John the Baptist’s Death
Matthew 14 has a pretty confusing beginning, in my opinion. It starts off with King Herod (who had tried to kill Jesus shortly after he was born, as told in Matthew 2) hearing of Jesus’ miracles. King Herod was shocked; he thought it was John the Baptist, risen from the dead!
This is where it gets a bit confusing. Let me give you a hint: Matthew 14:3-12 is a flashback! When King Herod heard of Jesus’ miracles in 14:1-2, John the Baptist was already dead. Matthew 14:3-12 is the account of how John had died. In Matthew 11, we learned John was imprisoned, but we weren’t told why. Now we find out that Herod had imprisoned him for saying that Herod couldn’t marry his sister-in-law. One night Herod threw a party, and his niece’s dancing made Herod so happy that he promised her she could have anything she asked for. Her mother (Herod’s sister-in-law) told her to ask for John’s head on a platter…and Herod delivered.
Jesus Walks on Water
Upon hearing of John’s beheading, Jesus “withdrew to a solitary place” and “the crowds” followed him (14:13). I think it’s pretty important to take note of just how big these crowds were. According to the Quest Study Bible, this crowd consisted of at least 15,000 to 20,000 people (p. 1434)! This is a huge deal, because using only five loaves of bread and two fish, he provided enough food for all of them to be satisfied.
After Jesus dismissed the crowd, he went up on the mountainside to pray while his disciples went by boat to the other side of the water. When he was finished praying, he saw that the boat was on the water, being “buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it” (14:24). Jesus performs another miracle: he walks across the water to the boat.
The disciples had never seen anything like that before, and were understandably scared. They cried out that there was a ghost, but Jesus told them it was only himself. Peter wasn’t going to just take his word for it, though; he said, “Lord, if it’s you…tell me to come to you on the water”. Jesus told him to come, and Peter started walking across the water towards him! Before he reached Jesus, though, he got scared, and because of his doubt he started to sink. He cried out for Jesus to save him, and Jesus did. Peter accepted that it was truly Jesus, and they continued by boat across the water.
They landed at Gennesaret, where the people recognized Jesus. They gathered from all over the surrounding country and begged Jesus to heal them, and he did.
Don’t Let Your Doubt Sink You
When Peter doubted it was really Jesus walking towards them across the water, Jesus humored him. He granted Peter the power to walk across the water toward him, and yet Peter became afraid of the wind. He doubted Jesus, so he started to sink. Only when he cried out for Jesus to save him did Jesus reach out and pull him up.
Do you ever doubt Jesus? I’ll be honest; I do, sometimes. I worry that things won’t work out in my favor or that my life will come crumbling down around me. Only when I strengthen my faith and call out to Jesus for help am I able to push my doubt aside and allow myself to be pulled back up.
Don’t let your doubts pull you beneath the water. Don’t let them sink you. When you’re feeling doubtful, call out to God to raise you back up.
Have you ever allowed your doubts to sink you? How did Jesus pull you back up? Share in the comments!