Popular NT: CHRONOLOGY. The chapter opens with an indefinite mark of time (‘at that season,’ Mat_14:1); but Luk_9:10 shows that it was upon the return of the Twelve. Hence chaps, Mat_9:35-38; Mat_9:10, find their place between chaps, 13 and 14. The order of this chapter is chronological. The feeding of the five thousand, narrated by all four Evangelists, forms a definite point of comparison.
Matthew 14:1 KJV At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,
Matthew 14:2 KJV And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.
Barnes:Herod the tetrarch – See also Mar_6:14-16; Luk_9:7-9. This was a son of Herod the Great. Herod the Great died probably in the first year after the birth of Christ, and left his kingdom to his three sons, of whom this “Herod Antipas” was one. He ruled over Galilee and Perea. See the notes at Mat_2:15. The title “tetrarch” literally denotes one who rules over a “fourth” part of any country. It came, however, to signify the governor or ruler of any province subject to the Roman emperor – Robinson, Lexicon.
Heard of the fame of Jesus – Jesus had been a considerable time engaged in the work of the ministry, and it may seem remarkable that he had not before heard of him. Herod might, however, have been absent on some expedition to a remote part of the country. It is to be remembered, also, that he was a man of much dissoluteness of morals, and that he paid little attention to the affairs of the people. He might have heard of Jesus before, but it had not arrested his attention. He did not think it a matter worthy of much regard.
Benson: And King Herod heard of him — While the apostles were making their circuit about the country, proclaiming everywhere the glories of their great Master, and working miracles in his name, information concerning him and his marvellous works came to the ears of King Herod; for his name was spread abroad — And reached many places far more distant than the court of Herod, Mat_4:24-25. And he said, that John the Baptist was risen from the dead — This his own guilty conscience suggested, and he could not forbear speaking of it to those that were about him. Others said, That it is Elias; and others, That it is a prophet — It is easy to account for the opinion of those who, upon Christ’s appearing in this part of the country, began to take notice of his miracles, and, being struck with them, imagined that he was Elias, or one of the prophets. But when Herod heard thereof — Of their various judgments concerning Jesus; he still said, It is John, whom I beheaded, &c. — The suggestions of his guilty conscience were too powerful to be removed by the flattery of his servants; and he persevered in affirming that it was certainly John whom he had beheaded, and that he was risen from the dead.
Russell:Risen from the dead — His mind was troubled, yet he was not penitent. Tradition has it that Herod was taunted with fear.
Matthew 14:3 KJV For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife.
Russell:John — As there is a striking resemblance between John and Elijah, his type, so there is a strong resemblance between the experiences of John and those of the faithful Church–the great antitype of Elijah.
And bound him — After he had preached about a year.John’s liberty was restrained soon after the delivery of the message announcing the present One and the work before him.
Put him in prison — Josephus supposes that he was confined in a dungeon connected with the castle Macherus. There he remained about a year before execution.
For Herodias’ sake — Governed by boundless ambition, she realized her position insecure so long as John lived. Evidently she strove to incite her husband to put John to death at the time he was imprisoned; but her influence was offset by Herod’s fear of the effect of such a course upon the people who esteemed John to be a prophet.
Philip’s wife — She had married Philip, thinking he would be king.
Matthew 14:4 KJV For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.
Benson: It is not lawful for thee to have her — Indeed it was not lawful for either of them to have her. For her father, Aristobulus, was their own brother. John’s words were rough, like his raiment. He would not break the force of truth by using soft words even to a king.
Barnes: For Herod had laid hold on John … – See Mar_6:17-20; Luk_3:19-20. This Herodias was a granddaughter of Herod the Great. She was first married to Herod Philip, by whom she had a daughter, Salome, probably the one that danced and pleased Herod. Josephus says that this marriage of Herod Antipas with Herodias took place while he was on a journey to Rome. He stopped at his brother’s; fell in love with his wife; agreed to put away his own wife, the daughter of Aretas, King of Petraea; and Herodias agreed to leave her own husband and live with him. They were living, therefore, in adultery; and John, in faithfulness, though at the risk of his life, had reproved them for their crimes. Herod was guilty of two crimes in this act:
1. Of “adultery,” since she was the wife of another man.
2. Of “incest,” since she was a near relation, and such marriages were expressly forbidden, Lev_18:16.
Clarke: For Herodias’ sake – This infamous woman was the daughter of Aristobulus and Bernice, and grand-daughter of Herod the Great. Her first marriage was with Herod Philip, her uncle, by whom she had Salome: some time after, she left her husband, and lived publicly with Herod Antipas, her brother-in-law, who had been before married to the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia Petraea. As soon as Aretas understood that Herod had determined to put away his daughter, he prepared to make war on him: the two armies met, and that of Herod was cut to pieces by the Arabians; and this, Josephus says, was supposed to be a judgment of God on him for the murder of John the Baptist. See the account in Josephus, Antiq. lib. xviii. c. 7.
Popular NT: For the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. Herodias, the daughter of Aristobulus (the half-brother of Herod Antipas), the wife of Herod Philip (not to be confounded with Philip the Tetrarch, Luk_3:1), who was disinherited by his father, Herod the Great, and lived as a private citizen. Herod Antipas was first married to a daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia (mentioned 2Co_11:32). Becoming enamored of Herodias, his niece and sister-in-law, he married her secretly, while her husband was still living, repudiating his own legal wife. Aretas made war against him in consequence, and having defeated him was prevented by the Romans from dethroning him (A. D. 37). At the instigation of Herodias he went to Rome to compete for the kingly power bestowed on Agrippa, but was banished by the Emperor Caligula to Cyprus.
Matthew 14:5 KJV And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
Guzik: Herod is like many people today, especially politicians. They fear the opinion of the multitude before fearing God. The only check on Herod’s behavior is the fear of man.
Benson: And when he would have put him to death — In a fit of passion; he feared the multitude — He knew his abuse of his power had already rendered him odious to the people, and as their resentments were much excited already, he was afraid if he should proceed to put a prophet to death, they would break out into a flame which he could not quench. He was then restrained by fear of the multitude; and afterward by the reverence he had for John, Mar_6:19, &c.
Russell:He feared — But Herodias feared neither God nor man.
Matthew 14:6 KJV But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.
Guzik:The daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod: Herodias’ daughter shamelessly danced before Herod and friends, winning favor and a special request.
Gill:But when Herod’s birthday was kept,…. The birthdays of princes, both of their coming into the world, and accession to the throne of government, were kept by the Gentiles; as by the Egyptians, Gen_40:20 and by the (n) Persians, and Romans (o), and other nations, but not by the Jews; who reckon these among the feasts of idolaters.
“These (say they (p)) are the feasts of idolaters; the “Calends”, and the “Saturnalia”, the time kept in memory of subduing a kingdom (or when a king takes possession of it, the day of his accession), ויום גנוסיא של מלכים, “and the birthday of kings” (when they are made and crowned, the day of coronation), and the day of birth, and the day of death.”
And it is a question, whether this day, that was kept, was the day of Herod’s natural birth, or of his civil government, being his accession, or coronation day: and it might also be a question, whether it was the then present Herod’s birthday, or whether it was not his father Herod’s, was it not that Mark says, Mar_6:21 it was his birthday; since it is the latter the poet (q) refers to, as kept by Jews, when he says, “At cum Herodis venere dies”; and the old Scholiast upon him observes, that
“Herod reigned over the Jews in Syria, in the times of Augustus; therefore the Herodians kept Herod’s birthday, as also the sabbath, on which day they set up candles in the windows lighted, and encircled with violets.”
