The Hem of His Garment

(Matthew 14:34-36)

After Jesus had walked on the water with Peter and calmed the seas, they came to the other shore to land at Gennes’arat. On arriving the local people recognised Jesus and sent word to all in the region. People came from all around for healing and to merely touch the hem of his garment so they would be healed. And the healing power of Jesus was such that to merely touch the hem of his garment was sufficient, for as many as did touch the hem of his garment were made well.

Here we see that Jesus fame had spread throughout the land. Everywhere he went from here on there were crowds. They came to be healed, to see the mighty works and to hear the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus did not self promote to achieve such a presence in the land. There was no marketing, no hype, no trumpets or town criers going before him to announce his arrival. There was no You Tube or Facebook or Internet to spread the word of him in those days, but still his fame spread like wildfire. In fact in many of the healings Jesus specifically told the people to tell no one as we see in Mark 7:36, “And he charged them to tell no one; but the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.” Despite telling the people to keep it quiet, the more they spread his fame.

It stands to reason that he would be seen for it is written elsewhere, “So also good deeds are conspicuous; and even when they are not, they cannot remain hidden.” (1 Timothy 5:25) And also, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.” (Matthew 5:14) In this scripture Jesus was referring to the disciples and those who followed his word. If the disciples cannot be hidden, how much less the author of salvation, Jesus Christ himself?

The faith of the people had grown to such levels that we see them wish only to touch the hem of his garment and the believed they would be healed. And as many who did touch the hem of his garment were healed. In another section we see a woman with a flow of blood come to him and touch the hem of his garment without his knowledge and she too was healed. But Jesus was aware of the power going out to do the healing and when she realised she could not hide she confessed. Jesus made the comment for her to go in peace for, “Your faith has made you well.” (Luke 8:43-48)

The key to healing is faith. We see this also under the anointing with oil for healing. In James 5:14-15 we see this shown, “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” In this case we see that it is a combination of faith. The sick person must have faith enough to call for the elders of the church to anoint and pray for him or her. And the elders must have faith that the anointing with oil and prayer to the Father, both in the name of the Lord Jesus will heal the sick person. Indeed our whole life in Christ is based on faith in Jesus and we live in him only by faith and the power of Jesus’ name.

Walking on Water with Jesus

(Matthew 14:22-33)

After Jesus fed the five thousand we see the teaching where Peter came walking on water with Jesus. This teaching about walking on water with Jesus holds many good lessons. There are elements of faith, doubt, trust, comfort, power and authority contained in the lesson on walking on water with Jesus.

To begin with we see Jesus send the disciples off in a boat across the sea while he dismissed the crowds and sent them home. After this Jesus went up alone on the mountain to pray. It is important to understand that even Jesus, as the Son of God still needed time alone with God to pray. He still came to the Father for guidance and to put his thoughts and needs before him. He did this alone which aligns with the teaching he gave in Matthew 6:6 saying, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Jesus followed this same principle of praying alone and away from others to the Father.

Then we see Jesus come walking on water to the boat, intending to pass them by, but when they saw him he came to them. The disciples were terrified thinking it was a ghost until Jesus called to them not to be afraid. Peter then said, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.” Jesus said, “Come.”

Now here is an interesting situation when Peter came walking on water with Jesus. First we must understand that no man has the power or authority to walk on water. Peter could not do so until he was given permission and authority from the Lord. Once he had permission Pater came walking on water to Jesus. Any miraculous works that are done can only be done under the power and authority of the Lord. You cannot take the power of God and you cannot take or claim the gifts of God either. These things are given as gifts and if the Lord does not give us both the power, which comes through the Holy Spirit, and the authority to exercise that power, we will be able to do nothing.

So Peter received the power and authority to come walking on water with Jesus. When he stepped over the side of the boat, believing it was the Lord; he had put his full trust and faith in Jesus that he would be able to walk on water with Jesus. And that is exactly what happened. Peter walked to Jesus in the middle of the sea on the water. While Peter kept his eyes on Jesus and held to his faith, he could literally walk on water with Jesus, not alone but with Jesus.

But then Peter looked around himself and saw the raging wind and waves and he became afraid and began to sink. He took his eyes off Jesus and basically said to himself that this can’t be happening. How can a man walk on water? And so he began to doubt, and when he began to doubt, he began to sink.

How many times do we find ourselves surrounded by the storms of life? When we look to Jesus the storms do not affect us, but when we focus on the storms we too begin to sink. The analogy here is easy to see and understand. While our focus is on Jesus we too can figuratively walk on water with Jesus. When we are together with Jesus, anything is possible. But when we separate ourselves from Jesus through doubt or setting our minds on the problems and issues that we are surrounded with, we sink. Doubt is a lack of faith.

When Peter came walking on water with Jesus and doubted, he quickly refocussed and called out to Jesus to save him as he was sinking. Jesus reached out his hand and caught him saying, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” Then they got into the boat and we see a further interesting thing occur. After Jesus had assisted Peter, he calmed the wind and sea. In essence he removed the storms and the problems that were causing them to be battered and hard pressed to reach the other shore. Likewise when we call to Jesus for help in our storms, as we ask in faith and trust him, in due course he will calm the storms around us.

This is a wonderful teaching from which we can take heart and hope. There is comfort in knowing that through Jesus anything is possible if we will call to him to help us. He has the power and the authority over all things and there is nothing he cannot do to help us. All we need to do is ask.

Fishes and Loaves Bible Story

(Matthew 14:13-21)

The fishes and loaves bible story is one that is commonly heard in the world today. Quite often the fishes and loaves bible story is cited when people have somehow fed a large number of people as Jesus fed the multitudes in this section of Matthew, or when people have sufficient food to feed the five thousand. But there are deeper meanings to the fishes and loaves bible story that show other aspects of Jesus ministry.

