Matthew Chapter Fourteen
Our Gospel resumes the historical course of these revelations, but in such a manner as to exhibit the spirit by which the people were animated. Herod (loving his earthly power and his own glory more than submission to the testimony of God, and more bound by a false human idea than by his conscience, although in many things he appears to have owned the power of the truth) had cut off the head of the forerunner of the Messiah, John the Baptist; whom he had already imprisoned, in order to remove out of the sight of his wife the faithful reprover of the sin in which she lived.
Jesus is sensible of the import of this, which is reported to Him. Accomplishing in lowly service (however personally exalted above him), together with John, the testimony of God in the congregation, He felt Himself united in heart and in His work to him; for faithfulness in the midst of all evil binds hearts very closely together; and Jesus had condescended to take a place in which faithfulness was concerned (see Psalm 40, 9, 10). On hearing therefore of John's death He retires into a desert place. But while departing from the multitude who thus began to act openly in the rejection of the testimony of God, He does not cease to be the supplier of all their wants, and to testify thus that He who could divinely minister to all their need was amongst them. For the multitude, who felt these wants and who, if they had not faith, yet admired the power of Jesus, follow Him into the desert place; and Jesus, moved with compassion, heals all their sick. In the evening His disciples beg Him to send the multitude away that they may procure food. He refuses and bears a remarkable testimony to the presence, in His own Person, of Him who was to satisfy the poor of His people with bread (Psalm 132). Jehovah, the Lord, who established the throne of David, was there in the Person of Him who should inherit that throne. I doubt not the twelve baskets of fragments refer to the number which, in scripture, always designates the perfection of administrative power in man.
Remark also here, that the Lord expects to find His twelve disciples capable of being the instruments of His acts of blessing and power, administering according to His own power the blessings of the kingdom. "Give ye them," said He, "to eat." This applies to the blessing of the Lord's kingdom, and to the disciples of Jesus, the twelve, as being its ministers; but it is likewise an all-important principle with regard to the effect of faith in every intervention of God in grace. Faith should be able to use the power that acts in such intervention, to produce the works which are proper to that power, according to the order of the dispensation and the intelligence it has respecting it. We shall find this principle again elsewhere more fully developed.
The disciples wished to send the multitude away, not knowing how to use the power of Christ. They should have been able to avail themselves of it in Israel's behalf, according to the glory of Him who was among them.
If now the Lord demonstrated with perfect patience by His actions that He who could thus bless Israel was in the midst of His people, He does not the less bear testimony to His separation from that people in consequence of their unbelief. He makes His disciples get into a ship to cross the sea alone; and, dismissing the multitude Himself, He goes up into a mountain apart to pray; while the ship that contained the disciples was tossing on the waves of the sea with a contrary wind: a living picture of that which has taken place. God has indeed sent forth His people to cross the stormy sea of the world alone, meeting with an opposition against which it is hard to strive. Meanwhile Jesus prays alone on high. He has sent away the Jewish people, who had surrounded Him during the period of His presence here below. The departure of the disciples, besides its general character, sets before us peculiarly the Jewish remnant. Peter individually, in coming out of the ship, goes in figure beyond the position of this remnant. He represents that faith which, forsaking the earthly accommodation of the ship, goes out to meet Jesus who has revealed Himself to it, and walks upon the sea-a bold undertaking, but based on the word of Jesus, "Come." Yet remark here that this walk has no other foundation than, "If it be Thou," that is to say, Jesus Himself. There is no support, no possibility of walking, if Christ be lost sight of. All depends on Him. There is a known means in the ship; there is nothing but faith, which looks to Jesus, for walking on the water. Man, as mere man, sinks by the very fact of being there. Nothing can sustain itself except that faith which draws from Jesus the strength that is in Him, and which therefore imitates Him. But it is sweet to imitate Him; and one is then nearer to Him, more like Him. This is the true position of the church, in contrast with the remnant in their ordinary character. Jesus walks on the water as on the solid ground. He who created the elements as they are could well dispose of their qualities at His pleasure. He permits storms to arise for the trial of our faith. He walks on the stormy wave as well as on the calm. Moreover the storm makes no difference. He who sinks in the waters does so in the calm as well as in the storm, and he who can walk upon them will do so in the storm as well as in the calm-that is to say, unless circumstances are looked to and so faith fail, and the Lord is forgotten. For often circumstances make us forget Him where faith ought to enable us to overcome circumstances through our walking by faith in Him who is above them all. Nevertheless, blessed be God! He who walks in His own power upon the water is there to sustain the faith and the wavering steps of the poor disciple; and at any rate that faith had brought Peter so near to Jesus that His outstretched hand could sustain him. Peter's fault was that he looked at the waves, at the storm (which, after all, had nothing to do with it), instead of looking at Jesus, who was unchanged, and who was walking on those very waves, as his faith should have observed. Still the cry of his distress brought the power of Jesus into action, as his faith ought to have done; only it was now to his shame, instead of being in the enjoyment of communion and walking like the Lord.