This they did, believing him to be the Messiah: and it is further to be observed, that the word here used, is said (r) to be proper to the dead, and not to the living; and that he that uses it of the living, speaks very inaccurately: but however, it was a festival, and a time of great mirth and jollity; and a proper opportunity offered to Herodias, to execute her malicious designs against John the Baptist; for at this time,
the daughter of Herodias danced before them: in the original text it is, “in the midst”, in the middle of the hall; or in the midst of the company, the lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee, for whom Herod made a supper, Mar_6:21 and the Syriac renders it קדם סמיכא, “before the guests”. Music and dancing were usual at such entertainments, they were the common appendages of a feast (s): the daughter of Herodias, who danced before the company for their diversion, whether alone, or with others, was very probably Salome (t), whom she had by her former husband; and therefore is called, not the daughter of Herod, but of Herodias:
and pleased Herod; and as Mark adds, “and them that sat with him”; so that the pleasure he had did not arise merely from the respect and honour shown to him and his birthday, by her appearing with so much cheerfulness on this occasion before him; who had taken her father’s wife from him, and defiled her mother; but from the airs, gestures, and motions of the lady in dancing; which were so extremely fine and regular, that she gave wonderful satisfaction and delight to Herod, and the whole company.
Matthew 14:7 KJV Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
Benson: he promised with an oath — Profanely and foolishly sware unto her, and that, it seems, more than once, both the evangelists using the plural, ορκους, oaths, (see Mat_14:9, and Mar_6:26;) to give her whatsoever she would ask, even to the half of his kingdom, Mar_6:23. “Thus profusely would he reward a worthless dance; while a prison and death were the recompense of the man of God who honestly sought the salvation of his soul?” — Scott.
Matthew 14:8 KJV And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.
Barnes: In a charger – The original word means a large platter on which food is placed. We should have supposed that she would have been struck with abhorrence at such a direction from her mother; but she seems to have been gratified. John, by his faithfulness, had offended the whole family, and here was ample opportunity for an adulterous mother and her dissolute child to gratify their resentment. It was customary for princes to require the heads of persons ordered for execution to be brought to them. For this there were two reasons:
1. To gratify their resentment – to feast their eyes on the proof that their enemy was dead; and,
2. To ascertain the fact that the sentence had been executed.
There is a similar instance in Roman history of a woman requiring the head of an enemy to be brought to her. Agrippina, the mother of Nero, who was afterward emperor, sent an officer to put to death Lollia Paulina, who had been her rival for the imperial dignity. When Lollia’s head was brought to her, not knowing it at first, she examined it with her own hands until she perceived some particular feature by which the lady was distinguished.
Guzik:Having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.” The request of Herodias shows that the mother had this planned out all along. She knew her husband and she knew the situation, and knew she could get what she wanted this way.
Russell:Being before instructed — The plan succeeded to the letter.
Of her mother — Illustrating parental influence. Evil as she was, Herodias had retained the affection of her daughter and her absolute confidence and obedience.
Said — While the flush of excitement and liquor was upon him, and while his counselors were present who had heard the oath, before whom any indecision would stultify himself.
Baptist’s head — They would cease to have his continual reminder of their wrong course. Evidently thinking that, with the prophet out of the way, all other advantages were accessible to herself and her daughter. Without John’s death, Herodias and Salome might any day be hurled from conditions of affluence into the abyss of degradation and poverty.
Gill: give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger: she desires his head, and this to be brought to her in a large dish, that her mother might be sure of his death; and have an opportunity of insulting that mouth and tongue, that had spoke against her incestuous marriage: and she desires to have it given “here”, in that very place, at that very time, where, and while the company was together, who were witnesses of the king’s promise and oath; and this she did, lest when the festival was over, and he was out of his cups, he should repent of his folly and rashness. The mother and daughter seem to be much alike, both for lasciviousness, revenge, and cruelty: and if what the historian says (w) be true, that this same person Salome, the daughter of Herodias, as she walked over a river which was frozen in the winter season, the ice broke, and she fell in, and the pieces of ice cut off her head; the “lex talionis”, the law of retaliation, was righteously executed on her.
Matthew 14:9 KJV And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.
Guzik: Because Herod was afraid to cross his wife or lose face before his friends, he did something he knew to be wrong.
i. Herod met with an inglorious end. In order to take his brother’s wife Herodias, Herod put away his first wife, a princess from a neighboring kingdom to the east. Her father was offended, and came against Herod with an army, and defeated him in battle. Then his brother Agrippa accused him of treason against Rome, and he was banished into the distant Roman province of Gaul, where Herod and Herodias committed suicide.
Russell:King was sorry — His conscience was not quite dead. We may be sure that his mind was frequently disturbed with the thought of his injustice, and that against one of the Lord’s favorites, a prophet. We are not to infer from this any heart-repentance, but merely that the matter was incongruous to his sentiments and wishes. People do things which they recognize to be wrong, violating their conscience, and feel sorry; yet this is not a godly sorrow, for the sorrow God recognizes and appreciates leads to repentance.
The oath’s sake — “The fear of man bringeth a snare.” (Pro_29:25)
“Highly esteemed among men but an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luk_16:15)
He commanded it — A course which led to his banishment, in which Herodias shared.
Matthew 14:10 KJV And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.
Matthew 14:11 KJV And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.
Benson:and she brought it to her mother — The young lady gladly received the bloody present, and carried it to her mother, who enjoyed the whole pleasure of revenge, and feasted her eyes with the sight of her enemy’s head, now rendered silent and harmless. But the Baptist’s voice became the louder for his being murdered, filling the earth, reaching up to heaven, and publishing the woman’s adultery to all ages and to all people! St. Jerome tells us that Herodias treated the head in a very disdainful manner, pulling out the tongue, which she imagined had injured her, and piercing it with a needle. Thus they gratified themselves in the indulgence of their lusts, and triumphed in the murder of this holy prophet, till the righteous judgment of God overtook them all. For, as Dr. Whitby, with many others, observes, Providence interested itself very remarkably in the revenge of this murder on all concerned; Herod’s army was defeated in a war occasioned by his marrying Herodias, which even many Jews thought a judgment sent upon him for the murder of John. Both he and Herodias, whose ambition occasioned his ruin, were afterward driven from their kingdom in great disgrace, and died in banishment at Lyons in Gaul: and, if any credit may be given to Nicephorus, Salome, the young lady who made this cruel request, fell into the ice, as she was walking over it, which closing suddenly cut off her head. See Macknight and Doddridge.
Popular NT:She brought it to her mother. ‘A Jezebel was not wanting in the history of the second Elijah.’ The vindictive adulteress was served by the immodest dancer; the sixth and seventh commandment stand next each other.
Matthew 14:12 KJV And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
Robertson: And they went and told Jesus (kai elthontes apēggeilan tōi Iēsou). As was meet after they had given his body decent burial. It was a shock to the Master who alone knew how great John really was. The fate of John was a prophecy of what was before Jesus. According to Mat_14:13 the news of the fate of John led to the withdrawal of Jesus to the desert privately, an additional motive besides the need for rest after the strain of the recent tour.
