“When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
– Matthew 14:14
The Salvation Army’s fourth doctrine states: “We believe that in the person of Jesus Christ the Divine and human natures are united, so that He is truly and properly God and truly and properly man.” In this chapter of Matthew’s gospel, we see the divine and human natures of Jesus Christ side-by-side. We see the grieving Jesus and the powerful Jesus. Jesus did not come as one who could not relate to us on a human level. Instead, he made himself fully human so that he could experience all that we experience.
John the Baptist exemplified the courageous faith that Jesus had been encouraging his disciples to have. In his interaction with Herod, John showed integrity by not bending under the pressure of these political leaders and being up front with Herod, even if his actions caused his imprisonment. He spoke the truth and was not ashamed of it. This differs greatly from the seeds that fell on the rocky ground in . When persecution and tribulation arise, the seeds on the rocky ground wilt away because of their lack of roots. John, on the other hand, stood firm in what he believed when the persecution arose.
Herod is a prime example about why oaths can be dangerous. While we should fulfill our oaths, we can make unwise decisions in our oaths that wind up costing us severely. Herod did not wish to kill John out of fear of how the public would react, but when he promised Herodias’ daughter to give her whatever she wished, he had to deliver on the oath. Herod seems to show a sense of sorrow for what he had done, but he is still responsible for making an unwise oath. Herodias herself is also not free from guilt. Having told her daughter to ask for John’s head on a platter, she not only corrupted herself, but also makes her daughter an accomplice to the murder.
John’s disciples tried to give him the dignity he deserved by giving him a proper burial. The disciples then went and delivered the news to Jesus. We see in that Jesus is obviously grieving the loss of John. Jesus experienced grief in the same manner that we do. He can fully identify with those of us who have lost a loved one or a good friend. Just like the disciples of John did, we can come to Jesus in our time of grief for comfort.
When Jesus had withdrawn to grieve, the crowds followed him (as they always seemed to do). Jesus shows compassion to them by healing their sick and providing for them. The disciples on the other hand are not a good picture of compassion at this time. In , the disciples want to send everyone away so they can go eat. Jesus, on the other hand, wishes to provide a meal for these people. In an almost humorous way, he simply tells the disciples to feed them. They know this is not possible, but Jesus shows them his authority and that all things are possible for him. In this miracle, Jesus shows his compassion and care for those who have come to him. We can trust that he will provide for all our needs – we need not worry.
Again, Jesus retreats for prayer and solitude. He shows us how important prayer is for the life of a minister. We must take time away from the busyness of ministry to be able to pray for God’s guidance and spend solitary time with him.
When Jesus catches up with his disciples, it probably is not in the most conventional way. Jesus decides to take a stroll on the water and come to their boat. It is understandable why the disciples thought he was a ghost – it was windy, stormy, and probably dark. They probably would not expect something like this from Jesus. Jesus calms them by telling them that they have nothing to fear.
Although it may not seem like Peter is doubting in , by asking “if it is you”, he shows a bit of doubt as to who is actually on the water. He became afraid when he saw the wind and waves and his doubt worsened. Doubt is not something that is necessarily sinful – in fact, we usually all face doubt at sometime. Doubt, however, should always be a way to strengthen our faith instead of destroy it. When we doubt some things, we can be strengthened when we seek after and find the truth.
After Peter was saved and Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples exclaimed, “Truly you are the Son of God.” The people of Gennesaret saw Jesus differently. Instead of being the Son of God, he was the miracle worker who came to town. They did not recognize him as God’s Son, but as the person who could do something for them. Unfortunately, many people who claim to be Christians act the same way. They see Jesus as the person who can do something for them. We must remember that Jesus is not a person only to provide for us help when we need him – he is the Savior and beckons us to come and follow him.