Matthew 14

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Matt 14:1-2 Herod...said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist, he is risen from the dead

Christ's identity was always in question, and certainly, Herod had no idea who he really was. Interestingly, he assumes that this Jesus is John the Baptist, risen from the dead, to perform great miracles. This is an absurd assumption unless your mind has been tortured by guilt from murdering a prophet of God. Herod's actions were obviously haunting him. He knew it was wrong to kill John. He had been plagued with his own conscience and knew that he would be punished for his actions, 'For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly' (Mark 6:20).

"'Herod Antipas, to whom, on the death of Herod the Great, had fallen the tetrarchy of Galilee, was about as weak and miserable a prince as ever disgraced the throne of an afflicted country. Cruel, crafty, voluptuous, like his father, he was also, unlike him, weak in war and vacillating in peace. In him, as in so many characters which stand conspicuous on the stage of history, infidelity and superstition went hand in hand. But the morbid terrors of a guilty conscience did not save him from the criminal extravagances of a violent will.'" (Farrar, p. 295.)" (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 2: 331.)

Matt 14:4 John said unto him, it is not lawful for thee to have her

Herod the tetrarch is also known as Herod Antipas. He was originally married to the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia. However, while on an excursion to Rome, he stayed with his half-brother Philip and Herodias, his wife. Impetuously, he fell in love with his brother's wife. Rather than suppress his inappropriate infatuation, he approached Herodias and convinced her to leave Philip. She agreed as long as he divorced his Arabian wife, which he did. (See Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, Chap. V, v. 1-2)

John's accusation was that Herod Antipas was a wife-stealer. And worse than that, he had stolen the wife of his own brother! His act was immoral and unlawful, for 'if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing' (Lev. 20:21).

Matt 14:6 the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod

Bruce R. McConkie

"Such feasts as this were not complete without entertainment, without something to feed the lusts and arouse the passions of those now gorged with food and half drunken with wine. Dancers, especially dancing women, were in great demand. Taking into account the sensuous nature of the Herods, the mean and vulgar demeanor of the military men, the adultery-centered proclivities of the chief priests; having in mind the depraved and vulgar displays Herod would have seen at Caesar's banquets; knowing of the perversions and sexual excesses found in all Oriental courts, and the loose and low moral standard of all the Gentiles and many of the Jews; being aware of all this...we have no difficulty envisioning the type of banquet entertainment that was presented at these kingly feasts." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 2: 333.)

Matt 14:9 the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake...he commanded it to be given her

Let's imagine Herod Antipas before the judgment seat. The resurrected Peter looks over the file, "yes, yes, I remember you, tetrarch over Galilee...divorced the daughter of Aretas without sufficient cause...consummated an illegal and immoral marriage with Herodias...ignored the direct counsel of John the Baptist...held lascivious parties...made an oath to give Salome whatever she wanted, up to half of your kingdom, because you liked the way she danced...Well that one put you in a bind, didn't it Antipas? You were left with the option of breaking an ill-advised oath or executing a prophet of God...You know, if I were in that position, I would have broken the oath...That's just the reason the Savior said, Swear not at all; neither by heaven...Nor by the earth (Matt 5:34)...Oh well, your mistake! The very ground you walked on still cries for revenge for the innocent blood you spilt. Yes, and John the Baptist-who by the way has already been resurrected with a glorious resurrection-he is also here to condemn you for your ruthless murder...You know you can never make restitution for the sin of murder...No, that one is going to cost you...Let's see here...Oh yes, when my Lord and Master was brought before your throne under humiliating and illegal arrest, you set him at naught and mocked him (Lu 23:11). Well Antipas, it's your turn to be set at naught and mocked, for 'whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased' (Matt 23:12)."

Bruce R. McConkie

"Herod is stunned [at the request for John's head]; he is plunged into sudden grief; his fawning friends are appalled...Antipas...feared to lose face with his nobles should he break his intemperate oath.

