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BBLE STUDY on the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The movement in Matthew of the rejection of Jesus as King and His conflict with the religious rulers continues. This chapter reveals that events are moving to a crisis. John the Baptist is slain on the stupid excuse that Herod must keep his oath. This is an obvious act of antagonism toward Light and Right which shall eventually lay wicked hands on Jesus. Jesus withdraws in order not to force the wicked hand of Herod, for the hour of Jesus has not yet come.
In chapter 14 we see the story of two Kings: “King” Herod and “King Jesus.” The first third of the chapter is about “King” Herod. The last two thirds is about King Jesus.
Herod wanted the title “king” from the Roman government but never got it, while Jesus is a TRUE King, nobody was willing to give Him that title.
This particular Herod went down in history as one of the most immoral and despicable people who ever lived. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herod_the_Great
Jesus as our TRUE King used His power in love and service.
Why did Matthew spend so much time on the story of King Herod? I think that
Matthew wanted to show the tremendous difference between Herod and Jesus. There may be other possible reasons as well: #1. Maybe Matthew was angry at the injustice of how Herod treated John the Baptist. #2. Maybe Matthew just wanted to tell the story of how John the Baptist died. #3. When John died, Jesus went into seclusion. Maybe it was all one big preface as to what was to come.
Chapter 14 is also the story of the “Feeding of the 5,000” and “Jesus walking on the water”. The feeding of the five thousand is certainly the most important of the miracles of Jesus if we are to judge by the attention given to it by the Gospel writers. It is the only miracle recorded by all the Gospel writers (Mat.14:21; Mk.6:44; Lk.9:14; Jn.6:10).
The last story in this chapter is “Jesus walking on the water”.
The forerunner of the Lord Jesus, John the Baptist, is beheaded by Herod. Jesus withdraws but is followed by the multitude; He feeds the five thousand and sends His disciples over the sea into a storm, then walks on the water to them.
The Murder Of John The Baptist (Matthew 14:1-12)
Matthew 14:1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, (KJV)
At that time Herod the tetrarch . . . not Herod the Great, who reigned when Christ was born, and who slew the infants of Bethlehem, but his son. And although Herod is called a "tetrarch" here, he is in Mark called a king (Mk.6:14). The reason he was called a "tetrarch" was because his father Herod divided his large kingdom into four parts, and bequeathed them to his sons. The word "tetrarch" signifying one that has a "fourth" part of government. The "time" referred to, was after the death of John the Baptist; when Christ had been in many places, preaching and working miracles, and His sending forth the twelve apostles to preach and work miracles; which might serve all the more to spread the fame of Christ, and which reached the court of Herod; who, it is said here,
Heard of the fame of Jesus . . . how He was such a great preacher, and what mighty miracles were done by Him.
Matthew 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. (KJV)
And said unto his servants . . . meaning those in his household, with whom he was more familiarly with.
This is John the Baptist . . . to these he expressed his fears, that it might be true what was said by the people, and he was ready to believe it himself, that John had risen from the dead. Mark adds: "whom I have beheaded" (Mk.6:16). It seems that the guilt of that murder arose mightily in his mind, lay heavy on him, and filled him with horror and many fears.
He is risen from the dead . . . which if Herod were a Sadducee, as he is thought by some to be, by comparing Matthew 16:6 and Mark 8:15, it directly opposed his former feelings, and was extracted from him by his guilty conscience. He now had fears, where before he did not believe in the resurrection. Now what he fears, he announces, saying that John was raised from the dead, to give proof of his innocence, and to revenge Herod’s death on him. Poor Herod was really scared!
And therefore mighty works do show themselves in him . . . although John did no miracles in his lifetime, yet, according to a vulgar notion, that after death men are endued with a greater power, Herod thought this to be the case; or that he was possessed of greater power, on purpose to punish him for the murder of him; and that these miracles which were wrought by him, were convincing proofs of the truth of his resurrection, and of what he was able to do to him, and what he might righteously expect from him. If this sounds superstitious to you, you are right. It is superstitious, BUT it is NOT the superstition of the Bible, or Jesus, or His apostles, or the superstition of Christianity. It is the wrong belief of Herod and other ignorant people of that day. What about today? How many people do you know that follow the horoscope and astrology charts? What about yoga? The religions of the Orient have a tremendous influence in our modern culture. The human race is in general very superstitious, and the moment you stray from the Word of God, you become superstitious. How can intelligent people become so involved in the devil’s workshop? http://www.worldlychaos.org/w_c_yoga.1.htm
The Person of Jesus, and the ministry, could not “not see” the king on the throne. Herod was a drunken, depraved, debased, weak man, and he was a killer. He had already murdered John, the forerunner of Christ, and he was prepared to murder the Lord Jesus Himself.
The following verses are part of the flashback describing the circumstances surrounding the death of John the Baptist.
Matthew 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. (KJV)
For Herod had laid hold on John . . . by his servants, whom he sent to apprehend Jesus.
And bound him . . . tied him in chains, as if he were a criminal.
And put him in prison . . . in the castle of Machaerus.
