Scripture Study: Matthew 14

Matthew 14  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Matthew 14
This chapter gives another step in the rejection of the Lord, and then an outline picture of what follows the rejection of the Lord as King.
Matthew 14:1-121At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, 2And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him. 3For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. 4For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. 5And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. 6But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. 7Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. 8And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. 9And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. 10And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. 11And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. 12And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus. (Matthew 14:1‑12). Herod, hearing of Jesus’ fame, recalls what he had done to John the Baptist, and concludes that John was raised from the dead, therefore mighty works displayed themselves in him. His conscience seems to be troubling him; conscience will trouble every unsaved one. In the lake of fire it will be their worm that dieth not — they will never forget their sins. The spirit tells the heartless wickedness of those ruling over Israel at this time. Herod put John in prison because he bore a faithful testimony against his sin in having his brother’s wife. “It is not lawful for thee to have her,” and Herod desired to kill him. He was held back from doing it by his fear of the people, for all held John to be a prophet. But Herod’s birthday comes round, and with it the revelings in sin that the world calls a good time, and God is forgotten. Herodias’ daughter dances to please the king and with an oath he promises to give her whatever she asks. The wicked mother sets her on to ask the head of the faithful servant of God. The king is grieved but his false honor is at stake before his court, so John’s head is brought in and given to this wicked woman.
God has permitted it for the fulfillment of His purposes, and John exchanges an earthly prison for a heavenly paradise. The changes of dispensations, which he could not understand here, will be understood in a brighter scene. His disciples came and took the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. We may think of what all this was to the Lord. It is not only a faithful servant removed; it is God’s testimony rejected and a precursor of His own sufferings, though personally far above John, and this place of testimony the Lord Himself took in grace as “the faithful witness” (Psa. 40:9-109I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest. 10I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. (Psalm 40:9‑10)). He therefore retires into a desert place. How He must have felt His position! What sufferings were His in this way also, for He never became hardened to things. He felt the growing evils and knew what it all led on to. His love for Israel; His separation from evil; His constancy in His Father’s presence made Him feel everything keenly.
Matthew 14:13-1413When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities. 14And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. (Matthew 14:13‑14). But He does not allow Israel’s state to hinder His goodness from flowing out to the needy. The people have followed Him on foot out of the cities and brought their sick; and as He goes forth and looks on them, His heart is moved with compassion, and He heals their sick. (Psa. 103:33Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; (Psalm 103:3)).
Matthew 14:15-1815And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. 16But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. 17And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. 18He said, Bring them hither to me. (Matthew 14:15‑18). How different with the disciples! They see the multitude, and in their helplessness to meet their need, they want Him to send them away, but He answers, “They need not depart; give ye them to eat.” They express their weakness, “We have here but five loaves and two fishes.” And He said, “Bring them hither to Me.” Have we not often been guilty of such ways, when we should have taken up the case of the needy ones and reckoned on His fullness to meet the need? “Send the multitude away.” Away where? Away from Jesus! Can disciples give advice like this? Perfect servant! Patient and gracious Master! Make us more like Thee. Slow we are to count on His power and goodness, though we have proved it so often.
Matthew 14:19-2119And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. 20And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. 21And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children. (Matthew 14:19‑21). “And He commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, He blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to His disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled; and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full, and they that had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Here the power and goodness of the Lord shine out in perfection. He is indeed seen as the Messiah who feeds His poor with bread. (Psa. 132:1515I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread. (Psalm 132:15)). What plain proof of Emmanuel’s presence on earth.
Matthew 14:22-2322And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. (Matthew 14:22‑23). Following the rejection of the Lord as King, the Lord took His place on high as the great High Priest. Here we have it pictured: His disciples are constrained to get into a ship to go before Him to the other side, while he sent the multitude away. Then He goes up into a mountain to pray, and there He is alone. His disciples appear to be left alone to bear their troubles that follow, being attached to a rejected King, but in reality they benefit by His heavenly position (Heb. 7:2525Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)). He is absent from them; and so it is “the night” to the believer, while man has his day in the world. On high, He prays for His own, outwardly separated from them, but in reality spiritually nearer to them than ever. What a picture this is of the present time externally; but we know another Comforter has come, making good to us now, in a spiritual way, the presence of the Lord. (John 14:18,21,2318I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:18)
21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:21)
23Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)
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Matthew 14:24-3124But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 25And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? (Matthew 14:24‑31). The remnant of the Jews will also pass through trouble, and in the midst of this, the Lord comes to them, walking on the sea. They see Him, and are troubled, but He calms their fears, saying, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” Peter, taking courage, says, “If it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water. And He said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.” This seems to bring out the path of faith; he had the Word for his path, and the Lord before him as his object; thus he walked, sustained by the Lord’s power, till he took his eyes off the Lord; then he saw the wind boisterous (yet it is as easy to walk on rough as on smooth water), and he was afraid and, beginning to sink, he cried, saying, “Lord save me.” We are well reminded of our foolishness here; the Lord is enough. If we keep the eye on Him, all is well; but nature might take credit, and Peter might have boasted of his attainment as he might have called it. But now he cannot; his failure is manifest; he walked only by the strength of Jesus. And now that he has failed, will the Lord let him sink? No, that faithful Savior is just the same, and immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, “O, thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt:” We may fail, and fear in the path of faith, but the Lord will not fail at our cry of need and His strong hand will hold us up, though we are humbled rightly by our unbelief. May we learn to keep our eye fixed on the Lord.
Peter began to sink, just enough to make him get back in dependence on the Lord, and to make him feel his nothingness. How he would enjoy the care of the Lord on his way back to the ship, upheld by Jesus, but when in the ship he could not boast of his faith above the rest, yet after all he had proved the goodness of the Lord, and His faithfulness to him in a way those in the ship did not know. What comfort to Peter to lean on the Savior’s arm all the way back to the ship. Blessed journey! When we have proved what a resource He is for us.
Matthew 14:34-3634And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. 35And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; 36And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole. (Matthew 14:34‑36), go further still. It is a foreshadowing of the Lord when He is joyfully received in the very world that once rejected Him; as one has said, “It is the blessing and healing of a distressed and groaning world, consequent on His return in acknowledged power and glory.”