-We see the paranoia in Herod here as he contemplates what he had done to a man of God. He fears somewhat for his future, and Luke tells that he was seeking to see Jesus continually. It is interesting that Herod had heard the news of Jesus and of the things that were going on in His ministry. We see the perplexity of this worldly leader as he grapples with the testimonies and eye witnesses who bring news of the Man of God, who they couldn’t quite figure out. Besides John the Baptist’s reincarnation, word of Elijah’s return was being discussed, so there was certainly some debate and intrigue going on around this region as the Son of God made Himself known to man. *Application* How hard do you seek out the truth of a matter. Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).” When you need answers, find Jesus in His Word and you will know all the answers because His Spirit will reveal all things to you (John 14:26).
-Herod was the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea (just east of the Jordan River and north of the Dead Sea) under the Roman authority. We see the fact that he was a people pleaser because of his fear of man in this account in Scripture. He feared the crowds because they regarded John as a prophet, and could possibly revolt against him. He feared his lords and had John killed to uphold his reputation before them because of his oath. This petrifying fear was generational from his father, who was extremely paranoid and suspecting of any uprising against his ambiguous kingship and authority. He was also foolish with his words and made promises he should not have made. His decision to have John beheaded was expedient and in his view the lesser of two evils (or in other words fears of man). For him it was either go back on his word in front of his leadership and appease the populace who regarded John as a prophet, or have him killed and have the believers in John upset. He chose to have John’s life taken; thereby committing murder against the Lord. Jesus later encounters Herod Antipas and had no words for him during His trial in Jerusalem (Luke 23:7-11). When Jesus did not respond to Herod’s inquisitions in an effort to see a sign, Herod mocked the Lord and treated Him with contempt. Jesus knew that if he had rejected the messenger (John), He would have nothing to add to the words John had already given him. Herod’s chance for redemption had passed and there was no hope for this people pleaser. Afterwards, sadly the disciples came and took John’s headless body and buried him in a tomb. John the Baptist was a prophetic martyr for the cause of the Kingdom. *Application* How expedient (advantageous for practical rather than moral reasons) are you in your decision making? Do you consider what is right before the Lord in making your choices? Life is about our choices and we either reap the benefit or bear the consequence for every decision. John the Baptist feared God and spoke the truth; Herod pleased people and was more than likely eternally doomed.
-Obviously this is a miracle of multiplication on a grand scale that we read about here in next episode of Matthew’s biographical account. Jesus is concerned for the physical and spiritual needs of these people that had followed Him and come to Him as a Shepherd. He felt compassion for them knowing their hearts and did not mind their interruption to His seclusion. He took this opportunity to show them a massive miracle, among other healings, and to further train His disciples in faith and responsibility. There was an order to how the multitude was divided up and a Divine giving of thanks as His blessed the food that was to be portioned out to the hungry throng. When all was said and done, the five loaves and two fish were more than enough to satisfy the masses. *Application* The twelve baskets of abundance is significant. When we give our time, talent, and treasure as the young boy did in this account we will be blessed beyond measure and reap an abundant harvest that would otherwise be impossible. I heard an account of a modern day miracle of multiplication that surrounded Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, LA. A gentleman was sharing with us how his mission/ministry team was giving out blankets to a group that they knew was too large to accommodate for the supply that they had. They prayed over the blankets and began to pass them out. They kept passing out blankets and lo and behold every person that wanted a blanket got one by the end of their distribution. God stills works in mysterious ways and has compassion for our need. He generates supply in miraculous ways when we are yielded to His ways and means. Give generously as the young lad did and you will also see great multiplication of it. Don’t horde things ever. This is selfish and does no one any good. Let go and let God. Sharing is multiplication!
-Matthew gives us the most vivid account of this often referred to miracle of Jesus Christ when He walked on the water (Matthew 14:22-33). Christ intended to pass by them and meet them on the other side after He had been alone on the mountain praying to the Father in the Spirit. He had to have been tired, but His desire was to do the will of the Father first and foremost. He forfeited His own well-being to communicate with the Father as we see in this passage. He had to calm the fears of the disciples as they saw Him walking on the stormy sea. Matthew tells us of how Peter had the faith to call out for a command to come walking on the water himself to Jesus in shear faith. Peter got the command and obeyed also being given the ability to do the physically impossible, but he started to get frightened by his circumstances and doubt came in quickly. Jesus was within arm’s length of rescuing His disciple and took the opportunity to ask an important question. Jesus rebuked his lack of faith in the middle of his efforts and asked why he began to doubt. When they got back in the boat the winds died down and immediately they were on the shore to their destination (Matthew 14:32, John 6:21). *Application* There is much in this account that should make us reflect and a plethora to draw from. Today, our concern should be the realization that Christ is within arm’s length of us when we step out of the boat of stability into the unknown and sometimes stormy sea of faith. Sometimes we are confident in obeying God’s initial commands to leave behind our security and we impetuously leap out of the boat with reckless abandon only to get out there and realize that what we’ve done should probably be considered impossible and impractical. It is at those times that we often demonstrate a lack of faith that is displeasing to the Lord. But He is always there to pick us up and make us realize that He is worth it all and worthy of all our praise and devotion. He has a way of getting us back on track and back to a place where we can say that He was our rescue and deliverer, an ever-present help in times of trouble (Psalm 37:39). Keep the faith! There’s no reason to doubt Him!
-The chapter ends with more miraculous healings with just a touch of His garment in the land of Gennesaret (located on the west side of the Sea of Galilee).
Verse to Memorize: Matthew 14:20