For Herodias's sake . . . who was angry with Herod, had a bitter quarrel with him, and by whose instigation all this was done. She was
His brother Philip's wife . . . Philip and this Herod were both sons of Herod the Great, but not by the same mother. It says that Herod had laid hold on John . . . it was a past action. Herod had imprisoned John "for Herodias' sake." See how Herod was influenced by others. Here it is by Herodias, and later, it will be by others. He was motivated like a politician. Everything he did was to gain the approval of others.
Matthew 14:4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. (KJV)
For John said unto him . . . John had heard of this incestuous marriage, went to Herod, and reproved him to his face. Luke says, "for all the evils he had done" (Lk.3:19). Herod was a very wicked man, and guilty of many cruel and scandalous crimes. John, by rebuking Herod, showed his zeal for holiness, his hatred of sin, his courage and faithfulness in reproving such a great man.
It is not lawful for thee to have her . . . being forbidden (Lev.18:16). John the Baptist had spoken out against Herod's immoral behavior . . . John was not a good politician! The remarkable lack of prejudice and fearlessness of John are here shown. John had rebuked the sins of the common people, and of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Mat.3:7), who had no civil power in their hands, but when Herod, who was living in adultery with his brother's wife, and who had the power of life and death in his hand, came to hear him, the question would naturally come to the people . . . “Will he rebuke Herod, as he has rebuked us.” To their surprise, John did rebuke them! The result was to be expected . . . John lost his liberty and eventually his life. NO servant of God is worthy to stand before the people and call them to repentance, and then turn their back on sin in high places and expect the respect of persons.
Matthew 14:5 And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. (KJV)
And when he would have put him to death . . . Herod apprehended John and put him into prison because he was aggravated by John’s rebuking him, and Herod was motivated by Herodias, who was greatly incensed and enraged, and would have killed him herself, but she was hindered by Herod. Although he could away his life, yet with the fearing of the terror of his conscience, and the reverence and respect he had for John, as a good man; and especially for the reason given next, he did not do it, for
He feared the multitude . . . Herod did NOT fear God, he feared the multitude of people that attended John's ministry, and were baptized by him, and became his disciples. He feared the majority of the people, the whole body of the Jewish nation. So it is, that God is often pleased to restrain the wickedness of rulers, by the fear of their subjects.
Because they counted him as a prophet . . . most of the people thought John to be a holy and good man, and who was sent by God. They respected him as such, believing he was a true prophet, and treated him with honor and reverence. Because of this, Herod was afraid to take away his life, because the people would rise up against him and riot. Josephus speaks of him as a good man; who stirred up the Jews to the practice of virtue, especially piety and justice; which made the common people fond of him and his doctrine; and who were of opinion, that the defeat of Herod's army, which followed the death of John, was a just judgment of God upon him for it. See what Josephus says: http://life.liegeman.org/historymaker/extern3.html
Matthew 14:6 But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. (KJV)
But when Herod's birthday was kept . . . (Mk.6:21) the birthdays of princes (rulers), both of their coming into the world, and accession to the throne of government, were kept by the Gentiles; as by the Egyptians (Gen.40:20), and by the Persians, Romans and other nations, but not by the Jews, for they considered that to be the feasts of idolaters.
The daughter of Herodias danced before them . . . the daughter of Herodias of the adulteress, danced before all the guests invited to the feast. Music and dancing were common at such entertainments; they were the common additions ot a feast.
And pleased Herod . . . Mark adds, "and them that sat with him". The pleasure Herod had did not come just from the respect and honor shown to him at his birthday, by her appearing with so much joyfulness on this occasion. Herod had taken her father's wife from him, and defiled her mother; yet she danced willingly for Herod, and from the gestures and motions of the lady dancing; gave wonderful satisfaction and delight to Herod and the whole company. There are only TWO birthdays mentioned in the Bible, and BOTH are associated with murder! (Gen.40:20; Mat.14:6; Mk.6:21).
Matthew 14:7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. (KJV)
Whereupon he promised with an oath . . . because her fine dancing gave such pleasure to the whole court: he promised . . .
To give her whatsoever she would ask . . . then repeating it, he confirmed it with an oath. Mark says, that he would give it her, even "to the half of his kingdom". . . a way of speaking used by rulers, when they give full power to persons to ask what they will of them, no matter how great (Esther 5:3,6). A very stupid promise, and a rash oath, made upon only a fine dance. It must have been some dance!
Matthew 14:8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. (KJV)
And she being before instructed of her mother . . . Mark says, "she went forth" to her mother immediately, as soon as she had received the king's promise, and took her advice of what she should ask. Herodias did not hesitate, she told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist, and accordingly she went in, "straightway with haste unto the king" (Mk.6:25), being urged and hurried by her mother, who was very eager to satisfy her revenge on John. She said,
Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger . . . how gross! She asks Herod for John's head to be brought to her in a large platter, that her mother might be sure of his death. Mother and daughter seem to be very much alike, both for lasciviousness, revenge, and cruelty. Some say that the daughter of Herodias, walked over a river which was frozen in the winter season, the ice broke, and she fell in, and the pieces of ice cut off her head. IF this is so, the law of retaliation, was righteously executed on her.
