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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Matthew 14:13

Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Bethsaida;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Bethsaida;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - John, gospel of;   Miracles;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Jesus Christ;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Hutchinsonians;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Matthew, the Gospel of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Mss;   Text of the New Testament;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Dates (2);   Fish, Fisher, Fishing;   Kenosis;   Loneliness;   Matthew, Gospel According to;   Prudence;   Sea of Galilee;   Silence;   Solitude;   Text of the Gospels;   Wilderness (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Bethsaida ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;  
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Apart;   Bethsaida;   Jesus Christ (Part 2 of 2);   Lord's Supper (Eucharist);   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Bethsaida;  
Unselected Authors

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse Matthew 14:13. When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence — Had the blessed Jesus continued in that place, it is probable the hand of this impure female murderer would have been stretched out against him also: he withdrew, therefore, not through fear, but to teach his messengers rather to yield to the storm than expose themselves to destruction, where, from circumstances, the case is evidently hopeless.

The people - followed him on footπεζη, or, by land, which is a common acceptation of the word in the best Greek writers. See many examples in Kypke.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Matthew 14:13". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

65. Feeding the five thousand (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14)

When the apostles returned from their first tour around the country areas, they met Jesus in Galilee and tried to have a quiet time alone with him (Mark 6:30-32; John 6:1). Jesus also was in need of a rest, but he was filled with pity when he saw the crowds of people flocking to him in their need. They appeared to him as a flock of spiritually starved sheep that had no food because there was no shepherd to feed them (Mark 6:33-34; John 6:2-4).

The apostles were soon reminded that Jesus alone could satisfy the spiritual needs of the people. Without him the apostles were not able to satisfy even the people’s physical needs. With five small loaves and two fish, Jesus miraculously fed a huge crowd, reminding the apostles that the miracles they had done on their missionary tour had resulted solely from Jesus’ power working in them (Mark 6:35-44; John 6:5-13). But to many of the people, the miracle was a sign that Jesus was the promised great prophet. Like Moses, he had miraculously fed God’s people in the wilderness (John 6:14; see Exodus 16:1-36; Deuteronomy 18:15; 1 Corinthians 10:1-5).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Matthew 14:13". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

Now when Jesus heard it, he withdrew from thence in a boat, to a desert place apart; and when the multitudes heard thereof, they followed him on foot from the cities.

Robertson wrote, "Note that four separate withdrawals from Galilee are given. In every case, he keeps out of Herod's territory, and in every case he goes to the mountains."[2]

The desert mentioned is not a waterless place, but an uninhabited place. Insight as to the scriptural use of the term "desert" may be obtained from a glance at the following accounts from the four gospel accounts of the same incident: Matthew calls the place a "desert," adding a word about there being "grass" there (Matthew 14:19); Mark relates that there was "green grass" (Mark 6:39); and John refers to "much grass" (John 6:10). Luke gives the location as Bethsaida (Luke 9:10), a beautifully-situated city near the mountains at the northeast corner of Galilee. Wide, level grassy places may still be seen there, but so far from the city as to have made it impractical for the people to go and buy bread.

The people, seeing that Christ had gone across the lake to Bethsaida with the Twelve, merely walked around the northern end of the lake and met him there.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Matthew 14:13". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

A full narrative of the feeding the five thousand is given in each of the other evangelists: in Mark 6:32-44; in Luke 9:10-17; in John 6:1-14.

Matthew 14:13

And when Jesus heard of it, he departed - He went to a place of safety.

He never threw himself unnecessarily into danger. It was proper that he should secure his life until the appointed time had come for him to die.

By a ship into a desert place - That is, he crossed the Sea of Galilee. He went to the country east of the sea, into a place little inhabited. Luke says Luke 9:10 he went to a place called Bethsaida. See the notes at Matthew 11:21. “A desert place” means a place little cultivated, where there were few or no inhabitants. On the east of the Sea of Galilee there was a large tract of country of this description rough, uncultivated, and chiefly used to pasture flocks.

Matthew 14:14

Was moved with compassion - That is, pitied them.

Mark 6:34 says he was moved with compassion because they were as sheep having no shepherd. A shepherd is one who takes care of a flock. It was his duty to feed it; to defend it from wolves and other wild beasts; to take care of the young and feeble; to lead it by green pastures and still waters, Psalms 23:1-6. In Eastern countries this was a principal employment of the inhabitants. When Christ says the people were as sheep without a shepherd, he means that they had no teachers and guides who cared for them and took pains to instruct them. The scribes and Pharisees were haughty and proud, and cared little for the common people; and when they did attempt to teach them, they led them astray. They therefore came in great multitudes to him who preached the gospel to the poor Matthew 11:5, and who was thus the good shepherd, John 10:14.

Matthew 14:15

The time is now past - That is, the day is passing away; it is near night, and it is proper to make some provision for the temporal wants of so many.

Perhaps it may mean it was past the usual time for refreshment.

Matthew 14:16

Jesus said They need not depart; give ye them to eat - John adds John 6:5-6 that previous to this Jesus had addressed Philip, and asked, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? and that he “said this to prove him; for he himself knew what he would do;” that is, he said this to try his faith; to test the confidence of Philip in himself.

