Monday, January 14, 2013

Matthew 14 - The King Withdraws

LINK: Matthew 14

95. Herod kills John the Baptist: Matthew 14:1-12, Mark 6:14-29, Luke 9:7-9

Sometimes the way I do inductive study is by asking who, what, when, where, why, and how questions of the passage. So, I will write some of my questions from this chapter:

Who was Herod? 

This is not the Herod who caused Joseph to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus in order to avoid the slaying of the baby boys around Bethlehem (Matthew 2:13-18).That was Herod the Great who ruled from 37 B.C. to 4 B.C. and was an Edomite (descendant of Esau) and hostile toward the Jews (Genesis 25:19ff). He had nine wives and would slay any one of them or one of his sons if they got in his way. 

The Herod in this event was Herod the Great's son. He was a "tetrarch" meaning that he ruled over a fourth of Palestine, including Galilee and Perea. He ruled from 4 B.C. to A.D. 39.

There are two more Herods: Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great, who imprisoned Peter and killed James (Acts 12), and Herod Agrippa who tried Paul (Acts 25:13ff).

Why did this Herod not like John the Baptist?

Leviticus 18:16 and 20:21 say that it is abhorrent to take your brother's wife. John knew Herod was wrong in taking Herodias from his half-brother, Philip I. Herod was also wrong for divorcing his wife and sending her back to her father, the king of Petra.  First, John was imprisoned in the fortress of Machaerus, east of the Dead Sea. Herod was too afraid to put him to death, but Mark 6:19 tells us that Herodias held a grudge against John. So, he was doomed. 

What was Herod's attitude toward Jesus?

He thought that Jesus was John the Baptist coming back to haunt him. So, he wanted to kill Him (Luke 13:31-32). 

What was Jesus' response to John the Baptist's death?

He withdrew to a remote place. From this time on, the focus of His ministry is His disciples (See John 6:3) because He would be leaving them soon. The crowds did follow, and He still felt compassion for them. He met their needs by feeding the 5000 and healing the sick, but the focus of His teaching would be for His disciples. 

96. Jesus feeds 5,000: Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-13

This is the only miracle recorded in all four accounts of the gospel. The book of John records this event as the fourth sign (sēmeionattesting miracle) that points to Jesus as the Messiah. It was more than 5,000 people. It was really closer to 15,000-20,000 people when the women and children are counted. The amount that would have been needed to feed all those people would have been eight months of wages! How exciting for that little boy to see Jesus multiply his food!

After this sign, the people recognized Jesus as the Prophet promised by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15. Moses had led them out of Egyptian bondage and fed them manna from heaven. Jesus had fed them bread and would lead them out of Roman bondage. Consequently, the people wanted to seize Jesus and make Him King. Jesus has reached the pinnacle of His popularity with the multitudes. Jesus was the rightful King (Psalm 2:7-12; Daniel 7:13-14), but He could not become the Lion (Revelation 5:5) without first becoming the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). That is why He needed to explain the deeper meaning behind meeting their physical hunger by explaining that He was the Bread of Life in John 6:22-40. Matthew's gospel does not provide an explanation. That is why it is good to cross-reference with other gospel accounts. 

To avoid the people seizing Him (John 6:14-15), He sent the disciples on a boat to Bethsaida (Mark 6:45-46) and sent the multitudes away (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:45) before He withdrew by Himself to the mountain. I do love to see Jesus taking time to be alone in the busy and hectic pace of His life. That is a model for us to follow!

After spending some time alone, Jesus performed the fifth sign (attesting miracle) in the book of John that points to Jesus as the Messiah: He walked on the water (between 3 and 6 am), and the disciples were afraid, but we hear "do not be afraid" (which is echoed throughout the Bible) from Jesus. The Matthew account of this event records Peter coming out and walking on the water before he was frightened by the wind. This was followed by a rebuke about Peter's "little faith" (Matthew 14:28-31). Contrast this with the "great faith" of the Gentile Roman centurion (Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10). Since Matthew is writing to the Jews, I believe he put this section in there to point out that faith was more important than their Jewish heritage.

98. Jesus heals all who touch him: Matthew 14:34-36, Mark 6:53-56

They arrived in Gennessaret. A large harbor from this town has recently been found under the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus further proved His deity by people healing just by touching His cloak.


Jesus was a busy man, but He often departed to lonely places like mountaintops to pray (Matthew 14:23)! We should do the same. Take some time to withdraw from all your demands today and pray!

I get to do that today! We were scheduled for an all-day meeting up in Portland with many people, but my back is not cooperating. So, I am staying home, and I have a day that has been freed up for prayer instead! God knows what He is doing. 

Another application from this passage would be to put yourself in Peter's shoes. Would you have even gotten out of the boat? There is an excellent book on this subject called If You Want to Walk on Water You've Got to Get Out of the Boat. I heartily recommend it if you are one who struggles with fear and lack of faith. It is very practical and challenging!


We want to be Your disciples. Teach us Lord. Help us to get out of the boat and to not be afraid. We ask this in Jesus' name amen. 
Post a Comment