Matthew 14:14
When He stepped ashore and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick.
Solitude not PermanentJoseph Parker, D. D.Matthew 14:13-14
The Sorrowing SaviourA Scott.Matthew 14:13-14
The Sacrament MiracleP.C. Barker Matthew 14:13-21
The Table in the WildernessJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus had several reasons for his crossing the lake to the desert of Bethsaida.

1. He was there out of the jurisdiction of Herod.

(1) Antipas, instigated by Herodias, had recently beheaded the Baptist, and might have been moved to proceed against Jesus, who he suspected was his victim risen from the dead (see vers. 1, 2). Jesus could have secured himself by Divine power, but, as our Exemplar, he chose to do so by human prudence. It is lawful in times of peril to fly from persecution when we have no special call of God to expose ourselves to it.

(2) Herod desired to see Jesus, but was unworthy of that honour. So, when afterwards they came face to face, "Jesus answered him nothing" (cf. Luke 9:9; Luke 23:8, 9; cf. also the case of Saul and Samuel, 1 Samuel 15:35; 1 Samuel 20:24).

2. He avoided the pressure of the people and gained some leisure to converse with his disciples newly returned from their progress (cf. Mark 6:31, 32; Luke 9:10).

3. He intended to spread before the multitude a table in the wilderness. He knew that the people would follow him. Note: Jesus sometimes leaves us that we may follow him. He lures us into spiritual solitudes to show us there the wonders of his compassion and goodness. The scene is before us.


1. They are many.

(1) Seldom do we hear of a banquet spread for ten thousand. There were "about five thousand men." They were easily reckoned, for they were ranged in companies of fifty. "Beside" these were the "women and children."

(2) Yet these thousands were only representative of the thousands of millions who are daily feasted upon the bounty of Divine providence. Also countless millions of animated organisms. "Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing."

(3) They were also representative of the host for whom God has provided the bounties of his grace. From these none are excluded who have not excluded themselves.

2. They are earnest.

(1) Their interest is excited by the "signs which Jesus did on them that were sick" (see John 6:2). They travelled round the lake on foot, many of them a distance of about four miles.

(2) They brought with them their sick to be healed. Perhaps, in some cases, sought his healing for those at their homes too invalided to be carried. Certain it is that Jesus required faith for healing. It is equally certain that "he had compassion on these, and healed their sick." He "healed them that had need of healing" (ver. 14; Luke 9:11).

(3) They are earnest in attention to his teaching. Luke tells us that Jesus "received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:11). From the texts of his power he unfolded his wisdom. Such is the effect that they are scarce restrained from proclaiming him king (see John 9:14, 15).

3. They are needy.

(1) This fact is recognized in the prudence of the disciples (ver. 15). Note: Disciples are often more apt to show discretion than faith.

(2) If they need the bread that perisheth, how much more do they need that which endureth to everlasting life! Jesus "had compassion on them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd" (Mark 6:34). The poor people were woefully neglected by the Pharisees and scribes.

(3) "They have no need to go away." In their eagerness after Jesus they had forgotten their ordinary food; but Jesus had not forgotten them. "Seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."


1. It is spread in the wilderness.

(1) The disciples did not yet properly estimate the resources of their Lord. Instead of looking to him for the supply of their wants, like Israel in the desert, they were for returning to Egypt. Are there now no disciples in that prudent apostolical succession?

(2) When the Lord said, "Give ye them to eat," still they did not properly consider who it was that spake to them. They now looked to their own resources and found them utterly inadequate. In this error also the disciples have many successors.

(3) Soon, however, they discovered that the God of Israel was among them. The five loaves and two fishes were so multiplied that the thousands were satisfied, and the fragments left were greatly in excess of the original store. Hallelujah!

2. This recalls an earlier scene.

(1) Every reflective person in that company would be reminded of the earlier miracle when their fathers in the wilderness were fed from heaven with manna. Even the desert was suggestive. Moreover, "the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh" (see John 6:4), and many in this company were on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate that feast, so significantly recalling the history of the Exodus.