Philip, it seems, had not the kind of confidence which he ought to have had. He immediately began to think of their ability to purchase food for them. Two hundred pennyworth of bread, said he, would not be enough, John 6:7. In the original it is two hundred denarii. These were Roman coins amounting to about fourteen cents (7d.) each. The whole two hundred, therefore, would have been equal to about twenty-eight dollars. In the view of Philip this was a great sum, a sum which twelve poor fishermen were by no means able to provide. It was this fact, and not any unwillingness to provide for them, which led the disciples to request that they should be sent into the villages around in order to obtain food. Jesus knew how much they had, and he required of them, as he does of all, implicit faith, and told them to give them to eat. He requires us to do what he commands, and we need not doubt that he will give us strength to accomplish it.

Matthew 14:17

We have here but five loaves ... - These loaves were in the possession of a lad, or young man, who was with them, and were made of barley, John 6:9

It is possible that this lad was one in attendance on the apostles to carry their food, but it is most probable he was one who had provision to sell among the multitude. Barley was a cheap kind of food, scarcely one-third the value of wheat, and was much used by poor people. A considerable part of the food of the people in that region was probably fish, as they lived on the borders of a lake that abounded in fish.

Matthew 14:19

And he commanded the multitude to sit down - In the original it is “to recline” on the grass, or to lie as they did at their meals.

The Jews never sat, as we do, at meals, but reclined or lay at length. See the notes at Matthew 23:6. Mark and Luke add that they reclined in companies, by hundreds and by fifties.

And looking up to heaven, he blessed - Luke adds, he blessed “them;” that is, the loaves. The word “to bless” means, often, to give thanks; sometimes to pray for a blessing; that is, to pray for the divine favor and friendship; to pray that what we do may meet his approbation. In seeking a blessing on our food, it means that we pray that it may be made nourishing to our bodies; that we may have proper gratitude to God, the giver, for providing for our wants; and that we may remember the Creator while we partake the bounties of his providence. Our Saviour always sought a blessing on his food. In this he was an example for us. What he did we should do. It is right thus to seek the blessing of God. He provides for us; he daily opens his hand and satisfies our wants, and it is proper that we should render suitable acknowledgments for his goodness.

The custom among the Jews was universal. The form of prayer which they used in the time of Christ has been preserved by their writers, the Talmudists. It is this: “Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, the King of the world, who hast produced this food and this drink from the earth and the vine.”

And brake - The loaves of bread, among the Jews, were made thin and brittle, and were therefore broken and not cut.

Matthew 14:20

And they did all eat, and were filled - This was an undoubted miracle.

The quantity must have been greatly increased to have supplied so many. He that could increase that small quantity so much had the power of creation; and he that could do that could create the world out of nothing, and had no less than divine power.

Twelve baskets full - The size of these baskets is unknown. They were probably such as travelers carried their provisions in. They were used commonly by the Jews in their journeys. In traveling among the Gentiles or Samaritans, a Jew could expect little hospitality. There were not, as now, public houses for the entertainment of strangers. At great distances there were caravansaries, but they were intended chiefly as lodging-places for the night, and not to provide food for travelers. Hence, in journeying among strangers or in deserts, they carried baskets of provisions, and this is the reason why they were furnished with them here. It is probable that each of the apostles had one, and they were all filled. John John 6:12 says that Jesus directed them to gather up these fragments, that nothing might be lost - an example of economy. God creates all food; it has, therefore, a kind of sacredness; it is all needed by some person or other, and none should be lost.

Matthew 14:21

Five thousand men, besides ... - Probably the whole number might have been ten thousand, To feed so many was an act of great benevolence and a stupendous miracle.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Matthew 14:13". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Matthew 14:13

. When Jesus heard it. John, who relates the same narrative, does not mention the reason why Jesus crossed over to the opposite bank, (6: 5.) Mark and Luke differ somewhat from Matthew; for they describe the occasion of the journey to have been to give some repose to his disciples, after that they had returned from their embassy. But there is no contradiction here; for it is possible that he intended to withdraw his disciples into a desert place, in order that he might be more at leisure to train them for higher labors, and that, about the same time, an additional reason arose out of the death of John. Minds which were still feeble might have been terrified by the death of John, learning from the melancholy end of that eminent prophet what condition awaited them all. Certainly, as it was formerly related that, when John was imprisoned, Christ removed from Herod’s territory, in order to avoid his fury for the time, so we may now infer that Christ, in order to keep his trembling disciples at a distance from the flame, withdrew into a desert place.

How long the Apostles were employed in their first embassy it is not in our power to determine; for the Evangelists, as we have formerly remarked, either did not attend to dates, or did not observe them with great exactness. I think it highly probable that their commission to proclaim the kingdom of Christ was not confined to a single occasion, but that, as opportunities were offered, they either repeated their visit to some places, or went to others after a lapse of time. The words, they came together to him, I look upon as meaning that ever afterwards they were his constant attendants; as if the Evangelist had said, that they did not leave their Master so as to be individually and constantly employed in the ordinary office of teaching, but that, having discharged a temporary commission, they went back to school to make greater advances in learning.

