Matthew 14:32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
Worship is to express in attitude or gesture one’s complete dependence on or submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. The disciples had watched Jesus walk out to them on the water. The disciples had watched Peter walk on water at the command of Jesus. The disciples saw Peter begin to sink into the water and be saved by Jesus. The disciples saw Jesus and Peter get into the boat and the wind cease, calming the rough sea. What Jesus did caused the disciples to recognize Who was with them, not a ghost, but the Son of God. The disciples worshiped Jesus.
Jesus received their worship. What does that mean? It means Jesus revealed the Son of God is the one true God, because only God is to be worshiped (Matthew 4:10; Deuteronomy 6:13). The disciples recognized that Jesus was God, the Creator God. When we recognize we are in the presence of the Creator God, we will worship Him; we will express in words that we are completely dependent upon Him alone. Jesus is in all who have repented of their sins and believed the gospel. Jesus is active in each of us who believe - in transforming us, providing for us, protecting us, teaching us and so much more. Do you recognize God is in you? Worship Him continually. Continually express your utter dependence upon Him with thanksgiving.
Matthew 14:28 And Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." 29 He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
Peter believed Jesus would not command him to do anything He wouldn't help him do and that only Jesus could help him walk on water. Because of Peter's belief, he sought to verify if the "ghost" was actually Jesus and he said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to you on the water." The command was given and Peter got out of the boat and started walking to Jesus. Jesus was helping him do the impossible. Peter made the mistake of taking his eyes off of Jesus and began looking at the wind whipping up the waves. Fear replaced Peter's faith and he began to sink into the water. Peter quickly called out for Jesus to save him. Jesus reached out and grabbed Peter and got him back into the boat. Jesus instructed Peter that his "little faith" was the reason he began to sink.
What is lesson we can learn from this text? Fear of circumstances keeps us from obeying Jesus's impossible commands. Faith in Jesus keeps us obeying Jesus's impossible commands. Every command from Jesus is impossible for us to do alone, we need His help. John 15:5 instructs us, "...Apart from Me(Jesus) you can do nothing." The key to doing the impossible in our daily walk is to keep focused on Jesus and not on our adverse circumstances and on our own ability. Paul wrote to the Hebrew Christians undergoing severe trials, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus..." (Hebrew 12:2).
Jesus words to His followers are the same as to the woman caught in adultery, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more." (John 8:11). Sin is not doing what Jesus commands (James 4:17) and doing what Jesus says not to do (John 8:3,11; Colossians 3:5-9). Jesus commands us to stop our habit of sin just like Jesus commanded Peter to walk to Him on the water. If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not on our own ability or adverse circumstances that provoke our sin, then we will stop our habit of sin. If we take our eyes off Jesus and fall again into our habit of sin, then we follow Peter's example and cry out for Jesus's help. He will reach out, help us out of our sin and help us once again walk free from our sinful habit. We are to walk by faith in Jesus overcoming our sin and not being drowned in it. Keep looking at Jesus and not our ability or our provoking circumstances.
Matthew 14:25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid."
Our text occurs during the fourth watch of the night which is between 3am and 6am. The disciples had spent the previous day serving with Jesus and saw Him feed five thousand plus people with five loaves of bread and two fish. They were then told to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee in their boat and wait for Jesus. The wind and waves made the going hard and the disciples had labored far into the night when Jesus came to them walking on the water. They were tired and didn't recognize Jesus. They thought He was a ghost and were very afraid. Jesus announced His presence, encouraged them and told them not to be afraid.
What can we learn from this? Jesus comes to us when we are tired and experiencing adverse circumstances. He calls us to be courageous and to not be afraid. He will get us to our destination.
Paul's words to the Philippians are a fitting way to help us see Jesus will help us. Philippians 1:6 "I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
Matthew 14:22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.
After completing His God-given assignment for the day, Jesus spent time alone with His Father in prayer. He took the action needed to get to the place of prayer: He dismissed the crowds and made the disciples get into the boat and proceed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. We need to do this after completing our God-given assignment of the day. As a parent, we need to make time to spend some time with the Lord in prayer at the end of our parenting day. As a teacher, we need to spend time in prayer at the end of our teaching day and so with the mechanic, the engineer, the wife, husband, etc. Are you doing this? Blessing follows us as we follow the example of Jesus.
The disciples found the going tough after their day of doing God's assignment. This also happens to us. We finish one assignment and find ourselves working late into the night being "beaten by the waves and winds of adversity". Jacob, the patriarch of Israel, expressed his feeling of this in Genesis 42:36b, "Everything is against me." However, in Jacob's case at the very time he felt like this, everything was actually going his way. The same was the case for the disciples. In the midst of their hardship they would see Jesus do a miracle, and learn a lesson about walking by faith and not by sight. The same will happen in our lives! In the midst of the adversity after a day of serving God, expect the Lord to come to us and teach how to walk more fully by faith.
