Chronological Gospels: Matthew 14; Mark 6; Luke 9:1-17
This week we will read Matthew 14; Mark 6; Luke 9:1-17. In these passages, we begin with the devastating death of John the Baptist. John the Baptist had been beheaded by King Herod, who scripture tells us regretted this deed. He made this decision out of pride and an obligation to an oath. This story reminds me of the many Proverbs that talk about oaths and how we should take oaths very seriously, never making a careless oath.
When was a time you made a promise or oath you later regretted making?
What happens next really struck me today. Reading this story in conjunction with the following passages puts matters into a different perspective than reading each piece on its own. Moving forward, we see Jesus find out about John’s death. It is important to know that Jesus knew this was going to happen, knew the way, the reason, the timing, but still we see that Jesus left to be alone when He found out.
When Jesus left to be alone, He was bombarded by more people seeking His help and healing. Instead of telling them to go away, or that He would come back, or anything like that we read that He had compassion on them and tended to them. Jesus wanted some time alone, but we see Him set the example that sometimes we need to keep pressing forward and keep serving God’s Kingdom.
Have you ever wanted to be alone, but life demanded your full attention anyway? How did you respond?
We see here that Jesus took time to heal people, and to spend time with them and teach them. He took full advantage of the opportunity He had to teach the crowds that swarmed Him, with compassion and patience. Then, as the day pressed on toward night, we see what the disciples were up to.
They, not understanding John’s death themselves, were surely still mourning him, and were very likely exhausted from the long day of ministry with Jesus. They wanted to send the people away. Jesus’s response here is a massive lesson for all of us.
While the disciples were ready to call it a day, Jesus told them to feed the people themselves. While the disciples were likely mourning and exhausted, ready to be alone with Jesus, He called on them to serve these people instead of sending them away. In Luke’s account, Jesus compared the crowds to sheep without a shepherd. They, with obvious doubt, brought Him 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, and Jesus blessed them, broke them, and had the disciples distribute them. At the end, 12 baskets of leftovers remained.
Two things I don’t want to miss here. One, how Jesus sees the same people the disciples want to tell to go away and not deal with anymore. He sees them with compassion, humbles Himself, and helps them. Secondly, Jesus delegated responsibilities to the disciples, asking them to also humble themselves and help these people in faith. He not only showed compassion and patience, but asked His followers to do likewise.
Do you tend to see people as a nuisance you don’t want to deal with, or with compassion, as those we can help and serve?
The disciples, having completely missed the miracle of the loaves and fish, were told by Jesus to take a boat to the other side of the water. Jesus finished up with the crowd, and then He took time to be alone with God in prayer now that the people were tended to. After a while, He walked out onto the water and asked Peter to come to Him there. Peter begins to sink, and we read that not only is this due to Peter’s doubt, but in Mark 6:51 we see another reason. Because they had missed the point of the miracle of feeding the people, their hearts were hardened, and they were afraid.
Take some time to reflect on miracles God has done in your own life and thank Him for being there, providing, having compassion and patience with you, and reaching His hand out to you as if to Peter in the water.
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