They followed him on foot out of the cities. Though Christ, who foresaw all things before they happened, was in no respect ignorant of what would take place, yet he wished, as a man, to forewarn his disciples, that the fact might testify the anxiety which he had about them. The vast crowd that had assembled shows how widely his fame was spread in every direction: and this left the Jews without excuse in depriving themselves, by their own carelessness, of the salvation which was offered to them; for even out of this great multitude, which was inflamed by a sudden zeal to follow Christ, it is evident from what is stated by John, (John 6:66) that not more than a very small number yielded a true and steady adherence to his doctrine.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Matthew 14:13". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

And at that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus. And he said to his servants, This is John the Baptist; he's risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod's birthday was kept, and the daughter of Herodias danced before him, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John the Baptist's head in a charger. So the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded that it be given to her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus ( Matthew 14:1-12 ).

Here we have the story of Herod and the beheading of John the Baptist. He was called Herod Antipas; he was the son of Herod the Great. The word "tetrarch" means the ruler over a fourth part. When Herod the Great died, he had many sons, but three of them were given rule over part of the territory that Herod the Great once governed. Herod Antipas, the one who had beheaded John the Baptist, was married to the daughter of a Nabatean king, Areta.

And He went to Rome were he visited his brother Philip, Herod Philip, and there he fell in love with Philip's wife. And he enticed her to leave his brother, and to return with him as his wife. But in order to do this he had to then divorce Areta, the daughter of the Nabatean king, which he did. And he took Herodias as his wife.

Now John the Baptist spoke out against that. John the Baptist was a straight shooter. And he said it isn't lawful for you to do that. It wasn't lawful for him to put away Areta without a cause. And of course it wasn't lawful to marry his brother's sister. So John the Baptist spoke out boldly against him, and he paid the price of incurring the displeasure of Herod, for Herod imprisoned him and would have put him to death, yet there was such a popular appeal that John had to the people. He was a little fearful of putting him to death. Josephus in his Antiquities, the historic account of the Jews, helps us in this a little bit. He said that Herod actually was desiring to put him to death, because of the tremendous popularity that John had among the people. And he was actually a little threatened by the popularity of John the Baptist.

Herodias ultimately, of course, was the downfall of Herod. She was a very cruel and cunning woman. She, of course, was upset because John had spoken out against the marriage, had a deep kind of desire for revenge. And so she allowed her daughter to dance for Herod on his birthday. Her daughter's name was Salome. The dances were of those oriental-type, which were very suggestive, and sensuous. Salome was probably only sixteen or seventeen. And for her mother to allow her to do this, shows the fact that there was no real morality in the heart of Herodias at all, very immoral woman. And when Herod's passions were aroused by the dance of Salome, in that moment of excitement and the applause for the dance and all, with the crowd around, he said, "ask whatever you want and I will give it to you" ( Mark 6:22 ). And her mother Herodias had already coached her in advance that she should ask for the head of John the Baptist on a charger. And when she made this request, of course Herod wanted to back down, but he had made the promise, and so he held to it.

Now later on when Caligula became the emperor of Rome there was another son of Herod, Agrippa that he sent to reign over some of the provinces of Israel, and he gave to Agrippa the title of king. And so you remember Paul addressing him King Agrippa.

Now Herodias said to her husband Herod Antipas, look, he has the title of king. You ought also to have the title of king, because she had this desire to be known as Queen Herodias, and so this real thing in her wanting to be known as queen. She put her husband up to going to Rome to talk to the Emperor Caligula that he would give to Antipas also the title of king.

However, Herod Agrippa heard of the plan, and so he sent messages ahead to Caligula and said, hey, Antipas is not to be trusted, he is very likely to rebel against you. He is looking for position and power. And so Caligula believed the report that he received from Agrippa. And when Antipas came requesting that he receive the title of king, instead of receiving it, he had taken a lot of money with him, and she said, what's money, go and bribe him, Caligula, for this title of king. Caligula took the money, but he banished Antipas to Gaul.

And so that was the end of his ambition. And that was the end of Herod Antipas, he and Herodias. Caligula said, look, you can stay here if you want. But she said, no, I'll be with my husband. That's the only honorable thing she did. So she was banished with him to Gaul. The end of this man, who fought the prophet of God, because the prophet had enough courage to speak out against his sin, had him imprisoned.

And so we read of the death of the cousin of Jesus, John the Baptist. And when Herod heard of all that Jesus was doing, though he had put John the Baptist to death, his conscience was probably still troubling him. And he said, "this is John the Baptist, he's raised from the dead, and that's why he can do this marvelous works" ( Matthew 14:2 ). He no doubt really believed that John the Baptist was indeed a true prophet.

