Big Signs – Day 17

You can choose to watch the video here or read the reflection below:

Matt 14
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.
6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 As evening approached, 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 themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

There are some cool stories in this chapter but it definitely starts off on a sad note with the death of John the baptist. Jesus’ response to this news was to find a private place to withdraw to. We can only speculate what was going through Jesus’ mind, but it is interesting to note his response to seeing the crowds who had followed after him, “he had compassion on them”. The feeding of the 5000 story has echoes of the Exodus story. We see people following after God into the wilderness and God providing for their needs. There is one neat little difference though. For the Israelites, they were not allowed to collect more food than they needed for that day, but after Jesus feeds the 5000 (more likely 10,000), they pick up 12 basketfuls of leftovers. I think this is a small demonstration of God’s lavish nature, a small detail that I often overlook. 

Then we see Jesus walking on water to catch up with the disciples who went on ahead of him. Now I get the fear they had at seeing Jesus walking on water, but I have a harder time understanding Peter’s motivation for asking to come out on the water. Except I realized that maybe it is as simple as he wanted to be where Jesus was. He stepped out and walked on the water too, until his focus shifted to fear. He took his eyes of Jesus and let his surroundings dictate his status. As a result he began to sink. At least he had the smart response to cry out to Jesus to save him, and it is awesome to the response, “immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.” Here is another “little faith” moment in a boat.  I want my inclination to be like Peter, to step out in faith and trust Jesus, and I want to also remember that I can call out to him anytime I take my eyes off him, and most importantly that I can always trust that he will reach out and catch me. Jesus is the Son of God and as we see in these stories he has compassion on us, he provides us with what we need abundantly, and he will catch us when we fall.

You are invited to pray or to be prayed for. As we learn more about who Jesus is let us then enter into prayer and be shaped by him.