Matthew Chapter 14 Loaves, Fish, Walk on Water

  1. Herod Antipas is reacting to the news of Jesus’ miracles. He attributes the miracles to John the Baptist whom he had executed. Herod knew that John was a prophet of God (Matthew 14:1-12).
    • Herod the tetrarch was a son of Herod the Great. His name was Herod Antipas (r. 4 BC to AD 39). Herod was a family name. Four generations of descendents from Herod the Great had the name Herod. He was selfish, unprincipled, cunning, and evil. He was accused of treason to Caligula in AD 39 by his nephew, Herod Agrippa I. The emperor found him guilty. Caligula took his crown and property and banished him to Lyons, Gaul, and then to Spain where he eventually died.
    • John the Baptist had reprimanded Herod Antipas for taking his brother’s (Philip) wife. Her name was Herodias. Herodias’ daughter asked for the head of John the Baptist as a birthday gift from Antipas. Herod ordered the execution (Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:6-9; John 3:24).
  2. After Jesus had heard about John the Baptist’s execution, he attempted to get away for a short time. Remember that when John was arrested, Jesus left Nazareth and went into Galilee (Matthew 4:12-13). Jesus then began his official ministry because John had introduced him and was then removed (Isaiah 40:1-3; Malachi 3:1). Even at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, negative volition, a hardening against God’s plan, was becoming more evident. Now the death of John marked another turning point in the political attitude of the ruling class against God’s plan. Jesus took a boat to a secluded shore of the Sea of Galilee, but people found out and followed him. Jesus then went ashore. He had compassion on the crowd of people and so he taught them (Luke 6:34) and healed many of them. Because it was late, Jesus miraculously fed the crowd of 5000 from fives loaves of bread and 2 fish (Matthew 14:13-21).
    1. Jesus worked this great miracle. No one else thought of it or could have done what he did. He could feed the 5000 because he was God.
      1. Miracles get people’s attention. Because of the miracle, people listened to Jesus.
      2. Clear answers to prayer get people’s attention and because of this people tend to listen more.
      3. The salvation of any person is a miracle and the Christian way of life is another miracle.
      4. Not only does Jesus feed the people. He actively teaches his disciples about himself and how to serve God in the world.
    2. Jesus was a good leader. We learn this from how he solved the problem of the 5000 people.
      1. Jesus saw the problem or need.
      2. Jesus planned what to do.
      3. Jesus recruited his helpers.
      4. Jesus assigned tasks and delegated authority for those tasks.
      5. Jesus put his plan into action.
      6. Jesus concluded the “meeting” and cleaned up.
      7. Jesus moved on to the next problem.
  3. Jesus walked on the sea of Galilee during a violent storm (Matthew 14:22-33).
    • By walking on the water (Matthew 14:25), not sinking into the water, and by calming the storm (Matthew 14:32) Jesus showed his disciples that he controlled the laws of creation. He so shocked them that they feared what they saw more than the storm. Notice that he did not calm the storm until he had taught a lesson the object of ones attention and a lesson in faith in that object.
      • This was a lesson about the Messiah’s nature. Only God could walk on water by his own initiative. Only God could calm a storm by the simple command. Their master was God and man.
      • Jesus told them to calm down. “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
    • Peter comes forward for the first time in Matthew’s gospel. His prominent place continues throughout this gospel. He is only mentioned twice up until now (Matthew 4:18 and Matthew 10:2). In the remaining 15 chapters Peter is mentioned 21 times. For example, Chapter 14, walking on water; chapter 16, Peter’s confession about Christ; chapter 17, the transfiguration; chapter 18, forgiveness; chapter 19, his question about rewards; chapter 26, his profession of loyalty and then his disloyalty and denial. We can learn much from Peter. We are often just like him.
      • Peter reacted in his characteristic way (Matthew 14:28-31). He questioned the truth of Jesus’ statement and asked for proof. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus and therefore his attention on Jesus, Peter was fine. Once Peter put his attention on the storm and the possibility of danger, he began to sink (Matthew 14:30).