Matthew 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. (KJV)
And the king was sorry . . . even though John had rebuked him; Herod had a respect for him; partly because his conscience dictating to him that it was evil, and would leave a brand of unending disgrace upon him; also because of the people, who were so much affected by John, for fear they should rebel against him; and too, because it was considered an bad omen with the Romans, to take away life on that same day that they were born; and therefore carefully abstained, on such days, from executions.
Nevertheless for his oath's sake . . . because of his oath, so he would not be guilty of perjury, Herod chose to commit murder. Even though it would have been no sin in his eyes to have acted contrary to his rash promise and wicked oath; which would have been better to have been broken, than kept.
And them which sat with him at meat . . . Herod was NOT concerned about the murder he was about to commit, he just did not want to look bad in front of his guests, lest he should be thought by them fickle and not a man of his word, and who had no regard to an oath. Too, it could have been he wanted to the favor of Herodias, or out great respect to the damsel, who had so well pleased them all with her dancing. We are not told WHY Herod did not do the right thing.
He commanded it to be given her . . . Herod knuckled under to his fears. He was NOT afraid of God. . . he was afraid of the people. Herod did not want to kill John the Baptist, but he gave the order so that he would not be embarrassed in front of his guests. It is SO easy to give in to the crowd and to let ourselves be pressured into doing wrong. We should never get in a situation where it would be too embarrassing to do what is right. Decide to do what is right, no matter how embarrassing or painful it may be.
Matthew 14:10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. (KJV)
And he sent . . . an executioner (Mk.6:27) to the prison where John the Baptist was, to kill him.
And beheaded John in the prison . . . NO hearing, NO trial, NO allowing John to speak for himself! John was killed where he lay.
Matthew 14:11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. (KJV)
And his head was brought in a charger. . . by the executioner that cut off John’s head, to Herod, while he and his guests were still at the table. By this, it seems, that the prison was very near; and it is not unlikely, that it was the castle of Macheerus that Herod made this entertainment in:
And given to the damsel . . .
the daughter of Herodias, who, by her mother's instigation, had asked it, and who received it out of the hands of Herod himself; or that it was delivered to her by his orders:
And she brought it to her mother . . . who had talked her into it, which, nothing could be more agreeable to her; because she could not bear the truth, and that tongue which had spoken truth. Some say that she plucked it out, and pierced it through and through with a needle. Cruel and evil woman if so.
Matthew 14:12 And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus. (KJV)
And his disciples came . . . John’s followers came to the prison where his body was left.
Took up the body and buried it . . . (Mk.6:29), this was the last act of love to their beloved master, and was done in respect and gratitude to him, and to show that they still abode by his doctrine.
And went and told Jesus . . . that their master was dead, what kind of death he suffered, and how it was brought about; and how that they had interred him; and what Herod also had said of Jesus, that He was John risen from the dead. Their coming to Christ, and informing Hm of all this, show, that they were taught by their master to respect Him as the Messiah, and believe in Him, and adhere to Him; and it is very likely that they continued with Him. The sadistic, sad and sordid account of what took place in that day reveals the type of society that existed then. John the Baptist was beheaded, and his head was given to the dancing girl on a platter! Human nature has NOT changed much. Lust and murder are still a large part of contemporary society today.
Jesus Withdraws (Matthew 14:13-14)
The Lord withdrew because He knew that Herod's fear would break out into a frenzy and cause him to do something rash. The Lord Jesus knew this man and wanted to avoid an incident because His hour had not yet come.
Matthew 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. (KJV)
When Jesus heard of it . . . of the death of John, and of the cruel manner of his death, and mainly, that Jesus’ fame had reached the court of Herod, and that He was talked of there, and said by Herod himself to be John the Baptist, that was risen from the dead;
He departed thence by ship, into a desert place apart . . . to avoid Herod, NOT because of fear of death; but because His time was not yet come. This may teach us, that it is right and proper to shun dangers, when there is a chance to do so; which may be done, without betraying Truth, or sacrificing a good conscience. Mark and Luke, give another reason of this departure of Christ's, saying that Christ judged it proper they should retire for some refreshment and rest. . . . At about the same time that John's disciples brought Jesus the news of their master's death, Christ's apostles returned to Him, with the account of the success of their ministry. They might not only be weary, and want refreshment, but be discouraged in their minds, at this instance of cruelty; so the Lord thought it necessary to retire, partly for His own safety, and partly for their ease; and that He might have an chance to fortify their minds against all trials and persecutions they were to meet with. The place from where He departed was either Capernaum, his own country and city, or Nazareth, where He had been lately. The place where He went, was "a desert place"; and as Luke says, "belonging to the city called Bethsaida" (Lk.9:10), the city of Andrew and Peter, which lay on the other side of the sea of Galilee, or Tiberias; over which He went by ship (Jn.6:1).