Gill: and went and told Jesus; that their master was dead, what kind of death he suffered, and by what means it was brought about; and how that they had interred him; and what Herod also had said of Jesus, that he was John risen from the dead. Their coming to Christ, and informing him of all this, show, that they were taught by their master to respect him as the Messiah, and believe in him, and adhere to him; and it is very likely that they continued with him.
Russell:And told Jesus — Doubtless becoming his disciples. Thus their trials in connection with their leader brought them into closer knowledge and fellowship with the Great Teacher.
Benson: And his disciples came and took up the body — Which it seems had been thrown over the prison walls, without burial, probably by order of Herodias. And buried it — Laid it, says Mark, doubtless with great reverence and due lamentation, in a tomb, belonging to some of them who were willing to pay this last act of duty to their master’s memory. And went and told Jesus — What had happened; and, remembering the repeated testimony which John had borne to him, probably continued their attendance upon him.
Matthew 14:13 KJV When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.
Matthew 14:13 TPT On hearing this, Jesus slipped away privately by boat to be alone. But when the crowds discovered he had sailed away, they emerged from all the nearby towns and followed him on foot.
Russell: He departed thence — For private meditation and conference with his disciples, who would be greatly agitated by the news of John’s death and needed his calming influence and assurance that Herod could have no unpermitted power over them.
Possibly to avoid Herod’s interfering with his labors, possibly fearing that his teachings would incite a rebellious spirit, possibly seeking privacy with his disciples to consider the character of his work.
Desert place apart — Out of the dominion of Herod. Near Bethsaida.
Benson: When Jesus heard it, he departed thence — It appears from Mar_6:30, that the disciples of John arrived with the news of their master’s death at, or immediately after, the time when the apostles returned from their mission, and gave Jesus an account of the miracles which they had performed, and of the success of their ministry. Perhaps tidings of John’s death had reached them before their return, and had caused them to hasten it. Be this as it may, it is probable that the distressing intelligence had thrown them into great consternation, and that our Lord retired into the desert with them with a view to allay it, and to give them an opportunity to indulge such meditations as were suitable to so awful a dispensation. Mark assigns also another reason of our Lord’s retreat on this occasion, namely, the continual hurry the apostles were kept in by the multitude, which thronged about Jesus to such a degree, that they had not leisure so much as to eat without interruption, and much less for religious retirement and recollection. Perhaps, likewise, by this retreat, our Lord proposed to shun Herod, who desired to see him, and might be contriving some method of obtaining an interview with him; for Jesus had perfect knowledge not only of the conversation which passed at the court of Galilee, but also of Herod’s thoughts and designs. When the people heard thereof — That is, heard to what place he was going, they followed him on foot out of the cities — They went after him by land, and travelled with such eagerness that they arrived at the place before him, having increased their numbers out of all the cities by which they passed.
Barnes:By a ship into a desert place – That is, he crossed the Sea of Galilee. He went to the country east of the sea, into a place little inhabited. Luke says Luk_9:10 he went to a place called Bethsaida. See the notes at Mat_11:21. “A desert place” means a place little cultivated, where there were few or no inhabitants. On the east of the Sea of Galilee there was a large tract of country of this description rough, uncultivated, and chiefly used to pasture flocks.
Matthew 14:14 KJV And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
Popular NT: The feeding of the Five Thousand is the only miracle mentioned by all four Evangelists, and the first occurrence fully narrated by them all. It also furnishes a definite chronological point for a harmony of the Gospels. It is in many respects the most incomprehensible of all the miracles. Various suggestions have been made as to the mode of increase, as involving a higher order of nature; an acceleration of the natural process; a removal of the ban of barrenness resting on our earthly bread, showing the positive fulness which it contains when Christ’s blessing descends upon it. It is safest to accept a supernatural increase without seeking to know the method, and then to seek and accept the spiritual lessons it teaches. The attempts to explain it as a natural event have been utter failures. The four Evangelists could not write as they have done, of a ‘myth,’ a ‘parable,’ or a ‘symbol.’ Either this was a miracle, or the Evangelists have wilfully falsified. The great lesson is: Christ the Bread of the world; its type is the manna in the wilderness. Christ’s people partake of Him to the nourishment of their souls. As in the miracle, the means may be visible, but the mode unknown; of the fact we may be assured, and may assure others..—Notice the contrast between the feast of the ‘estates of Galilee’ at Herod’s court, and this feast of the poor and sick multitudes in the wilderness. Our Lord gave freely in the wilderness: healed, taught, and fed all.—‘The Bible, so little in bulk, like the five barley loaves and the two fishes, what thousands upon thousands has it fed, and will it feed, in every age, in every land of Christendom, to the world’s end!’
Guzik:He was moved with compassion for them: Both Jesus and the disciples were aware of the multitudes, and aware of their needs. Yet it is Jesus’ compassion and His awareness of the power of God that led Him to go about feeding the multitude.
Barnes:Was moved with compassion – That is, pitied them.
Mar_6:34 says he was moved with compassion because they were as sheep having no shepherd. A shepherd is one who takes care of a flock. It was his duty to feed it; to defend it from wolves and other wild beasts; to take care of the young and feeble; to lead it by green pastures and still waters, Psa_23:1-6. In Eastern countries this was a principal employment of the inhabitants. When Christ says the people were as sheep without a shepherd, he means that they had no teachers and guides who cared for them and took pains to instruct them. The scribes and Pharisees were haughty and proud, and cared little for the common people; and when they did attempt to teach them, they led them astray. They therefore came in great multitudes to him who preached the gospel to the poor Mat_11:5, and who was thus the good shepherd, Joh_10:14.
Gill:And Jesus went forth,…. Either from the mountain where he sat with his disciples, Joh_6:3 or out of the desert, where he had retired for secrecy; or out of the ship, which seems best, the company having got thither before his landing:
and saw a great multitude; for, there were about five thousand men, beside women and children, Mat_14:21
and was moved with compassion toward them: partly on account of their bodily infirmities, which were very many and great; and partly on account of the bad situation they were in, through want of spiritual pastors to feed them with the bread of life; for Mark gives this as the reason, moving his compassion, “because they were as sheep, not having a shepherd”: all which shows the truth of Christ’s human nature; proves him to be a merciful high priest, and one truly concerned for both the bodies and souls of men:
and he healed their sick; which they brought along with them, and that without the use of any medicine, by a word speaking: …but this was not all he did, he not only healed their bodies, but he taught them the doctrines of the Gospel; and spake to them concerning the kingdom of God, for the good of their souls, as the other evangelists relate.
Russell:A great multitude — The crowds continued to gather wherever Jesus went, partly for hearing, partly from curiosity, and partly because the message he gave was one of comfort, consolation, hope. The largeness of the company is accounted for by the fact that it was near the time of the Feast of Passover and large numbers of the religiously inclined were on their pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Moved with compassion — Such will be the spirit of all the Lord’s followers; not self-gratification, but “doing good to all men as they have opportunity, especially to the household of faith.” (Gal_6:10)
Matthew 14:15 KJV And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.
Russell: Evening — After three o’clock in the afternoon, in the early evening.
A desert place — Tell the good tidings, no matter in what form they must be presented, no matter how intolerable the conditions. The important thing is that some are hungry for the truth and the Lord will bless us in ministering it to them.