Jesus having entered the ship, the wind ceases. Even so it will be when Jesus returns to the remnant of His people in this world. Then also will He be worshipped as the Son of God by all that are in the ship, with the remnant of Israel. In Gennesaret Jesus again exercises the power which shall here after drive out from the earth all the evil that Satan has brought in. For when He returns, the world will recognise Him. It is a fine picture of the result of Christ's rejection, which this Gospel has already made known to us as taking place in the midst of the Jewish nation.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Matthew》
Death of John the Baptist. (1-12) Five thousand people miraculously fed. (13-21) Jesus walks upon the sea. (22-33) Jesus healing the sick. (34-36)
Commentary on Matthew 14:1-12
(Read Matthew 14:1-12)
The terror and reproach of conscience, which Herod, like other daring offenders, could not shake off, are proofs and warnings of a future judgment, and of future misery to them. But there may be the terror of convictions, where there is not the truth of conversion. When men pretend to favour the gospel, yet live in evil, we must not favour their self-delusion, but must deliver our consciences as John did. The world may call this rudeness and blind zeal. False professors, or timid Christians, may censure it as want of civility; but the most powerful enemies can go no further than the Lord sees good to permit. Herod feared that the putting of John to death might raise a rebellion among the people, which it did not; but he never feared it might stir up his own conscience against him, which it did. Men fear being hanged for what they do not fear being damned for. And times of carnal mirth and jollity are convenient times for carrying on bad designs against God's people. Herod would profusely reward a worthless dance, while imprisonment and death were the recompence of the man of God who sought the salvation of his soul. But there was real malice to John beneath his consent, or else Herod would have found ways to get clear of his promise. When the under shepherds are smitten, the sheep need not be scattered while they have the Great Shepherd to go to. And it is better to be drawn to Christ by want and loss, than not to come to him at all.
Commentary on Matthew 14:13-21
(Read Matthew 14:13-21)
When Christ and his word withdraw, it is best for us to follow, seeking the means of grace for our souls before any worldly advantages. The presence of Christ and his gospel, makes a desert not only tolerable, but desirable. This little supply of bread was increased by Christ's creating power, till the whole multitude were satisfied. In seeking the welfare of men's souls, we should have compassion on their bodies likewise. Let us also remember always to crave a blessing on our meals, and learn to avoid all waste, as frugality is the proper source of liberality. See in this miracle an emblem of the Bread of life, which came down from heaven to sustain our perishing souls. The provisions of Christ's gospel appear mean and scanty to the world, yet they satisfy all that feed on him in their hearts by faith with thanksgiving.
