Prophets Without Honour: Jesus is rejected, John the Baptist is beheaded;
1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.
Truth-telling can be dangerous.
6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked.8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.
ESV–Herodius steps in to eliminate the accusing voice of John the Baptist, a threat to her husband’s reign.
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.
Jesus is practicing what is called “Living with Margins.” He is taking some downtime to process this sad news.
Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
But people appear in the middle of his downtime, and he has compassion on them, and heals their sick.
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
He is a Can-Do Jesus. The God of Possibility.
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Be optimistic. Act in faith. Expect miracles. Be surprised. If necessary, start small.
This is the only miracles recorded in all four Gospels. The crowd is stranded in a desolate place. This recalls God’s provision of manna in the wilderness in Exodus.
Jesus Walks on the Water
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.
The majestic figure of Jesus is able to MAKE (the Greek word means compel and suggests a crisis) the disciples get into the boat, and is able to dismiss a crowd of perhaps 10,000 (including women and children.) He was a compelling, magnetic figure of great charisma and authority.
23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.
Again we see the use of margins by Jesus, the bracketing of his life by prayer. Prayer before a demonstration of power. Prayer after it.
ESV note, In preparation for his mission into Gentile regions, and with his trials in Jerusalem impending, Jesus spends the evening and night in concentrated prayer with his Heavenly Father.
Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
And these are great words he speaks to us in our crises, “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
ESV note, It is I, in the Greek, Ego Eimi, I am, recalls Yahweh’s voice from the burning bush (Exodus 3;14)
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Okay, we dream big. We ask God to bless our dreams. We sense he is doing so. And now what? Now, we need to step out of the boat and walk on water. Start acting on what we have prayed for.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
And Peter begins stepping out in faith. But then he sees the obstacles, and realizes he is doing what, humanly speaking, is not possible. Once fear overwhelms him, he is no longer able to do what he was doing before. He begins to sink.
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Once he starts doubting the power of Jesus, Peter can no longer do what he did before. Jesus mercifully helps him, while rebuking him.
Oh Lord, strengthen my faith so that I may not be rebuked by you.
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
It is hard to realize the majesty of Jesus. And now those who saw them 24/7 realized afresh exactly who it was that they were dealing with.
ESV notes–By walking on water in a furious storm, Jesus demonstrates that he indeed is the Lord over all creation, and so there is no need to be afraid,or to doubt. The only fitting response is to worship Jesus and to acknowledge that truly he is the Son of God.
34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
It was their faith which healed them, not the cloak, of course.