Matthew 14:15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves." 16 But Jesus said, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat." 17 They said to him, "We have only five loaves here and two fish." 18 And he said, "Bring them here to me." 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
The Apostle John records Jesus's truthful statement, "Apart from Me you can do nothing", in John 15:5. The disciples lived out that truth with Jesus. Our text today is one of many times the disciples experienced the truth of Jesus's statement. Jesus, the disciples, and five thousand men plus women and children were in a desolate place, in need of food and had only five loaves and two fish for everyone. Jesus told the disciples to feed the crowd with five loaves and two fish - an impossible request for the disciples, but very doable for Jesus. The disciples brought the meager food to Jesus. He ordered the people to sit down on the grass, said a blessing holding the five loaves and two fish and gave the food to the disciples to give to the crowds. All ate and were satisfied and there were twelve baskets full of broken pieces left over. The disciples, with Jesus, fed five thousand men plus all the women and children with five loaves and two fishes. The truth restated, "With Me you can everything I command you."
How did the disciples experience the feeding of the five thousand? They took Jesus at His word and obeyed Him. They lived by faith in the Son of God. They attempted to do what Jesus said for them to do expecting Him to fulfill their act of faith with His power - and He did! The same truth holds true for us today. If we take Jesus at His word and by faith do what He says, then we experience Jesus doing through us what we could never do without Him. Have you ever been in a desolate place with meager resources and were asked by Jesus to do what seemed impossible? What did you do? If you obeyed by faith in Jesus's ability to help you do what He commanded, then you experienced what the first century disciples experienced when asked to feed five thousand plus people with meager resources and no hope of more. Jesus promised never to leave us or forsake us and promised to be with us even to the end of the age (Hebrews 13::5; Matthew 28:20). If we take Jesus at His word and obey by faith we will experience Jesus helping us do what we thought was impossible. If we don't, then we will experience what we can do with very limited capacity - feed twenty-five people with our meager resources instead of five thousand plus people. Let's take Jesus at His word, obey by faith and experience Jesus doing the impossible through us. We can do everything Jesus commands when we trust Him to help us.
Matthew 14:13-14 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When He went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
When Jesus heard that John the Baptist, his relative and the one who had prepared the way for His ministry, was beheaded and buried, He went off by Himself. We know from other scriptures that when Jesus went off by Himself, He was taking time to be with His Father. Luke 5:16 "But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray."
What do you do when circumstances make you want to get away from everything? Do go away so you can pray and ask God to help you. Hebrews 4:16 instructs us to confidently go to our Father's throne of grace to receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.
Note that Jesus mourned the death of John and sought out His Father in a desolate place, but He also went on to complete the assignment He had been given by His Father. The crowds followed Him. He didn't turn them away, but He received them, had compassion on them and healed them. He sought strength and help from His Father when He got alone with Him so He could continue to do what the His Father had sent Him to do. WE need to do the same when we are faced with similar losses that Jesus was. Jesus set us an example to follow.
Matthew 14:6 But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, 7 so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter." 9 And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. 10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.
John the Baptist ran afoul of people in high places by confronting them about a sinful marriage. John told King Herod and his new wife, Herodias, they violated God's standard when they married. Herodias was married to Herod's brother, Philip and should have remained married to him for life according to God's Word (Matthew 19:4-6). The king put John in prison. Herodias had John's head removed. John was willing to die doing God's will and he did, but not before he had completed his God-given assignment.
Today, people get hostile if a Christian calls certain marriages sin. However, if the Christians don't speak up, people begin to think sin is right. If sin is thought of as right and becomes the practice of the people, then Proverbs 14:34b becomes true and a nation becomes a disgrace to the people. Even more, people who think sin is right will experience not only temporal disgrace, but eternal torment in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 21:8).
Let us be a people like John the Baptist and call marriages that go against God's word, abortion, living together outside of marriage, gambling, greed, disobedience to parents, etc, SIN. The law of God diagnoses sin. If we don't diagnose sin, people will not know what is ruining their lives. Jesus cures sin. If people know they are sinful, then they are prepared for the cure Jesus can give them, forgiveness of sin and empowerment to not sin. We have the diagnosis. We have the cure. Let's not withhold either from those in our sphere of influence.
Matthew 14:1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus, 2 and he said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him." 3 For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, 4 because John had been saying to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." 5 And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet.