Commentary on Matthew 14:22-33
(Read Matthew 14:22-33)
Those are not Christ's followers who cannot enjoy being alone with God and their own hearts. It is good, upon special occasions, and when we find our hearts enlarged, to continue long in secret prayer, and in pouring out our hearts before the Lord. It is no new thing for Christ's disciples to meet with storms in the way of duty, but he thereby shows himself with the more grace to them and for them. He can take what way he pleases to save his people. But even appearances of deliverance sometimes occasion trouble and perplexity to God's people, from mistakes about Christ. Nothing ought to affright those that have Christ near them, and know he is theirs; not death itself. Peter walked upon the water, not for diversion or to boast of it, but to go to Jesus; and in that he was thus wonderfully borne up. Special supports are promised, and are to be expected, but only in spiritual pursuits; nor can we ever come to Jesus, unless we are upheld by his power. Christ bade Peter come, not only that he might walk upon the water, and so know his Lord's power, but that he might know his own weakness. And the Lord often lets his servants have their choice, to humble and prove them, and to show the greatness of his power and grace. When we look off from Christ, and look at the greatness of opposing difficulties, we shall begin to fall; but when we call to him, he will stretch out his arm, and save us. Christ is the great Saviour; those who would be saved, must come to him, and cry to him, for salvation; we are never brought to this, till we find ourselves sinking: the sense of need drives us to him. He rebuked Peter. Could we but believe more, we should suffer less. The weakness of faith, and the prevailing of our doubts, displease our Lord Jesus, for there is no good reason why Christ's disciples should be of a doubtful mind. Even in a stormy day he is to them a very present help. None but the world's Creator could multiply the loaves, none but its Governor could tread upon the waters of the sea: the disciples yield to the evidence, and confess their faith. They were suitably affected, and worshipped Christ. He that comes to God, must believe; and he that believes in God, will come, Hebrews 11:6.
Commentary on Matthew 14:34-36
(Read Matthew 14:34-36)
Whithersoever Christ went, he was doing good. They brought unto him all that were diseased. They came humbly beseeching him to help them. The experiences of others may direct and encourage us in seeking for Christ. As many as touched, were made perfectly whole. Those whom Christ heals, he heals perfectly. Were men more acquainted with Christ, and with the diseased state of their souls, they would flock to receive his healing influences. The healing virtue was not in the finger, but in their faith; or rather, it was in Christ, whom their faith took hold upon.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Matthew》
 And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.
He is risen from the dead — Herod was a Sadducee: and the Sadducees denied the resurrection of the dead. But Sadduceeism staggers when conscience awakes.
 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.
His brother Philip's wife — Who was still alive. Mark 6:17.
 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.
It is not lawful for thee to have her — It was not lawful indeed for either of them to have her. For her father Aristobulus was their own brother. John's words were rough, like his raiment. He would not break the force of truth by using soft words, even to a king.
 And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
He would have put him to death — ln his fit of passion; but he was then restrained by fear of the multitude; and afterward by the reverence he bore him.
 But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.
The daughter of Herodias — Afterward infamous for a life suitable to this beginning.
 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.
Being before instructed by her mother — Both as to the matter and manner of her petition: She said, Give me here - Fearing if he had time to consider, he would not do it: John the Baptist's head in a charger - A large dish or bowl.
 And 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.
And the king was sorry — Knowing that John was a good man.
Yet for the oath's sake — So he murdered an innocent man from mere tenderness of conscience.
 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.
And he sent and beheaded John in the prison, and his head was given to the damsel — How mysterious is the providence, which left the life of so holy a man in such infamous hands! which permitted it to be sacrificed to the malice of an abandoned harlot, the petulancy of a vain girl, and the rashness of a foolish, perhaps drunken prince, who made a prophet's head the reward of a dance! But we are sure the Almighty will repay his servants in another world for what ever they suffer in this.
 When 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.
Jesus withdrew into a desert place — 1. To avoid Herod: 2. Because of the multitude pressing upon him, Mark 6:32: and 3. To talk with his disciples, newly returned from their progress, Luke 9:10: apart - From all but his disciples. John 6:1.
 And 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.
 And 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.
 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
In the evening — Learned men say the Jews reckoned two evenings; the first beginning at three in the afternoon, the second, at sunset. If so, the latter is meant here.
 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
The fourth watch — The Jews (as well as the Romans) usually divided the night into four watches, of three hours each. The first watch began at six, the second at nine, the third at twelve, the fourth at three in the morning.
