You Give Them Something to Eat
Comments for Study 19
Memory Verse: 16
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I. Herod the Tetrarch, An Immoral Man (1-12)
>1. What was Herod's position? (1) What was his reaction when he heard reports about Jesus? (2) Why was he so haunted by John the Baptist?
Matthew 14:1 "At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, "
* "At that time" -Herod's arrest of John did not happened about this time. However, Matthew records them here, after Jesus' hometown rejects Jesus, and before the feeding of the multitudes, because, as verse 12 says, "John's disciples came and took [John's] body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus." Thus verses 3-11 is a flash back to earlier events.
Historians say that John was killed by Herod in early winter 29 A.D.
* "Herod the tetrarch" -Herod was the name of the person, or rather persons put in charge of the area east of the Mediterranean Sea by the Romans. This person was chief governor.
Of the name Herod, Holman's Dictionary says, "The name given to the family ruling Palestine immediately before and to some degree during the first half of the first Christian century. Their family history was complex, and what information has come down has been frequently meager, conflicting, and difficult to harmonize. The chief sources are the references in the New Testament, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, and a few obscure references by Roman historians, such as Dio Cassius, Plutarch, and Strabo.
The most prominent family member and ruler was Herod, son of Antipater who had been appointed governor of Idumea by Alexandra Salome, the Maccabean queen who ruled Palestine 78-69 B.C. With the permission of the Romans, Antipater left his son Phasael as Prefect of Jerusalem and his second son, Herod, governor of Galilee."
Luke in 1:5 records a Herod king of Judea, when Jesus was born. He is also known as Herod the Great. But in 3:1 (when John's ministry began) Luke records, "when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod Tetrarch of Galilee..." Thus, when Herod king of Judea died, his rule was divided up by Caesar. Thus more than one had the name Herod and ruled in the area.
* "heard the reports about Jesus" -Jesus had been at work in his ministry for about two years, but it took this long for the reports of Jesus to get to Herod. Which goes to show that Herod wasn't that interested in such things and what Jesus had been doing up until this time wasn't much of "headline news".
The reports that came to Herod were good reports of Jesus, not bad. After all Jesus hadn't been known from doing "bad" things, even in the eyes of men. It was only later, when Jesus' ministry seemed a threat to others political and economical power and well being did reports of Jesus start turning "bad". Jesus did not change, just the leaders' perception of him.
Matthew 14:2 "and he said to his attendants, 'This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.'"
* "This is John the Baptist" -Herod had put John, an innocent man, to death. He did not want to do so at first, but was tricked to do so. This ate away at his conscience. Herod was going nuts since he put John the Baptist to death. Why? Mark 6:20 says, "because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him."
Even though he didn't want to admit it at times, Herod must have believed John's message and even liked it. Herod knew the truth and feared but had no sign of repentance or remorse for his sin. Which goes to show that a person may have fear of judgement and strong convictions, but still have no repentance. (James 2:19)
Eventually, Herod wanted to kill John. To much listening to the truth, with no repentance leads to a hard heart. Yet he could not get rid of John out of fear of the people. Herod thought that if he got rid of John through killing him, then he could go on with his sin happily. But when he did get rid of John he could not relieve his conscience and so was still troubled. Now when he heard of Jesus he went even more crazy. Proverb 28:1a says, "The wicked flees though no one pursue..."
>2. Why did Herod have John arrested and imprisoned? (3-4) What kind of woman was Herodias? How did Herod's self-seeking and his immorality make him a murderer and result in his inner distress and trouble? (Romans 2:7-10)
Matthew 14:3-4 "Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, for John had been saying to him; 'It is not lawful for you to have her.'"
* "Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison" -John had done nothing wrong from the laws perspective. Herod imprisoned John out of revenge and to "shut him up." He also imprisoned John to please Herodias. In all John was in prison around one year.
* "prison" -The prison of John's day was not like the prisons of our day. They were dark, damp, had foil air, no rest room facilities, and a person was chained to the wall.