"'If a single touch of manliness had been left in him he would have repudiated the request as one which did not fall either under the letter or spirit of his oath, since the life of one cannot be made the gift to another; or he would have boldly declared that if such was her choice, his oath was more honoured by being broken than by being kept. But a despicable pride and fear of man prevailed over his better impulses. More afraid of the criticisms of his guests than of the future torment of such conscience as was left him, he immediately sent an executioner to the prison, and so at the bidding of a dissolute coward, and to please the loathly fancies of a shameless girl, the axe fell, and the head of the noblest of the prophets was shorn away.' (Farrar)" (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 2: 334-5.)

Matt 14:12 his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it

Thomas S. Monson

"The tomb in which his body was placed could not contain that body. Nor could the act of murder still that voice. To the world we declare that at Harmony, Pennsylvania, on 15 May 1829, an angel, 'who announced himself as John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament' (D&C 13, section heading), came as a resurrected personage to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. . . . The Aaronic Priesthood was restored to the earth.

"Thanks to that memorable event, I was given the privilege to bear the Aaronic Priesthood, as have millions of young men in these latter days." (LDS Church News, 1991, 01/19/91)

Matt 14:14 Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them

"Like most mothers, I find myself continually reaching out to meet the needs of my children, two-year-old Kira Janae and two-month-old Talia Noel. Watching them grow is immeasurable joy, yet their need for love, affection, play, stories, teaching, bathing, feeding, and consoling is as constant as the ticking of the clock. In my most harried moments, I seem to have little time for self-renewal and personal peace.

"Recently, feeling consumed in constant care, I sought relief in the scriptures and read in Matthew the account of Christ's feeding of the five thousand...As the scriptures unfolded, I saw how they related to mothering, and I was consoled in my moment of need.

"As Matthew states, during the Savior's selfless ministry, the Lord learned of the brutal death of his servant John the Baptist. Jesus left shortly thereafter by ship to 'a desert place apart' (Matt. 14:13). But instead of solitude, he met up with a multitude in need of his healing and care.

"Moved with compassion towards them, Jesus postponed any moment of renewal he might have desired and responded to their needs. Not only did he heal their sick, but he saw to it that all present were fed. After the multitudes and his Apostles had departed, Jesus took his own leave 'up into a mountain apart' (Matt. 14:23).

"As I read these verses, I came to feel by the Spirit how much the Savior understands my trying moments. He knows the feeling of being surrounded by people in need, of having people follow him from 'out of the cities' (Matt. 14:13; see Mark 1:32-37) all day and even into the night. He experienced feeling physically spent during his earthly ministry. Surely, then, the Lord empathizes with my demanding role as a mother and is keenly aware of how my children's outstretched arms and tearful eyes often delay my own restful intermissions.

"As I basked in the impact of these verses, I pondered how Jesus, disregarding tiredness and the late hour, lovingly directed the setting down of a meal for his followers, putting their need for refreshment above his own. I found myself recalling times when, exhausted from caring for sick children and keeping up a busy household, I nevertheless shuffled into the kitchen and lovingly prepared dinner for my working husband. I was suddenly filled with a feeling of the Savior's awareness and gentle approval of my own simple, yet sometimes uneven, expressions of love.

"And then it occurred to me that Jesus was likely the last to leave the desert place. I thought to myself, He even knows what it feels like to be the last one out of the kitchen. Indeed, the Spirit helped me to know that the Savior understands the challenges of my day-to-day activities. " (Karen Rose Merkley, "Loaves, Fishes, and Compassion," Ensign, Mar. 1995, 30)

Matt 14:16 They need not depart; give ye them to eat

Jesus was testing the disciples when he said, "give ye them to eat." Certainly, he knew that miraculous means would be needed, but the disciples lacked faith and precedent. Therefore, the Master showed them what he had in mind. Peter seems to have understood the message, which was, "You can do anything I do-even feeding thousands with 5 loaves and 2 fishes-as long as you have sufficient faith." Possibly, Peter was still pondering this lesson when he boldly requested to walk on water (v. 28).