Buy themselves victuals — The people seem to have been so entranced with the good tidings that they entirely forgot their own necessities.
In the Greek order standing first as emphatic. The dominant thought of the disciples is remoteness from supplies of food. The first meaning of the word is solitary; from which develops the idea of void, bereft, barren.
Both meanings may well be included here. Note the two points of emphasis. The disciples say, Barren is the place. Christ answers, Noneed have they to go away.
The disciples had said, “Send them away tobuy for themselves.” Christ replies, Give ye.
Popular NT: Evening. The first evening, i.e., from three to six P.M. (ninth to twelfth hour of the day); Mat_14:23 refers to the second evening, which began at six P.M. (the first watch of the night).
The time, lit., ‘hour,’ is already past. Either the time of day is late, or the time for the evening meal is past. The disciples probably interrupted His discourse with this suggestion. Our Lord had continued His work of teaching and healing, until He had an opportunity to show how He could supply other wants. Those who wait on Him shall be fed! John tells us He ‘knew what he would do,’ inserting a question our Lord put to Philip (who was probably the spokesman) to try him. (See Joh_6:5-7.)
Barnes: The time is now past – That is, the day is passing away; it is near night, and it is proper to make some provision for the temporal wants of so many.
Perhaps it may mean it was past the usual time for refreshment.
Matthew 14:16 KJV But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.
Guzik:You give them something to eat: With this, Jesus challenged both the compassion and faith of the disciples. Yet, He will not ask them to do with without guiding them through it.
Barnes: Jesus said They need not depart; give ye them to eat – John adds Joh_6:5-6 that previous to this Jesus had addressed Philip, and asked, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? and that he “said this to prove him; for he himself knew what he would do;” that is, he said this to try his faith; to test the confidence of Philip in himself.
Philip, it seems, had not the kind of confidence which he ought to have had. He immediately began to think of their ability to purchase food for them. Two hundred pennyworth of bread, said he, would not be enough, Joh_6:7. In the original it is two hundred denarii. These were Roman coins amounting to about fourteen cents (7d.) each. The whole two hundred, therefore, would have been equal to about twenty-eight dollars. In the view of Philip this was a great sum, a sum which twelve poor fishermen were by no means able to provide. It was this fact, and not any unwillingness to provide for them, which led the disciples to request that they should be sent into the villages around in order to obtain food. Jesus knew how much they had, and he required of them, as he does of all, implicit faith, and told them to give them to eat. He requires us to do what he commands, and we need not doubt that he will give us strength to accomplish it.
Russell:Give ye them to eat — There was a seeming necessity for the miracle. Before sending them away he instructs all his disciples to supply them with something to eat–spiritual food, truths pertaining to the kingdom, affording strength and encouragement for the dark hour of trouble ahead.
We should be ready at any time to distribute our store of truth; whenever anyone is hungering and thirsting after righteousness. If they do not get spiritual food, they will faint by the way as they go looking for other provisions. We have the very thing which all the household of faith needs.
Matthew 14:17 KJV And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.
Barnes:We have here but five loaves … – These loaves were in the possession of a lad, or young man, who was with them, and were made of barley, Joh_6:9
It is possible that this lad was one in attendance on the apostles to carry their food, but it is most probable he was one who had provision to sell among the multitude. Barley was a cheap kind of food, scarcely one-third the value of wheat, and was much used by poor people. A considerable part of the food of the people in that region was probably fish, as they lived on the borders of a lake that abounded in fish.
Russell:But five loaves — It was Andrew who returned with word that a lad of the company had five loaves and two small fishes which he put at their disposal. A lesson also respecting the spiritual food, that we should not despise the day of small things.
And two fishes — The Lord takes our time and talents, little and unworthy as these are, and blesses them and uses them in his service, and accomplishes great things.
There is a lad here (John 6: 9) — Jesus did not tell the apostles to get wagons and go to town for bread and meat, but to use what they had. So we should use all our talents; use what we have, and we shall receive the blessing therefrom.
Matthew 14:18 KJV He said, Bring them hither to me.
Matthew 14:19 KJV And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
Guzik: And he commanded the multitude to sit down – In the original it is “to recline” on the grass, or to lie as they did at their meals.
The Jews never sat, as we do, at meals, but reclined or lay at length. See the notes at Mat_23:6. Mark and Luke add that they reclined in companies, by hundreds and by fifties.
And looking up to heaven, he blessed – Luke adds, he blessed “them;” that is, the loaves. The word “to bless” means, often, to give thanks; sometimes to pray for a blessing; that is, to pray for the divine favor and friendship; to pray that what we do may meet his approbation. In seeking a blessing on our food, it means that we pray that it may be made nourishing to our bodies; that we may have proper gratitude to God, the giver, for providing for our wants; and that we may remember the Creator while we partake the bounties of His providence. Our Saviour always sought a blessing on his food. In this he was an example for us. What he did we should do. It is right thus to seek the blessing of God. He provides for us; he daily opens his hand and satisfies our wants, and it is proper that we should render suitable acknowledgments for his goodness.
The custom among the Jews was universal. The form of prayer which they used in the time of Christ has been preserved by their writers, the Talmudists. It is this: “Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, the King of the world, who hast produced this food and this drink from the earth and the vine.”
And brake – The loaves of bread, among the Jews, were made thin and brittle, and were therefore broken and not cut.
Guzik:Looking up to heaven, He blessed: Jesus blessed the Father for the food that He did have. He may have prayed the familiar Jewish prayer before a meal, “Blessed art Thou, Jehovah our God, King of the universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth.”
Jesus also shows us that God has resources that we know nothing about. We tend to only have faith when we can “figure out” how God might provide.
Russell: Make the men sit — No objection is offered to this command which might make them appear foolish, to prepare a feast when apparently no feast could be spread. They were beginning to learn the power of him who could fill their nets with fish and they obeyed; the Lord did the rest.
The men sat down — In ranks or rows, in groups of fifties and hundreds, upon the grassy slopes.
The people were accustomed to a certain method of arranging themselves in groups of fifties and hundreds for general feasts. The confidence of the people in Jesus and his apostles is clearly manifested in the fact that at that late hour they were willing to be directed.
The five loaves — The loaves of that country and time were about the size of a small flat pie and very similar in shape. The poorest and cheapest sort of bread.
And the two fishes — The kind of fish described by the Greek word used implied very small fish, like herring.
He blessed — The giving of thanks did indeed give a blessing upon the food. It is incomprehensible how any consecrated Christian dare neglect to render thanks for his daily food. Mere outward formalistic acts of piety by others, however, are not pleasing to God.
To his disciples — Possibly the increasing continued at the hands of the apostles as they in turn distributed the food to the people.
We now have the privilege of being co-workers in the dissemination of the harvest message.
Matthew 14:20 KJV And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.
Guzik: Mat_14:20-21) The multitudes are fed.
So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
a. They all ate and were filled: Not only was God’s provision abundant, but God didn’t want the leftovers to go to waste (and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained).
b. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children: The number of 5,000 men suggests a total perhaps of 15,000 to 20,000 people, including women and children.
c. The feeding of the 5,000 gives us three principles for God’s provision:
• Thank God for, and wisely use what you have.
• Trust God’s unlimited resources.
• Don’t waste what He gives you.
Barnes:And they did all eat, and were filled – This was an undoubted miracle.
