Matthew 14-15; Mark 6-7; John 5-6
Be Not Afraid
Herod thinks Jesus is John the Baptist, whom he had killed (Matthew 14: 1 – 13; Mark 6: 14 – 30):
This Herod was not Herod the Great, who murdered innocent children in Bethlehem shortly after Jesus’ birth. This is his son, Herod Antipas, who was given charge over the Galilee region by the authorities in Rome. John the Baptist had called Herod to repentance for adultery. Herod Antipas was married to Herodius, who had been the wife of his half-brother.
From what we read in scripture, we can assume that Herod Antipas was hesitant to kill John, and he carried some guilt about it. Hearing about the miracles performed by Jesus aroused not only this guilt but his superstitious nature in thinking Jesus was the ghost of John.
Jesus secluded Himself when he heard about John’s death. But eventually, rumor of His whereabouts reached the people, and they flocked to see Him. Christ showed compassion toward them, even in the midst of His mourning for John.
The miracle of the loaves and the fishes (Matthew 14: 15 – 21; Mark 6: 31 – 44; John 6: 1 – 14):
Jesus taught the multitude and healed their sick. As evening fell, the apostles urged Him to send the people away so they could find food and rest. But Jesus said that they didn’t need to depart, that He and His disciples would provide food. His disciples only had 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes. Jesus blessed the food before His disciples and had them distribute it. All of the 5,000 people were filled, and there were 12 baskets of food left over.
How does Jesus multiply your resources? And how do you use what Jesus has given you for good?
Also, see John 6: 21 – 37 in which the people come seeking Jesus for food, not for spiritual nourishment. He teaches them that He is the bread of life.
Jesus walks on water (Matthew 14: 22 – 33; Mark 6: 46 – 51; John 6: 15 – 21):
Jesus sent His disciples by boat to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, while He remained to send the people away and to pray in solitude “in a mountain apart.” It was the next night that the apostles saw Him walking on the storm-tossed sea toward the ship . At first, they were very frightened, thinking He was some sort of apparition. But Jesus called to them, calming their fears. It was Peter’s idea to try walking on water to the Savior, and his story only appears in Matthew’s account. He was successful at first, but then he lost focus. His reasoning kicked in and he began to analyze the craziness of the attempt.
Most spiritual doubt is caused by worldly reasoning interfering with our focus on Jesus. This is what happened to Peter.
Many were healed by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment (Matthew 14: 36):
Jesus referenced hems when He condemned those who lengthened the tassels of their garments to get attention. From this reference we can infer that Christ’s “hem” that people touched to be healed could have been either the tassels of His prayer shawl (tallit gadol), or less likely, the outwardly hanging tassels of His inner garment (tallit katan).
These tassels were threads tied into 613 knots representing the Mosaic commandments.
The commandments of God vs. the traditions of men (Matthew 15: 1 – 14; Mark 7: 1 – 19):
These verses are difficult to understand. Firstly, the scribes and Pharisees who confronted Jesus were a delegation from Jerusalem sent to observe and test Him. Jesus perceived the intent of their hearts, which were hardened against Him. They accused Jesus of ignoring ceremonial washing of hands and pots before eating bread. But this hand and pot washing was a tradition, not a commandment and not from scripture.
In these verses, Jesus accuses them of judging according to the laws of men. He hits that home by accusing them of committing the crime of dishonoring their parents (punishable by death). They had told their parents that all of their funds were in God’s hands, for God’s work, so there was none left to support their aging parents.
Christ’s apostles pointed out that the scribes and Pharisees were offended. Jesus responds with this curse: “Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.”
A Canaanite woman petitions Jesus (Matthew 15: 21 – 28; Mark 7: 24 – 30):
The humility of this woman is remarkable, since Jesus seems bent on dismissing her. Are we humble but persistent in approaching Jesus? His treatment of her is similar to that of the Samaritan woman at the well. Both received blessings from Jesus because they refused to be offended and instead were humble.
The Father and the Son (John 5: 17 – 47; John 6: 37 – 46):
In this beautiful piece of scripture, the Son witnesses of the Father and explains their relationship, and John the Baptist is described as “a burning and a shining light.” Christ also talks about the witness of Moses who wrote about the Savior and prophesied of His coming.
The body and blood of Jesus (John 6: 47 – 71):
Jesus taught “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” The people did not understand this saying and it sounded bizarre and terrible to them. Many turned away and decided not to follow Him at this moment. Even the apostles were confused.
In fact, even after the sacrament had been established by Jesus, this idea appalled non-Christians. Some of the ancient Christians’ persecution in Rome was caused by this tenet of their religion. The Romans considered Christians cannibalistic.