JOHN THE BAPTIST BEHEADED
Herod heard reports about Jesus’s miraculous works and was worried that John the Baptist had risen from the dead. Even after the death of John, Herod was haunted by the fear of killing him and was terrified at the thought of encountering John.
John, beginning from his birth till the very end, spent his life in pursuit of his goal, to fulfill God’s plan in our lives. He followed God’s commands religiously, gave the baptism of repentance, made way for Jesus as it was written by the prophets and till his death, bravely stood up against what was sinful in the eyes of the Lord.
“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.Malachi 3:1
We usually run behind our own goals in life and try to achieve all our worldly desires, to have a good job, family, children, house, vacations, and the list goes on. Even when one of the goals fail, we consider our lives as empty or imperfect and tend to dwell on that thought.
This life isn’t just about our plans and wishes, it is an opportunity to have a relationship with God and seek His will. John lead a perfect example for us to fulfill the purpose that God has for us.
John was a fearless man of God and didn’t hesitate to point out the sins of the people around him and urged them to repent for it (Matthew 3:7-10). When he spoke against Herod, who took his brother’s wife Herodias for himself, Herod had him arrested and put him in prison but did not kill him for fear of the people.
In Herod’s birthday celebration, Herodias’s daughter danced for the guests, which pleased Herod so much that he promised to give whatever she asked.
Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”Matthew 14:8
Despite Herod’s fear, he fulfilled the request because of the oath he had given in front of his guests. We can all relate to a situation like this, where we would have done something which was not right because we are not able to take back our word.
Our self-esteem seems so important to us that we forget what is right and wrong in that moment. It is the society that matters to us and our honor takes a higher place than what is right and acceptable in front of God.
JESUS FEEDS THE FIVE THOUSANDS
Jesus moved to a solitary place after hearing about John and the crowd as usual followed Him. Seeing it was already late, the disciples wanted Jesus to send the crowds away as it was a remote place and there was no provision to get food. But instead, Jesus told them to give them something to eat.
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.Matthew 14:17
Jesus took the little portions of food and multiplied it to provide sufficiently for everybody to eat and the disciples even had twelve basketfuls of leftovers. Jesus fed five thousand men and the women and children who accompanied them.
When the disciples seemed to be worried about the crowd, they suggested a solution to Jesus rather than seeking help from Him. Quite similar to what we do, when we face some issue, we try to tell God how he should provide a way out rather than trusting Him to help us through the solution, despite knowing His ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9).
The disciples distributed and picked up the leftovers and could see how trivial the situation was for God. Do we realize that nothing is impossible for Him? Do we want things our way or are we ready to wait for Him to see how He works in our lives?
JESUS WALKS ON THE WATER
Soon after feeding the crowd, Jesus sent His disciples on the boat and dismissed the crowds and went on a mountainside to pray. Jesus often withdrew to a silent place where He wouldn’t be disturbed by anyone while in communion with His Father.
The disciples had moved a considerable distance on water, but little before dawn, Jesus went to them walking on the lake. The disciples were terrified and thought He was a ghost. Why did the disciples fear that “It’s a ghost”? Perhaps it was dark and they couldn’t see Jesus or it was their fear that kept them from recognizing Him.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”Matthew 14:27
A Man walking on water is something that our mind can never comprehend. There are so many scientific advancements, yet none can fathom the divine power of God.
As Jesus saw the disciples terrified, He immediately revealed Himself to them saying “It is I“. Jesus did not tell His name but just said “It is I“, perhaps a callback to the statement Yahweh gave Moses (Exodus 3:14). For a sheep to recognize its shepherd, his voice is enough, but was Jesus’s voice enough for the disciples to recognize Him as their Shepherd?
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”Matthew 14:28
To clear Peter’s doubt, Jesus granted Peter’s request and he was able to walk on water towards Jesus. Peter was drawn towards this supernatural walk and his enthusiasm made him get out of the boat to join Jesus on water but as soon as he moved his eyes away from Jesus towards the raging winds, he started sinking and cried for help. Jesus saved Peter but questioned his little faith.
Our walk with God is similar to that of Peter’s, the winds don’t stop raging on us but when our focus is on God, we are able to walk on all waters. Even if our focus shifts and we stumble, God graciously rescues us on hearing our cries. Let us have faith in God and not disappoint Him with our faithlessness, especially when we have seen Him work in our lives.
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”Matthew 14:32-33
This miracle gave people on the boat affirmation that Jesus is indeed the Son of God. Unless we have a close encounter with God, it is difficult for us to depend on Him, resulting in our unbelief.
They reached Gennesaret and people recognized Jesus and spread the word through the surrounding country that He was there. The people there wanted others to reap the benefits from Jesus as they spread the word of Him being there. Do we see ourselves as wanting to spread the love of Jesus to others or keep Him exclusively to ourselves?
… People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.Matthew 14:35-36
There could have been a huge crowd due to which people just wanted to touch his clothes to get healed or perhaps did not want their ailments to be known publicly.
God doesn’t see the outer being but just our faith and heals us both on the inside and the outside just like He healed everyone who came to Him in Gennesaret.
Let us examine ourselves to see if we have the faith to recognize Him when He says “It is I”.