* "Herodias, his brother Philip's wife" -She was not a widow, but "Philip's wife".
* "for John had been saying to him" -John said it plainly, "'It is not lawful...'" not rubbing it in with words like, "It is terrible, wretched, low grade..." John did not shrink back when telling the truth to Herod, even though he was a king and could have put him to death. It is good to reproof a king or great man, but in the right manner and from the right person and in the right time, and not with malice words or malice intent, but with the understanding that he or she too is flesh. "'Do not say to your brother, 'You fool.'" (Matt. 5:22) Yet we should not be a meddler. (1 Peter 4:15, 16) Faithful reproofs either profit or provoke.
* "Herodias" -She was an adulterous. She wanted revenge. She was manipulative for her own benefit. She was lawless. Physically, she was attractive, or so it seems for more than one man wanted her for his wife. Her other name was Solomi.
Matthew 14:5 "Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered him a prophet."
* As I wrote earlier, Herod did not want to kill John right away. But after awhile of hearing the truth, but not repenting, Herod wanted to shut up John by killing him. Resistance to God's message gives birth to sin, and sin birth to death. Sin traps men often in suttle and slow ways. Trouble and distress increases with self seeking and immoral life style.
* "the people, because they considered him a prophet" -Many of those who heard John repented and believed. John baptized these people, Thus they knew and believed him a prophet. A prophet is a man of God sent to preach God's message to the people.
Matthew 14:6-11 "On Herod's birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for them and pleased Herod so much  that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked.  Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist."  The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted  and had John beheaded in the prison.  His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother."
* This is Luke's recalling of Herod's actions concerning John. Herod did a lot in his life, but these events are the most important with regards to the gospel.
Herod a political man was most likely no different than most other political leaders of his day. He lacked justice, was violent, immoral, self seeking, ungodly, and two faced about it. He was also a weak man. When he was sober he would have changed him mind and/or thought of something else to do. Herodias must have known this, so she said, "Give me here..." Not later, but "here" and now.
Under such leadership the people could only be oppressed and surpressed. Such a leader would not care for righteousness, truth, or justice before his own plans and well being. Yet many were like him. They too put themselves before anything else. And so with society filled with selfish people violent acts as this became common news. And common news becomes less shocking. And repeated shocking news because standard routines. Standard routines are not shocking. Such a society's conscience is numb and dead. Eventually, righteousness because unusual, rare, and even shocking. What is rare becomes wearied. And in such a society the righteous are wearied. And the wearied are often oppressed, surpressed, and defeated. Evil thus seems to rule when leadership do not care for righteousness, truth, or justice.
* "Herod's birthday" -This is how the ungodly and the pagans celebrate a birthday.
* "Pleased" -Sexually aroused.
* "but because of his oaths and his dinner guests" -Herod had a bad reputation, but was still concerned about his appearance to his peers.
>3. What does this incident reveal about the times? What can we surmise about the people living under the rule of Herod and Rome?
Matthew 14:12 "John's disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus."
* "John's disciples" -John had disciples for quite some time. Some of Jesus' disciples were first John's disciples. Although John pointed them to Jesus, some did not follow Jesus, but followed John to his death. Yet, when John died they went to Jesus.
* "they went and told Jesus" -Jesus and John were separate ministries, yet they worked together. They did not oppose each other. So when John died, his disciples could easily go to Jesus and tell him what happened to John.
They went, not out of fear of their well being and life. But because they were sheep without a shepherd. They could have also felt bad and defeated. But they weren't. And they could have been upset with Jesus for not helping John. But they weren't.
II. Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand (13-21)
See a wood engraving by Gustave Dore (1832-1883) to the right. Dore's drawings were in Bibles that are now in public domain. This one was scanned in by creationism.org.
>4. What did Jesus do when he heard about John's death? (13) Why might he have gone to a solitary place? (23a)
Matthew 14:13 "When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns."
