Matthew 14 – The Greatest Man Beheaded, Why?

This chapter is really Deja Vu for me since I wrote on John 6. Both of these chapters parallel the feeding of the 5 thousand and Jesus walking on water. If you have time compare them. Try to find the differences, similarities and how they complement each other. Today I will focus on what happened to John the Baptist, as we read this chapter ask yourself why this happened to him.

John the Baptist Beheaded

14 At that [a]time Herod the tetrarch heard the news about Jesus, 2 and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; [b]he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

3 For when Herod had John arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. 4 For John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded [c]John as a prophet.

6 But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced [d]before them and pleased Herod, 7 so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Having been prompted by her mother, she *said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 Although he was grieved, the king commanded it to be given because of his oaths, and because of [e]his dinner guests. 10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 His disciples came and took away the body and buried [f]it; and they went and reported to Jesus.
Five Thousand Fed

13 Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the [g]people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14 When He went [h]ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.

15 When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already [i]late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” 17 They *said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” 18 And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 19 Ordering the [j]people to [k]sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20 and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21 There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.
Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately He [l]made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. 23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. 24 But the boat was already [m]a long distance from the land, [n]battered by the waves; for the wind was [o]contrary. 25 And in the [p]fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out [q]in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”

34 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place [r]recognized Him, they sent word into all that surrounding district and brought to Him all who were sick; 36 and they implored Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured.

What happens to John seems like something out a movie or soap opera. In fact, I learned last quarter in Music Class that during the Romantic era 1820-1900 many of the operas done during that time period were exactly about what happened to John. They were about love, anger, murder, emotions, treason, hate, revenge, human life etc… During that time they glorified the human passions. It sad to see how sin distorts humanity. What happened to John was not a fiction story but rather a true story. It is no different than the rest of the human family. How many stories have you heard of king, emperors, generals, popes, families that have done such things to show or keep their power? It’s so sad the low levels of darkness that humanity have reached because of sin.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:11 “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” In popular movies of this day we would expect the good guy to be save or save the day. If John was the greatest man to be born why did Jesus allowed this to happen? I will attempt to answer it later. It is important to note that John was put imprisoned because of the Word of God because of the truth. He was not afraid to call sin by its name. No matter who it was a king, an emperor, or even it could have been President of the United States. John, would not sell the Truth short.

You know it has never been popular to stand up for Truth. It has always been in the minority. But the Truth does not wait for anyone it continues its mission. However, Satan becomes angry when people share the Truth and he begins to target those that are doing the will of God. He targeted John, he wanted to destroy him because he lost a lot souls due to John’s ministry. It will be the same for today’s John the Baptist. Satan will attempt to destroy those who do God’s will.

But not all the take God’s calling will have to suffer the same way as John. But we will have struggles and sufferings. God does not promises us a life full of roses in this world but in Heaven. In fact, there a hundreds of people today that suffer persecution around the world because of the Truth. They have different trials than us. Each one of us will receive our reward and I’m sure that John will receive His in the resurrection.

Jesus could have save John, but He didn’t. Just like how he did not prevent Lazarus from dying, there is a reason. One of my favorite author describes it this way ” Jesus did not interpose to deliver His servant. He knew that John would bear the test. Gladly would the Saviour have come to John, to brighten the dungeon gloom with His own presence. But He was not to place Himself in the hands of enemies and imperil His own mission. Gladly would He have delivered His faithful servant. But for the sake of thousands who in after years must pass from prison to death, John was to drink the cup of martyrdom. As the followers of Jesus should languish in lonely cells, or perish by the sword, the rack, or the fagot, apparently forsaken by God and man, what a stay to their hearts would be the thought that John the Baptist, to whose faithfulness Christ Himself had borne witness, had passed through a similar experience! {Desire of Ages 224.2}”

God bless,

Dnieper Vegavillalobos

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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