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Chapter 14

 

Recap of John the Baptist's Death

14:1-2 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard reports about Jesus, and he said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead! And because of this, miraculous powers are at work in him."

 

This Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great who had been king at the time of the birth of Jesus.  When he heard about all the miracles that Jesus was doing his reasoning could only conclude that John the Baptist, whom he had beheaded, was raised from the dead.

 

14:3-4 For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because John had repeatedly told him, "It is not lawful for you to have her."

 

Herod had divorced his first wife and married his brother Phillip's wife, Herodias. Since she was daughter of Aristobulus, another son of Herod the Great, Herodias was in fact a niece to them both. John the Baptist had repeatedly told Herod that it was against the Law of God for him to marry her (Lev. 18:16) and so Herod, being angry, had John imprisoned.

 

14:5 Although Herod wanted to kill John, he feared the crowd because they accepted John as a prophet.

 

Herod would not have hesitated to kill John but he feared the people who believed John to be a prophet of God.

 

14:6-7 But on Herod's birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod, so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked.

 

However, the daughter of Herodias danced before Herod at his birthday party and this greatly pleased him. This was to such an intoxicating extent that he promised on oath to give her whatever she asked of him.

 

14:8 Instructed by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter."

 

Mark tells us that she immediately went to her mother to ask her what she should ask for. This would suggest that the whole thing was planned by Herodias before the party began. Herodias hated John and was determined that he should die, so told her daughter to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a plate.

 

14:9 Although it grieved the king, because of his oath and the dinner guests he commanded it to be given.

 

Although Herod had wanted John killed in the first place, he now regretted his promise; yet because he had made it before all his guests and did not want to lose face he commanded it to be done.

 

14:10-11 So he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.

 

This was immediately done in the prison and John's head was brought and given to the girl, who in turn gave it to her mother.

 

14:12 Then John's disciples came and took the body and buried it and went and told Jesus.

 

John's disciples would have sought permission from Herod to come and take his body away. Having buried it, they went to inform Jesus.

 

14:13 Now when Jesus heard this he went away from there privately in a boat to an isolated place. But when the crowd heard about it, they followed him on foot from the towns.

 

In hearing about the death of his cousin, Jesus went by boat across the Sea of Galilee to a remote area, not through fear, but in order to have time to himself. But the crowd heard where he had gone and followed him by foot around the shore of the sea.

 

Peter's Faith Tested

14:22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he dispersed the crowds.

 

As soon as the fragments were gathered up Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side of the lake while he sent the crowds away.

 

14:23 And after he sent the crowds away, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.

 

We remember that in verse 13 Jesus had intended to go to a quiet place by himself but that the crowds had followed him. Now having sent them and his disciples away, he goes up to the mountain alone to pray; and while he was there darkness fell.

 

14:24 Meanwhile the boat, already far from land, was taking a beating from the waves because the wind was against it.

 

While Jesus was on the mountain the disciples (in the boat) had gone a long way from land and were in difficulty as the wind became very strong and the waves very high.

 

14:25 As the night was ending, Jesus came to them walking on the sea.

 

Somewhere between the hours of three and six in the morning (in nautical terms, the fourth watch), Jesus came to the disciples walking on the water. Remember that this was not a calm sea.

 

14:26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water they were terrified and said, "It's a ghost!" and cried out with fear.

 

When the disciples saw him coming towards them walking on the water; they were terrified, believing him to be a ghost, and cried out with fear.

 

14:27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them: "Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid."

 

When Jesus heard their cry he called out to tell them not to be afraid. “Be of good courage” he said, for he was with them; just as he is always with us in times of difficulty.

 

14:28 Peter said to him, "Lord, if it is you, order me to come to you on the water."

 

Peter, always the impetuous one, called out to Jesus: "Lord if it is really you command me to come to you walking on the water”.

 

14:29 So he said, "Come." Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus.

 

Jesus bids Peter to come to him; so getting out of the boat Peter began to walk on the water towards Jesus.

 

14:30 But when he saw the strong wind he became afraid. And starting to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"

 

The wind was still blowing powerfully and the waves were still high, causing Peter to take his eyes off Jesus and look at his surroundings. As he took his eyes off Jesus he began to sink, together with his faith. He immediately called on the Lord to save him (Heb. 12:2; Titus 2:13).

 

14:31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

 

At the same time Jesus reached out his hand and caught hold of Peter, chiding his  little faith and asking why he doubted (James 1:6). We might find this remarkable, considering that Peter had for a time walked on water, that Jesus regarded his faith as small.

 

14:32 When they went up into the boat, the wind ceased.

 

The moment that Jesus and Peter got into the boat the wind ceased.

 

14:33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

 

When the disciples saw that the wind immediately ceased the moment Jesus entered the boat they worshiped him, acknowledging him as the Son of God.

 

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This Bible study is taken from Faithbuilders: The Gospel of Matthew

 

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