* "When Jesus heard what had happened" -Herod heard of reports about Jesus quit sometime after he had beheaded John. So this probably refers to not only John's martyrdom, but also what Herod was saying about Jesus' ministry.
* "he withdrew" -The King James Version translated this work as "departed". According to Strong's Concordance it means "to retire".
* "by boat" -Thus Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee.
* "privately" -Jesus wanted to be alone, with his disciples, to take some private time, with oneself or with a few other close believers is a good practice to take. We are to be "in the world" but not necessarily all the time.
* "to a solitary place" -Often when the Bible says Jesus went to solitary places it means he went to pray. This time he must have prayed about what had and was happening. Also, during this private time in a solitary place, Jesus must have explained John's death to John's and his disciples.
When events like this happens, evil things, it is good to pray and help the flock of sheep understand from God's perspective. In evil times a spiritual leader has to take more time with God and God's people.
>5. Why did his plan to be alone fail? (13b) How did Jesus respond to the crowds who came? (14) How did he minister to them? (14b)
* "Hearing of this, the crowds followed him" -People go to true shepherds. People went to Jesus. They had a great interest in him.
These people were like the man who found a pearl or the man who found a treasure in a field. (13:44-46) The people were even willing to go to a solitary place. This place was probably a desert or at least a piece of land that had little or no inhabitance.
* "on foot from the towns" -The towns referred to here were Capernaum, Gennesaret, Bethsaida, and the villages surrounding them. Thus, since Jesus went on boat to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, the people walked anywhere from fifteen to twenty miles. This would be a good half a day walk.
Matthew 14:14 "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick."
* "When Jesus landed" -Jesus and his disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee by boat, a five to ten mile sea voyage.
* "saw a large crowd" -Jesus popularity was indeed growing. The crowd that left the towns were Jesus originated this journey grew as they walked around the lake. When people who lived along the way saw the people walking, they must have asked, "Where are you all going?" And the answer was, "To Jesus, the teacher and miracle worker." This would get anyone's attention, enough to join them on the journey to see Jesus. So the crowd grew as it made its way around the lake.
* "he had compassion on them and healed their sick" -Jesus could have been upset with them because his private time was ruined. At least he would have been upset because he plans failed. But Jesus wasn't. Instead he saw their motives, the desire to gain him and his words. He saw it as God's work. He had compassion on them. People seeking God and come to us to learn of and about him, are not to be held in contempt. Jesus saw the people from God's point of view, as well as from the people's point of view.
It is important to note that later, after the crowd was dismissed, Jesus did get his quiet time.
* "he had compassion" -Compassion means, according to Stong's: "the deep feeling of sharing the suffering of another, together with the inclination to give aid or support or to show mercy (The Lat. com + pati = to suffer.)"
* "healed their sick" -Matthew does not say anything about teaching the people. Mark and Luke say that Jesus did teach. (Mark 6:34, Luke 9:11). Matthew decided not to record it. (Matthew wrote more about Jesus' healing than the other gospel writers.) Jesus was ready to serve in any way, at any time.
>6. When evening came, what did his disciples suggest? (15) In what respect was their suggestion a logical one?
Matthew 14:15 "As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, 'This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and by themselves some food.'"
* "As evening approached" -Jesus and his disciple left in the early morning. When the crowd awoe, they left right away seeing the general direction Jesus was headed. After the less than half day's journey there was still time for Jesus to heal and teach till evening. This was another long day for Jesus and his disciples.
Jesus taught and healed for about four hours. Assuming Jesus and the disciples left Capernaum by 10:00 a.m. and the trip took three hours our less, then they probably landed at around 1:00 p.m. The gospel writers tells us that it was late in the afternoon when the disciples approached Jesus asking him to send them away. (Luke 9:12). This is taking into account for the people to eat, the disciples to collect the leftovers, and Jesus to dismiss the crowds (one to three hours). Therefore, Jesus probably taught from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Jesus taught them in parables as he had usually done. The gospel writters did not record the teachings. We can assume that what Jesus taught at this time was nothing that we don't have already somewhere else.
