1. At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about JesusJesus Gives Bread

This is apparently Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great by Malthace. The word “tetrarch” strictly means the governor of the fourth part of any region, but it came to mean any ruler not having jurisdiction over an entire country.

2. and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.”

Herod, for all his wickedness, evidently believed in the resurrection from the dead. Nevertheless, his assessment of who Jesus was was flawed. But he is no different from many of the Israelites. They all seemed to have their own ideas about Who the Lord was. We cannot entirely blame them for this, since He had refused to make any sort of clear statement to them as to Who He was.

3. For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife.

Philip (or Philip I) was Herod Antipas’ half-brother, the son of Herod the Great and Mariamne II. Herodias was his wife, but now Herod had her.

4. For John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”

John the Baptist was not afraid to speak out against sin. Yet many believers are today! Why is it that we think it is a bad thing to tell people when what they are doing is sin? Some people just plain need to hear that! Do not underestimate the power of actually telling a person that what he is doing is wrong…not in a judgmental sort of way, but just stating a fact based on God’s Word. It would be good if all believers were more willing to do this. Particularly with other believers!

5. And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.

It seems that the “multitude” was all in favor of John. There is no sign of rejection on the part of the common people of Israel.

6. But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod.

Her dancing may or may not have been nude or partially nude, but it was at least sexual in nature, and Herod responded to it. Herod’s hormones seem to have been his downfall on many occasions. As they are for many men and women today! But self-control is a fruit of the spirit. We who know the Lord have the help we need to not give in to our lustful desires!

The attraction of a man to the daughter of a woman he is living with is not an uncommon thing. Children are far more likely to be abused by their mother’s “live-ins” than by their actual fathers or stepfathers. A live-in’s presence in the house is strictly for the purpose of having sex, not because of a commitment made. Therefore, if sex with the mother is good, then why not also with the daughter? This is another fact that our free-love society refuses to take into account when passing its judgment that all consensual sex is okay.

7. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.

This was a common thing for kings to offer as a favor when someone pleased them. “Whatever she might ask” would have extended all the way up to second ruler in the kingdom.

8. So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.”

Philip’s wife knew well the kind of man Herod was, and had hatched this plan in advance. I wonder what God will say of her victory in the Day of Judgment?

9. And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him at the table, he commanded it to be given to her.

Herod was trying to show off by making this oath in the first place, and now he would be too ashamed to break it. He cared more for the opinions of his drinking buddies than he did for the opinion of God!

10. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison.

A sad end to the man Christ said was the greatest of all men born of women. Thank the Lord that his story did not end here, but that he too will have a new life in the resurrection.

11. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.

I wonder what Herodias did with John’s head? It would not be a very good trophy to keep for too long!

12. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
13. When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.

No doubt John’s disciples were hoping that Jesus would do something about what had happened. Either that or they were wondering why He had allowed such a thing to happen. But Christ had already promised that He would not fight with anyone in His efforts to take over the earth (Matthew 12:18-21,) and so He merely departed by Himself to mourn.

14. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.

The Lord Jesus seems to have wanted to be alone, but when He saw the multitudes, He had compassion on them and worked to meet their needs. We need to remember this. God is never too busy to help us when we need Him. However, we cannot forget that the kind of help He gives us is limited by the purpose He is working to accomplish in our day of the dispensation of grace.

15. When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.”

The disciples worry that the people need food. They were out in the wilderness, and no large cities where food might be readily available were near. Thus, they thought the best plan would be to send the people away early so they could find their way to the nearby small villages to seek for food as they might.

16. But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

Jesus responds by telling the disciples to feed them themselves!

17. And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”

If the disciples had had faith like a grain of mustard seed they could have taken those loaves and fishes and done the very miracle that Jesus Himself did. However, after all this time and even all the power the Lord had given them previously, the disciples still did not have enough faith to take Him at His word and do what He had told them to do! We all need to consider this. Just because we have been believers for a long time doesn’t mean we have faith. We need to come to the point where if our Lord said, “Jog to the moon,” we’d say, “Okay, Lord,” and start jogging.