(2) Who, then, but the same God of Israel, who fed the fathers with that heavenly bread, is this Jesus who now feeds their children no less miraculously?

3. This also anticipates a later scene.

(1) This broken bread was a type of the Bread of life, to be broken for the spiritual nourishment of believers (see John 6:26, 27). "By it" Jesus "proclaimed himself the Bread of the world, the Source of all life, of which there shall be enough and to spare for all evermore" (Trench).

(2) The Lord gave the bread to denote the life we have in communion with him. The identity of the teaching in the argument of Jesus upon this miracle (see John 6.), with the teaching of the Eucharist, cannot be missed.

(3) This, by parity of reasoning, invests with new interest the corresponding miracle of the multiplication of the wine at the marriage (see John 2:1-11). The communion of Christ is the cheer of our joy as well as the food for our need.


1. The King heads his table.

(1) "We have here but five loaves, and two fishes." God often permits his servants to be brought low that they may have the more frequent opportunities of trusting him.

(2) "Bring them hither to me." If we bring our frugal fare to Jesus for his blessing, he will make it a sufficiency for the body and a sacrament to the soul (cf. Psalm 37:19; Haggai 1:9). He clothes himself with a body that he may encourage us to depend upon him for the supply of our bodily wants. He takes special care of the bodies of those who are engaged in his service.

(3) "Looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake." God's creatures must be received with thanksgiving (see 1 Samuel 9:13; Acts 2:46, 47; Acts 27:35; 1 Timothy 4:4). But the blessing of Jesus was more than a thanksgiving.

(4) The presence of Christ can turn a wilderness into a paradise (cf. Isaiah 41:19, 20; Isaiah 51:3).

2. The disciples are the servitors.

(1) They are commissioned to order the multitude into companies (see Luke 9:14). These fifties are representative of the Churches of Christendom, which are presided over by the ministers of Christ. What Christ designed for his Churches he signified by his servant John (Revelation 1:1-4).

(2) They were commissioned to give the loaves to the multitude. Receiving the bread of life themselves, they are strengthened to minister it to others. Through their hands the multitudes are to receive it from the Lord (cf. ch. 24:45; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 2 Corinthians 6:1).

(3) The bread multiplies in their hands. Herein the Word of God proves itself to be the living bread. So it is like seed. The living Word is the life of the word preached. As seed is multiplied, not by hoarding, but by sowing, so is the Word. "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth." Note: What we give in charity should first be given to Christ, that his blessing may multiply its benefit. They that have little must relieve others out of that little, that they may have more.

(4) They are instructed to "gather up the broken pieces which remain over, that nothing be lost" (John 6:12). What they gave they received back manifold. There were "five loaves," one forevery thousand men; they gathered up twelve hand baskets full, one for each apostle. They had also fragments over from the fishes (see Mark 6:43; Luke 15:17). - J.A.M.

When Jesus heard of it He departed thence by ship.
Jesus hears of John's death, and thereupon seeks seclusion.


1. Christ was deeply affected by John's death — that event gave Him great sorrow.

2. There was good reason for Christ being deeply affected. John from the first had been a faithful friend; his sole object was to magnify Christ.


1. He sought the desert; He desired to be alone. That He might pray. The multitudes come; He meets them.

2. His sorrow for the dead is changed into compassion for the living. He must now work, not weep. God finds work for every sorrowing heart that trusts in Him, in which relief is found.

(A Scott.)

There are some occurrences that simply make us quiet. There are shocks we can only answer by eloquent dumbness. He departed and went into a wilderness: it was better to be among the barren sands than among murderers and most cruel-minded men. There are times when we are all but inclined to give up our work. Our rain is lost, our dews fall in stony places, our best endeavours are returned to us without echo or answer of joy and gratitude, and we sigh for a lodge in some vast wilderness, some boundless contiguity of shade. This will be only for awhile, however, in the case of Jesus Christ. "When He went forth and saw great multitudes He was moved with compassion towards them, and He healed their sick." He was bound to come back again: the sickness would have a greater effect upon Him than the murder. He will not relinquish His work because of instances that might have shocked Him with fatal distress. He looks upon the multitudinous man and not only upon the individual mischief-doer and murderer. He was the Son of Man; Jesus Christ always took the broad and inclusive view, and this held Him to His work when individual instances might have driven Him away from it and afflicted Him with fatal discouragement.