So now in verse thirteen,

When Jesus heard of this [horrible atrocity against John. It no doubt shocked Him.], and he went by ship into a desert place apart ( Matthew 14:13 ):

Desert, not meaning desert like the Mojave, or Sahara, but a deserted place, because there really isn't any real desert around the Sea of Galilee, but there are places that are deserted, or uninhabited. And so He went to one of the uninhabited areas there across the Sea of Galilee, over on the opposite side of the sea, there were several sort of deserted areas.

So when the people had heard that he was leaving, they followed him on foot out of the cities. And when Jesus went foRuth ( Matthew 14:13-14 ),

So He got around the other side, and here was a great multitude of people waiting for Him. Now the Sea of Galilee is only eight miles across. And from the area of Capernaum, if you cross over to the area there, Bethsaida there, it isn't really that far, and you can watch a little boat go all the way across. So as they are taking off for Capernaum, it's easy to tell which direction they are going. They just watch which direction they are going, and then the people run around the upper end of the lake, and then they'll be there waiting of Him, when He got to the other side.

This must have been difficult. Here you're troubled, because of this horrible atrocity, and you're wanting to get alone for just a little bit, to sort of put things together, get things in perspective. And so you try to get off alone, and have just a little time to wait upon God, and to pray, and to sort of get yourself collected, and you get to the other side, and here is the whole multitude of people waiting there for you. Now it would have been very easy for Jesus to have been brusque and say, look I came over to get a rest, can't you leave me alone? And I know so many people who have a great ministry today who might do just that.

But Jesus when he saw the great multitude, was moved with compassion toward them ( Matthew 14:14 ),

Oh, God give us a heart for the ministry, like Jesus. That whenever we see the people, rather than feeling; oh, no, why did they have to come here? Don't they know I want to be alone? That whenever we meet them, we are moved with compassion towards them. God give us a heart of compassion towards the needs of people.

And the needs of people always moved the heart of Jesus with compassion. He could not see a needy person without being moved with compassion towards them.

and he healed their sick ( Matthew 14:14 ).

Now many of these people were not really seeking Him. All they were seeking was help, the healing of their sick. And it would be very easy to sort of jump on the crowd, and to needle them, and get after them. All you want is the benefits. You really don't want to make the commitment. And that was so true. But Jesus never chided them. He never got on them. He just went ahead and ministered to them freely. And I love Him for that.

Now when it was evening, his disciples came to him, and they said, This is a deserted place, and the time is now past; you better send the multitude away, that they might go into the villages, and buy themselves some food. But Jesus said unto them, They don't need to depart; give them to eat. And they said unto him, We only have five loaves, and two fish. And he said, Bring them to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and he took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven he blessed, and he broke, and he gave the loaves to His disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled ( Matthew 14:15-20 ):

The word "filled" in Greek is glutted, that would be a more appropriate translation. They all ate and were stuffed.

And they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside the woman and children ( Matthew 14:20-21 ).

So here is that recording of the marvelous multiplication of the loaves and the fishes to feed the five thousand. Now there are those who have difficulty with miracles, and so when they read this story they try to read into it, a plausible explanation to remove the miraculous from it.

We are told that these five loaves and two fish came from a little boy, who probably when he told his mother I want to go over and see Jesus, she packed him a lunch. And so when the multitude was there, they said, Lord, you better send them away, that they might buy food. And He said, no, they are hungry, they might faint in the way, let's feed them. And they said, if we had several thousand dollars worth of bread we couldn't feed this crowd. Jesus said, what do you have? And Andrew said there is a little kid over here with five loaves and two fish, but what's that to a multitude like this? And so the little boy came, and gave his five loaves and his two fishes to Jesus and He then blessed them, and broke the bread, and distributed.

And there are those who explain, that in those days, they wore these long robes and they had sleeves that tied at the wrist. And quite often people carried bread and fish in their sleeves. And that when everybody was hungry, and they all knew when they were hungry, everybody was so selfish, none was willing to share their own little lunch that they had tied in their sleeves.

But when the little boy came forth, and offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes, everyone was so touched and moved, by the beautiful example of this little child. They all untied their sleeves, and shared with each other and there was really enough there, that they could gather twelve baskets full, after everybody had eaten. And so it was the touching example of a little child, that moved the multitude. And isn't that a beautiful story. God has got a hot place for men who try to mess with the Word.

And immediately Jesus constrained the disciples to get into a ship, and go before him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away ( Matthew 14:22 ).

So He said to the disciples and all, go ahead, get in the boat and go over to the other side. I'll send the multitude away.

And 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 14:23 ).

Now notice this, I think this is important to know. It had been an extremely hard day. Jesus had received the news of horrible atrocity, His cousin John had been beheaded by Herod. And He felt it sort of imperative to just get alone for awhile. So He got into the ship with the disciples, and they headed over to the other side.

But the people seeing the direction that they were going, run around the upper part of the Galilee, and meet Him when the ship landed. And here was the multitude. And Jesus spends the day ministering to them. He is weary emotionally, because of what had happen to John. No doubt weary physically by ministering to these people, being pressed by them all the day long up until the evening. He feeds them and then He sends them away, as the disciples are heading back. Hard day, troubling news, physically exhausted, time to really flake out, but instead He went up into a mountain apart to pray. Oh, the importance that prayer had in the life of Jesus.