And when the people had heard thereof . . . of His departure, and where He went,
They followed him on foot out of their cities . . . such as Nazareth, Capernaum, Tiberias and others; and passing the bridge at Jordan, they went faster than the ship, and got there before them, as Mark states (Mk.6:33). This showed their great affection and zeal for Christ, and their diligence in being with Him.
Matthew 14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. (KJV)
And Jesus went forth . . . out of the ship, the company having gotten there before He landed.
And saw a great multitude . . . about five thousand men, beside women and children (verse 21).
And was moved with compassion toward them . . . partly because there were so many and had great bodily infirmities, and partly on account of the bad situation they were in, through lack of spiritual shepherds to feed them with the bread of life. Mark gives this as the reason, moving his compassion, "because they were as sheep, not having a shepherd" (Mk.6:34), all which shows the true nature Christ Jesus, and proves Him to be a merciful High Priest, and One truly concerned for both the bodies and souls of men.
And he healed their sick . . . which they brought along with them. He healed without the use of any medicine, just by speaking. The former phrase gives proof of His humanity, but also confirms His divinity. Not only did He heal their bodies, but He taught them the doctrines of the Gospel; and spoke to them about the Kingdom of God, for the good of their souls.
Jesus Feeds The Hungry (Matthew 14:15-21)
Matthew 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. (KJV)
And when it was evening . . . Mark says, "when the day was now far spent"; and Luke, "when the day began to wear away". The Jews had two evenings; one began when the sun declined at noon, and the other when the sun set. It seems it was the first of these, and not the latter, that was now come; for after this, we read of another evening that was come (verse 23). It was between which two evenings that Christ made the multitude to sit down, and He fed them in a miraculous manner; and the disciples reason for the demission of the multitude, that they might go into the neighboring villages, and buy provisions, shows that it could not be the last, but the first of these evenings, that is here meant.
His disciples came to him . . . the twelve, whom He had left in that part of the desert He retired to.
Saying, this is a desert place . . . no food available, no stores nearby.
And the time is now past . . . the normal dinner time was past, which, with the Jews, was the fifth hour of the day, about eleven o'clock with us, or at furthest the sixth hour, which, with us, is twelve at noon. But supposing the usual time of dinner to be, at the latest, the sixth hour, or twelve o'clock, this time must be gone, since the first evening was started; so that the reasoning of the disciples is very just.
Send the multitude away . . . Christ Jesus was preaching to them, the disciples ask that He stop His discourse, and dismiss the people.
That they may go into the villages and buy themselves victuals . . . the little towns which lay nearest the desert, where they might be supplied with suitable provisions.
Matthew 14:16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. (KJV)
But Jesus said unto them . . . to the apostles,
They need not depart . . . meaning He who was with them, had power to provide a sufficient meal for them, as well as speaking a word, to heal their diseases. But, to try their faith, and make way for the working of the following miracle, He says to them,
Give ye them to eat . . . what would you have thought? What would you have said, and done?
Matthew 14:17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. (KJV)
And they say unto him . . . they were trying to show the impossibility of feeding such a large number of people, with what they had on hand.
We have here but five loaves . . . this was barley loaves, coarse bread;
And two fishes . . . small ones, which were dried and salted, which they either brought along with them for their own food, or possibly were brought there by a boy to sell, as was usual where a great gathering of people were. These words seem to be spoken by Andrew, Simon Peter's brother; who added, "but what are they among so many?" (Jn.6:8-9), not for a moment considering the power of Christ, who was able to multiply, and make this provision sufficient for the whole company.
Matthew 14:18 He said, Bring them hither to me. (KJV)
He said, Bring them hither to me . . . this He said, to try their faith in Him, their obedience to Him, and their kindness to others: and in reality, the best way to have an increase of temporal supplies, is to bring what we have, and put it into Christ's Hands! The loaves and the fishes would be sufficient, for He would make them so.
Matthew 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. (KJV)
And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass . . . the multitude was commanded to sit down by Christ, which, without His orders, they would not have done. The disciples were instructed to place them in companies of hundreds and fifties, that their number might be the better taken, and the food more orderly distributed by the apostles.
And took the five loaves and the two fishes . . . into His hands, lifted them up, that they might be seen by people; that they be fully convinced of the miracle that was going to be done by Him.
And looking up to heaven . . . to His Father in Heaven, Who is the Father of Mercies (2 Cor.1:3), and from whom every mercy and blessing of life comes; and giving thanks to Him for the food, as was always done by Him,
He blessed . . . the five loaves and the two fishes;
And brake . . . the loaves, and divided the fishes;
And gave the loaves . . . and the fishes too,
To the disciples, and the disciples to the multitude . . . the disciples were the ministers and servants of Christ, employed by Him in this manner, for the more orderly and quick dispatch of the food. This was a symbol of their spiritual work: who received all their spiritual food from Christ, which they then distributed to the churches, and fed them with.