Matt 14:19 he...gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude

Bruce R. McConkie

"John tells us that Jesus 'himself knew what he would do' beforehand (John 6:6), and that this foreknowledge applied also to the preparation for the desert feast we cannot doubt.

"And so, before the miraculous banquet can be served, the table in the desert must be prepared. The question, 'Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?' must be answered anew, as it was in the day of Moses when Jehovah served quail to all Israel. (Ps. 78:13-20.)...It should not be thought a thing unreasonable among them that the Son of God would exercise his creative power to give meat to hungering men. Indeed, their tradition was that when the Messiah came he would-as Moses had done-give them bread from heaven, provide them water to drink, feed them flesh according to their needs. Others before had fed Israel miraculously when their needs were great. Should it not happen again?" (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 2: 341.)

Matt 14:20 they did all eat and were filled

The multitude must have been amazed at such a great miracle. From John, we learn that because of this miracle, the people wanted to take Jesus by force and make him their King (Jn 6:15). Christ went into a mountain apart to get away from them and to pray, for they sought him not as a spiritual leader nor as the Messiah, 'but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.' (Jn 6:26) They had hungered and thirsted and were filled. If they had hungered and thirsted after righteousness, they would have been filled with the Holy Ghost (3 Ne 12:6). Had they exercised faith in Christ, they would never hunger nor thirst (Jn 6:35), hence the Lord's response was, 'Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you' (Jn 6:26-27).

Matt 14:20 they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full

Neal A. Maxwell

"Only by persisting in His questioning did Jesus succeed in getting His disciples to remember that there were actually twelve baskets of 'leftovers' after the miracle of the loaves (see Matthew 14:15-21; Matt 16:9-10). The Bread of Life always gives 'enough and to spare' (D&C 104:17), but we're so forgetful." (That Ye May Believe, 199.)

Matt 14:23 he went up into a mountain apart to pray

Bruce R. McConkie

"He must thank his Father for the marvels of that day, for he of himself did only that which his Father commanded. He must counsel again with the great God whose Son he was, lest he overstep any of the bounds or vary so much as a hair's breadth from the course decreed by the Father. He must receive that spiritual refreshment and guidance which even he needed to bear the growing burden that rested upon his divine shoulders. From the hallowed spot where he communed with the Eternal he soon returned-perhaps having been so directed by him to whom he prayed-to walk on the surging waves of that lake which was so much a part of his life." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 2: 351.)

Spencer J. Condie

"Today's busy bishops and stake presidents and mission presidents often find themselves in a situation in which solitude seems virtually impossible. After working hours, when they are not conducting interviews or holding meetings, they are at home alone with their families-and the telephone which rings incessantly. But, following the Savior's example, there are occasional times when one should, indeed must, find some moments alone to meditate and regroup one's emotional and spiritual and physical resources to face the recurring challenges which never seem to subside. A brisk walk through the woods, a drive through the canyon, or a temple session with adequate time for prayerful meditation are all helpful ways to restore our resilience so that with recharged spiritual batteries we can face the multitudes." (In Perfect Balance, 178.)

Matt 14:25 Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea

"Elder Bruce R. McConkie explains that one of the reasons that Jesus walked on the water and calmed the storm was 'to bear testimony that he was indeed the promised Messiah, the Son of God, the Incarnate Word, who though made flesh to fulfil the Father's purposes, yet had resident in him the powers of divinity.'

"At the time of this miraculous phenomenon, perhaps the disciples recalled the words of Job: '[God] . . . treadeth upon the waves of the sea' (Job 9:8). Or maybe they asked the same question that Agur, the son of Jakeh, asked: 'Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment?' (Proverbs 30:4). The psalmist also acknowledged, 'Thy way is on the sea, and thy path is on the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known' (Psalm 77:19).

