Matthew 14

Chapter 14

John the Baptist, Herod, and Jesus.[a] 1 At that time Herod the tetrarch[b] heard reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has risen from the dead. That is why such powers are at work in him.”

3 Now Herod had ordered the arrest of John, put him in chains, and imprisoned him on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. 4 For John had told him, “It is against the law for you to have her.”

5 Herod wanted to put John to death, but he was afraid of the people because they regarded John as a prophet. 6 But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias[c] danced in front of the guests, and she pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her anything she asked for. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”

9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests present there, he ordered that her request be granted. 10 He had John beheaded in the prison.[d] 11 The head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and removed the body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.

13 Jesus Feeds Five Thousand Men.[e]When Jesus received this news, he withdrew from there in a boat by himself to a deserted place, but when the people learned of it, they followed him on foot from the towns.[f] 14 When he came ashore and saw the vast crowd, he had compassion on them and healed those who were sick.

15 When evening approached, the disciples came up to him and said, “This is a deserted place and the hour is now late. Send the people away now so that they can go to the villages to buy some food for themselves.” 16 Jesus replied, “There is no need for them to depart. Give them something to eat yourselves.” 17 But they answered, “All we have here are five loaves of bread and two fish.” 18 Jesus said, “Bring them here to me.”

19 Then he ordered the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.[g] 20 They all ate and were satisfied. Then they gathered up the fragments that were left over—twelve full baskets. 21 Those who had eaten numbered about five thousand men, in addition to women and children.[h]

22 Jesus Walks on the Water.[i] Then Jesus instructed the disciples to get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the crowds. 23 After he sent them away, he went by himself up on the mountain to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. 24 Meanwhile, the boat was already some distance from the shore, battered by waves and a strong wind.

25 During the fourth watch[j] of the night, Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water they were terrified, and they cried out in their fright, “It is a ghost!” 27 But Jesus immediately spoke to them, saying, “Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 Peter answered, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you across the water.” 29 He said, “Come!” Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he realized the force of the wind, he became frightened. As he began to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught hold of him, saying, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 After they got into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Those in the boat fell to their knees in worship, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”[k]

34 Jesus Heals the Sick at Gennesaret. After they had completed the crossing, they landed at Gennesaret.[l] 35 When the people there recognized him, they sent word of his presence throughout the region. They also brought him all those who were sick 36 and begged him to let them touch only the edge of his cloak. All who touched it were completely healed.

Footnotes

  1. Matthew 14:1 At the ominous banquet in the fortress of Machaerus we find various members of the family of Herod. Antipas was the second-born of Herod the Great and ruled over Galilee and Perea. We come upon him several times in the New Testament (Lk 9:7; 23:7; Acts 4:27); Caligula will exile him to Gaul in A.D. 39. His half-brother Philip died in Rome without ever attaining political power. Herodias, niece of both men and wife of Philip, was ambitious and desired to be the wife of a ruler.
  2. Matthew 14:1 Tetrarch: ruler of one quarter of the kingdom of his father, Herod the Great.
  3. Matthew 14:6 The daughter of Herodias: her name was Salome, as we are told by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus.
  4. Matthew 14:10 The beheading of the Baptist probably occurred in A.D. 29 in the fortress of Machaerus, east of the Dead Sea, as is attested by Flavius Josephus.
  5. Matthew 14:13 Exegetes have named this the “Section of the Loaves” because of the frequency with which the word “bread” is used therein. It seems to symbolize the teaching and salvific acts of Jesus, with a particular reference to the founding of the Church.
  6. Matthew 14:13 At the time of the temptation in the desert, Jesus had refused to renew the miracle of the manna either for himself or to attain his own success. Moreover, six times in the Gospels (two of which are in Matthew) we read an account like this one. Thus, the first generation of Christians attached a particular importance to the deed. It is first of all an act of mercy, a sign of the goodness of God, who satisfies material and spiritual hunger at the last days. It is also the manifestation of Jesus as the new Moses, as the new founder of the people—he too feeds the crowd in the desert (Ex 16); he acts like the great men of God such as Elisha (2 Ki 4:42-44). In addition, something even more mysterious is part of this extraordinary moment. How can one not discern in this account a climate of Liturgy? For Christians the giving of bread announces the joy of the Eucharist: the Lord present in the assembly, satisfying every hunger with the Bread of Life that is himself (see Jn 6).
  7. Matthew 14:19 Note the resemblance of this verse to that of the institution of the Eucharist (Mt 26:26). Obviously in the eyes of the primitive Church this meal was a prelude and prefiguration of the Eucharistic banquet, which in its turn recalls the Messianic banquet. Particularly allusive are the breaking of the bread and the action of the disciples in distributing the bread.
  8. Matthew 14:21 In addition to women and children: women and children were not permitted to eat with men in public. Hence they were in a place by themselves and would greatly increase the number given for the men: 5000!
  9. Matthew 14:22 For people of the Bible, raging waves and the dead of night evoke the forces hostile to God and his faithful. In calming the storm, Jesus has manifested himself as the master of the powers of evil. To follow him means to escape from their clutches. This is a dangerous path at times in which we must risk everything for him because it is he. “It is I,” he says, and in these words any Christian, after the Ascension and Resurrection, would detect echoes of “I am,” the decisive self-disclosure of God (Ex 3:14; Isa 43:10; 51:12). In Peter himself, the first among the disciples, we discern the drama of every believer: strong when he entrusts himself totally to the Lord, yet threatened and uncertain when he does not take refuge in him alone.
  10. Matthew 14:25 Fourth watch: 3:00–6:00 A.M. The Romans divided the night into four watches: (1) 6:00–9:00 P.M., (2) 9:00–midnight, (3) midnight–3:00 A.M., (4) 3:00–6:00 A.M. The Jews divided the night into three watches: (1) sunset–10:00 P.M., (2) 10:00 P.M–2:00 A.M., (3) 2:00–sunrise. Apparently, the apostles labored for several hours against the storm waves. Their enthusiasm of the previous evening for an overly earthly Messianism had greatly evaporated in the face of hard labor and the fear of being shipwrecked.
  11. Matthew 14:33 Son of God: the apostles probably used this title in a Messianic way (see Mt 3:17; 11:25-30) but with superficial understanding. Since Jesus’ divine nature was hidden during his life on earth, the disciples did not yet grasp his divinity at this time (Phil 2:5-8). But they were beginning to realize that he was the Messiah.
  12. Matthew 14:34 Gennesaret: the plain northwest of the lake of the same name.

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