Matthew 14:20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. (KJV)
And they did all eat . . .Christ Jesus, His twelve apostles and the five thousand men, plus the women and children . . . of the five loaves and two fishes. Everyone had their portion,
And were filled . . . they were satisfied, they had a full meal, they had plenty, with some to spare (2 Chron.31:10). The Jews did not consider it a meal, unless a man was filled, and believed it an bad sign if nothing was left. But, here there was fullness, more left than was started with, which was gathered up, either for the use of the poor, or reserved for after service. This teaches us charity to the needy, and frugality, NOT to waste that which is left. SO much waste today! John 6:12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. (KJV)
And they took up of the fragments that remained, twelve baskets full . . . twelve, according to the number of the apostles, every apostle had his basket full. It may be asked, where did they get so many baskets in the wilderness? I do not know. But, the fragments (left-overs) were gathered up, so "that nothing be lost" (Jn.6:12), but also to show more remarkably the extent of the miracle. For the quantity of fragments left after five thousand persons, plus, had been fed was MUCH greater than the entire quantity they had to start with! The increase occurred by the instantaneous restoration of the size of the loaf, as each man broke off a peace more than sufficient for himself. So in reality, the miracle was witnessed by each and every one of the five thousand, and it was really resolved into 5000 repetitions of the same miracle. This was the most surprising miracle that the people had yet witnessed.
Matthew 14:21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children. (KJV)
And they that had eaten were about five thousand men . . . the word "about" is omitted in some versions, which clearly tells us that there were many, a very large number to be fed with five barley loaves and two little fishes!
Besides women and children . . . only the men were counted. The women and children were not taken into the account, even though they all ate, and they too were filled.
Jesus Walks On The Water (Matthew 14:22-36)
As soon as the multitude was fed, Jesus sent His disciples to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, and He went to pray. From the setting we already see Jesus as a man of prayer (verse 23). Rather than staying to reap the political benefits of His miracle, Jesus retires to pray, which, is SO unlike political advancement. Prayer is central to His mission and His life (Jn.6:15). We also learn that the fact that disciples face difficult situations does not mean that Jesus is not the One who sent us.
Matthew 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. (KJV)
And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples . . . straightway means right away, as soon as He had performed the above miracle, and perceived that the people were convinced by it, of His being the Messiah, that they were determined to set Him up for a temporal King, to deliver them from the Roman yoke, which they did not doubt that He was able to do, who could feed so large a number, with such a small quantity of provision (Jn.6:14-15). He also knew that His apostles had the same notion of a temporal kingdom. Because of this, He hurried them away, compelled them to depart, lest they take any step which might be dangerous to them and the people. Christ Jesus was forced to use His power and authority; and ordered them promptly
To get into a ship . . . probably the same they came over in;
And to go before him unto the other side . . . of the lake of Tiberias or sea of Galilee, over against Bethsaida, to Capernaum, or the land of Gennesaret.
While he sent the multitudes away . . . who would not so easily have departed, if Christ had not first shipped off His apostles, for He had withdrawn Himself, and left His disciples with them. How could He slip through that multitude? My answer is, His time had not yet come, so the Father made the way possible.
Matthew 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. (KJV)
And when he had sent the multitudes away . . . He had ordered them to go away, but it seems according to (Jn.6:22), that they all did not go away. A large body of them continued there all night, expecting His return; in which being disappointed, they took shipping, and came to Capernaum.
He went up into a mountain apart to pray . . . maybe the same one He went up to before, and from where He came down (Jn.6:3). Where ever it was, this He chose as a proper place for prayer, where He could retire and be alone, to have His thoughts free, and, as Man, pour out His soul to His Father, on His own account, and on the behalf of others.
And when evening was come . . . when it was now dark (Jn.6:17), when the second evening was come and gone (verse 15), and it was now night,
He was there alone . . . in the mountain, where He continued the greatest part of the night, until the fourth watch.
Christ Jesus, LORD of the Sea
By providing food for the multitude, Jesus shows Himself greater than any human magician ever empowered by the devil, who could supposedly heal some one or turn some stones into bread. At the very least, Jesus was a Prophet like unto Moses or Elisha (Mat.14:13-21; Ex. 16:14-18; 2 Kings 4:42-44). BUT . . . by walking on the sea, Jesus takes on a role that the Hebrew Bible had reserved for God alone (Job 9:5-8; Ps.29:10; 77:19; Hab.3:15;). But, as in an earlier storm scene, Matthew wants to teach us not only “Christology” but also about the crucial and necessary faith for disciples (Mat.8:26). Of all the apostles, only Peter has the courage to attempt to walk on the water, but Jesus regards his faith as less than what any disciple should have. For more on Christology, see: http://www.gotquestions.org/Christology.html
Matthew 14:24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. (KJV)
But the ship was now in the midst of the sea . . . meaning the ship in which the apostles were in, to go on the other side, had by this time gotten into the middle of the sea: some versions say, it was "many furlongs from land"; and another "about twenty five furlongs", which seems to be taken from (Jn.6:19). But this was not all, it was not only this distance from land, but was
Tossed with waves . . . up and down, round and round, and in great danger of being upset, and the passengers lost.