Now if He being the Son of God felt the necessity to be strengthened through prayer on these kinds of occasions, how much more we, weak, failing disciples or followers of Him need to spend time in prayer, to be strengthened by God. We would say, oh, it's time to really get a rest. I really need to get a nap. I really need to get my strength. But instead He went up, and spends the evening, the night in prayer according to another gospel. But prayer was His place of strength. He discovered it to be a place of great strength. Even as you can discover that prayer is a place of great strength indeed.

And so when the evening was come He was there alone.

But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, and it was tossed by the waves: for the wind was contrary ( Matthew 14:24 ).

Coming from the side of Gennesaret, back across the sea, there is that valley that comes into the Sea of Galilee, from the Mediterranean where, when they get these storms, it usually blows in through that Chinnereth Valley. And so in coming back, you're coming against that wind that comes howling through that valley. And so the disciples were faced with this dismal prospect of trying to row against the wind and against the flow of the wind-whipped waves, because they were heading back towards the area of Capernaum. And so they were in the midst of the sea. And they were being tossed with the waves, for the wind was coming from that direction of the Mediterranean.

And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. [That is almost morning.] And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It's a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I, be not afraid. [An impulsive] Peter answered, Lord, if it is you, bid me to come to you on the water. And Jesus said, Come on. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and he began to sink, and he cried, saying, Oh, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, why did you doubt? ( Matthew 14:25-31 )

Amazing story, isn't it? How that Peter was able for a time to walk on the water, and it would appear that he could walk on the water, as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. But suddenly, maybe a wave crashed, splashing his face and he looked around and, oh, what am I doing out here? And he started to sink. "Lord, save me." I can hear Jesus chuckle, as He said, "oh, oh, you of little faith". What happened to you? You started well, what happened to you Peter? "Oh ye of little faith."

I think that the lesson is keeping our eyes upon the Lord. I think that is so important for us. It is so easy for us to get our eyes on our circumstances. And we start looking around and the boisterous waves; we start looking at our problems. We start looking at our situations and we begin to sink. Because every one of us are faced with daily situations that can really sink us, if we really get into it. We need to keep our eyes on the Lord, who is the Master over the sea, over the waves, over the winds. And looking at Jesus he was able to walk for a ways on the water. Getting his eyes off Jesus and on the waves, he began to sink. As long as we keep our eyes on Jesus we can walk on the water, so to speak.

Now to me it's great that when Peter started to sink he knew where to call. "Lord, save me." I've been in the same boat. Man, how many times I've cried, "Oh Lord, save me." And the graciousness of Jesus. "Oh thou of little faith". Why did you doubt Peter? You're doing all right.

And when they had come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshiped him, saying, Of a truth, thou art the Son of God ( Matthew 14:32-33 ).

They just had seen such a tremendous demonstration of His divine powers.

And when they were gone over, they came to the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out unto all the country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased ( Matthew 14:34-35 );

And Gennesaret is there. It is Chinnereth, or Gennesaret. It's the name of that valley coming from the area of the Mediterranean aqua area.

And they besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole ( Matthew 14:36 ).

Now Jesus did not have some kind of magic garment that if you touch it, you would be healed. The healing took place in each case because of the faith of that person. And the touching of His garment was the point for them to release their faith. There is sort of a passive kind of faith, if such a thing can exist. A believing that God can do it, knowing that God can do it, being fully persuaded and assured that God can do it.

And I think that we all probably fit in that category who believe in God. We know that God can do anything. And I am faced with some malady or whatever, and someone says, "Well, God can heal you." Yes, I know that is true, I don't doubt that. I go to the hospital and I see these people in critical condition. The doctors have given them up, and I say, "Well, God can heal you," and I believe that. I believe God can do anything. But there is something to activating that faith, to where it is not, I believe that can heal you, but that I believe that God will heal you now, that moment when faith is activated to receive that touch, or healing from God.

And I think that this touching of the hem of His garment created a point of contact for those people to release their faith. In other words, in their minds they were saying I know that the moment I touch the hem of His garment, I'll be healed. And that was so in their minds, that the moment they were able to grab the hem of His garment, they released the faith, and it was no longer just a passive, I know God can, but I know that God is. And in that moment, release their faith to take then at that moment their healing, and the moment they activated, or released the faith, they were healed.

There were many things in the New Testament that formed points of contact for the releasing of faith. And Jesus actually established more or less points of contact on various occasions. When He put mud in the blind man's eyes, and said, "Now go and wash up the mud, as soon as you wash it out, you can see" ( John 9:6-7 ). The man believed that the minute I can wash this mud out, I am gonna see. And it was a point of contact for the releasing of his faith.

In the Old Testament, when the prophet Elisha told Naaman to go dip in the River Jordan seven times, when you come up from the seventh time, you're going to be healed, it was a point of contact for the releasing of faith ( 2 Kings 5:10 ). In the Book of Acts they sent out from Paul handkerchiefs, or more literally sweatbands, and his aprons, and they would lay them on the sick, and the people would be healed. Peter, when he was walking down the street, they would set the sick in the way, so that his shadow would fall on them, and the shadow of Peter falling on them was a point of contact. People said, oh I know as soon as Peter's shadow falls on me, oh I am gonna be healed. And they had that point of releasing faith ( Acts 5:15 ).

