the shortest prayer in the Bible.
      The power of prayer is in the One who is able to meet the need. He is moved to act, not by long or eloquent prayers, but by the desperately needy heart who cries out to Him (eg., Psa 25:17).
  3. the fear of God - evoked by His Person. v.32,33; cp. Mark 4:41; Psa 25:1-5; 107:23-32
    'Truly, You are the Son of God.'
    Although this is the testimony of the Holy Spirit, in the Scriptures, and in His words and mighty works... the nation could not see this truth, which was slowly dawning upon His disciples. We, too, must know for certain who He is. Only then will we worship and serve Him as we ought. Titus 2:11-14
14:34 And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret.
14:35 And when the men of that place had knowledge of him,
they sent out into all that country round about,
and brought unto him all that were diseased;
14:36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment:
and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.
the land of Gennesaret - is the same region as 'the country of the Gergesenes,' in Mat 8:28-34.
Why such a difference in their reception of Him, on this occasion? cp. 8:34 with 14:35,36; Mark 6:53-56)
the men of that place... sent... and brought unto him... diseased people.-
Their concern, at His previous visit, had been for hogs and their economy.
...made perfectly whole {this phrase is one word: GK=diasozo, to thoroughly deliver}
ie., By means of His touch they were thoroughly delivered from their diseases.
As the demon possessed man had been entirely released from bondage, so, Jesus set these people free from Satan's grip. cp. Luk 13:12,16; Psa 103:2-4; 124:7; Isa 42:6,7
  • Herod had power to destroy, but not to make whole, for Herod himself was a slave to sin and death.
  • Jesus "saves to the uttermost," for the authority of the Son of God is untainted by unrighteousness, and is undergirded by the power of an endless life. Heb 7:25-27

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