For the wind was against them . . . the wind beat the waves with much violence, that they were in the utmost danger of their lives, and not able to move forward; and what was worst of all, and most discouraging to the apostles, Christ Jesus was not with them. The ship which the apostles were in, was a symbol of the church, and of its state and condition in this world. This world is like a sea, for its size and the abundance of nations and people in it, compared to many waters (Rev.17:15), and for the chaotic actions of its inhabitants. The wicked are like a troubled sea, which cannot rest, continually casting up the mire and dirt of sin, to the dishonor of God, and the grief of His people; and for its inconsistency and infidelity. Constant changes and war continue in it. The church is like that ship in this troubled sea; where the TRUE disciples and followers of Christ are gathered together; and are preserved from the pollutions of the world, and from the danger to which the people of it are exposed. The wicked are deep in their sins, and liable to the wrath and curse of God and eternal damnation (Jn.3:18-19); while the righteous, those that are in Christ, and members of His Body, are secure from. The port or haven to which they are bound, is Heaven and eternal happiness! Christ's Father's house, has many mansions provided for them; and where they long to be, and hope, and believe, they shall arrive unto. Their hope is as an anchor of their soul, sure and steadfast . . . but in the mean time, while they are sailing through the sea of this world, they are often tossed about with tempests, and not comforted (Isa.55:11), with the tempests of Satan's temptations, the storms of the world's persecutions, and with the winds of error and false doctrine. The life of a TRUE “Christian” is NOT easy, and some times is it most uncomfortable to them, when Christ is not with them, which was the case of the apostles here.
Matthew 14:25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. (KJV)
And in the fourth watch of the night . . . according to the Jews, there are four watches in the night, and four watches in the day. The first watch began at six o'clock in the evening, and lasted till nine; the second began at nine, and ended at twelve, which was midnight; the third began at twelve, and closed at three; the fourth began at three, and ended at six in the morning. It was within this period, probably at the beginning of it, after three o'clock in the morning, that Christ came to His apostles, when they had been almost all the night at sea, tossed about with the waves, and in great danger.
Jesus went unto them . . . from the mountain where He had been praying most of the night, to the sea side, and so went upon the waters to them.
Walking upon the sea . . . just as easily as walking on dry land, even though it was in the midst of a great storm. His apostles, though in the ship, were in the utmost danger, yet He upon the waves, was in none at all. I think this shows that He indeed is the Lord of the sea, and that He is truly God. Job rightly stated that His character is, that He "treadeth upon the waves of the sea" (Job 9:8).
Matthew 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. (KJV)
And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea . . . it being near morning, and possibly there was some moon light; they were able to see something like a man, walking upon the surface of the sea, but they did not have enough light to decide what, or who it was; and too, they had no thought of Christ, or expected to see Him; so the appearance of a Man walking upon the waters was so astonishing and extraordinary,
They were troubled, saying it is a spirit . . . they may have thought it was a demon in human form.
And they cried out for fear . . . as persons in the utmost alarm, in the greatest danger, and in want of help. The fear of spirits comes from their superiority to men in power and strength; from the enmity there is between men and evil spirits; and from a general notion of their doing hurt and mischief . . . so, demons are called by the Jews, "hurtful" or "hurting".
Matthew 14:27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. (KJV)
But straightway Jesus spake unto them . . . straightway means right away, the very moment that they cried out, as One truly affected by their problem, and concerned for their welfare. He called out loudly to them, trying not to scare them any more than they already were.
Saying, Be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid . . . take heart, do not be afraid. It is I. You have nothing to fear from the storm and tempest in which you are. I will deliver you; for it is I, your Master, Saviour, and Redeemer. It is I Who is able to save you, and I have come for that reason. Christ Jesus can at times, be very near His people, and they just do not know Him; just as the Lord was in the place where Jacob was, and he knew it not (Gen.28:16); and as Christ was standing by Mary Magdalene at the sepulchre, and she thought that He was the gardener (Jn.20:14-15). It is for a lack of knowledge of Christ in His Person, offices and grace, that people have wrong thoughts of Him, and are filled with dread and fears. Unbelievers have no interest in Him; say that He might be a Saviour, but not to them; because their sins are so many and so great, that He could never be willing to receive such vile sinners as they are . . . but when Christ makes Himself known unto them, as the able and very willing Saviour, and the Saviour and Redeemer of ALL mankind, then instead of dreading Him as a Judge, their fears disappear, their faith increases, and they are ready to do anything He shall order them to do. They can be like Peter in the next verse, who was willing to come to Christ on the water, when he knew Who Jesus was, if Jesus would just bid him come.
Jesus' Coming Should Bring an End to Fear (Matthew 14:25-27)
If the apostles were still struggling against the winds at the fourth watch of the night, they must have been exhausted. They most likely were accustomed to awakening about 6:00 a.m., but this night, they instead found themselves still struggling to cross the lake between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m. We may blame the disciples for accepting the popular notion of ghosts, but the greatest offense here is that they still underestimate Jesus' power. It did not occur to them that He knew their problem. It did not occur to them that He would walk on water to come to them in a storm! But, we must give them credit though, their fear was gone once they recognized that their Master is with them. They knew Him well enough to know that IF He were there, He would bring them safely through that storm. This is something that we today must remember.