      • Peter called to the Lord to save him (Matthew 14:30). He turned to the only possible hope. This is the only possible hope for any person, unbeliever or believer. Since Peter was a believer in Messiah Jesus, the lesson is primarily for believers. We are to follow, by faith, Jesus Christ. Hebrews 12:2 and Colossians 2:20 teach this to us.
      • In verse 31 Jesus pinpoints Peter’s problem. He did not trust Jesus to take care of him, even though Jesus had answered Peter’s prayer (Matthew 14:28) and told Peter to come to him (Matthew 14:29).
      • Why did Peter doubt Jesus? Why do we doubt Jesus? Putting our attention on the circumstance of life instead of on our God, Jesus, is why we doubt and why we worry and why we fear and why we fail.
      • Also notice that Jesus reached out to Peter (Matthew 14:31). What do we learn from this? We learn that Jesus answers our cries to him. He wants our welfare. He wants to provide for us.
      • There is something else in this story. While Jesus is working with Peter he is also taking care of the disciples in the boat during the continuing storm. He actually can do two things at once. Do you believe that?
    • The storm stopped once Jesus and Peter reached the boat (Matthew 14:32-33). Jesus is the source of any solution. He is the reason the storm stopped. I think he waited to calm the storm until the most climactic point. All eyes had to have been on him. Then he stepped into the boat and the stormed stopped.
      • Those disciples in the boat did get the point. They worshipped him and they said “You are certainly God’s Son!” And think of this: there was no worship team and no music. Today, anytime a person mentions worship, it almost always must mean music—and usually emotional music with repetition of the words. Today’s “worship songs” led by a worship team is not necessarily worship. It is often performance emphasizing emotion. Music should lift the soul and spirit. Christian music should join biblical doctrine with emotion in such a way that it honors God, encourages believers, and lifts the soul and spirit.
      • Worship is submission to and recognition of God and his greatness based on His revelation and it takes place anywhere and anytime. In fact, the Christian life is a worship life. When we recognize a gracious act of God, we emphasize worship in a more conscious and sometimes formal way. But our life is a worship life.
      • What else could they do? Do you worship him when you see him work with the eyes of faith?
  4. When Jesus returned to land at Gennesaret, the people recognized him from his past miracles. They knew he could heal people and so they sent word out to the district. Jesus was here, they said. Bring your sick. They so believed that he possessed miraculous powers that they asked if they could just touch his coat. Jesus healed them in response to their faith.
    • Jesus healed in response to faith in order to teach them that he was the rightful object of faith and that he wanted them to believe him.
  5. Lessons from Matthew 14.
    • John the Baptist is one of many of God’s messengers who are rejected by the world system. It is often hard for us to understand, but God does not always deliver his messengers from harm. He may allow suffering for his purposes or he may take them to heaven. How do you and I take suffering that comes into our lives?
    • Jesus showed compassion on people who followed him. Do you and I show compassion to other people?
    • Jesus is the miracle working God. Does knowing this have any affect on our Christian life, including our mental attitude?
    • Jesus displayed helpful and effective leadership. Are there any guidelines from him that we can put into practice?
    • Prayer is important to fellowship with our heavenly Father and this refreshes oneself. Pray can often become a chore. How do you and I view prayer? Do we look forward to time for prayer. Is it a time of mutual fellowship with our Father, or is it duty most of the time?
    • Personal spiritual success during our day requires occupation with Jesus instead of occupation with the circumstances of life. What you and I think about and how we view the little things and the big things in our day determines whether we please the Lord and ourselves or we do not. How did you do today?
    • Peter exhibits a failing faith and then a growing faith with periods of failure in the mix up until the Holy Spirit comes to the church. This is normal for people. As we grow in our Christian lives we ought to grow in faith more than fail in faith. What has happened to your faith in the last week? How are we like Peter?
    • Worship is recognition of who Jesus is and what he has done and your response to him. Do you live a life of worship? When you gather in church do you worship or do you play at worship?
    • Jesus may not change my circumstances or your circumstances until we learn the lesson he has been teaching. This is a hard one for all of us. How are you facing a difficult circumstance that is in your life right now?