Matthew 14 Exhortation July 13 - Bro Hans
This morning by way of exhortation we will look at three major incidents in the Gospel of Matthew that are recorded in today's reading of Matthew 14 - the death of John the Baptist, the feeding of the 5000 and the calming of the sea.
The Death of John the Baptist
Why was John in prison in the first place we may ask? Herod who is mentioned here in Matthew 14 was Antipas, the ruler of Galilee. It was his father, Herod the Great, who was Ruler in Matt 2 when the wise men came asking, "Where is he that is born king of the Jews?" and who then had all the children two years old and under put to death in Bethlehem. Historians describe him as an Idumean in race, a Jew in religion, a heathen in practice and a monster in crime. Upon his death Archelaus inherited half his territory. A 4th part of his kingdom was given to a brother of Archelaus namely Antipas, the murderer of John, who is styled by historians as "a wily sneak" and whom the Lord himself named "that fox" (Luke 13v32).
The Herodians who were Idumeans (descendants of Esau) were originally elevated to power by the Romans. From this extended family developed a religious sect known as the Herodians who, together with the Pharisees and Sadducees, plotted to destroy our Lord. (Compare Matt 22v16, Mark 3v6).
Herod had put away his first wife so that he could marry Herodias who he had lured away from his brother Phillip. This was a total disregard of the Godly principles of marriage. This adultery, openly practised by one of the "leaders" of the nation, could only have a disastrous affect on the morals of the people. John, being a man of God, could not rebuke the nation and yet stand by and ignore this wickedness by their ruler. Being a man of faith and certainly not a respecter of persons, he admonished Herod to his face and no doubt repeatedly in the audience of many who came to hear him preach on the banks of the River Jordan.
For this Herodias wanted John put to death, but Herod instead imprisoned him for he "feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy" (Mark 6v20). The day came when this wicked woman saw the opportunity to have John killed. At the birthday celebrations for Herod her daughter pleased Herod with her dancing and he foolishly promised her whatever she asked. At her mother's request she asked for the head of John.
Thus a faithful servant of God who had fulfilled his calling till the day of his death was beheaded.
因此希罗底是想杀害约翰，但是希律却没有这样做，而是将约翰关押起来，因为他"知道约翰是义人，是圣人，所以敬畏他，"（马可福音6：20）。然而希罗底这个邪恶的女人终于找到了杀害约翰的机会。到了希律的生日，希罗底的女儿，在众人面前跳舞，使希律高兴。希律就起誓，应许随她所求的给她。希罗底的女儿被她母亲所指使，就说要施洗约翰的头。约翰这个对 神忠心的仆人一直到他被斩首的那一天都在履行 神对他的召唤。
John was a man committed to the work God had given him. What an exhortation he is to us to "preach the word in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Timothy 4v2). Whether it was an insignificant farmer or a rich ruler, John was not afraid to express the principle of God's righteousness to all who were in need of correction and help. We too can learn from his example of steadfastness in the face of opposition. Let us think upon the words of the Lord "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 10v22).
约翰忠于 神交托给他的工作。他所传给我们的就是"务要传道。无论得时不得时，总要专心，并用百般的忍耐，各样的教训，责备人，警戒人，劝勉人。"（提摩太后书4：2）不管面对的是一个毫不起眼的农夫，还是富有的统治者，约翰从来不惧怕表达 神的公义的原则。我们还能够学习他面对反对时的坚定。让我们思考主教导我们的话语："你们要为我的名，被众人恨恶，惟有忍耐到底的，必然得救。"（马太福音10：22）
Jesus himself would have been greatly grieved when he heard of the death of his beloved cousin and fellow labourer (vv12-13) for not only were they united in their work but also it was a solemn reminder to Jesus that it was now only 12 months till his own crucifixion, being as it was close to Passover (John 6v3). Jesus saw the need for himself and his disciples to come apart for a time to rest and meditate after the death of John the Baptist; and so they departed by ship for a desert place. Mark is more detailed (Mk 6v31) when he records that they needed to rest as they were so busy they did not even have time to eat.
The Feeding of 5000
As the ship reached the "desert" place it was far from deserted as v14 states: "And Jesus went forth and saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion toward them and healed their sick". Here we learn the true spirit of self-sacrifice-Jesus' needs were put aside for the needs of the lost sheep of the house of Israel. How often we feel we need time to ourselves, and will not put ourselves out for others-we feel we have done enough for the Truth or we are too tired! Not so with our Master who was always ready to help those who needed his care.
And so the good Shepherd sat down and taught the people, as Mark 6:34 records, and healed their sick. The day was coming to an end and the shadows of the surrounding hills were steadily creeping upon the multitude sitting listening to the perfect Teacher. So we ourselves are all faced with the waning of life. The sun surely sets eventually on every person on the earth as we are all mortal; however we lean upon the words of our Lord who as the true Shepherd will give us that food that will lead to eternal life.