Matthew 14:28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. (KJV)
And Peter answered him and said . . . Peter knew Jesus’ Voice! He seems quite ready to believe it was Christ. It also seems that Peter had more courage, and was more forward than the rest of the apostles, for he spoke to Him; saying,
Lord, if it be thou . . . he was not yet fully assured yet that it was Jesus. He may still have wrong thoughts that it might be a nocturnal apparition. Satan is extremely deceitful, and can transform himself into an angel of light (2 Cor.11:14) and could put on the appearance of Christ, and mimic the voice of Christ; so Peter was not sure if it was an apparition, or really Christ . . . so he says,
Bid me come unto thee on the water . . . this expresses great love and affection for Christ, being willing to come to Him, even through the danger of the storm and tempest. Also, Peter’s strong faith in Jesus, supposing it to be He; who, he knew, was very able to support his body on the water, as He did His own. Yet with much modesty, submission and dependence; he was not willing to take one step without His command.
Matthew 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. (KJV)
And he said, Come . . . this Jesus said, partly to assure them all Who He was; for had Jesus denied Peter, he and the others might have concluded, it was NOT Jesus; and partly to acclaim Peter’s love, and confirm his faith, by giving a further example of His power, in enabling Peter to walk upon the water, as he did:
And when Peter was come down out of the ship . . . as soon as Peter was sure that it was the Lord, and he had Jesus’ command to “Come” . . . he immediately stepped out of the boat.
He walked on the water . . . Peter DID walk on the water! But NOT very far. Christ walked on the water by His own power as God. Peter walked on the water by the power of Christ.
To go to Jesus . . . I really think that Peter dearly loved Jesus, and wanted to be with Him. Some say that Peter failed to walk on the water. They are wrong! This states very clearly that He walked on the water. The Bible says that Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus. That is not failure! Peter asked a huge thing of God. No wonder God used him in such a wonderful way during the days that followed. No wonder he was chosen to preach the sermon on the Day of Pentecost.
Matthew 14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. (KJV)
But when he saw the wind boisterous . . . the winds were exceedingly strong, blowing hard against poor Peter. The waves rose up and beat upon him with great violence.
He was afraid . . . Peter was human. Peter was afraid! Even though Jesus was very close to him, Peter was afraid. Peter had had such an example of Christ Jesus’ power in holding him up and causing him to walk on the waters thus far; which shows us that his faith was not perfect.
And beginning to sink . . . because of fear, and the violence of the wind and waves, just as he was ready to sink, and go down to the bottom of the sea,
He cried . . . fear of the danger, Peter cried out with great anxiety,
Saying, Lord, save me . . . save me or I shall certainly perish. Peter still had some faith left, for he knew only the Lord could save him.
Matthew 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? (KJV)
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand . . . at that very moment, Jesus reached for Peter. Peter needed immediate assistance, and Christ readily gave it; He reached out His hand at once, for He was right beside Peter.
And caught him . . . as Peter started to sink, Jesus lifted him up, and set him on his feet again upon the water, which enabled Peter to walk with Him to the ship; but NOT without Jesus reproving Peter for the weakness of his faith.
And said unto him, O thou of little faith . . . Jesus does NOT say: O thou unbeliever! or, O thou who hast no faith! Because Peter DID have some faith, although it was small or weak. See: Matthew 6:30.
Wherefore didst thou doubt? . . . Peter’s faith wavered (Heb.10:23; Jam.1:6). Peter’s faith fluctuated between faith and fear. He needed reproof, since he had had the order of Christ to come to Him upon the water; and experienced His power in supporting him thus far. Peter's problem was that he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the rolling waves. We are in a world today where we see the waves rolling all around us, and this is exactly when we need to keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ.
KEEP YOUR EYES ON CHRIST
If your eyes are on our precious Lord,
Things go better when you have discord.
Keep your eyes on Christ; He’ll see you thru’
With His grace and mercy, O so true.
If your eyes are on heav’ly treasure,
You won’t lust, after worldly pleasure.
Things of this world, will look so dim,
If your eyes are on, the brightness of Him.
If your eyes are on God’s will alone,
All the right roads, to you will be shown.
Keep your eyes on Christ, He’ll guide you right,
Paths that He shows, are drenched with light.
If your eyes are on God’s beloved Son,
He’ll give you pow’r, to resist temptation.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, all the way,
His awesome love, makes a better day.
If your eyes are on wondrous Saviour,
Forgiveness of all your sins is sure.
Keep your eyes on Christ, He’ll justify,
But His precious Blood, you must not deny!
If your eyes are on our God of Heav’n,
Eternal life to you, by Him, is giv’n.
Keep your eyes on Christ, He’ll prepare you a place,
And some day you’ll meet Him, face to Face!
