The Death of John the Baptist
1 When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee,[a] heard about Jesus, 2 he said to his advisers, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead! That is why he can do such miracles.” 3 For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip). 4 John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet.
6 But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias’s daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him, 7 so he promised with a vow to give her anything she wanted. 8 At her mother’s urging, the girl said, “I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!” 9 Then the king regretted what he had said; but because of the vow he had made in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders. 10 So John was beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. 12 Later, John’s disciples came for his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus what had happened.
Why do I expect my Christian walk to be easy Lord. John is imprisoned and beheaded, You are crucified, and I am shocked when someone is happy to hurt my feelings. What a baby am I!
Of course that is a reflection of my spiritual growth, or lack of it. Satan is not so worried about me that he needs to try to put me in prison or kill me. I’m obviously not much of a threat to him.
But Jesus, somehow, I’m sure John was not sad to see the executioner. I don’t know how I know this, perhaps from Paul’s letters, but John had certainly fought the good fight. He was certainly ready to go home. Even when he was free he cared so little for the things of this world that he wore awful cloths and ate locust in the desert. He had no love for this life at all. He was all about Your Kingdom and Your life.
Can I ever care so little about this world? It must be a wonderful thing to be so caught up in You, that present sufferings are not a big deal. Jesus, can You make me like that? Change me Lord. Help me hate this life so I can willingly give it to You entirely. Then I will truly live.
Jesus Feeds Five Thousand
13 As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. 14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
Jesus, You wanted a little time alone to mourn the death of a friend, and You could not have it. But You did not get grumpy and demand to be left alone. No, You had compassion and served them by healing their sick.
Jesus, if my day doesn’t go just as I plan it, I can easily become irritated and self-centered. But that is not Your way. Life doesn’t go as plan. You used life’s surprises to show Your love and mercy. Help me to do the same. Help me enjoy the unpredictable and to use those moments to show others Your love and mercy and compassion. Change me Jesus.
15 That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”
16 But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”
17 “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.
18 “Bring them here,” he said. 19 Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. 20 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. 21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
Jesus, this is how You feed us. I am hungry and running out of time. I don’t realize how late it is. I have nothing to eat. You are the bread. You are broken (even that You really did Yourself) through Your sacrifice on the cross. You are passed on to me through disciples. When I eat Your bread, You, I have all I want and I am full. When I come to You, there are baskets of food left over. You are more than enough.
Yet, I don’t come to You first. Even this morning I had work on my mind, so I worked first. Now I don’t have the time to give to You that I should. When will I learn? Thank-you Lord for being all I need. Help me to find a way to always come to You first. Everything else can wait. Change me Lord. Change me.
Jesus Walks on Water
22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Jesus, You spent time alone in prayer. What was Your prayer time like? If the Son of God needs to pray, how desperately do I need to pray? Lord, help me to love and cherish our time alone. And help me to make it truly alone time. Not time I give You some attention while I also think about work, and the troubles of the day. Just us time. Help me Jesus.
24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning[b] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here![c]”
Wow Lord! You sent the disciples out on the lake, and You knew there would be a storm. You know everything. You let me go out into storms too. Then You told them and tell me the words I need to burn into my mind. “Don’t be afraid, I am here.” You are here, and I should not be afraid. Maybe it is easier said than done, but just maybe it is exactly that easy. You are here, why would I fear? Thank-you Jesus for being here when I don’t deserve it. Help my faith grow so I am not afraid.
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong[d] wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
Jesus, can I be like Peter? Peter has a lot of flaws, and perhaps he shouldn’t have tested You, but Peter got out of the boat! That is just so amazing. He was a doer. How much faith did he already have to even think of walking on the water with You? He was a doer. He was bold with his faith in You. How did You make him like that?
Of course his boldness led him to fall the hardest when he fell too. He did deny You 3 times, but he was in the courtyard too! I know Lord that I can’t really be like Peter. He died for You and I can’t seem to live just one day for You. But please make me a more like him. Get me in the game. Help me be a doer. Help me be bold with Your love. Change me.
32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
Jesus, You calmed the storm. When You got in the boat, the wind stopped. Jesus, my life seems to be pretty stormy right now. There isn’t much peace in my house and I don’t know how to be a “peacemaker”. I and my family need You in our boat, and we need You now. Help!
34 After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. 36 They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.
Jesus, all who touched You were healed. I wish I could touch You now. I’m physically OK, but I need healed and You are my only hope. And could I please be used to heal others. So many people need a smile and some love. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Let me touch someone with Your new life. Change me Lord. Change me.
- Matthew 14:1 Greek Herod the tetrarch. Herod Antipas was a son of King Herod and was ruler over Galilee.
- Matthew 14:25 Greek In the fourth watch of the night.
- Matthew 14:27 Or The ‘I Am’ is here; Greek reads I am. See Exod 3:14.
- Matthew 14:30 Some manuscripts do not include strong.