John the Baptist Dies
Herod hears of the fame of Jesus and fears that it is John the Baptist raised from the dead. We learn that John the Baptist had attacked Herod for marrying Herodias, who was John’s sister in law. Because John spoke out about and said it was not lawful for Herod to take Herodias to marry, he was thrown into prison. The daughter of Herodias dances for Herod’s Birthday and pleased him. Because of this Herod promised to give Herodias’s daughter anything she wished. Having been instructed of Herodias prior to dancing, Herodias’s daughter asks Herod for the head of John the Baptist to be delivered on a platter. Herod was grieved of this, but because he made a promise he commanded his men to behead John in prison.
When Jesus gets word of this, he departs unto a desert place, where his followers follow on foot. When they stop, Jesus is filled with compassion and heals their sick and when the evening came, the disciples began to depart to eat in their homes. Jesus, however, says to one of his Apostles; “…They need not depart; give ye them to eat.” (Matthew 14:16) At this moment I am sure the Apostle was puzzled, because he responds; “…We have here but five loves, and two fishes.” (Matthew 14:17)
After having seen all the miracles He has performed in front of the Apostles, I am sure Jesus was a little disappointed when he said; “…Bring them hither to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took five loves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.” (Matthew 14:18-19) Jesus ends up feeding about five thousand men, excluding women and children. So he probably fed more like ten thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fishes. How amazing is that? Yet the Apostles are still in shock and awe. Jesus sends the multitude away and commands the Apostles to leave on a boat, while Jesus goes up into a mountain to be alone and pray.
“…the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit, and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” (Matthew 14:24-26)
The Apostles had just witnessed Jesus feed over five thousand men, and probably ten thousand or more people with only five loaves of bread and two fishes, yet they are amazed that Jesus could walk on water. This is what Jesus meant by understanding in your heart. Those who have seen him or heard him might not gain a testimony of Him or His Gospel, only those who see with their heart. Therefore seeing is NOT believing, believing is seeing. Signs can be asked for, and even given… but without an understanding of the heart, one will never know for themselves.
Peter answers Jesus from the ship; “…Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. 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 beginning to sink. He cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matthew 14:28-30) Even in his unbelief, the Lord permitted Peter to see for himself, but seeing for himself was not enough, because he had fear in his heart. That fear caused him to lose focus of what was important and because of that he began to sink. But the Lord knows our weaknesses and in this situation understood that even Peter lacked faith; “…immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? (Matthew 14:31)
When we are put into situations where storms rise and winds bolster, we need not lose focus on what is right. We need to go let our fear go and walk the stormy waters of life. If we do so, Jesus will walk with us and every once and a while he will pull us up from the dark and dreary waters and ask, Why did you doubt?