The disciples urged Jesus in v 15 to send the multitude away to buy food for themselves. Note Jesus' answer in v 16: "Give ye them to eat". No doubt this statement by the Lord astounded the disciples and they replied: "We have here but five loaves and two fishes". Mark records that they asked:"Shall we go and buy 200 pennyworth of bread?". But Jesus had something more profound in mind. The type of bread he was offering the multitude could not be bought with money. Compare Isaiah 55 v1: "Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye buy and eat; yea come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear and come unto me: hear and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David". We must listen to the voice of the good Shepherd and learn to hunger and thirst after righteousness. Even Moses told Israel in the wilderness: "Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord" (Deut. 8v3 see also Matt. 5v6).
It is interesting to note that to be fed by our Lord has a cost. Firstly his life was given for our sins that we might have the hope of attaining to his glory, and secondly we need ourselves to be labouring in our desire to receive his spiritual food. To hunger and thirst after righteousness means that our hunger and thirst has not been satisfied with the food that this world can offer.
In verse 19 we see that Jesus commanded the people to sit down on the grass and then he took the five loaves and two fishes, gave thanks and his disciples distributed it to the multitude. And so this wonderful miracle took place, and when they had all eaten there were12 baskets full left.
The contrast here with the earlier feast of King Herod is unmistakable. His was a sumptuous feast to celebrate himself and it became a feast of death; on the Galilean hillside stood a greater king than Herod who gave a feast of life. The food was meagre, just bread and fish; but it was multiplied to satisfy a host of people. Jesus who gave the feast was the greater Son of David in contrast with the usurping house of Edom; and by this foreshadowed the gift of himself for the salvation of man. As they partook of bread so they (and we) must partake of him if we are to have life. Look at John 6v56: "He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood dwelleth in me, and I in him".
The fact that there were five loaves and two fishes is symbolic in itself. Five is the number of grace and the two fishes can typify the two classes of people that are drawn to Christ, Jew and Gentile. The food miraculously provided is like the manna given in the wilderness. Jesus is both "the living bread" and "meat that endureth unto the end" (John 6v51,27).
In verse 20 of Matt 14 we see that there were 12 baskets full the fragments collected. No doubt the baskets would have belonged to the 12 disciples who themselves benefited from the miracles of Jesus. With the bread symbolic of the word of God, the 12 Apostles took that spiritual food to the uttermost parts of the earth.
After the feeding of the 5000 we read in verse 22 that Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship and sail to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, while he himself went up into a mountain alone to pray to his Father. Here we see the need for prayer that Jesus always had-as Son of God he often quietly went aside alone to pray to His Father. We likewise should always make time to speak with Him who cares for us and provides all our needs. Jesus needed his Father's strength to help him with his work, and so we too need to pray constantly to our God, who is our Heavenly Father to help us.
在22节我们看到，在喂饱5000人以后，耶稣没有让他的门徒上船，而是自己行船到加利利海，在一座山上独自地向他的父祷告。在这里我们看到耶稣总是需要向他的父祷告--作为 神的儿子，他经常安静地走到一旁默默地向 神祷告。我们也应该经常与他交谈，因为他关心我们，为我们预备好了一切所需要的。耶稣需要来自他的父的力量来帮助他完成他的工作，我们也应该向我们的 神祷告，因为他是我们在天上的父亲，乐于帮助我们。
The Calming of the Sea
In the latter part of this chapter our Lord performs another miracle as he walks on the Sea of Galilee and calms the storm. His disciples were struggling in vain against the stormy tempest that had arisen and they would perhaps have even begun to worry that they would not survive. It was between 3am and 6am when Jesus came walking to them on the water. This whole scene described here is symbolic also of the work of our Lord. In the feeding of the 5000 it is recorded that the day was "far spent" (Mark 6v35). Jesus had departed to be with his Father in prayer (symbolically ascending to heaven), and the disciples were left to toil in the dark world of life in the sea of nations. We all toil on this sea, but if we are "in Christ" we are safe as long as we maintain our vigilance against the worldly storms that would swallow us up.
In Mark 6v48 we read:"And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them". Jesus was conscience of his disciples and the danger they were in, even as he is conscience of us also in our trials. He has compassion towards us if we suffer for his name. John 6v17 says: "And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them." The sense of the Greek here is that they were expecting him. Again here is a picture of the saints throughout the ages including us today, as we toil in life waiting expectantly for the return of our Lord. The storms and tempests of life around us must be borne with faith, courage and determination until he returns. In Matt 14v25 it tells us that he came in the fourth watch which is the last watch before daybreak. And so when Jesus does return it will be the dawning of a new age when God's glory will fill this world and dispel all the darkness of the evil night.
Peter in vv28-31 shows us his confidence in his Lord by walking to him on the sea! But in the turmoil of the waves his faith floundered and he cried out to Jesus, "Lord, save me", and Jesus stretched forth his hand to him. These will be the words on our lips at the judgment seat of Christ, when we see all our failings and cry out for his mercy and love to save us.
When Jesus entered the ship the sea became a great calm, typifying the peace that will follow at the return of our Lord. His disciples worshipped him saying, "Of a truth thou art the Son of God". Such praise will be on the lips of all who have faithfully endured and enter into the Kingdom. May we all share in the joy of that day with the apostles and all the other faithful throughout the ages who have patiently endured the storms of life.
Let us now partake of the emblems of the bread and the wine which symbolise his flesh and blood which he sacrificed for our salvation, that we may have life and have it more abundantly, giving praise to the God of Israel for his wonderful calling.