And somehow we need be able to release the faith, so it will become activated. So I know that as soon as it will happen, and it's a point of contact to release the faith, and there is a valuable lesson there.


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Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Matthew 14:13". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Since Matthew 14:3-12 are an excursus, the opening words of this pericope must refer to Herod’s response to Jesus’ ministry. When Jesus heard that, He withdrew from Herod’s territory and his animosity (cf. Matthew 12:15). Evidently Jesus believed Herod Antipas would oppose Him as he had opposed His forerunner. As previously (Matthew 12:15) and later (Matthew 15:21), Jesus withdrew from a place of danger and confrontation.

However, Jesus could not escape the crowds that followed Him wherever He went. The lonely place where Jesus retreated was evidently near Bethsaida Julias on Galilee’s northeast shore (Luke 9:10). Jesus traveled there from Capernaum by boat, but the crowds beat Him there on foot having learned where He was going. They walked east along the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee. Matthew again noted the great compassion of the King (cf. Matthew 9:36).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 14:13". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 14:13-21 (cf. Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-13)

Matthew’s record of this miracle, which all four Gospels contain, stresses Jesus’ power to create, His compassion, and the disciples’ responsibility to minister to multitudes as Jesus’ representatives. It also previews the kingdom banquet (cf. Matthew 8:11). The simple meal that Jesus provided on this occasion in a wholesome setting contrasts with Herod’s lavish feast in a degenerate setting just described. [Note: See Edersheim, 1:677.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 14:13". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

2. The withdrawal to Bethsaida 14:13-33

Having experienced strong rejection from the common people and from the nation’s political leaders, Jesus withdrew to train His disciples further. In view of the coming conflict, they needed stronger faith in Him. Jesus cultivated their faith with two miracles.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 14:13". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

When Jesus heard of it,.... Of the death of John, and of the cruel usage he had met with; and particularly, that his fame had reached the court of Herod, and that he was talked of there, and said by Herod himself to be John the Baptist, that was risen from the dead;

he departed thence by ship, into a desert place apart; to avoid Herod, though not through fear of death; but because his time was not yet come: which may teach us, that it is lawful to shun dangers, when there is an opportunity; which may be done, without betraying truth, or sacrificing a good conscience. The other evangelists, Mark and Luke, assign another reason of this departure of Christ's, that it was upon the return of his disciples to him from their embassy; when having given him an account of what they had done, and taught, he judged it proper they should retire, and get some refreshment and rest; and both may very well be thought to be the reasons of this recess. At the same time that John's disciples brought him the news of their master's death, Christ's disciples return to him, with the account of the success of their ministry; who might not only be weary, and want refreshment, but be discouraged in their minds, at this instance of cruelty; wherefore Christ thought it necessary to retire, partly for his own safety, and partly for their ease; and that he might have an opportunity of fortifying their minds against all trials and persecutions they were to meet with: the place from whence he departed, was either Capernaum, his own country and city, or Nazareth, where we have lately heard of him; or some other place in Galilee, where he was, when John's disciples came to him: the place whither he went, was "a desert place"; and, as Luke says, "belonging to the city called Bethsaida", the city of Andrew and Peter, which lay on the other side of the sea of Galilee, or Tiberias; over which he went by ship, John 6:1.

And when the people had heard thereof; of his departure, and whither he went,

they followed him on foot out of their cities; such as Nazareth, Capernaum, Tiberias, and others; and passing the bridge at Jordan, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, they outwent the ship, and got thither before them, as Mark relates. This showed their great affection and zeal for Christ, and their diligence in attending on him.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Matthew 14:13". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Five Thousand Fed.

      13 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.   14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.   15 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.   16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.   17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.   18 He said, Bring them hither to me.   19 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.   20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.   21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

      This passage of story, concerning Christ's feeding five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes, is recorded by all the four Evangelists, which very few, if any, of Christ's miracles are: this intimates that there is something in it worthy of special remark. Observe,