* "the disciples came to him and said" -The disciples did not take action on their own. They went to Jesus. Still their suggestion for action would not be what Jesus had in mind. Often we have ideas and plans and we even go to God with them. But going to God does not make them the right plans. God may have different plans. In the Bible God came to people with his plans and it was up to them to conform to his plan. He does not tells us all the details. Yet we are to conform. Consider Noah; God came to Noah with his plan of a worldwide flood. Consider Abram; God came to Abram with his plan to start a nation through him. Consider Moses; God came to Moses with his plan to lead Israel out of Egypt to the Promise Land. Consider Simon Peter; Jesus came to Simon Peter with his plan to make him a fisher of men. Consider Saul who became Paul; God came to Saul with his plan to use him to carry the name of Jesus before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.
* "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late...get some food" -This was a logical idea for several reasons. First, it was a good days work. Second, it was a remote place. Also, it appeared that there was no place to get food. And perhaps it was also logical because the people were being healed and responding to Jesus enough to accept him as Messiah, Savior, and Lord. Finally, the disciples had expected a rest and from their point of view so did Jesus which was broken by the people. Finally, the days proceeding this event were greatly packed with a lot of hard work. So in human terms the disciples request was logical, but in Jesus' point of view it was not.
In short the disciples had a, "there not my problem" attitude. This was not a good shepherd attitude.Yet, compared to how they were before Jesus called them, like Levi the tax collector, the disciples showed growth in that they went to Jesus.
* "go into the villages" -Taking a close look at the disciples request it wasn't that logical. First of all, some of the nearest villages were Gentile villages. Being Gentile they would serve some foods considered unlawful by the Law. The area cities were not big enough to serve the near ten thousand crowd. Not only that, but how many towns are willing to feed that many people late in the evening?
* "Send them away" -Even after healing people the disciples didn't think of asking Jesus to feed them through a miracle. The disciples, during the two years with Jesus, did not fully grasp who he was and their relationship with him. In fact he had sent them out and they themselves did miracles. Also, they knew God feed the Israelites in the desert. Yet they did not think of the crowd being feed by God. Often Jesus' disciples are like this. Often I am like this.
>7. What did Jesus say in response to the disciples' request? (16a) What challenge did Jesus give to the disciples? (16b) Through Jesus' challenge what can you learn about the basic attitude and faith disciples should have? What can you learn from Jesus about raising up spiritual leaders?
Matthew 14:16 "Jesus replied, 'They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.''"
* "They do not need to go away." -Jesus would not dismiss the crowd of people hungry. Nor would he detain them longer without meat. Nor would he put them upon the trouble and charge of buying meat for themselves. Jesus would feed them. And through the miracle, Jesus taught his disciples.
Jesus would teach them that a disciple should serve people. And a disciple should care about the needs of the flock of sheep. He wanted them to have compassion for people. Finally, a disciple of Jesus needs to always have a learning mind. We as Jesus' disciples should go beyond human expectations in serving others by faith.
Jesus teaches all disciples to teach and help disciples have compassion for people. He shows us to teach faith in God and that God will provide. He shows us to teach practically, not just in words. Finally disciples need to see others as Jesus sees them and how they can grow to be, not just as they are now.
It is important to note that Jesus didn't say, "You give them everything." We as humans cannot do everything. But we can do something by faith that Jesus will do everything. "What is impossible with man is possible with God," Jesus taught us. God does not expect us to do everything for he can do everything. But God does want us to do something by faith. We should do great things for God, and expect great things from God.
* "You give them something to eat" -This was not an easy challenge for the disciples to understand and to keep for there were five thousand men, not including women and children. (21) With these words Jesus was saying that the disciples had not exhausted all their options.
>8. How did the disciples answer? (17) How did Jesus work through the disciples to feed the crowd? (18-19b) What can we learn here about the way Jesus works? (18-21)
Matthew 14:17 "'We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,' they answered."
