Matthew 14 (NRSV)
The Death of John the Baptist
At that time Herod the ruler heard reports about Jesus; 2and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.”
Barclay cites the ancient Christian writer Origen, who said that Jesus and John the Baptist closely resembled each other in appearance. If this were true, it would give more reason for Herod Antipas to believe that Jesus was John come back from the dead.
3For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4because John had been telling him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”
John spoke out against Herod’s marriage because he had illegally divorced his previous wife and then seduced and married his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias.
5Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet.
6But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod 7so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. 8Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” 9The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; 10he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. 11The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. 12His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.
Feeding the Five Thousand
13Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.
The kindness of our Lord! He had gone to a remote place to find some peace and quiet, but is met by a demanding crowd — and lovingly ministers to them.
15When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
16Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”
17They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.”
18And he said, “Bring them here to me.”
19Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
What can we learn from this story?
- Thank God for and wisely use what we have.
- Trust God’s unlimited resources.
- Don’t waste what He gives us.
HERE is “I Am the Bread of Life” sung by John Michael Talbot.
At the Lord’s table:
First, as you come to the table know that Jesus takes whatever you bring. He takes our bread, our wine, our gifts, our talents, our sins, our failures, our guilt, our shame, our weakness, our thirst, our hunger, our “not enoughs” – whatever we are. When you sit at this table Jesus takes you just as you are.
Second, Jesus blesses and gives thanks for what we bring – for the offering of ourselves. Whatever is on the table is received with thanks by Christ who lifts it all up by the Holy Spirit to our Father in Heaven. Jesus never condemns or criticizes your offering. Can you imagine Jesus saying, “Two fish is all you can come up with?”
Third, Jesus breaks what we bring him. Often we come to the table with our church smiles, best manners and all the right motions. At this table we come naked, exposed and vulnerable before our God who sees through all our masks and our attempts to be self-sufficient. Here we are taken into the crucifixion. We enact this by out eating the bread and drinking the cup, but what it means is as we are being broken we are being opened to new life and new action. We exchange ourselves for the life Christ offers.
Fourth and finally Jesus gives back to us what we bring to him but it is no longer what we brought. Who we are, this person that we offer to God at this table, is changed into something else that God gives, something transformed by what we sing of as Amazing Grace. The gift returned to us is not to be hoarded but shared – and it is always enough. Yes, Jesus takes you and me just as we are but he never leaves us just as we were.
I am not worthy to receive you,
but only say the word,
and I shall be healed.”
Jesus Walks on the Water
22Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.
“Whilst the disciples were periling, and well-nigh perishing, Christ was praying for them: so he still is for us, at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
-Puritan Bible commentator John Trapp
25And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.
27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
28Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
29He said, “Come.”
So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
“What a sight! Jesus and Peter, hand in hand, walking upon the sea!”
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon
32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Jesus Heals the Sick in Gennesaret
34When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, 36and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.