The quantity must have been greatly increased to have supplied so many. He that could increase that small quantity so much had the power of creation; and he that could do that could create the world out of nothing, and had no less than divine power.
Twelve baskets full – The size of these baskets is unknown. They were probably such as travelers carried their provisions in. They were used commonly by the Jews in their journeys. In traveling among the Gentiles or Samaritans, a Jew could expect little hospitality. There were not, as now, public houses for the entertainment of strangers. At great distances there were caravansaries, but they were intended chiefly as lodging-places for the night, and not to provide food for travelers. Hence, in journeying among strangers or in deserts, they carried baskets of provisions, and this is the reason why they were furnished with them here. It is probable that each of the apostles had one, and they were all filled. John Joh_6:12 says that Jesus directed them to gather up these fragments, that nothing might be lost – an example of economy. God creates all food; it has, therefore, a kind of sacredness; it is all needed by some person or other, and none should be lost.
Russell: They did all eat — A lesson of divine power; also, that Jesus was the Son of God, through whom that power was exercised. Exemplifying the coming power and glory of the great King of the world, who is to bless, feed and and uplift the race of Adam.
They took up — Those who receive of the Lord’s bounty should be none the less appreciative of it, and careful of its use. We are not to waste spiritual privileges because they are free gifts; rather we are to prize every spiritual morsel and gather up in store for future needs of ourselves and others.
Of the fragments — Not the fragments left by the multitude, but those broken by the Lord and not yet distributed.
Twelve baskets full — Haversacks, in which the 12 apostles carried their provisions; a good supply for further necessities. It was those who scattered to others who had their own haversacks full in the end, those who are most intent upon feeding others the bread of life are themselves most bountifully supplied.
The memory is our “basket” in which we are to gather up in store for ourselves and others every spiritual morsel.
Matthew 14:21 KJV And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.
Barnes: Five thousand men, besides … – Probably the whole number might have been ten thousand, To feed so many was an act of great benevolence and a stupendous miracle.
Russell:About five thousand men — Yet at the time of his temptation he refused to miraculously appease his own hunger.
Arranged in 100 groups of 50 in the form of a three-sided square, after the shape of a Roman reclining table, the disciples passing in at the open side were thus able to reach the entire company.
Matthew 14:22 KJV And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
Guzik:He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray: Jesus was jealous for time spent alone with His Father. In the midst of His great ministry to others, He did not – He could not – neglect this.
Russell: Get into a ship — To expedite the dispersion of the multitude.
To go before him — To give them opportunity to think over the miracle, and talk it over by themselves in his absence.
Unto the other side — Back to Galilee, Herod’s territory, evidencing the fact that our Lord’s conference with his disciples had a pacifying and strengthening effect on them.
Barnes: And straightway Jesus constrained … – See Mar_6:45-56; Joh_6:15-21. The word “straightway” means immediately; that is, as soon as the fragments were gathered up. To “constrain” usually means to compel. It here means to command. There was no need of compulsion. They were at this time on the east side of the Lake of Gennesareth. He directed them to get into a ship and cross over to the other side; that is, to Capernaum. Mark adds that he sent them to Bethsaida Mar_6:45. Bethsaida was situated at the place where the Jordan empties into the lake on the east side of the river. Compare the notes at Mat_11:21. It is probable that he directed them to go in a ship or boat to Bethsaida, and remain there till he should dismiss the people, and that he would meet them there, and with them cross the lake. The effect of the miracle on the multitude was so great Joh_6:14 that they believed him to be that prophet which should come into the world; that is, the Messiah, the king that they had expected, and they were about to take him by force and make him a king, Joh_6:15. To avoid this, Jesus got away from them as privately as possible. He went into a solitary mountain alone. In view of the temptation – when human honors were offered to him and almost forced upon him – he retired for private prayer; an example for all who are tempted with human honors and applause. Nothing is better to keep the mind humble and unambitious than to seek some lonely place; to shut out the world with all its honors; to realize that the great God, before whom all creatures and all honors sink to nothing, is round about us; and to ask him to keep us from pride and vainglory.
Clarke: Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship – Either they were afraid to return into the jurisdiction of Herod, or they were unwilling to embark without their Lord and Protector, and would not enter their boat till Christ had commanded them to embark.
From this verse it appears that Christ gave some advices to the multitudes after the departure of his disciples, which he did not wish them to hear.
PopularNT: CONNECTION. Immediately after the miraculous feeding, the people wished to proclaim Jesus a king and were ready to take violent steps for that purpose (Joh_6:14-15). The disciples were probably ready to join the people in an enterprise, which would fulfil their remaining carnal expectations regarding the Messiahship of their Master. Hence our Lord dismissed them, sending them where they would feel their need of His presence. Mark and John narrate this occurrence, but the attempt of Peter (Mat_14:29-31) is mentioned only by Matthew.
John 6:12-15 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
Matthew 14:23 KJV And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
Russell: To pray — The Lord frequently spent whole nights in prayer. For the refreshment of his own zeal, for the keeping warm of his own love and devotion, which was the basis of his consecration.
Nearly all the Great Teacher’s recorded prayers are simple and brief. Whenever he wished to make long prayers, he went to the Father alone.
He was there alone — Even his beloved disciples, not having been begotten of the Spirit, could not enter into fellowship with him in respect to spiritual things, nor appreciate the trials which came to him as a perfect man. Though he sometimes prayed with the disciples in their hearing, he was not content with these opportunities, but frequently sought the Father alone.
There are times when we love to join our hearts and voices with others at the throne of grace, and there are other times when we need individual, personal, private communion with God.
Gill:And when he had sent the multitudes away,…. Had ordered them at least to go away; for, it seems, according to Joh_6:22 that they did not in general disperse: there was a large body of them that continued upon the spot all night, expecting his return; in which being disappointed, they took shipping, and came to Capernaum.
He went up into a mountain apart to pray; perhaps the same he went up to before, and from whence he came down, Joh_6:3. This he chose as a proper place for prayer, where he could be retired, and alone, have his thoughts free, and, as man, pour out his soul to his Father, on his own account, and on the behalf of others; and particularly, he might be concerned about this notion of a temporal kingdom, that his disciples and others were so fond of; and pray that his disciples might be convinced of their mistake, and that the people might be hindered from prosecuting their designs. His going up into a mountain and praying there, were quite contrary to the canons of the Jews; which forbid praying in places ever so little raised.
Matthew 14:24 KJV But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
Russell: But the ship — Representing the experiences of the Lord’s true church.
Was now — During the darkness of the nighttime which precedes the Millennial dawn, there will be storms and difficulties arising which would overwhelm us without the Lord’s aid.
Tossed with waves — Representing the great storm of trouble and persecution, against which the true church has been obliged to contend. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood [merely], but against principalities, against powers.” (Eph_6:12)
The wind was contrary — The great adversary, through the anti-Christ and many less anti-Christs, has aroused, all through the Gospel age, a great storm against the Lord’s faithful few.
Guzik: The boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary: The Sea of Galilee is well known for its sudden storms, and during this storm Jesus wasn’t in the boat with the disciples.
