The Kind King
“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus, and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus. Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent around to all that region and brought to him all who were sick and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.” (Matthew 14:1–36, ESV)
Confused About Jesus
Jesus' fame is spreading to the point that Herod the tetrarch is made aware of his ministry. Can you imagine? The news about a carpenter from Nazareth has grown to the point that royalty hears about all that is taking place in the region. Herod is superstitious and believes that this is actually John the Baptist raised from the dead which explains the miraculous works done by Jesus. Matthew describes the background for why Herod might reason this way. Herod had put John in prison because John had taken a public stance on his marriage to the wife of his half-brother. Taking a stand in the public arena can be challenging and dangerous especially if it offends someone in the political office or is not well received in the public arena. Herod wanted to kill John but was afraid of the people because they believed that he was a prophet. Fear of the people had served as John's protection until what transpired during a birthday celebration for Herod. The daughter of Herodias danced for Herod and his guests. Herod was so pleased that he made a rash vow. Her mother was so vindictive and angry that she had prompted her daughter to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod realized his mistake, but he was too late and felt obligated because of his guests and perhaps due to his selfish pride. He obliged the grotesque request and had John beheaded. The trophy was awarded to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. John's disciples retrieved the body, buried it, and then sent the news to Jesus.
Jesus lost his forerunner, his friend, and a member of his family when he lost John the Baptist. He withdrew to be alone but had no opportunity to mourn his loss, because the crowds followed on foot. The crowd was waiting when he went ashore. Jesus did not send them away nor did he complain about their insensitivity or his loss. Instead, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As the day nears its end, the disciples advise Jesus to send the crowds away because the area was desolate and they needed food. Jesus challenges their counsel and tells the disciples to feed this hungry throng. They explain that they only have five loaves and two fish. Jesus tells them to bring this small meal and to have the group be seated. He took the food, blessed it, and gave it to the disciples to distribute. This gathering ate until they were satisfied and when the leftovers were collected, they had twelve baskets full. Thousands were fed from a humble meal.
If It Is You...
Jesus immediately puts the disciples into a boat and sends them away to the other side while he dismissed the crowds. Jesus then withdrew to pray. The boat is a long way from land, and a storm was assaulting the tiny craft. Jesus comes to his disciples walking on the water, and it terrifies them. They thought they were seeing a ghost and began to cry out in fear. Jesus immediately tries to comfort them and instructs them not to be afraid. Peter speak up quickly and says,"Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water. Jesus bids him come and Peter began to walk on the water to Jesus. This was short lived, and the great storm frightened Peter, and he began to sink. He cried out to Jesus, and he rescued him. He asked Peter why he doubted, and when they got into the boat, the storm ceased. The crew began to worship and exclaimed that Jesus is the Son of God.
The journey across the sea ended in Gennesaret and when Jesus and his party landed, the people came to him for help. They sent word to all of the surrounding areas and invited people to come see Jesus. The people came, and they asked only to be able to touch Jesus' garment. Many were healed in this way, and Jesus' fame continues to spread.