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Herod. Herod Antipas (see note on Matthew 2:1), Heard about Jesus. He had been away in a war with Aretas, king of Arabia, and probably did not hear much until he returned.
He is really John the Baptist. Herod was a Sadducee, and they did not believe in a life after death. But his guilt makes him think John the Baptist had come back from the dead. That is why. John the Baptist did not do miracles (John 10:41). Herod thought that being raised from death had given John the Baptist new powers. (Others thought this also. See Matthew 16:14; Mark 8:28).
For Herod had ordered. This arrest of John had happened a year earlier, just before Jesus made his second visit to Galilee (Matthew 4:12; Mark 1:14). He did this because of Herodias. While the guest of his brother Philip in Rome, he had fallen in love with his brother’s wife, and took her with him when he left. His legal wife was the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia. Herodias was the granddaughter of “Herod the King,” niece to both her legal husband and to Herod Antipas, with whom she was now living.
It isn’t right for you to marry her. (1) Philip, the husband of Herodias, was still living. (2) Antipas’ wife was still living. (3) Jewish law did not allow a man to marry his niece. See Mark 6:16-29 for a more complete account.
Herod want to kill him. This shows something of the power of public opinion. Mark says he was afraid of John also. He, too, believed John to be a prophet, and liked to listen to him, even though he did not like some things which John told him.
On Herod’s birthday. The Herodian princes imitated the Roman emperors, by celebrating their birthdays with a feast, which was a “wild party.” The daughter of Herodias. Salome—the daughter of Herod’s brother Philip. It was not usual for ladies of high rank to dance outside the privacy of the harem. Herod knew Salome danced because she wanted to ask a favor.
He promised her. He rashly swears a vow, offering to give her anything at all. [See Matthew 5:34-36 about taking a vow.]
At her mother’s suggestion. Mark tells us she went out and asked her mother what she should ask for. Her mother had told her to dance just so this opportunity would come. She is told to ask for the “head of John the Baptist” on a large serving plate.
The king was sad. Very unhappy at this. Because of his promise. He has sworn a vow, and also because he fears the taunts of the guests.
So he had John beheaded. In spite of public opinion and his own fear of John as a “holy man.”
Who took it to her mother. Jezebel was the woman to wanted to kill Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-2). Herodias is “Jezebel” to the “second Elijah” (Matthew 11:14), John the Baptist.
Then they went and told Jesus. John the Baptist had pointed out Jesus as the Messiah (John 3:25-36). In this time of deep sorrow, John’s disciples look to Jesus for sympathy and help.
When Jesus heard the news. John the Baptist was both a close friend and a relative of Jesus (Luke 1:36). He felt the deep sorrow, just as we would. Also, the twelve had just returned from a very successful tour, Jesus’ popularity was at its peak, and the crowds kept coming (see Mark 6:30-31). Jesus and his disciples crossed the Lake of Galilee (John 6:1) and went toward Bethsaida—Julias (Luke 9:10) on the eastern shore.
His heart was filled with pity for them. The crowds were already there when he got out of the boat. The area west of Lake Galilee was heavily populated, with Capernaum alone having some 30,000 people. There were twelve other cities near its shores. John 6:3 implies he first went up the mountain, but then returned to the crowd, because of his sympathy for them. Note there were 5,000 men, plus women and children (Matthew 14:21). This miracle appears in all four Gospels.
It is already very late. This was the “first evening,” from 3 to 6 P.M. The “second evening” began at sundown (6 P.M.). It would soon be dark and they must get their food before sunset. This is a lonely place. There were no farmhouses in Palestine. The people lived in villages, and farmers often went many miles to their fields. Jesus and the crowds are probably out on the narrow plain of El-Batihah. They must go to inhabited areas to buy food.
Yon yourselves give them something to eat. He said this to test his disciples (Compare John 6:5-6). They did not understand how it could be done.
Five loaves and two fish. It was Andrew who spoke (John 6:8). The loaves of barley-bread were probably “hardtack,” large, flat, and thin, similar to a cracker. They were what poor people ate. This seemed like nothing at all, because they could see that it would cost $200. [in 1974 dollars] to feed so many people.
He ordered the people to sit. They sat down in rows (Mark 6:40) And gave thanks to God. He asked God to bless this food. [People at that time, stood up, with eyes and hands raised toward the sky, as they prayed to God.]
Everyone ate and had enough. This was not a skimpy miracle! Twelve baskets full. This showed how much food was provided. It also teaches us to conserve our resources. [Jews took along baskets when they traveled, to carry food, so they would not have to depend upon the Gentiles and risk “ritual defilement.”]
The number of men. Five thousand men plus women and children. A large crowd. There was one loaf to each thousand men. It is a Divine principle, that they more they give to the hungry, the more they have for themselves!
Then Jesus made the disciples get into the boat. Jesus sent them on ahead, perhaps so he could have some peace and quiet to meditate. John says they went toward Capernaum.
He went up a hill by himself to pray. After sending the crowd away. Their excitement had bordered on frenzy (see John 6:14-15). In time of crisis, Jesus would go off alone to pray.
The boat was far out In the lake. About three or four miles from where they started. The fury of the wind was whipping up waves (Mark 6:48).
Walking on the water. Having finished his prayer, he now came to them walking on the water! The language is very firm in pointing out that it is the water itself which he walks upon.
It’s a ghost! Compare Luke 24:37. In the dark stormy night, they had no reason to expect Jesus to be walking across the water to them.
Jesus spoke to them at once. He finds it necessary to again and again speak to quiet their fears and strengthen their faith—both here and at other times. It is I. EGO EMI. This is the same expression he uses at Jerusalem (John 8:58), and is a form of the “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). He means to imply that it is the “I AM” who comes, the One who rules wind and wave.
Then Peter spoke up. Impulsive Peter! “Lord, order me to come out on the water to you.” This may be the voice of pride.
Come! answered Jesus. Perhaps to teach Peter a lesson. Peter gets out and begins to walk toward Jesus on the water.
When he noticed the wind. His faith is not as strong as he thought. As he becomes afraid, he begins to sink!
At once Jesus reached out. True faith doesn’t need to “show off.” Peter’s act didn’t demonstrate faith, but rather, doubt. The Bible points out weakness as well as strength in its human heroes. No book of myths would do that.
And the wind died down. They were safe—the Lord of wind and wave was with them! (Psalms 107:29)
Truly you are the Son of God! They are convinced by his power. Compare John 20:28-29.
Came to land at Gennesaret. A small, very fertile area, four miles long and two or three miles wide, just south of Capernaum on the shore of Lake Galilee.
Where the people recognized Jesus. His coming causes a near riot as the sick from the surrounding area are brought to Jesus to heal. Medical care was not generally available, so the people gather in great crowds.
They begged him. There were so many he could not speak to them individually. Those who touched the fringe on the edge of his cloak were immediately made well! [Shortly after this, Jesus taught about the “Bread of Life” (see John 6:22-65) in the synagogue at Capernaum, and many of his followers left him.]
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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Matthew 14". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19