Read: Matthew 14-15
TheBibleProject.com revealed an important truth in Matthew that I either forgot or failed to pay attention to previously. It’s rather embarrassing when this happens, but I’m trying to be transparent here in this blog. Each day, sitting here reading and wondering, it’s fascinating to learn something practical while listening to hear from God. I’m so thankful to have somewhat carefully read through the Old Testament beginning this year, it really helps to have that recent knowledge in reading the Gospels, though it’s hard to pinpoint examples, it just makes more sense.
As we read through these two chapters of Matthew we learn that John the Baptist is beheaded on a whim as part of a birthday celebration for Herod. It’s a sad occasion for sure.
Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet. Matthew 14:5
Herod was afraid of John, so it seems he chose to point the finger at his wife and dancing step-daughter as some bizarre rationale for finally executing John. The adulterous relationship that John exposed wasn’t news to the aristocratic elite, but was embarrassing enough to get him arrested. At some point, Herod was going to execute John–this seemed to play well into his script. Sad. Jesus’ reaction:
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Matthew 14:13
Jesus wasn’t surprised by the turn of events, but he wasn’t going to ignore them either. By the time Jesus landed his boat, large crowds had gathered. John the Baptist is dead, what will Jesus say? Eager to hear, thousands of faithful Jews assemble in “a remote place.”
Miracles in Feeding the Multitudes
- Feeding of the 5,000: Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:31-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:1-14
- Feeding of the 4,000: Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-9
Matthew and Mark’s account of this event point to a remote place, but Luke identifies the area as Bethsaida (Luke 9:10) — basically a Jewish community. However, here’s the part I’ve missed in the past, the second miracle happens near the Decapolis, a predominantly non-Jewish population.
Why is this significant? Several reasons to be sure, but the one that jumped out at me this morning was the idea of Jesus moving his ministry from the Israelites to the world. When he released the twelve to spread the Gospel, he told them to first present it to the Israelites, the Chosen people. Even here, in between the miraculous feeding of the multitudes, Jesus points out:
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” Matthew 15:24
The Canaanite woman presses Jesus for help, and Matthew records the interaction with fascinating results:
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. Matthew 15:28
It doesn’t take long before news spreads and the rest of the world is listening and being moved by the amazing, great news of the Gospel.
What an amazing gift of the Spirit. It seems the disciples struggled with faith during this early stage of Jesus’ ministry, but they are unashamed to report accounts of others who had faith where their’s lacked. I wish I could have seen the look on the disciples’ faces when Jesus instructed them to feed the massive group of men, women and children. “Did he just say feed them?” How many times have I heard a clear voice telling me to do something, but I pause and seek a second opinion, “did He really say that?” “Are you sure, Lord? Did you mean to use me in this way?”
Lord, you know me so well, all my miserable failures and weaknesses. How could you use me? Help me to have more faith today than yesterday, to believe with all my heart that you came that we would have life to the fullest today (John 10:10). Put your beauty in mine and let that shine so others can see the wonder of the Creator God who desires all to come to Him.