* This provision was probably what they keep for their own provision or a small boys provision.
* "only" -They at least was willing to try. Yet they felt limited by what they had. They did not feel it would be enough. Thus, their eyes were on the five loaves and two fish. They did not see God's provision.
Matthew 14:18-21 "'Bring them here to me,' he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciple, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children."
* "Bring them here to me" -In order for Jesus to work the miracle for the disciples, the disciples first needed to obey Jesus in bringing the five loaves and two fish to him. Even though it was not much, Jesus accepted what the disciples had to offer. Jesus accepts what we have to offer to him and uses it more than we know.
Spiritual food, like this physical food, often comes from Jesus, through his disciples a lot of the times. 1 Cor. 11:23 says, "For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread," And 1 Corinthians 15:3 says, "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, " And Rev. 1:1, 4 says, "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John... John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,
* "And he directed the people to sit down on the grass." -Jesus make an orderly environment. Humanly, the people sat down on the grass. Spiritually, the disciples showed faith and Jesus prayed, giving thanks.
* "Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves." -Jesus gave thanks to God and sought God's blessings. He acknowledged God's work and brought glory to him. Thus, Jesus gave us an example to follow.
* "Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people" -Jesus could have provided for the people with a miracle. But he didn't. He provided for the people through the disciples. Why? First, to teach the disciple to use what they have to help people as an offering to God. Secondly, humility is in the nature of God. Third, he let the disciples learn servitude. Lastly, Jesus showed the Lord's willingness to work with his disciples.
Jesus could have done it all by himself. But he wanted to co-work with his disciples. In the Garden of Eden the Lord worked with Adam in naming the animals. The Lord brought the animals to Adam. Adam then named the animals. Thus, the Lord Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Through this miracle we can also learn that when doing charity work bring it first to Jesus.
* "and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over." -1 Tim. 4:4-5 says, "For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer."
With these left over basketfuls the disciples had enough so that now they could each eat. Most likely they were busy obeying Jesus by passing out the food that they themselves did not have time to eat. Yet God provided for them too, more than enough.
* "twelve basketfuls" -Each of the twelve took a basketful and walked around to collect the left overs. Each of the disciples could see with their own eyes that everyone had more than enough to eat. The food increased as it was passed and it increased to more than enough for each. In Christ and in obedience to him, serving a little goes a long way. The giver does not lose out on any.
* "The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children." -Thus, the number in whole must have been around ten thousand.
III. Jesus Walks on the Water (22-36)
See a wood engraving by Gustave Dore (1832-1883) to the right. Dore's drawings were in Bibles that are now in public domain. This one was scanned in by creationism.org.
>9. After feeding the crowd, what did Jesus do? (22-23) What might he have prayed about? What happened to the disciples on the lake? (24) How did Jesus help them? (25) What does their terror at seeing Jesus reveal about them? (26) How did Jesus reassure them? (27)
Matthew 14:22-23 "Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,"
* "Immediately" -Why so quickly? Perhaps because the people were inclined to make him king, even by force as they did in John 6:15. The people would have been inclined to make Jesus king since John the Baptist was just killed by Herod, their current king. If this is Jesus intent, then it shows that he put down the temptation for human glory and exultation.
* "Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side" -There are several reasons why Jesus might have sent the disciples off. First, because of what he would teach them on the lake
Second, perhaps Jesus made them leave without him because they would have been excited when the people responded favorable to Jesus. Especially if the crowd wanted to make him king. Many of the disciples would have excited about this.
Also, Jesus made them leave now because the people would not leave until they would have seen the disciples leave.
For whatever the reason, Jesus would also have to make the disciples get into the boat. After all they were tired. Remember, they wanted to get away, but the crowds came up on them by surprise. Then they wanted Jesus to sent them away. But Jesus feed the crowd and the disciples passed out the food. Not only that, but they would be without Jesus. How would they meet him again.