18. He said, “Bring them here to Me.”

Since the disciples didn’t have the faith to perform this miracle the Lord will now do it Himself.

19. Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes.

Notice the many “and”s in this passage. This emphasizes the Lord’s deliberateness in working this miracle, as well as pointing out the importance of each step in this chain of events.

20. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.
21. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

What an amazing miracle! This demonstrates not only the Lord’s power over nature, but also illustrates for us another fact about the kingdom of God. When God rules the earth, there will be no food shortages anywhere! If God can feed thousands with five loaves and two fishes, then He can certainly feed the world with no problem.

22. Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.
23. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on a mountain by Himself to pray. And when evening had come, He was alone there.

The Lord Jesus had had compassion, but now it was time to get back to what He had been meaning to do…be alone. Some of us never do know when to be alone. Some people are just so busy giving and so busy serving that they never take the time for themselves that they need. Often this sort of person ends up burning out. Many pastors and other leaders likewise never give the time to their families that they need, and their families end up burning out. But Jesus, although He was willing to meet these peoples’ needs as they came to Him, nevertheless came to the place where He put His foot down and said, “All right, now it’s time for Me to have the time to Myself that I need.” Those who have serving hearts should all consider this. It is not wrong to demand time for yourself when you need it.

24. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.

The disciples do not fear for their lives, so this was not a storm, just a contrary wind, the bane of all sailors.

25. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.

The night was divided into four watches: from 6:00pm to 9:00pm was the first watch, from 9:00pm to midnight was the second watch, from midnight to 3:00am was the third watch, and from 3:00am to 6:00am was the fourth watch. Thus this was very late in the night indeed!

26. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.

These were common men and believed the superstitions of their day. In seeing Jesus, they thought that they were seeing a ghost! This word “ghost” is not the word for “spirit,” which we often wrongly have translated as “ghost” in the King James. It is the Greek word for “phantasm.”

27. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

The Lord Jesus comforts them immediately by telling them that it is He. But He did not say, “It is I,” but rather, “I am.” What a statement of His Godhood! “Be of good cheer! I Am; do not be afraid.” A statement we would do well to remember in the troubles and turmoils of our lives. Our Savior is the great I Am, so we do not need to be afraid.

28. And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
29. So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

Peter then asks that if it is He, that He should command him to come to Him on the water. I wonder why Peter requested this? His motivation could have been anything from assuring himself that it was indeed the Lord, to a genuine desire to be with Him as soon as possible, to a mere desire to show off in front of the other disciples! We are not told why he asked, but we do know that Jesus granted his request and told him to come to Him. I think Jesus answers all of those who ask to be able to come to Him with this same word, “Come.”

30. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
31. And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Peter started out well, but “reality” made him lose his faith. Foolish man, he was already walking on the waves! Should he not from this fact have known and been assured of his complete safety? But we ourselves are often that way, aren’t we? Knowing the things we do about God, we look at life and the realities around us and for some unknown reason it causes us to doubt. I remember C.S. Lewis wrote in his “Screwtape Letters” something about the fact that normal, everyday life has the strange effect of making men doubt the supernatural! Why would the natural cause us to doubt the supernatural? But for some reason it does! Let us work to overcome this in our own lives. But never be afraid, when your faith gives out and you seem to be sinking, to cry out, “Lord, save me!”

32. And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

With the Lord in the boat, the contrary wind ceases. A good lesson for us when we travel life’s seas to be certain that we too have the Lord in our boat!

33. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

These men now demonstrate faith in the most important truth of all: that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. How far they had come from their total lack of faith earlier that afternoon! Who says that miracles cannot produce faith?

34. When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret.

This land was at the northern end of the lake.

35. And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick,
36. and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.

To touch the hem of one’s garment was a sign of great respect. These people in seeking healing from Christ demonstrated great humility. And their requests were answered. What an amazing gift of healing the Lord demonstrated!

Notice there was no meeting, no choir, no testimonies of others who had been healed, no great pomp and show. Only one Man Who healed all who came to Him. Should we even dare to compare this to those who pass themselves off as “healers” today?