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

Herod, Herodias, Jesus, John, Peter, Philip
Galilee, Genneseret, Jerusalem, Sea of Galilee
Ashore, Compassion, Crowd, Cured, Felt, Forth, Heal, Healed, Health, Ill, Immense, Infirm, Large, Moved, Multitude, Pity, Sick, Throng, Towards
1. Herod's opinion of Jesus.
3. Wherefore John Baptist was beheaded.
13. Jesus departs into a solitary place,
15. where he feeds five thousand men with five loves and two fishes.
22. He walks on the sea to his disciples;
34. and landing at Gennesaret,
35. heals the sick who touch of the hem of his garment.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 14:14

     2015   Christ, compassion
     2048   Christ, love of
     2354   Christ, mission
     5013   heart, divine
     5298   doctors
     5844   emotions
     5966   tenderness
     6689   mercy, of Christ
     8291   kindness

Matthew 14:13-21

     4418   bread

Matthew 14:14-22

     5279   crowds

July 23. "Bring them Hither to Me" (Matt. xiv. 18).
"Bring them hither to Me" (Matt. xiv. 18). Why have ye not received all the fulness of the Holy Spirit? And how may we be anointed with "the rest of the oil?" The greatest need is to make room when God makes it. Look around you at your situation. Are you not encompassed with needs at this very moment, and almost overwhelmed with difficulties, trials and emergencies? These are all divinely provided vessels for the Holy Spirit to fill, and if you would but rightly understand their meaning, they would
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

The Grave of the Dead John and the Grave of the Living Jesus
'And John's disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.'--MATT. xiv. 12. 'And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy.'--MATT. xxviii. 8. There is a remarkable parallel and still more remarkable contrast between these two groups of disciples at the graves of their respective masters. John the Baptist's followers venture into the very jaws of the lion to rescue the headless corpse of their martyred teacher from a prison grave. They bear it
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Peter on the Waves
'And Peter answered Him and said, Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.'--MATT. xiv. 28. We owe this account of an episode in the miracle of Christ's walking on the waters to Matthew alone. Singularly enough there is no reference to Peter's venturesomeness and failure in the Gospel which is generally believed to have been written under his special inspection and suggestion. Mark passes by that part of the narrative without a word. That may be because Peter was somewhat ashamed
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Martyrdom of John
'At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, 2. And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 3. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. 4. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. 5. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. 6.
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Food of the World
'He gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. 20. And they did all eat, and were filled; and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.'--MATT. xiv. 19, 20. The miracles of Scripture are not merely wonders, but signs. It is one of their most striking characteristics that they are not, like the pretended portents of false faiths, mere mighty deeds standing in no sort of intellectual relation to the message of which they claim to be the attestation,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The King's Highway
'And straightway Jesus constrained His disciples to get into a ship, and to go before Him unto the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. 24. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 25. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26. And when the disciples saw Him walking
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Again on Matt. xiv. 25: of the Lord Walking on the Waves of the Sea, and of Peter Tottering.
1. The Gospel which has just been read touching the Lord Christ, who walked on the waters of the sea; [2566] and the Apostle Peter, who as he was walking, tottered through fear, and sinking in distrust, rose again by confession, gives us to understand that the sea is the present world, and the Apostle Peter the type of the One Church. For Peter in the order of Apostles first, and in the love of Christ most forward, answers oftentimes alone for all the rest. Again, when the Lord Jesus Christ asked,
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xiv. 24, "But the Boat was Now in the Midst of the Sea, Distressed by the Waves. "
1. The lesson of the Gospel which we have just heard is a lesson of humility to us all, that we may see and know where we are, and whither we must tend and hasten. For that ship which carries the disciples, which was tossed in the waves by a contrary wind, is not without its meaning. Nor without a meaning [2541] did the Lord after He had left the multitudes, go up into a mountain to pray alone; and then coming to His disciples found them in danger, walking on the sea, and getting up into the ship
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