If it be thou — It is the same as, Since it is thou. The particle if frequently bears this meaning, both in ours and in all languages. So it means, John 13:14,17. St. Peter was in no doubt, or he would not have quitted the ship.
 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
He was afraid — Though he had been used to the sea, and was a skilful swimmer. But so it frequently is. When grace begins to act, the natural courage and strength are withdrawn.
 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
Thou art the Son of God — They mean, the Messiah.
 And 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;
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Matthew》
Chapter 14. Five Loaves and Two Fish
Jesus Walks on the Sea
Peter Sinks into the Sea
I. The Martyr of John the Baptist
II. Feed Five Thousand
III. Jesus Walks on the Sea
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
The Death Of John The Baptist (14:1-12)
1. A sad story in the Bible is that of "The Death Of John The Baptist"
a. His imprisonment occurred near the beginning of Jesus' ministry
- Mt 4:12
b. Some time later, John sent two of his disciples to Jesus - Mt 11:
c. Eventually he was beheaded by Herod - Mt 14:1-12
2. The sadness of the story, though, is tempered by the contrast
between John and those responsible for his death...
a. A remarkable contrast between a godly man and a depraved family
b. A contrast that certainly provides several object lessons,
encouraging godly living
3. In this study, we shall review what is said about "The Death Of John
a. Noticing the four key persons in this narrative
b. Considering a few lessons and points that might be gleaned from
[We begin with...]
I. THE FAITHFULNESS OF JOHN
A. JOHN PROVED TO BE A FAITHFUL PROPHET...
1. His message was a call to repentance - Mt 3:1-2
2. He called the religious leaders to repentance as well - Mt 3:
3. Nor did he back away from pointing out the sins of the king
- Mt 14:3-4
a. Herod had married his brother Philip's wife, Herodias
b. It was an unlawful marriage, for several reasons:
1) Philip was still living, making it adultery - Ro 7:1-3
2) She was Herod's niece, making it incest
3) The Law prohibited marrying a brother's wife - Lev 18:
4. Rather than change his message to accommodate the king, John
was willing to go to prison and ultimately die for the Word of
B. HIS FAITHFULNESS SHOULD INSPIRE US TODAY...
1. To be true to God's Word, even when not politically correct
2. To proclaim God's law on marriage, even if it angers others
a. God's law on marriage goes all the way back to the creation
- Mt 19:4-8
b. Christ defined the one circumstance when one may divorce
and remarry - Mt 19:9
c. Therefore not all marriages are "lawful"; there may be
times when we must tell one: "It is not lawful for you to
have her" - Mt 14:4
[The faithfulness of this godly man stands out, especially when
contrasted with the members of the ungodly family we now consider.
II. THE SHAMELESSNESS OF SALOME
A. SALOME WAS A GIRL WITH NO SHAME...
1. Of course, she was the daughter of a shameless woman - Mt 14:6
2. From the Greek, Robertson describes her dance as "some kind of
rapid motion...a shameful exhibition of lewd dancing"
(Robertson's Word Pictures)
3. She danced this way, not just before Herod, but his guests as
well - Mk 6:21-22
B. HER SHAMELESSNESS IS OFTEN REPEATED TODAY...
1. Much modern dance is similar to the lewdness of Salome's
a. Designed to arouse fleshly passions
b. "Because of its physical appeal, dance lends itself to
erotic purposes and has been practiced to these ends by
both sexes." - Encyclopedia Britannica, "The Art Of Dance"
2. Such shamelessness is condemned as lewdness (lasciviousness,
a. The Greek word for "lewdness" (aselgia) is "unbridled lust
...wanton acts or manners (including) filthy words,
indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and
b. Condemned as a work of the flesh - cf. Ga 5:19-21
3. Christians (esp. women) are to possess a sense of
"shamefacedness" - 1 Ti 2:9 (KJV)
a. That is, a sense of propriety (NKJV), that which is proper
b. The Greek word (aidos) means "a sense of shame, modesty"
c. "Aidos would always restrain a good man from an unworthy
[The shamelessness of Salome contributed to the death of John the
Baptist. Similar lack of propriety among men and women leads to much
trouble today as well. Of course, this young girl was undoubtedly
influenced by her mother...]