* "After he had dismissed them" -Jesus being able to dismiss this large crowd shows his authority with them. It also shows his compassion for them. Compassion is God's will and work.
* "he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray," -One can only speculate what Jesus prayed about. Perhaps he prayed that his disciples would grow in faith. And/or perhaps he prayed for the people to understand and accept who he is. Maybe even Jesus prayed for the direction of his ministry. Yet, no matter what he prayed about, Jesus shows us that even someone who is busy should take time out to pray.
Matthew 14:24 "but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it."
* "Considerable distance from land" -Perhaps just enough to see by the shore, but not enough to call the disciples back.
* "buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it" -On the Sea of Galilee, this was a storm. Often the wind would come out of the mountains and onto the lake with great force.
Jesus, being God, knew the storm was coming. Yet, he sent them out into the storm. At times, God sends us into storms of life to teach us. And at times it seems like we work hard and we know what we are doing, but we don't get far. Without Jesus in "our boat" we will struggle to keep going, like the disciples did. Yet, God is always in control of everything. Thus, faith is needed. God is working out all things for the good of those who believe.
In the earlier storm (8:24) Jesus was with them. Now the disciples were without a physical Jesus. Thus their faith training increased in intensity.
Matthew 14:25 "During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake."
* "During the fourth watch of the night" -There were only four watches in the night. A watch was set up for people who watched city gates in those days. The first watch was 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, our time. The second watch was 9:00 PM to midnight, 12:00. The third watch was 12:00 to 3:00 AM. The fourth watch was 3:00 AM to 6:00 AM.
This means that the disciples struggled seven to eight hours on the lake. They must have been tired, hungry, confused, dismayed, and exhausted. Yet, since Jesus said "go", they kept trying to go.
* "Jesus went out to them" - If the disciples were "a considerable distance from land" at evening, 6:00 PM. Then they were even farther now. Yet, being "buffeted by the waves" they couldn't have been that much farther out.
Jesus knew what the disciples problem was even though he wasn't physically there. He went out to them in their problem to solve it. Not just by calming the storm, but by showing them their lack of faith.
* "walking on the lake" - My definition of a miracle is, "That which is a work of God that goes against the natural course of laws of nature that he has set. The intent is according to his will and to display himself to mankind."
The American Heritage Dictionary says a miracle is, "An event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God: 'Miracles are spontaneous, they cannot be summoned, but come of themselves' (Katherine Anne Porter)."
Holman's Bible Dictionary says, "Events which unmistakably involve an immediate and powerful action of God designed to reveal His character or purposes. Words used in the Scriptures to describe the miraculous include sign, wonder, work, mighty work, portent, power. These point out the inspired authorsí sense of Godís pervasive activity in nature, history, and people."
Matthew 14:26 "When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. 'It's a ghost,' they said, and cried out in fear.'"
* "terrified...and cried out in fear" -Even though they were strong fisherman, they had fears.
* "It's a ghost" -The disciples did not recognize Jesus perhaps for several reasons. One is that they did not expect Jesus to be able to walk on water, which means that they didn't really understand who Jesus was. Another they must have been tired after trying to overcome the waves and wind for so long. After dwelling on this problem from a human point of view they would have lost their spiritual eyesight. And perhaps another is that without Jesus, their vague fears were magnified. Finally, the most obvious reason that the disciples did not recognize Jesus was that they were still quit young in their faith. This is also linked with a lack of understanding of the Bible and what a ghost is. See Holman's Bible Dictionary "ghost" definition below.
* "ghost" -My definition of a ghost would be, "That which is either real or imagined by many today. Angle, demons, and deceased humans can all be perceived as ghosts. In reality a ghost is one who is a being, a soul, a spirit apart from a physical body."
The American Heritage Dictionary says a ghost is, "1. The spirit of a dead person, especially one believed to appear in bodily likeness to living persons or to haunt former habitats. 2. The center of spiritual life; the soul. 3. A demon or spirit."