Mr. Fearing Comforted
I think I shall be quite safe in concluding this morning, that there are some here who are full of doubting and fearing. Sure I am that all true Christians have their times of anxious questioning. The heart that hath never doubted has not yet learned to believe. As the farmers say, "The land that will not grow a thistle, will not grow wheat;" and the heart that cannot produce a doubt has not yet understood the meaning of believing. He that never doubted of his state--he may, perhaps he may, too late.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 5: 1859

First Withdrawal from Herod's Territory and Return.
(Spring, a.d. 29.) Subdivision A. Return of the Twelve and Retirement To the East Shore of Galilee. ^A Matt. XIV. 13; ^B Mark VI. 30-32; ^C Luke IX. 10; ^D John VI. 1. ^b 30 And the apostles gather themselves together unto Jesus; ^c when they were returned, ^b and they told { ^c declared unto} ^b him all things, whatsoever they had done, and whatsoever they had taught. [They had fulfilled the mission on which Jesus had sent them, and on returning each pair made to him a full report of their work.]
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Herod Antipas Supposes Jesus to be John.
^A Matt. XIV. 1-12; ^B Mark VI. 14-29; ^C Luke IX. 7-9. ^b 14 And ^c 7 Now ^a 1 At that season ^b King Herod [Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great. See page 63.] ^c the tetrarch heard of all that was done ^a heard the report concerning Jesus, ^b for his name had become known: ^c and he was perplexed, because that it was said by some, that John was risen from the dead; 8 and by some, that Elijah had appeared; and by others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. [The work of Jesus impressed
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

First Withdrawal from Herod's Territory and Return.
(Spring, a.d. 29.) Subdivision B. Feeding the Five Thousand. ^A Matt. XIV. 13-21; ^B Mark VI. 33-44; ^C Luke IX. 11-17; ^D John VI. 2-14. ^c 11 But { ^a and} the multitudes heard thereof [heard of Jesus and his disciples crossing the lake], ^b 33 And they saw them going, and ^c perceiving it, ^b many knew them, ^d 2 And a great multitude followed him, because they beheld the signs which he did on them that were sick. ^b and they ran together there on foot from all the cities, and outwent them. ^a
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Miraculous Feeding of the Five Thousand
In the circumstances described in the previous chapter, Jesus resolved at once to leave Capernaum; and this probably alike for the sake of His disciples, who needed rest; for that of the people, who might have attempted a rising after the murder of the Baptist; and temporarily to withdraw Himself and His followers from the power of Herod. For this purpose He chose the place outside the dominions of Antipas, nearest to Capernaum. This was Beth-Saida (the house of fishing,' Fisher-town,' [3198] as
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Night of Miracles on the Lake of Gennesaret
THE last question of the Baptist, spoken in public, had been: Art Thou the Coming One, or look we for another?' It had, in part, been answered, as the murmur had passed through the ranks: This One is truly the Prophet, the Coming One!' So, then, they had no longer to wait, nor to look for another! And this Prophet' was Israel's long expected Messiah. What this would imply to the people, in the intensity and longing of the great hope which, for centuries, nay, far beyond the time of Ezra, had swayed
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Preachings on the Lake.
Such was the group which, on the borders of the lake of Tiberias, gathered around Jesus. The aristocracy was represented there by a customs-officer and by the wife of one of Herod's stewards. The rest were fishermen and common people. Their ignorance was extreme; their intelligence was feeble; they believed in apparitions and spirits.[1] Not one element of Greek culture had penetrated this first assembly of the saints. They had very little Jewish instruction; but heart and good-will overflowed. The
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus

Be of Good Cheer.
"BE of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid" (Matthew xiv:27). "Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God believe also in Me. In my father's house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John xiv:1-3). "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart
Arno Gaebelein—The Lord of Glory