III. THE VENGEFULNESS OF HERODIAS
A. HERODIAS WAS A VENGEFUL WOMAN...
1. She was the subject of John's rebuke to Herod - Mt 14:3-4
a. She had been married to Philip, Herod Antipas' half-brother
b. Herod had been married to the daughter of Aretas, an
Arabian king of Petraea
c. After Herod had been a guest in Philip's home, he and
Herodias eloped while still married to their spouses
d. At some point they married, for which John rebuked them
- Mk 6:17-18
2. In her vengefulness...
a. She prompted Herod to imprison John - Mk 6:17-18
a. She wanted to kill John, though temporarily prevented from
doing so - Mk 6:19
b. She prompted her daughter to ask for John's head on a
platter - Mk 6:22-25
B. SUCH VENGEFULNESS OFTEN DESTROYS LIVES TODAY...
1. Through vengeance people often resort to desperate measures
a. E.g., Simeon and Levi, whose vengeance killed those of
Shechem - Gen 34:1-31
b. It moved Joab to kill Abner, an honorable man - 2 Sam 3:27;
1 Kin 2:29-33
2. Vengeance led to the downfall of such people as:
a. Haman, who tried to kill Mordecai and the Jews - Esther 3-7
b. The Edomites and the Philistines, who took vengeance on
Judah - Eze 25:12-17
3. Vengeance destroys families, friends, associates; hurting most
those who exercise it
4. Which is why we are commanded to leave vengeance to God - Pro
24:29; Ro 12:17-19; 1 Th 5:15; 1 Pe 3:9
[Finally, we consider the king who was manipulated like a pawn, as we
IV. THE WEAKNESS OF HEROD
A. HEROD ANTIPAS WAS A WEAK MAN...
1. Son of Herod the Great, we see his weakness manifested by:
a. His superstition, supposing Jesus to be John raised from
the dead - Mt 14:1-2
b. His unfaithfulness, in leaving his first wife and marrying
Herodias - Mt 14:3-4
c. His fear of the multitude and John himself, which prevented
Herod from killing him at first - Mt 14:5; Mk 6:20
d. His manipulation by Salome and Herodias - Mt 14:6-8
e. His fear of his guests, before whom he was afraid of
ridicule - Mt 14:9
2. His weakness eventually led to his death
a. For Herodias later prompted him to join her in appealing
for favors from Caesar
b. But they were accused of high treason and banished to
Gaul, where he died in great misery (Josephus,
Antiquities Of The Jews)
B. SUCH MORAL WEAKNESS CAN BE A PROBLEM TODAY...
1. We can be destroyed by weakness through:
a. Succumbing to temptation
b. Allowing others to pressure us in doing evil - 1 Co 15:33
2. Christians need to stand strong...
a. Cf. The example of young men as Joseph and Daniel - Gen 39:
1-12; Dan 1:8
b. Looking to God for help and strength - 1 Co 10:13; Ep 3:16;
c. Seeking the approval of God, not men - Ga 1:10
1. In "The Death Of John The Baptist", it initially appears that evil
was the winner...
a. Herod succeeded in imprisoning and killing John
b. Herod and Salome succeeded in manipulating Herod and getting rid
2. There are times today when it seems that evil people are the ones
who win in life...
a. People who blatantly disregard God's law on divorce and
b. Young people who gain popularity through shameless conduct
3. But as revealed by the Psalmist (Psa 73:1-28), such apparent success
a. God will eventually bring the wicked into judgment
b. Sometimes judgment is received even in this life, as with the
exile of Herod and Herodias
c. Whose shoes would you want to be in now? Herod's? Herodias'?
May the faithfulness of John remind us that serving God is the only way
to eternal life and true happiness...!