      I. The great resort of people to Christ, when he was retired into a desert place,Matthew 14:13; Matthew 14:13. He withdrew into privacy when he heard, not of John's death, but of the thoughts Herod had concerning him, that he was John the Baptist risen from the dead, and therefore so feared by Herod as to be hated; he departed further off, to get out of Herod's jurisdiction. Note, In times of peril, when God opens a door of escape, it is lawful to flee for our own preservation, unless we have some special call to expose ourselves. Christ's hour was not yet come, and therefore he would not thrust himself upon suffering. He could have secured himself by divine power, but because his life was intended for an example, he did it by human prudence; he departed by ship. But a city on a hill cannot be hid; when the people heard it, they followed him on foot from all parts. Such an interest Christ had in the affections of the multitude, that his withdrawing from them did but draw them after him with so much the more eagerness. Here, as often, the scripture was fulfilled, that unto him shall the gathering of the people be. It should seem, there was more crowding to Christ after John's martyrdom than before. Sometimes the suffering of the saints are made to further the gospel (Philippians 1:12), and "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." Now John's testimony was finished, it was recollected, and more improved than ever. Note, 1. When Christ and his word withdraw from us, it is best for us (whatever flesh and blood may object to the contrary) to follow it, preferring opportunities for our souls before any secular advantages whatsoever. When the ark removes, ye shall remove, and go after it,Joshua 3:3. 2. Those that truly desire the sincere milk of the word, will not stick at the difficulties they may meet with in their attendance on it. The presence of Christ and his gospel makes a desert place not only tolerable, but desirable; it makes the wilderness an Eden, Isaiah 51:3; Isaiah 41:19; Isaiah 41:20.

      II. The tender compassion of our Lord Jesus towards those who thus followed him, Matthew 14:14; Matthew 14:14. 1. He went forth, and appeared publicly among them. Though he retired for his own security, and his own repose, yet he went forth from his retirement, when he saw people desirous to hear him, as one willing both to toil himself, and to expose himself, for the good of souls; for even Christ pleased not himself. 2. When he saw the multitude, he had compassion on them. Note, The sight of a great multitude may justly move compassion. To see a great multitude, and to think how many precious, immortal souls here are, the greatest part of which, we have reason to fear, are neglected and ready to perish, would grieve one to the heart. None like Christ for pity to souls; his compassions fails not. 3. He did not only pity them, but he helped them; many of them were sick, and he, in compassion to them, healed them; for he came into the world to be the great Healer. After awhile, they were all hungry, and he, in compassion to them, fed them. Note, In all the favours Christ shows to us, he is moved with compassion,Isaiah 63:9.

      III. The motion which the disciples made for the dismissing of the congregation, and Christ's setting aside the motion. 1. The evening drawing on, the disciples moved it to Christ to send the multitude away; they thought there was a good day's work done, and it was time to disperse. Note, Christ's disciples are often more careful to show their discretion, than to show their zeal; and their abundant affection in the things of God. 2. Christ would not dismiss them hungry as they were, nor detain them longer without meat, nor put them upon the trouble and charge of buying meat for themselves, but orders his disciples to provide for them. Christ all along expressed more tenderness toward the people than his disciples did; for what are the compassions of the most merciful men, compared with the tender mercies of God in Christ? See how loth Christ is to part with those who are resolved to cleave to him! They need not depart. Note, Those who have Christ have enough, and need not depart to seek a happiness and livelihood in the creature; they that have made sure of the one thing needful, need not be cumbered about much serving: nor will Christ put his willing followers upon a needless expense, but will make their attendance cheap to them.

      But if they be hungry, they have need to depart, for that is a necessity which has no law, therefore, give you them to eat. Note, The Lord is for the body; it is the work of his hands, it is part of his purchase; he was himself clothed with a body, that he might encourage us to depend upon him for the supply of our bodily wants. But he takes a particular care of the body, when it is employed to serve the soul in his more immediate service. If we seek first the kingdom of God, and make that our chief care, we may depend upon God to add other things to us, as far as he sees fit, and may cast all care of them upon him. These followed Christ but for a trial, in a present fit of zeal, and yet Christ took this care of them; much more will he provide for those who follow him fully.

      IV. The slender provision that was made for this great multitude; and here we must compare the number of invited guests with the bill of fare.

      1. The number of the guests was five thousand of men, besides women and children; and it is probable the women and children might be as many as the men, if not more. This was a vast auditory that Christ preached to, and we have reason to think an attentive auditory; and, yet it should seem, far the greater part, notwithstanding all this seeming zeal and forwardness, came to nothing; they went off and followed him no more; for many are called, but few are chosen. We would rather perceive the acceptableness of the word by the conversion, than by the crowds, of its hearers; though that also is a good sight and a good sign.

      2. The bill of fare was very disproportionable to the number of the guests, but five loaves and two fishes. This provision the disciples carried about with them for the use of the family, now they were retired into the desert. Christ could have fed them by miracle, but to set us an example of providing for those of our own households, he will have their own camp victualled in an ordinary way. Here is neither plenty, nor variety, nor dainty; a dish of fish was no rarity to them that were fishermen, but it was food convenient for the twelve; two fishes for their supper, and bread to serve them perhaps for a day or two: here was no wine or strong drink; fair water from the rivers in the desert was the best they had to drink with their meat; and yet out of this Christ will have the multitude fed. Note, Those who have but a little, yet when the necessity is urgent, must relieve others out of that little, and that is the way to make it more. Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Yes, he can, when he pleases, a plentiful table.

      V. The liberal distribution of this provision among the multitude (Matthew 14:18; Matthew 14:19); Bring them hither to me. Note, The way to have our creature-like comforts, comforts indeed to us, is to bring them to Christ; for every thing is sanctified by his word, and by prayer to him: that is likely to prosper and do well with us, which we put into the hands of our Lord Jesus, that he may dispose of it as he pleases, and that we may take it back from his hand, and then it will be doubly sweet to us. What we give in charity, we should bring to Christ first, that he may graciously accept it from us, and graciously bless it to those to whom it is given; this is doing it as unto the Lord.