The Rationalistic Explanation.
PAULUS. But the champions of this theory may admit all this, and yet fasten the delusion upon the disciples of Christ, who were so dazzled by his character, words, and works, that they mistook an extraordinary man for a divine being, and extraordinary medical cures for supernatural miracles. This is the view of the older German Rationalism.[75]75 It forms a parallel to the heathen rationalism of Euhemerus, of the Cyrenaic school: he explained the gods of the Greek mythology as human sages, heroes,
Philip Schaff—The Person of Christ

From the things last spoken, we gather no trifling conjecture concerning the situation of the town of Capernaum. Josephus relates that the country of Gennesar, which we have described, was watered "with a spring of excellent water; the people thereabouts call it Capernaum." From that either the city hath its name, or rather that hath its name from the city; and the city from the pleasantness of the place. The evangelists, compared together, do make it clear, that this city was seated in the land
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

The Grave of John, and Another Grave
(MATTHEW XIV. 12.) "When some beloved voice, that was to you Both sound and sweetness, faileth suddenly, And silence, against which you dare not cry, Aches round you like a strong disease and new,-- What hope, what help, what music will undo That silence to your sense? Not friendship's sigh, Not reason's subtle count.... Nay, none of these! Speak, Thou availing Christ!--and fill this pause." E. B. BROWNING. "Tell Jesus"--The Sin-Bearer--The Resurrection of Jesus--The Followers of John, and of
F. B. Meyer—John the Baptist

The Confidence of Prayer. --Matt. xiv. 22
The Confidence of Prayer.--Matt. xiv. 22. Why thus, my soul, cast down? And why disquieted? Black though the tempest frown, The surge pass o'er thy head; Wait the fourth watch;--for One who saves Comes to thee, walking on the waves. Lord! Lord! if it be Thou, Bid me come down to Thee; Jesus! I know Thee now, And walk upon the sea; Faith fails; ah me! the gulf runs high, Save, Lord, I sink! O save, I die! I grasp thy outstretch'd hand; We climb the vessel's side; And lo! we touch the land, The
James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns

The Glory of Penitents and Pious People.
Who are they that compose yonder bright multitude? They are headed by a queen who does not wear a virgin's crown; and yet, she is so beautiful, and enjoys so intimate a union with Jesus. Who is she? She is Mary Magdalen, the bright queen of Penitents, and the star of hope to all who have grievously sinned in this world. She was once a sinner, and such a sinner! Her soul was the home of seven devils! She was a hireling of Satan, to catch the souls of men. But a flash of light came forth from the Heart
F. J. Boudreaux—The Happiness of Heaven

Christ's Encouragements
'Son, be of good cheer.'--MATT. ix. 2. This word of encouragement, which exhorts to both cheerfulness and courage, is often upon Christ's lips. It is only once employed in the Gospels by any other than He. If we throw together the various instances in which He thus speaks, we may get a somewhat striking view of the hindrances to such a temper of bold, buoyant cheerfulness which the world presents, and of the means for securing it which Christ provides. But before I consider these individually, let
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

DANCING is the expression of inward feelings by means of rhythmical movements of the body. Usually these movements are in measured step, and are accompanied by music. In some form or another dancing is as old as the world, and has been practiced by rude as well as by civilized peoples. The passion for amateur dancing always has been strongest among savage nations, who have made equal use of it in religious rites and in war. With the savages the dancers work themselves into a perfect frenzy, into
J. M. Judy—Questionable Amusements and Worthy Substitutes

The Chronology
45. The length of the public ministry of Jesus was one of the earliest questions which arose in the study of the four gospels. In the second and third centuries it was not uncommon to find the answer in the passage from Isaiah (lxi. 1, 2), which Jesus declared was fulfilled in himself. "The acceptable year of the Lord" was taken to indicate that the ministry covered little more than a year. The fact that the first three gospels mention but one Passover (that at the end), and but one journey to Jerusalem,
Rush Rhees—The Life of Jesus of Nazareth

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