Matthew 14:1-21 – May 24, 2020
John the Baptist & Feeding 5,000
14:1-2 At that time. Herod Antipas was the ruler over one fourth of the region of Palestine under the rule of the Romans, especially the region of Galilee. His father, Herod the Great, had ruled over all of Palestine:
. The territory given to Archelaus to rule over was taken over by the Romans because of his incompetence … Jesus referred to this in Luke 19:11-14, the beginning of the parable of the Ten Minas. Back to Herod Antipas, he was not a king, but a tetrarch. However those in Galilee referred to him as king, something he desired in his great vanity.
14:3-5 John’s arrest. One very warped family, the result of Herod the Great having eight different wives. Herodias was a granddaughter of Herod the Great, the daughter of Aristobulus. She first married Phillip, her father’s half brother, then divorced him and married another uncle Herod Antipas. This is what John the Baptist railed against as it was a clear violation of Leviticus 18:16 Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife; that would dishonor your brother. Herod did not kill/murder John because he feared the people might riot.
14:6-7 Salome’s dance and Herod’s oath. Salome, the daughter of Herodias and Phillip. According to Josephus she married yet another son of Herod the Great, a half brother of her father and a great uncle to her as he was an uncle to her mother.
14:8-10 John beheaded. Herod could have refused and granted her any other wish as killing without a trial was against the law, but ‘like most weak men, Herod feared to be thought weak’ and embarrassed in front of all of his guests so he did this outrageous and illegal thing.
14:11 Head on a platter. Delivered as if a desert or food, in great contrast to the next event, Jesus feeding 5,000.
Note the depravity of the mother having the daughter present the head to her.
14:12 Buried. John’s disciples buried the body, not John. Spurgeon commented It is not said by the Evangelist that they buried John, but ‘they took up his body, and it,’ not him. The real John no man could bury, and Herod soon found that, being dead, he yet spoke.” He spoke through Herod’s guilt as we read in the first two verses of this chapter.
14:13a When Jesus heard. Jesus withdrew looking for solitude. Why? Remember how He had spoken of John a bit earlier in 11:11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Plus John was the man who had baptized Jesus. And while they were both in their mother’s wombs, John and Jesus had a connection as noted in Luke 1:39-44
14:13b-14 Jesus compassion. We know from the gospel of Mark (6:34) He also taught them.
14:15-16 You feed them. He challenged the faith and compassion of His disciples with the words They do not need to go away. We have the same challenge today, will we tell people they need to go away or acknowledge they do not? What about us? · Circumstances don’t need to make you go away. You won’t have things so hard or so easy that you don’t need Jesus. · There is nothing in Jesus that would make you want to go away. · There is nothing in the future that will make you need to go away.
14:17-21 He gave thanks and broke the bread and then gave them to His disciples. This incredible miracle displays Jesus’ complete authority over creation. What did He do, He accomplished His miracle through the hands of His disciples. He could have done it without them, but He wanted to use the disciples to show them what was possible with faith and compassion. Where did the bread come from? No one knows, it was like manna from heaven where Jesus showed us that God can provide even when we cannot see or perceive in any way. Often it is easier to have faith when we believe we know how God will provide. More often God provides in unanticipated and ways we cannot understand or make sense of.
BOTTOM LINE: Compare and Contrast John’s head on a platter as a result of murder and Jesus’ feeding of 5,000. One is ugly to the extreme and the other demonstrating God’s great love and compassion, even while Jesus was mourning the death of John the Baptist, even though He knew they would soon be reunited for all of eternity.