"Visualizing Jesus walking on the sea, we cannot ignore the powerful imagery and symbolism of the Lord's feet upon the water, for the scriptures bear witness that the earth is the footstool of the Lord...Jesus Christ has the power to put Satan's force of death, darkness, and doom beneath his feet.

"The image of chaotic waters and the unruly sea serpent are often used in scripture to represent the battle against the powers of Satan that must be brought under control by the power of Jehovah. By walking on the water, Jesus demonstrated that he possessed the power to conquer the Adversary; at the same time he illustrated the way whereby he and his disciples might subdue all enemies under their feet and conquer death and hell. From the Psalmist we read, 'Thou madest him [man] to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet' (Psalm 8:6)." (Fred E. Woods, The Lord of the Gospels: The 1990 Sperry Symposium on the New Testament, 194-5.)

Matt 14:28 me come unto thee on the water

Jeffrey R. Holland

"Peter's faith began to reach heights virtually without equal in the New Testament record. It so surged within him that upon the Lord's invitation, Peter once climbed down out of his fishing boat and 'walked on the water, to go to Jesus.' (Matthew 14:29.) That fact of faith has never been recorded of any other mortal man. If his faith faltered because of treacherous waves and adverse winds, 'perhaps we should take a few steps on [the] water' before ascending to the judgment seat. (See Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Simon Peter," Ensign, February 1975, pp. 47-49.)" (However Long and Hard the Road, 98.)

Gene R. Cook

"We all know the story of Peter walking on the water. He saw Jesus approaching them on the surface of the sea, and, in a great act of faith, said, 'Bid me come unto thee.' (Matthew 14:28.) Jesus bade him to come, and Peter stepped out of the boat. You can imagine his feelings as he put all his weight on his foot and started to step into the Sea of Galilee. Then all of a sudden he was walking, the second man in the history of the world (as far as we know) to walk on water! Then it appears the devil moved into the picture. The wind stirred up, and waves lifted higher, and Peter began to doubt; he was filled with fear; and down he went into that dark, frightening water." (Receiving Answers to Our Prayers, 55.)

Jeffrey R. Holland

"This scriptural account reminds us that the first step in coming to Christ, or in his coming to us, may fill us with something very much like sheer terror. It shouldn't, but it sometimes does. One of the grand ironies of the gospel is that the very source of help and safety being offered us is the thing from which we may, in our mortal shortsightedness, flee. For whatever the reason, I have seen investigators run from baptism, I have seen elders run from a mission call, I have seen sweethearts run from marriage, and I have seen members run from challenging callings. Too often too many of us run from the very things that will bless us and save us and soothe us. Too often we see gospel commitments and commandments as something to be feared and forsaken.

"Let me quote the marvelous Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on this matter: 'Into every adult human life come experiences like unto the battling of the storm-tossed voyagers with contrary winds and threatening seas; ofttimes the night of struggle and danger is far advanced before succor appears; and then, too frequently the saving aid is mistaken for a greater terror. [But,] as came unto [these disciples] in the midst of the turbulent waters, so comes to all who toil in faith, the voice of the Deliverer-'It is I; be not afraid' ' (Jesus the Christ [1916], 337)." ("Come unto Me," Ensign, Apr. 1998, 16)

Matt 14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and [began] to sink

"If, like Peter, we fix our eyes on Jesus, we too may walk triumphantly over the swelling waves of disbelief, and unterrified amid the rising winds of doubt; but if we turn away our eyes from Him in whom we have believed-if, as it is so easy to do, and as we are so much tempted to do, we look rather at the power and fury of those terrible and destructive elements than at Him who can help and save-then we too shall inevitably sink. If we feel, often and often, that the water-floods threaten to drown us, and the deep to swallow up the tossed vessel of our Church and Faith, may it again and again be granted us to hear amid the storm and the darkness, and the voices prophesying war, those two sweetest of the Savior's utterances-'Fear not. Only Believe.' 'It is I. Be not afraid.'" (Frederick W. Farrar, The Life of Christ, p. 313.)