The Holman's Bible Dictionary says a ghost is, "The KJV uses ghost in two senses, for the human life force and for Godís Holy Spirit. The KJV never uses ghost for the disembodied spirits of the dead. All eleven Old Testament references involve the phrase give up the ghost (for example, Genesis 25:8; Genesis 35:29) which means to cease breathing or simply to die. This phrase occurs eight times in the New Testament (Matthew 27:50; Acts 5:5; Acts 12:23). The predominant New Testament use is for the Holy Spirit.
Modern translations use ghost (rather than spirit as the KJV) for the disembodied spirits of the dead. Jesusí disciples mistook Him for a ghost when He walked on water (Matthew 14:26; Mark 6:49) and when He appeared after the resurrection (Luke 24:37; Luke 24:39)."
Matthew 14:27 "But Jesus immediately said to them: 'Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.'"
* Jesus gave his disciples words of encouragement. He did not condemn then for their lack of understanding and faith.
Matthew 14:28 ""Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
* "Lord, if it's you" -Peter was comforted and surprised to know that it was Jesus. Yet he also was not sure that it was Jesus.
* "tell me to come to you on the water" - Peter was courageous enough to step in the realm of faith. His faith was in Jesus, who could make it possible for him to walk on water. The weak faith of Peter was better than a lack of faith. With such faith one can try, and trying is better than doing nothing but wonder and consider.
Matthew 14:29 "'Come,' he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat walked on the water and came toward Jesus."
* "Come" -Jesus not only confirmed Peter to Peter, but he shows us that Peter's actions was good and acceptable.
>10. What did Peter do? (29) Why did he begin to sink? (30) How did Jesus rescue and rebuke him? (31) What was the disciples' response when Jesus got into the boat? What did Jesus want to teach his disciples through this event? What can you learn about the faith that overcomes the inner fear problem?
Matthew 14:30 "But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!'"
* "But when he saw the wind, he was afraid" -Peter's error was that he looked at the trouble instead of looking at Jesus. His spiritual eyes began to close and his physical eyes began to open. He saw a problem where there was no problem for he began to doubt.
God can work miracles without any human intervention. But God also wants us to have faith in him. God gives us the gift of working miracles with the exercise of faith in him. Jesus often said to people, "Your faith has healed you." Or the Bible author will comment, "Because of their lack of faith, Jesus could do no miracle." Thus, with faith in God, we mire humans are given the gift of working miracles through the power of God. This gift is not of ourselves, it is the will and gift of God.
* "and began to sink" -Taking one's eyes off Jesus will cause us to sink spiritually. Taking one's eyes off Jesus is the waining of one's faith.
* "cried out, 'Lord, save me!'" -Was this Peter blaming Jesus for his sinking or Peter seeking Jesus for help? Perhaps its a little of both.
Matthew 14:31 "Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. 'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?'"
* "Immediately" -Jesus didn't help Peter immediately when he sank, but immediately when he called out for help.
* "You of little faith. Why did you dought" -Sometimes stepping out by faith brings small victory, small failure, and small rebuke. Thus being a leader of faith is not easy. Yet through it all Peter, and the others, learned even more about Jesus and what faith in him is and can do.
Matthew 14:32 "And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down."
* Thus this lesson was over. Now was needed the time of reflection of what took place
Matthew 14:33 "Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, 'Truly you are the Son of God.'"
* Their spiritual eyes were opened about Jesus saved Peter and after the wind died down.
>11. What happened when they arrived in Gennesaret? (35-36) What does this teach us about Jesus?
Matthew 14:34-36 "When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed."
* "and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of this cloak, and all who touched him were healed" -Jesus is God and the amazing power of God is displayed in Jesus, as the Messiah. The women with the bleeding problem was the first to believe that as the Messiah, the Sun of Righteousness as Malachi called him, would have healing in his wings, that is his tassels (prayer chords). The people had faith in the Messiah's power to heal.