Gill:But the ship was now in the midst of the sea,…. That is, the ship in which the disciples were put into, to go on the other side, had by this time got into the midst of the sea: the Syriac and Persic versions say, it was “many furlongs from land”; and the Arabic expressly says, “about twenty five furlongs”: which account seems to be taken from Joh_6:19 but this was not all, it was not only at such a distance from land, but was
tossed with waves: up and down, and in danger of being overset, and the passengers lost:
for the wind was against them; which beat the waves with such violence against them, that they were in the utmost danger of their lives, and not able to get forward; and what was worst of all, and most discouraging to the disciples, Christ was not with them. The ship in which the disciples were, was an emblem of the church of Christ, and of its state and condition in this world: this world is like a sea, for its largeness, and the abundance of nations and people in it, compared to many waters, Rev_17:15 and for the tumultuousness of its inhabitants; the wicked being like a troubled sea, which cannot rest, continually casting up the mire and dirt of sin, to the dishonour of God, and the grief of his people; and for its fickleness and inconstancy, changes and war being continually in it: now the church of Christ is like a ship in this troublesome sea; where the true disciples and followers of Christ are selected together; and are preserved from the pollutions of the world, and from the danger to which the men of it are exposed, being in their sins, and liable to the wrath and curse of God, which, they that are in Christ, and members of his body, are secure from; the port or haven to which they are bound, is heaven and eternal happiness; their’s and Christ’s Father’s house, where are many mansions provided for them; and where they long to be, and hope, and believe, ere long they shall arrive unto; and hope is as an anchor of their soul, sure and steadfast: but in the meanwhile, whilst they are sailing through the sea of this world, they are often, as the church of old, tossed with tempests, and not comforted, Isa_55:11 with the tempests of Satan’s temptations, the storms of the world’s persecutions, and with the winds of error and false doctrine; and then is it most uncomfortable to them, when Christ is not with them, which was the case of the disciples here.
Barnes: But the ship was now in the midst of the sea – John says they had sailed about 25 or 30 furlongs. About 7 1/2 Jewish furlongs made a mile; so that the distance they had sailed was not more than about 4 miles. At no place is the Sea of Tiberias much more than 10 miles in breadth, so that they were literally in the midst of the sea.
Matthew 14:25 KJV And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
Russell: In the fourth watch — Between three and six in the morning.
“God shall help her early in the morning.” (Psa_46:5)
Walking on the sea — Typifying the stormy sea of the world’s unparalleled trouble. Individually we have such experiences. The Lord for a time permits the storms of life to assault us. Then he manifests himself, and the storms no longer cause us dread and fear.
Barnes: And in the fourth watch of the night – The Jews anciently divided the night into three parts of four hours each, usually called watches. The first of these watches is mentioned in Lam_2:19, the middle watch in Jdg_7:19, and the morning watch in Exo_14:24. In the time of our Saviour they divided the night into four watches, the fourth having been introduced by the Romans. These watches consisted of three hours each. The first commenced at six and continued until nine; the second from nine to twelve; the third from twelve to three; and the fourth from three to six. The first was called evening; the second midnight; the third cock-crowing; the fourth morning, Mar_13:35. It is probable that the term watch was given to each of these divisions from the practice of placing sentinels around the camp in time of war, or in cities, to watch or guard the camp or city; and that they were at first relieved three times in the night, but under the Romans four times. It was in the last of these watches, or between three and six in the morning, that Jesus appeared to the disciples, so that he had spent most of the night alone on the mountain in prayer.
Walking on the sea – A manifest and wonderful miracle. It was a boisterous sea. It was in a dark night. The little boat was 4 or 5 miles from the shore, tossed by the billows.
Matthew 14:26 KJV And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
(MKJV) And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a phantom! And they cried out for fear.
(YLT) and the disciples having seen him walking upon the sea, were troubled saying—’It is an apparition,’ and from the fear they cried out;
Russell: It is a spirit — They supposed it to be an apparition, a spirit manifestation in human form, walking on the water. Thinking they had seen a supernatural being and that it foreboded some calamity.
Benson:And when the disciples saw him, they were troubled — “It is well known that it is never entirely dark on the water not to urge that the moon might perhaps now be in the last quarter, as it must have been, if this was about three weeks before the passover.” By that little light, therefore, which they had, the disciples, seeing him, but not perfectly discerning who he was, were much terrified: saying, It is a spirit, Οτι φαντασμα εστι, It is an apparition: for they justly supposed that no human body could be supported by the water. Although the original word here used is not spirit, but apparition, yet that the Jews in general, particularly the Pharisees, believed in the existence of spirits, and that spirits sometimes appeared, is evident from Luk_24:37; Luk_24:39, and Act_23:8-9. And they cried out with fear — Through their dread of what might be the consequence: for, Mar_6:50, they all saw him, and were troubled. We see here, that even appearances and approaches of deliverance may be the occasions of trouble and perplexity to God’s people, who are sometimes put into great fear when they are most highly favoured. See Luk_1:29, and Exo_3:6.
Gill:And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea,…. It being now morning, and perhaps might have moon light; and besides, there is always more light upon the water than land; they were able to discern something like a man, walking upon the surface of the sea, but had not light enough to distinguish what, or who it was; and, moreover, had no thought of Christ, or expectation of seeing him; and the appearance of a man walking upon the waters being so unusual, and astonishing,
they were troubled, saying it is a spirit: a nocturnal apparition, a demon in human form. The Jews, especially the sect of the Pharisees, had a notion, from whom the disciples might have their’s, of spirits, apparitions, and demons, being to be seen in the night; hence that rule (u),
“it is forbidden a man to salute his friend in the night, for we are careful, lest שד הוא, “it should be a demon”.”
and they cried out for fear, as persons in the utmost consternation, in the greatest danger, and in want of help: the fear of spirits arises from the uncommonness of their appearance; from their superiority to men in power and strength; from the enmity there is between men and evil spirits; and from a general notion of their doing hurt and mischief: hence, demons are, by the Jews, called מזיקין, “hurtful”, or “hurting”, all their study being to do hurt to men; and the same word is here used in Munster’s Hebrew Gospel: add to all this, that the fear of the disciples might be increased, through a vulgar notion among seafaring men, that such sights are ominous, and portend evil to sailors; and they might the more easily be induced to give credit to this, and fear, since they were already in such imminent danger.
Matthew 14:27 KJV But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
Russell: Be of good cheer — It helped the disciples later to remember how the Master came to them on the troubled sea and brought peace and quiet. It is the privilege of those who are fully consecrated to the Lord to be cheerful, happy, even in the midst of unsatisfactory and painful conditions.
Be not afraid — They were all affrighted until thus reassured.
Benson: To allay the fears of his disciples, Christ immediately drew near and spake to them, in a tone of voice with which they were all perfectly acquainted, saying, θαρσειτε, Take courage: it is I — Your Lord and Master; be not afraid — Either of me, who am your friend, or of the violent tempest, which cannot hurt you while you are under my protection.
Gill:But straightway Jesus spake unto them,…. Directly, the very moment, as soon as ever they cried out, and he perceived the consternation they were in, as one truly affected towards them, and concerned for their welfare; he called out aloud unto them, not coming with any intention to fright them, but to save them;
saying, be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid: take heart, be of good courage, do not be affrighted at my appearance, from whom you have nothing to fear; nor be afraid of the storm and tempest in which you are, I will deliver you; for it is I, your Master, Saviour, and Redeemer, and not any hurtful spirit; who am able to save you, and am come for that purpose.