Neal A. Maxwell

"Perhaps it was Peter's failure to keep his eye fixed on Jesus? Like the not fully committed plowman? Instead of looking straight ahead at Jesus, Peter looked around, computed the odds, and was terrified. As any of us would be! How does one ignore wind-whipped whitecaps?...But if we are willing to proceed with our eye upon Jesus Christ instead of upon all that might go wrong, or upon the waves pounding and swirling about us, if we 'go to Jesus' directly, knowing that He can save us, we will not be forsaken either. Even if we seem to be sinking, we are still to reach out to Him...Oh, the fierce interplay of faith and circumstance!...James said it well, didn't he? If we doubt, we become like those very waves, tossed by the wind! (James 1:6.)" (We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ, 18.)

Delbert L. Stapley

"The comparison the Lord makes between the wavering soul and the wave of the sea driven with the winds and tossed has touched the lives of many. Most of us have seen the calm seas, and at other times the damage caused when the winds become intense and the waves rise and become powerful, destructive forces. A parallel can be drawn to the buffetings of Satan. When we are serene and on the Lord's side, Satan's influence is not felt; but when we cross over and are deceived by the winds of false doctrine, by the waves of man-made philosophies and sophistries, we can be drenched, submerged, and even drowned in the depths of disbelief, and the Spirit of the Lord driven completely from our lives. These deceived and wavering souls cannot, because of their incontinence, expect to receive anything of the Lord." (Conference Report, April 1970, Second Day-Morning Meeting 74.)

Matt 14:31 O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

"Marvin J. Ashton promised, 'Fear in our lives can be conquered if we will but have faith and move forward with purpose.'

"The Apostle Peter showed courage and faith many times. On one such occasion, the winds were howling and the ship he was in was being tossed about in the waves. Then the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water. Peter didn't wait for the Savior to come to him, but called out, 'Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.' In a similar fashion, we can't wait for others to come around our wall of fears; we have to be willing to walk out from behind it.

"Jesus beckoned Peter to come. Jesus knew what terror the water would hold for Peter, but he also knew that Peter would not grow spiritually if he stayed safely in the boat, just as we cannot grow spiritually if we stay safely behind our walls. Then, with faith, Peter jumped out of the boat and started walking on the water! Many times we don't give Peter enough credit for trying, focusing instead on his failure. Peter could have said, 'Never mind. It looks pretty scary out there. I'll stay here in the boat and wait until things get a little calmer.' But he didn't.

"The scriptures say that when Peter 'saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid.' When you reach out, you are going to face strong winds of adversity. Satan is not going to overlook the fact that you can do much good if you get over your fears. He is going to stir up a storm. With his strong opposition, your fears may return. You may even doubt and, like Peter, begin to sink. But remember that Peter cried out, 'Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him.' Just as Jesus did not let Peter fall, neither will he let you fall! However, as our Lord takes you gently by the hand and lifts you up, be prepared for a brotherly scolding just as he gave to Peter: 'O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?' (Matthew 14:24-31.) The Lord chastens those he loves. (See D&C 95:1.)

"Peter continued to fight with his fears and doubts. It was fear that caused him to deny the Christ three times outside the doors of the palace of the high priest while the Savior was being unlawfully tried inside. But Peter never gave up. He moved forward with faith and purpose, eventually conquering his fears and becoming the chief apostle of his day. Our Heavenly Father is mindful of the righteous desires of your heart and he will help you achieve them." (Jill C. Major, Lauren C. Leifson, Hollie C. Bevan, Encircled by Love, 59.)