Note what happens to a person when he communicates the Biblical standard to a powerful person living by the sinful standards of the world. John was seized, bound and put in prison because he took a Biblical stand on marriage and exposed the sin of Herod's unlawful (not according to God's standard) marriage to his brother Philip's wife. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus' ministry by exposing the sin of the people and calling them to acknowledge their sin by being baptized with a baptism of repentance. If people don't acknowledge their sin, they have no need for the Savior, Jesus. If John the Baptist feared death, he would not have prepared people to receive the salvation Jesus came to give.
Today, people need to be prepared to receive the salvation Jesus desires to give them. John the Baptist is no longer here to baptize with a baptism of repentance, but we are here to expose sin by sharing with people the standard of the word of God. God's Law, the ten commandments, makes sin utterly sinful. When people understand their sin problem and its consequences (Romans 6:23a), then they are ready to receive the good news that Jesus is the Savior of the world, their Savior. Are you willing to act in love and expose people's sin, lead them to repent of it and believe the good new of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 10:9)? Are you willing to die carrying out God's most important assignment for us who believe?
Note one more thing. People in power are kept in check if the people they rule stand up for what is right. Are you willing to stand up for what is right in the face of powerful leaders bent on doing what is wrong. Persecuted Christians and babies never seeing the light of day hope we are all be willing to take a Biblical stand for what is right!
Matthew 13:53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, 54 and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?" 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household." 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
Isaiah 53:2 reveals a Jesus that was ordinary in appearance, "no form of majesty" or "beauty" that would cause Him to be followed or looked at as special. He was a hometown boy known as the carpenter's son, with all in town familiar with his ordinary family of at least seven children. It seems nobody ever took seriously Jesus' miraculous beginning in a virgin. All seemed to be forgotten 30+years after His birth.
The town people were astonished at His teaching and could not figure out where Jesus gained such wisdom and the ability to do mighty works. All the people could see was the ordinary carpenter's son. Our past perceptions can hinder the present reality and keep us from experiencing all the Lord desires to do among us. Jesus could not do many mighty works in His hometown because of the peoples' unbelief. "Jesus is just a local kid who grew up among us" was the common thought among the people in His old neighborhood. Jesus summed up the situation in the following words, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household."
Are we missing some extraordinary wisdom of the Lord because it is coming to us in a common, ordinary package we are all too familiar with? Lord, help us receive your wisdom and works even if the agent is ordinary and familiar. Keep us from missing what you are saying and doing in the present because of our past perceptions. Increase our faith so You can do even more among us.
Matthew 13:51 "Have you understood all these things?" They said to him, "Yes." 52 And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."
How would you answer the question Jesus asked His disciples, "Have you understood all these things?" If we answer, "No", we need to understand why. It is quite dangerous for us not to understand the teaching of Jesus since He has the words of eternal and abundant life (John 6:68). Jesus said, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4) What if you were starving and found directions to a cache of food but couldn't understand the directions? You would continue to starve. If we cannot understand God's word we are starving because we need God's word to live an abundant and eternal life. The unbeliever who doesn't understand God's word is headed for eternal torment and not eternal life. The believer who doesn't understand God's word is forfeiting the abundant life Jesus came to give us (John 10:10b).
Mark 8:17 gives us the reason for not understanding - hardened hearts. The deceitfulness of sin hardens hearts (Hebrews 3:13). Daily encouragement from believers keeps our hearts from being hardened (Hebrews 3:13). When unbelievers fellowshipped with believers and heard God's word, they believed (1 Corinthians 14:24-25). Believers need the daily exhortation or encouragement from believers to keep their heart from being hardened. We get this fellowship by reading the word of God and gathering together with believers (Hebrews 10:24-25). The result of not understanding the scriptures is losing the word of God - Satan snatches it from those who don't understand (Matthew 13:19). The result of not understanding God's word is NOT producing fruit (Matthew 13:23) which is the substance of an abundant life (Galatians 5:22-23).
We need to go to Jesus to gain understanding of His word, just as His disciples did. Jesus opens our minds to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). "Jesus, help me understand Your word!" We know this is a prayer according to God's will because He has commanded us to understand His word (Matthew 15:10; Ephesians 5:17) and if we ask according to His will we know we have what we ask (1 John 5:14-15).
Back to Jesus' question, "Have you understood these things?" If we can answer," Yes", then we will believe and practice the Word of God. As we learn and live His word, we will experience abundant living in any circumstance. We will bring out of the treasure of our understanding what is new and old. Romans 15:4 teaches us that the Old Testament was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of Scriptures we might have hope. The New Testament instructs us who we are in Christ, the resources we have in Christ and how to use those resources to live an abundant life and complete our God-given assignment using His power and "know how". All Scripture is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16-17) for teaching us how to live an eternal and abundant life and Jesus will open the mind of all who ask for help to understand the Scriptures. ASK.