Clarke: It is I; be not afraid – Nothing but this voice of Christ could, in such circumstances, have given courage and comfort to his disciples: those who are grievously tossed with difficulties and temptations require a similar manifestation of his power and goodness. When he proclaims himself in the soul, all sorrow, and fear, and sin are at an end.
Matthew 14:28 KJV And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
Guzik: (Mat_14:28-33) Peter’s bold move and subsequent lack of faith.
Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water: We have no idea what prompted Peter to ask such a question, but his faith in Jesus is remarkable. He really responded to Jesus’ invitation and got out of the boat.
Russell: Answered him — Showing both the strength and weakness of Peter’s natural disposition: noble and courageous, but rather forward and boastful.
Bid me come unto thee — Peter had the wonderful courage to make the effort. Perhaps rashly.
Gill: And Peter answered him and said,…. Who knew his voice, and was ready to believe it might be Christ; and having more courage, and being more forward than the rest of the disciples, ventured to speak to him; saying,
Lord, if it be thou; for he was not fully assured that it was he: he might consider that nocturnal apparitions are deceitful, and that Satan can transform himself into an angel of light, and could put on the appearance, and mimic the voice of Christ; wherefore, to try whether it was a spectre, or really Christ, he says,
bid me come unto thee on the water; thereby expressing great love and affection to Christ, being willing to come to him, though through danger, through storms and tempests; and also his strong faith in him, supposing it to be he; who, he knew, was as able to support his body on the water, as his own; and yet much modesty, submission, and dependence; not willing to take a step without his order.
Barnes: And Peter answered … – Here is an instance of the characteristic ardor and rashness of Peter. He had less real faith than he supposed, and more ardor than his faith would justify. He was rash, headlong, incautious, really attached to Jesus, but still easily daunted and prone to fall. He was afraid, therefore, when in danger, and, sinking, cried again for help. Thus he was suffered to learn his own character, and his dependence on Jesus: a lesson which all Christians are permitted sooner or later to learn by dear-bought experience.
Matthew 14:29 KJV And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
Guzik:He walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink: This is a wonderful picture of walking in faith, showing that we must keep our eyes on Jesus and not on the storm to keep afloat.
Gill:And he said, come,…. This he said, partly to assure them who he was; for had he denied him, he and the rest might have concluded, it was none of Jesus; and partly to commend his love, and confirm his faith, by giving a further instance of his power, in enabling him to walk upon the water, as he did:
and when Peter was come down out of the ship; as he immediately did, having orders from Christ; and being by this second speech fully convinced it was he
he walked on the water; a little way, being supported and enabled by the power of Christ; for this was an extraordinary and miraculous action: for if it was so in Christ, it was much more so in Peter: Christ walked upon the water by his own power, as God; Peter walked upon the water, being held up by the power of Christ.
to go to Jesus; not merely for walking sake, but for the sake of Christ, he dearly loved; that he might be with him, and be still more confirmed of the truth of its being he, and not a spirit.
Popular NT:He walked upon the waters. Not necessarily very far; and yet so long as he thus walked, it was through supernatural aid from Christ. The power was obtained and conditioned by faith in Christ’s power. So in our spiritual walk above the waves of this world.
Matthew 14:30 KJV But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
Russell: Afraid — His faith failed.
The same Peter who later drew his sword and smote the servant of the High Priest in his Master’s defense; yet, only a few hours later, denied him with oaths and cursing.
Beginning to sink — While Peter’s faith was stronger than that of the others, and of ours today, it was not strong enough. As the Lord found no fault with St. Peter for his efforts, we are bound to admire the degree of faith and courage which he manifested.
When conviction of unworthiness becomes deep-seated, the heart is most likely to cry unto the Lord for deliverance from darkness.
MHCC: Christ bade Peter come, not only that he might walk upon the water, and so know his Lord’s power, but that he might know his own weakness. And the Lord often lets his servants have their choice, to humble and prove them, and to show the greatness of his power and grace. When we look off from Christ, and look at the greatness of opposing difficulties, we shall begin to fall; but when we call to him, he will stretch out his arm, and save us. Christ is the great Saviour; those who would be saved, must come to him, and cry to him, for salvation; we are never brought to this, till we find ourselves sinking: the sense of need drives us to him. He rebuked Peter. Could we but believe more, we should suffer less. The weakness of faith, and the prevailing of our doubts, displease our Lord Jesus, for there is no good reason why Christ’s disciples should be of a doubtful mind. Even in a stormy day he is to them a very present help.
Clarke:Peter – walked on the water – However impossible the thing commanded by Christ may appear, it is certain he will give power to accomplish it to those who receive his word by faith; but we must take care never to put Christ’s power to the proof for the gratification of a vain curiosity; or even for the strengthening of our faith, when the ordinary means for doing that are within our reach.
Guzik:Beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” But even when Peter failed, Jesus was there to save him. Peter knew who to call out to at the moment of crisis.
Matthew 14:31 KJV And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Russell: Stretched forth his hand — To all who cry unto the Savior for deliverance from sin and death, he lends a helping hand. All God’s people, like Peter, would like to do some wonderful thing to show their faith; and often they would utterly fail, did not the Lord interpose for their rescue. So all of the faithful now will need the Master’s hand stretched to their relief; otherwise they would sink in discouragement because of lack of faith.
He will not reproach for sins repented of; rather, he will say, Why did you not come sooner? I was quite willing to aid you as soon as you cried.
O thou of little faith — Had his faith continued, he would have been sustained.
The Lord’s rule with his people seems to be, “According to thy faith be it unto thee.”
Peter made a mirror of his mistakes and thus, learning to know himself more particularly, he was safeguarded through the many dangers natural to his temperament.
Popular NT:O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? Chrysostom: we need not fear the tempest, but only the weakness of our faith. Hence Christ does not calm the storm, but takes Peter by the hand. Trench: ‘Peter is here the image of all the faithful of all ages, in the seasons of their weakness and their fear.’
Clarke:Jesus stretched forth his hand – Every moment we stand in need of Christ: while we stand – we are upheld by his power only; and when we are falling, or have fallen, we can be saved only by his mercy. Let us always take care that we do not consider so much the danger to which we are exposed, as the power of Christ by which we are to be upheld; and then our mountain is likely to stand strong.
Gill:And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand,…. The Syriac reads it, וברשעתה, “and in that very moment”; for his case requires immediate assistance, and Christ readily gave it; he reached out his hand at once, being just by him,
and caught him; as he was sinking to the bottom, and lifted him up, and set him on his feet upon the water, and enabled him to walk with him to the ship; but not without reproving him for the weakness of his faith,
and said unto him, O thou of little faith: he does not say, O thou unbeliever! or, O thou who hast no faith! for some faith he had, though but small; of this phrase; see Gill on Mat_6:30.
Wherefore didst thou doubt? waver, fluctuate, or wast divided between faith and fear. He was worthy of reproof, since he had had the order of Christ to come to him upon the water; and an experience of his power in supporting him thus far; and was now so near unto him, that he had no room to doubt, whether it was he or not, nor of his power to preserve him.
Matthew 14:32 KJV And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
Russell: The wind ceased — The lesson of the occasion being ended. All the storms and billows of trouble and persecution which may impede and weary us are amenable to his control.