      Now at this miraculous meal we may observe,

      1. The seating of the guests (Matthew 14:19; Matthew 14:19); He commanded them to sit down; which intimates, that while he was preaching to them, they were standing, which is a posture of reverence, and readiness for motion. But what shall we do for chairs for them all? Let them sit down on the grass. When Ahasuerus would show the riches of his glorious kingdom, and the honour of his excellent majesty, in a royal feast for the great men of all his provinces, the beds or couches they sat on were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black marble,Esther 1:6. Our Lord Jesus did now show, in a divine feast, the riches of a more glorious kingdom than that, and the honour of a more excellent majesty, even a dominion over nature itself; but here is not so much as a cloth spread, no plates or napkins laid, no knives or forks, nor so much as a bench to sit down on; but, as if Christ intended indeed to reduce the world to the plainness and simplicity, and so to the innocency and happiness, of Adam in paradise, he commanded them to sit down on the grass. By doing every thing thus, without any pomp or splendour, he plainly showed that his kingdom was not of this world, nor cometh with observation.

      2. The craving of a blessing. He did not appoint one of his disciples to be his chaplain, but he himself looked up to heaven, and blessed, and gave thanks; he praised God for the provision they had, and prayed to God to bless it to them. His craving a blessing, was commanding a blessing; for as he preached, so he prayed, like one having authority; and in this prayer and thanksgiving, we may suppose, he had special reference to the multiplying of this food; but herein he has taught us that good duty of craving a blessing and giving thanks at our meals: God's good creatures must be received with thanksgiving,1 Timothy 4:4. Samuel blessed the feast, 1 Samuel 9:13; Acts 2:46; Acts 2:47; Acts 27:24; Acts 27:35. This is eating and drinking to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31); giving God thanks (Romans 14:6); eating before God, as Moses, and his father-in-law, Exodus 18:12; Exodus 18:15. When Christ blessed, he looked up to heaven, to teach us, in prayer, to eye God as a Father in heaven; and when we receive our creature-comforts to look thitherward, as taking them from God's hand, and depending on him for a blessing.

      3. The carving of the meat. The Master of the feast was himself head-carver, for he brake, and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. Christ intended hereby to put honour upon his disciples, that they might be respected as workers together with him; as also to signify in what way the spiritual food of the word should be dispensed to the world; from Christ, as the original Author, by his ministers. What Christ designed for the churches he signified to his servant John (Revelation 1:1; Revelation 1:4); they delivered all that, and that only, which they received from the Lord,1 Corinthians 11:23. Ministers can never fill the people's hearts, unless Christ first fill their hands: and what he has given to the disciples, they must give to the multitude; for they are stewards, to give to every one his portion of meat,Matthew 24:45; Matthew 24:45. And, blessed be God, be the multitude ever so great, there is enough for all, enough for each.

      4. The increase of the meat. This is taken notice of only in the effect, not in the cause or manner of it; here is no mention of any word that Christ spoke, by which the food was multiplied; the purposes and intentions of his mind and will shall take effect, though they be not spoken out: but this is observable, that the meat was multiplied, not in the heap at first, but in the distribution of it. As the widow's oil increased in the pouring out, so here the bread in the breaking. Thus grace grows by being acted, and, while other things perish in the using, spiritual gifts increase in the using. God ministers seed to the sower, and multiplies not the seed hoarded up, but the seed sown,2 Corinthians 9:10. Thus there is that scattereth and yet increaseth; that scattereth, and so increaseth.

      VI. The plentiful satisfaction of all the guests with this provision. Though the disproportion was so great, yet there was enough and to spare.

      1. There was enough: They did all eat, and were filled. Note, Those whom Christ feeds, he fills; so runs the promise (Psalms 37:19), They shall be satisfied. As there was enough for all, they did all eat, so there was enough for each, they were filled; though there was but little, there was enough, and that is as good as a feast. Note, The blessing of God can make a little go a great way; as, if God blasts what we have, we eat, and have not enough,Haggai 1:6.

      2. There was to spare; They took up of the fragments that remained, twelve baskets full, one basket for each apostle: thus what they gave they had again, and a great deal more with it; and they were so far from being nice, that they could make this broken meat serve another time, and be thankful. This was to manifest and magnify the miracle, and to show that the provision Christ makes for those who are his is not bare and scanty, but rich and plenteous; bread enough, and to spare (Luke 15:17), an overflowing fulness. Elisha's multiplying the loaves was somewhat like this, but far short of it; and then it was said, They shall eat and leave,2 Kings 4:43.

      It is the same divine power, though exerted in an ordinary way, which multiplies the seed sown in the ground every year, and makes the earth yield her increase; so that what was brought out by handfuls, is brought home in sheaves. This is the Lord's doing; it is by Christ that all natural things consist, and by the word of his power that they are upheld.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Matthew 14:13". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.