By: His servant, Connie Kramer Sept.12,1999 # 549
It is important to note that while Jesus is disappointed with Peter's inadequate faith, Peter has acted in greater faith than the other apostles, he is learning. Faith cannot be worked up by formulas or emotion, faith grows through various tests as we continue to trust our Lord and He continues to teach us. Faith grows out of a relationship with the Person of Jesus, and in no other way.
Matthew 14:32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. (KJV)
And when they were come into the ship . . . Christ Jesus and Peter. There is no doubt that Peter went with Jesus into the boat. The following result is only to be ascribed to Christ's coming into the ship, and NOT to Peter's.
The wind ceased . . . the moment Jesus stepped into the boat, the wind stopped. No more fury and violence . . . there was a perfect calm! This too is proof of the divine power of Christ, just as His walking upon the sea, He walked on the sea while the wind was blowing hard, and the waves were turbulent; He steps into the ship, and all is calm; BOTH the winds and sea obey Him, for He is Lord of both. Jesus IS God! http://www.hisservants.org/is_jesus_god_h_s.htm
Matthew 14:33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. (KJV)
Then they that were in the ship . . . some say not only the rest of the apostles, who remained in the ship, when Peter went out of it, to walk upon the sea to go to Christ . . . but also the mariners, the owners of the vessel, and their servants that managed it.
Came and worshipped him . . . they all were convinced by what they saw, that Christ Jesus must be God, and worthy of adoration.
Saying, of a truth, thou art the Son of God . . . not by creation, as angels and men are, but by nature; being of the same essence, the same perfections and the same power as God, His Father. These actions of His just now done, as well as many others, were/are clear evidence of His being God. His walking upon the sea, His causing Peter to do so also, His saving Peter from sinking, His stilling the wind and waves upon His entrance into the ship . . . all of which were observed by the apostles and mariners, brought out this confession of full confidence from them, that He was indeed a divine Person, and was worthy of praise and worship. When we recognize Jesus' works, thereby learning more of His character, the appropriate response is to praise Him, to thank Him and to worship Him. This deepens our relationship and our faith with the Lord Whom we love.
Matthew 14:34 And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. (KJV)
And when they were gone over . . . the sea of Tiberias, or Galilee;
They came into the land of Gennesaret . . . the same as Cinnereth, Chinnereth or Cinnerot (Num.34:11; Deut.3:17; Josh.11:2; 12:3; 13:27; 1 Ki.15:20). It was a place in the land of Galilee, whose fruits were large and good; and was, as Josephus says thirty furlongs long and twenty broad. Thus the saints, after a long and troublesome passage over the sea of this world, arrive, at last, safe at their desired haven, and enter upon a most delightful country.
Matthew 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; (KJV)
And when the men of the place had knowledge of him . . . not merely by report, but by face, having seen, and heard him before (Lk.5:1).
They sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased . . . this not only expresses their faith in Him, that He was able to heal all their sick and diseased, even though many. For they neither spared cost nor pains, to do good to their country; in all which, they set an example worthy of imitation.
Matthew 14:36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole. (KJV)
And besought him that they might touch the hem of his garment . . . such as the woman with the bloody issue did (Mat.9:20). This they desired, partly to show the strength of their faith in Him, that they did not doubt He could cure, if they could be admitted near His Person; and partly to signify the sense of their unworthiness, to be in another way taken notice of by Him, either by speaking to them, or putting His hands on them.
And as many as touched, were made perfectly whole . . .
Christ condescended to this their request, and perfectly cured all such of their diseases, of whatever kind they were, who, in the exercise of faith, touched the hem of His garment, the fringe He wore, in compliance with the ceremonial law (Num.15:38-39; Deut.22:12). After the storm He continued to minister to the needs of the people. We should remember that multitudes were healed in that day. We have a detailed record of only a few, but thousands were made whole by the Lord. John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. (KJV)
I think that the terror and reproach of conscience, which Herod, and other daring offenders, could not shake off (could not get rid of), are proofs and warnings of a future judgment, and the certain future misery to them. There may also be the terror of convictions, where there is no proof of conversion. When people pretend to favor the Gospel, yet live in all kinds of immorality and wickedness, we must not favor their foolish self-delusion, but must speak out against sin, as John did. The world may call our obedience to God rudeness and blind zeal, but we must only care about what God thinks of us. False professors and timid Christians, may censure it as lack of civilized conduct, but the most powerful enemies can go no further than the Lord will allow. Herod was afraid that the putting of John to death might cause a rebellion among the people, which it did not . . . but he never feared it might stir up his own conscience against him, which it did. People fear worldly punishment where they should instead fear being condemned and damned by Almighty God. Herod abundantly rewarded a worthless dance, while imprisonment and death were the reward of the man of God who sought the salvation of Herod’s soul. There had to be bitter malice against John underneath Herod’s consent, or else Herod would have found a way to be free of his promise. Any time that the under shepherds (like John the Baptist) are smitten, the sheep do not need to be scattered, because they have the Great Shepherd to go to. My dear friend, it is much better to come to Christ by want and loss, than not to come to Him at all.
Gospel of Matthew
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