If the miracle of the loaves illustrated his power to protect his people from want, this manifested that his power is able to preserve his people in the storms, difficulties and trials of life. When the Lord has joined himself to his church, the trials, storms and difficulties will be at an end, and the desired haven of the heavenly condition will have been reached.
Gill:And when they were come into the ship,…. Christ and Peter. The Arabic and Persic versions, and Munster’s Hebrew Gospel read, “when he ascended”, or “was come into the ship”; but there is no doubt but Peter went with him into it, though the following effect is only to be ascribed to Christ’s coming into the ship, and not to Peter’s:
the wind ceased: from blowing with that fury and violence it did before, and there was a perfect calm; which gave equal proof of the power of Christ, as his walking upon the sea: he walked upon the sea whilst the wind was blowing hard, and the waves were tumultuous; he comes into the ship, and all is calm; both winds and sea obey him, who is Lord of both.
Clarke:The wind ceased – Jesus is the Prince of peace, and all is peace and calm where he condescends to enter and abide.
Popular NT:And when they were gone up into the boat. John (Joh_6:21) speaks of the boat being immediately ‘at the land whither they went’ This was on the western side of the lake.
Matthew 14:33 KJV Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
Russell: Worshipped him — Realizing afresh that he was the Son of God in power; that even the winds and the waves obeyed him.
The Son of God — If the Son of God, he is true; and if he is true, then all the exceeding great and precious promises which he left for us may be relied upon, built upon, anchored into.
Guzik:. Those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him: The moved quickly from fearing the storm to worshipping Jesus. This was a logical reaction considering the power Jesus showed in walking on the water, and the love He showed in taking care of a sinking Peter.
Barnes:And when they were come into the ship the wind ceased – Here was a new proof of the power of Jesus. He that has power over winds and waves has all power. John adds Joh_6:21 that the ship was immediately at the land whither they went; another proof, amid this collection of wonders, that the Son of God was with them. They came, therefore, and worshipped him, acknowledging him to be the Son of God. That is, they gave him homage, or honored him as the Son of God.
Popular NT:The Son of God, lit., son of God. Probably only a recognition of His Messiahship, but the miracle would exalt their notions respecting the Messiah. For the first time men owned our Lord as the Son of God. John the Baptist had done so by Divine commission (Joh_1:34; Joh_3:35-36).
Gill:Then they that were in the ship,…. Not only the rest of the disciples, who remained in it, whilst Peter came forth out of it, to walk upon the sea, to go to Christ: but the mariners also, the owners of the vessel, and their servants that managed it,
came and worshipped him: not merely in a civil, but in a religious way; being convinced, by what they saw, that he must be truly and properly..be worthy of adoration;
Clarke:Thou art the Son of God – It is probable that these words were spoken either by the sailors or passengers, and not by the disciples. Critics have remarked that, when this phrase is used to denominate the Messiah, both the articles are used, ἑ υιος του Θεου, and that the words without the articles mean, in the common Jewish phrase, a Divine person. It would have been a strange thing indeed, if the disciples, after all the miracles they had seen Jesus work – after their having left all to follow him, etc., were only now persuaded that he was the promised Messiah. That they had not as yet clear conceptions concerning his kingdom, is evident enough; but that they had any doubts concerning his being the promised Messiah is far from being clear.
Matthew 14:34 KJV And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret.
Clarke: The land of Gennesaret – It was from this country that the sea or lake of Gennesaret had its name. In this district, on the western side of the lake, were the cities of Capernaum and Tiberias.
Matthew 14:35 KJV And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;
Gill: And when the men of the place had knowledge of him,…. Not merely by report, but by face, having seen, and heard him before; see Luk_5:1.
They sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; which not only expresses their faith in him, that he was able to heal all their sick and diseased, were they ever so many; but also their affectionate regard to their fellow creatures and countrymen; and their care and diligence in sending messengers about to their respective cities, towns, and villages, and which must be attended with expense: for they neither spared cost nor pains, to do good to their country; in all which, they set an example worthy of imitation.
Clarke:The men of that place had knowledge of him – i.e. They knew him again. They had already seen his miracles; and now they collect all the diseased people they can find, that he may have the same opportunity of showing forth his marvellous power, and they of being the instruments of relieving their friends and neighbors.
They brought unto him all that were diseased – And Jesus received and healed every man and woman of them. And is not the soul, in the sight of God, of more value than the body? and will he withhold his healing power from the former, and grant it so freely to the latter? This cannot be. Let a man come himself to Jesus, and he shall be saved and afterwards let him recommend this Christ to the whole circle of his acquaintance, and they, if they come, shall also find mercy.
Matthew 14:36 KJV And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.
Russell: Touched the hem — God’s consecrated people have realized a spiritual blessing as Jesus passed their way, and by faith they touched him. Realizing him to be the Son of the highest.
Guzik:Begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment: Even the hem of Jesus’ garment provides an important point of contact for their faith. Like Paul’s sweatbands (Act_19:11-12) and Peter’s shadow (Act_5:15), Jesus’ hem provided a physical object that helped them to believe God for healing at that moment.
Clarke: That they might only touch the hem of his garment – What mighty influence must the grace and Spirit of Christ have in the soul, when even the border or hem of his garment produced such wonders in the bodies of those who touched it! Here is a man who has turned from sin to God through Christ, and the healing hand of Jesus is laid upon him. Then, no wonder that he knows and feels his sins forgiven, his soul purified, and his heart filled with the fullness of his Maker. Lord, increase our faith! and we shall see greater manifestations of thy power and glory! Amen.
Barnes: Reflections on this section:
14. When Christ commands us to do a thing we should do it, Mat_14:22. Even if it should expose us to danger, it should be done.
15. In times of danger and distress, Jesus will see us and will come to our relief, Mat_14:25-26. Even in the tempest that howls, or on the waves of affliction that beat around us, he will come, and we shall be safe.
16. We should never be afraid of him. We should always have good cheer when we see him, Mat_14:27. When he says, “It is I,” he also says, “be not afraid.” He can still the waves, and conduct us safely to the port which we seek.
17. Nothing is too difficult for us when we act under the command of Christ. Peter at his command leaves the ship and walks on the billows, Mat_14:29.
18. Christ sometimes leaves his people to see their weakness and their need of strength. Without his continued aid they would sink. Peter had no strength of his own to walk on the deep, and Christ suffered him to see his dependence, Mat_14:30.19. The eye, in difficulty, should be fixed on Christ. As soon as Peter began to look at the waves and winds, rather than Christ, he began to sink, Mat_14:30. True courage in difficulties consists not in confidence in ourselves, but in confidence in Jesus, the Almighty Saviour and Friend.
20. Prayer may be instantly answered. When we are in immediate danger, and offer a prayer of faith, we may expect immediate aid, Mat_14:31.
21. Pride comes before a fall. Peter was self-confident and proud, and he fell. His confidence and rashness were the very means of showing the weakness of his faith, Mat_14:31.
22. It is proper to render homage to Jesus, and to worship him as the Son of God, Mat_14:33.
23. We should be desirous that all about us should partake of the benefits that Christ confers. When we know him and have tested his goodness, we should take pains that all around us may also be brought to him and be saved, Mat_14:35.
24. Jesus only can make us perfectly whole. No other being can save us. He that could heal the body can save the soul. A word can save us. With what earnestness ought we to plead with him that we may obtain his saving grace! Mat_14:36.