Jesus had gone to a remote place after the beheading of John the Baptist, but the crowds heard of it and followed him. Out of compassion for the people he healed their sick and he taught them about the gospel and the Kingdom of God well into the evening.

The disciples were trying to be considerate of the people by saying to Jesus to send the people away into the villages so they could buy food to eat. They were aware that the people had been there all day and needed food. But Jesus said to the disciples that they need not go away but for the disciples to give them food. The disciples responded saying they had only five loaves and two fish, which they brought to Jesus. Jesus took the fishes and the loaves and looking up to heaven he blessed and broke them and they were distributed among the people. When the five thousand men, plus many women and children, had all eaten and were satisfied, there were twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.

This was a remarkable miracle performed that day. In this fishes and loaves bible story what actually happened was that Jesus created matter in the form of the fishes and loaves. He literally created this food from thin air, something created from nothing. You can almost imagine that as he broke a piece of bread or fish off the main lump, it grew back or reappeared so that he could break it off again, multiplying the food to feed the five thousand plus people there. We have seen through the ages people searching for a way to create or transform matter. Alchemists in the dark ages tried to turn lead into gold. Today scientists have just discovered how to clone cells to grow tissue. But Jesus did not clone the food; it was created from nothing instantaneously.

But why did he do this? It was to show several things to the disciples and the people. First, they had no need to worry about the resources available to the Lord. He knows that we need to eat and have food, and he is able to provide food from nothing. We see this same principle in the Old Testament when Elijah was brought food morning and evening by the ravens. (1 Kings 17:6) also when Elijah went and stayed with the widow from Zar’ephath the Lord refilled her jars of meal and oil for many days, perhaps several years, during the famine of the time while the Lord withheld the rains. Again in this situation, the Lord created food from nothing. (1 Kings 17:8-16)

But the fishes and loaves bible story shows us also that he feeds us the spiritual food. Jesus had been teaching the people all day giving them the spiritual food that would lead to life. And in compassion he showed that you need both and he provided both. This was a lesson to the disciples. They would have sent the people away, but Jesus showed that if you give only the spiritual food when there is also a need for physical food, they needed to give both. You cannot expect people to accept the spiritual matters while there is a concern for physical well-being. James also showed the pointlessness of saying, “If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?” (James 2:15-16) Part of the compassion and caring of the New Covenant is in ensuring that the people of God have what is needed for the spirit as well as the body.

However Jesus also taught in another version that the people had been more focussed on then physical food then the spiritual food. Although they needed to eat, they needed to learn more. Jesus said, “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.” (John 6:26-27) So likewise we must not spend our energy labouring for the things of this world, but rather we need to study and learn the things of the spirit that will lead us to life with Christ.

So the Lord will provide our physical needs and if we trust in him we have no need to be worried. We can take comfort from this knowledge knowing that in the fishes and loaves bible story there is evidence of the providence of the Lord.

Beheading of John the Baptist

(Matthew 14:1-12)

At the beginning of this chapter we see the circumstances that led to the beheading of John the Baptist. There are a few interesting point and lessons to be learned from this event, both historically and spiritually. The beheading of John the Baptist unfolded in the following manner.

First we see that John the Baptist had been imprisoned by Herod because John the Baptist had told Herod that it was unlawful for him to take his brother Phillip’s wife, Herodias, as his own. Basically John the Baptist told Herod he was committing adultery. Herod was angry and wanted to put John the Baptist to death, but he feared the people who held John the Baptist to be a prophet.

A feast was held for Herod on his birthday, and as an aside this is the only time in the New Testament that we see a birthday being celebrated. Evidently the idea of hold a birthday celebration goes back quite a long time. At this birthday feast the daughter of Herodias danced before Herod and all of his guests and this pleased Herod greatly. Now perhaps Herod had had too much to drink or was emotionally overcome by the event, but he then did what can only be described as a foolish thing.

Herod was so pleased or perhaps entranced by this dance that he offered the girl anything she wanted, even to the value of half of his kingdom. Indeed he swore an oath to the girl to give her whatever she wanted, and there were many witnesses to his oath. This was a rash statement made under the influence of emotion. He was certainly not thinking straight when making this statement.

Now Herodias, the mother of the girl, also bore a grudge against John the Baptist, because he too would have accused her of adultery. Seeing the opportunity she prompted her daughter to ask for the beheading of John the Baptist and to be given his head on a platter. Herod was sorrowful and realised the rashness of his oath and his statements. But he could not or would not back down and lose face in front of the guests and so ordered it to be done.

The lesson for us here in Herod’s example is that we must watch what we say. We should never make rash statements nor make any important decisions in the heat of emotion or the passion of the moment. We have been instructed to let our yes be yes and our no be no, (James 5:12) but we must first think through the consequences of our words. The tongue is a fire and no human being can control it as James also wrote. (James 3) We are fortunate that the Lord has given us the Holy Spirit to do the work of transformation in our lives to bring us into the likeness of God. No human being has the power to control the tongue. But through the working of the Holy Spirit over time, this may be achieved.

Finally we must take the advice of James once again when he said, “Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20) Listen carefully to what is being said and then think it over before saying anything or making a decision. If the statement makes you angry or touches any emotion at all, do not make a decision while under the influence of emotion. You must stop and weigh things in the light and strength of reason, not emotion, and then you have a chance of making the right choice or saying the right words. Above all else, if it is an important decision, put it in the hands of the Lord with prayer to guide you. And wait for him to do so.