Peter covers some ground in this chapter!
Jesus visits Nazareth- These people knew Jesus and His family. They didn’t take into account that Jesus COULD be the Messiah. I wonder why they didn’t check the prophecies: Born in Bethlehem to the house of David (on both sides), born of a virgin (if they believed the story); also, He was announced by angels, visited by wise men, spent time in Egypt, and lived a sinless life. They should have known He was “different.”
The interesting thing to me is the absence of Joseph. Had he died before Jesus began His ministry? If so, we can take great comfort in His sharing in our grief when we lose a loved one.
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve- There are two things about the twelve that I would like to point out:
- They were to take no provisions–not even an extra shirt. It hints that they weren’t gone very long. It also speaks to the fact that Jesus wanted them completely dependent upon the Spirit’s provision for them. We would do well to learn this lesson academically BEFORE we have to learn it experientially!
- They anointed the sick with oil and healed them. Oil is the physical representation of the Holy Spirit. Here again, they were dependent upon His provision, this time it was in order to heal.
John the Baptist’s Story- Peter included the events of John’s demise. I’m glad he did! The one thing we learn from Herod is the fact that without the conviction of the Holy Spirit, a person cannot be saved. “When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.” v20b. Herod’s heart was not open to the Gospel, therefore, he never responded to John’s call to repent. For the end of Herod’s story, read Acts 12:19b-24.
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand- This is twice now that Peter mentioned that they didn’t have time to eat because of all the people to which they were ministering. Evidently, that was the norm. Jesus called them to “come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” v31b. To see Jesus’ heart, let’s look at verse 34. It explained Jesus’ viewpoint–and Peter got it! “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” So he began teaching them many things.”
The miracle of the loaves and fishes:
- Jesus used whatever the disciples came up with, which was the boy’s lunch (see John 6:9).
- There was order to the event. I think the groups were for counting. There was no need to estimate to the number that was there!
- Out of 5,000 men plus women and children (there may have been up to 15,000 people there), they collected only 12 small basketfuls. THAT’S NOT MUCH! It was probably the disciples’ lunch the next day :). The fact that there were 12 tribes in Israel should have been significant to all who attended. The miracle of the feeding of the 4000 gathered 7 large basketfuls, which could have represented the seven nations represented in the area on the east side of the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus Walks on the Water- This miracle was one of convenience. The disciples were on their way to the East side of the Sea of Galilee; Jesus was going to meet them there. Notice that the wind was against them–there was no storm like there was in 4:37. The other thing left out of this story was the fact that Peter walked on the water. We get that part of the story from Matthew 14:22-33.
Interesting verse: “51b They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.” We get great insight from this verse concerning the hardening of hearts. Did God harden their hearts? No; culture did. They had expectations about reality that were being blown away. Their concept of Messiah shows up later, as well. The hardening of their hearts is more of disbelief than willful contrariness. They didn’t intend to be sinful; they just wanted Jesus to do things their way. It’s the very thing that Jesus laments for Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-39).
Do you remember the demon-possessed man in chapter 5? Gennesaret is where he is from. It’s called the Decapolis (Ten-Cities). Verses 54 and 55 give testimony to the faithfulness of the man! That’s exciting! The man had wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus had him go home instead. Jesus had plans for him–when will we get it into our heads that Jesus has plans for us, too? Instead of hardening our hearts to the way Jesus wants to do things (like using Coronavirus to bring revival), let’s praise Him for His Plan and watch Him do miracles that bring Him glory–even with our meager “lunches”!