Thursday, June 30, 2011

Matthew 14 - John the Baptist Beheaded (NIV)


John the Baptist Beheaded
Verses 1-12

Herod the tetrarch (a ruler of 1/4 of something) heard the reports of Jesus.  He told his attendants that Jesus was John the Baptist, risen from the dead.  He claimed that this is how Jesus had miraculous powers.  Herod had arrested and imprisoned John, because John had told him that his affair with Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, was unlawful.  Herod wanted to kill John, but feared the people who revered John as a prophet.

On Herod's birthday, Herodius' daughter danced for him and pleased him so much that he vowed to give her anything she wanted.  Prompted by her mother, she asked for John's head on a platter.  Not wanting to go back on his word or deny his guests, he had John beheaded in prison.  John's head was given to the girl on a platter and she gave it to her mother.

John's disciples took his body and buried it.  Then, they went and told Jesus.

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
Verses 13-21

When Jesus heard the news, He withdrew by boat to a solitary place.  The crowds followed Him on foot.  When Jesus saw them, He had compassion and healed their sick.  When evening came, the disciples told Him to send the people to the villages to get food.  Jesus told them no; He told the disciples to feed them.

The disciples only had 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.  Jesus asked for them and told the people to sit on the grass.  He took the bread and fish, looked up to heaven, and gave thanks.  Jesus broke the bread and gave it to the disciples, who gave it to the people.  5,000 men, their women and children ate and were satisfied.  The disciples had 12 basketfuls of leftover bread.

Jesus Walks on the Water
Verses 22-36

Immediately, Jesus told His disciples to get on a boat and cross to the other side as He dismissed the crowd.  Once alone, He went up to the mountain to pray.  At evening, He was alone and the boat was a good ways away.  The wind was blowing against it.

During the fourth watch of the night (between 3:00-6:00 AM), Jesus walked out onto the lake.  The disciples were terrified and cried out, claiming He was a ghost.  Jesus told them to take courage and not fear, because it was Him.

Peter asked Jesus to tell him to come out on the water, if it was Him.  Jesus told Peter to come.  Peter left the boat and approached Jesus.  When he saw the wind, he was afraid and began to sink.  He cried out for Christ to save him.  Jesus immediately caught him and called him a man of little faith, asking why he had doubted.  They both got into the boat and the wind died down.  Those in the boat worshiped Him, claiming that He was the Son of God.

When they landed, they arrived at Gennesaret.  When the men recognized Jesus, they spread the word to all the surrounding country.  People brought all their sick to Him, begging Him to allow them to touch the edge of His cloak.  All who touched Him were healed.

Lori's Thoughts:

To cover up their adultery, Herod and Herodias committed murder.  They worried more about what the people thought of them than how God viewed them.  So, instead of repenting, they killed the man that was trying to save them from their sin.

Jesus' cousin had been murdered.  Yes, He is God, but He is also human.  Jesus needed to talk to God, to mourn and be comforted as we all do.  No one really thought about Jesus' needs.  They worried about their own.  Jesus could have sent the crowds away, but He didn't.  He saw us hurting.  He saw our faith in our willingness to seek Him, even out in the middle of nowhere.  We came to Him, desiring wholeness of body and spirit.  But, we didn't think about our basic needs, such as food.

The disciples were probably hungry by that point.  They probably wondered how they could split 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish 13 ways.  Jesus thought how He could split it about 10,000 ways and have some for tomorrow.

As humans, we are limited in our abilities and in our faith.  We seek simple solutions, because they're easier to believe in.  Our faith should be large enough to ask for miracles.  We should thank God in every situation for considering our needs and for promising to provide for all of them.  "And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 4:19)

Only until everyone was healed and fed did Jesus send them home.  He sent His disciples on and He went alone to pray.  Never forget how important it is to have a personal connection with God.  When Jesus died, the temple veil was torn and so was our barrier between ourselves and God.  "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."  (Hebrews 4:16)  We can ask for miracles, for healing, for sustenance, physical and spiritual.

Jesus knew He still had work to do, more people to heal, more people to show His compassion to.  Where most people would have said, "I missed my boat", Jesus told the water to hold His weight.

Although the disciples had experienced Jesus' miracles from within their boat, during the storm, they hadn't experience Him outside their boat.  Grown men were terrified of this apparition headed right for them.  We fear what we don't understand.  God calms us and lets us know that He is there with us and for us.

Now, I don't know what possessed Peter to want to join Jesus.  Maybe he desired to experience the supernatural.  He was probably delirious with awe and maybe thought he was dreaming, since it was so late.  Peter did the impossible with Jesus, until He started to doubt.  Jesus loved him anyway.  The moment Peter cried out for help, He was there to save him.

The moment you cry out to the Savior, He will be there!

Jesus' heart is big enough to feel sorrow and compassion.  He loves us enough to set His needs aside and heal ours.  We should follow His example of loving others, connecting with God, then realize that our needs have been fulfilled along the way.

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