Gene R. Cook

"Then Jesus reached out and saved him, saying, 'O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?' (Matthew 14:31.) Jesus could also have added, 'Peter, you were tied to my power, as long as you were believing and walking and having faith. But the moment you let doubt in, see what happens?'

"What a great lesson! And how essential! I'd have to say that as my wife and I have tried over the years to increase our own faith and our family's faith, the greatest challenge we've faced is to really believe with all our hearts, to believe beforehand, to not doubt or fear, and to not give up. If you can do that and have an unshakable faith, you'll receive the blessings you seek-assuming, of course, that what you seek is in harmony with the will of the Lord.

"I've heard some people say, 'I'll try it, but I'm sure it won't work.' And they're right. They're filled with doubt. And I've heard others say, 'I don't know how this will work, but the Lord has promised, and I have confidence it will.' And they're right, because they're filled with faith." (Receiving Answers to Our Prayers, 55-56.)

Matt 14:32 when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased

Neal A. Maxwell

"How can we expect to overcome the world if we are too insulated from its trials and challenges? You will experience at times what might be called some redemptive turbulence. Think, for instance, of the Master and the roiling Sea of Galilee, tossed by the 'wind boisterous' and 'contrary,' and the anguished cry of His followers as in the lyrics we sing, 'Master, the tempest is raging' (see Matt. 14:22-33; Hymns, no. 105). Yet that tempest actually occurred on a tiny little sea only 12 miles by 7 miles! Nevertheless, for that moment, Galilee constituted the real world for those anxious disciples!

"So it is with the little sectors of our lives. The sea may be roiling at times with waves of emotion, such as when one is offended, or by billows of anger, or, more commonly, by self-pity that threatens to swallow us up. Then, for us too, the calming of the Master becomes crucial. Remember how it was: after Christ and Peter came back 'into the ship, the wind ceased' (Matt. 14:32). He can do that for us if we will let Him. It doesn't matter how small our Galilee may seem; the boisterousness and the tempest will at times rage, but the remedy is still the same." ("Jesus, the Perfect Mentor," Ensign, Feb. 2001, 8)

Matt 14:33 they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, of a truth thou art the Son of God

Bruce R. McConkie

"At this point Matthew says: 'Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.' We are left to conclude that those so doing were the sailors or other passengers, for the apostles had long since had such a witness in their souls. To the extent the chosen disciples joined in this worship, it was but a reaffirmation of that which they already knew, even as it is common among us to affirm and reaffirm our knowledge of the divine sonship of this same Holy Being." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 2: 360.)

Matt 14:35-36 all that were diseased...besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment

Bruce R. McConkie

"From these and a host of other passages, it is clear that people do not all have the same talent for recognizing truth and believing the doctrines of salvation. Some heed the warning voice and believe the gospel; others do not. Some would give all they possess if they could but touch the hem of the garment of him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; others find fault with every word that falls from prophetic lips. Some forsake lands and riches, friends and families, to gather with the true saints; others choose to walk in the ways of the world and to deride the humble followers of Christ." (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 33.)

Elder Erastus Rest

"[Jesus] could continue to heal the sick and raise the dead and perform great and marvelous things, and yet the supply of vitality was not in the least abated. Mortals less gifted and less favored who should be the means of healing many sick by the power of God, would feel that in taking their infirmities upon them, they were sinking under the weight, and would want to hide themselves away to rest and recuperate their exhausted frames. Jesus was an exception in this respect; he took upon himself our infirmities and bore our sickness, as had been predicted by Isaiah the prophet. He truly did heal the sick wherever he went; and some found that if they could even touch the hem of his garment the disease from which they suffered could be rebuked; and one instance is given where this was done, in which case we are told, virtue went out of him. But notwithstanding the great burden that he bore, together with the vast amount of vitality that was at various times communicated from him to others, he did not faint under the load; his mortality did not give way. But no man, unsupported as he was, could have done it without sinking under this weight." (Journal of Discourses, 21: 26.)