Matthew 14:23

Earnest effort should be made to realize the strain, and excitement, and fatigue, and distress of that day to Christ. In some senses it was the very hardest day of his active ministry. Appraise carefully the spiritual, and even physical, influence of the following things.

1. Anxiety concerning the excitement of his disciples because the devils had been subject to them on their first mission.

2. Distress on hearing of the violent death of John.

3. Effort to put personal feeling aside in order to teach and heal the crowds who gathered at his landing place.

4. The spiritual strain of expending miraculous force in multiplying the few loaves.

5. Excitement at the dangerous intentions of the people to make him king.

6. Annoyance at his disciples when they would take part with the people.

7. Necessity for acting promptly and vigorously in checking the beginnings of mischief.

8. Pain to find his disciples still imprisoned in material conceptions of him and of his mission. Surely when all was over, the disciples were on the lake, and the last lingerer of the crowd well out of sight, Jesus must have been utterly exhausted, and needed some soothing, healing balm. Where could he get it? He knew. He shows us the place of soothing. It is the place of prayer.

I. PRAYER SOOTHES BY ENABLING US TO CAST OUR CARE ON GOD. The simple soothing mission of prayer is not often dwelt on. It is too much treated as a means of getting something. Its best blessings may be said to be the good things it does for us, rather than the good things it obtains for us. Prayer allays excitement. Prayer soothes the worried. Prayer quiets the restless. Prayer stills our atmospheres. And all because it just means telling God. If we begin to tell excitedly we soon fall into the deep peace which his presence and sympathy always breathe.

II. PRAYER SOOTHES BY ASSURING US THAT GOD CARES FOR US. And that, of necessity, means the mastery of the circumstances that trouble us. We are in the midst of difficulties, and they worry; they seem to be masterful. We go to God in prayer, and feel that he is in the midst of them, ruling and overruling; and we are calmed and rested. There are no real difficulties. "Greater is he who is for us than all who can be against us." - R.T.

He went up into a mountain apart to pray.
It hath been disputed which is a state of greater perfection, the social, or the solitary; whereas, in truth, neither of these estates is complete without the other: as the example of our blessed Lord (the unerring test and measure of perfection) informs us.

I. UNDER WHAT LIMITATIONS MAY THE DUTY OF RELIGIOUS RETREAT AND RECOLLECTION BE RECOMMENDED? NO man is, or ought to be, so deeply immersed in the affairs of this world as not to be able to retire from them now and then into his closet.

II. THE ADVANTAGES ATTENDING THE PRACTICE OF RELIGIOUS RETIREMENT. There are such as these — that k unites and fixes our scattered thoughts; places us out of the reach of the most dangerous temptations; frees us from the insinuating contagion of ill examples, and hushes and lays asleep those troublesome passions which are the great disturbers of our repose and happiness.

(F. Atterbury.)

The celebrated Haydn was in company with some distinguished persons. The conversation turned on the best means of restoring the mental energies, when exhausted with long and difficult studies. One said he had recourse, in such a case, to a bottle of wine; another, that tie went into company. Haydn being asked what he would do, or did do, said that he retired to his closet and engaged in prayer; and that nothing exerted on his mind a more happy and efficacious influence than prayer.

From the behaviour of our Lord, as it is here described, we may draw these observations for our own use.

I. THAT WE OUGHT TO SET APART SOME PORTIONS OF OUR TIME FOR PRIVATE AND SILENT ACTS OF RELIGION for conversation with God and our own hearts. The duties of such times consist —(1) in a recollection of our past transgressions, in resolutions of amendment and improvement, and in prayers to God to forgive and assist us.(2) In a review of the favours and mercies which we have received from Him, and in a grateful acknowledgment of them.(3) In meditations on the shortness and uncertainty of life, on the duties which more particularly belong to our station, on the abilities and opportunities we have of improving our heart and understanding, and of doing the work of Him who has sent us into the world.(4) In general, in a study of religious truths. In all times and places there are many who pass a thoughtless life in perpetual unconcern for religion, who are entirely taken up with the follies, the amusements, the hurry and business of this world. Trace out the causes of this unreasonable conduct.

(1)A bad education;

(2)the common practice of the world when we are grown up;

(3)desire for company.By securing times of meditation, we may hope to keep ourselves free from vicious habits; to learn what the defects are to which we are prone, which usually escape our notice; to rule over our passions; to discover what abilities God has given us; to confirm in ourselves all good dispositions, and thus we shall be able to converse in safety with the world.

II. THAT WE OUGHT TO EMPLOY ALL THE POWERS AND ABILITIES WHICH GOD HAS CONFERRED UPON US TO THE GLORY OF THEIR AUTHOR, and to the benefit of mankind, and lose no opportunity of doing good. The actions and the behaviour by which we can be useful to others are, Liberality, Justice, Instruction, Counsel and Advice, Reproof and Correction, Commendation and Encouragement, Patience and Meekness, Compassion, Condescension, Courteousness, and Affability; and a life suitable to the religion which we profess.


1. Man is not sufficient to his own happiness; finds himself made for society, to which his wants, his imperfections, and his desires incline him; it cannot therefore be his duty to check and overrule these innocent desires.

2. By society we are assisted not only in the conveniences of life, but in the improvement of our understanding and in the performance of our duty.

3. Of two persons who live soberly and righteously, the one in a public station, the other in retirement, the former must be allowed to be the more excellent person, and the brighter example of virtue.

4. The accounts which we have of the old solitary saints, though written by their admirers and adorers, is often little to their advantage or to the credit of Christianity.



Christ often proposed His own temper and actions as the model, after which all His disciples should copy. The multitude and variety of His public services neither prevented His spending a social hour among the families to which His disciples stood related, nor His finding opportunity for secret devotion. For this, Christ was singularly eminent. An old divine used to say three things were requisite to make a good minister: "meditation, temptation, and prayer." If Jesus Christ found it needful and advantageous to engage in retired devotion, how much more so must it be for such weak and imperfect creatures as we are — not only ministers, but private Christians also.


(a)Precepts of Scripture;

(b)Example of Jesus Christ;

(c)Practice of saints in every age;

(d)Important and indispensable part of religion.


(a)Sense of God's presence;

(b)Solemn and devout;

(c)Joined with reading the Scriptures, and meditation, and self-examination.

III. THE PARTICULAR OBJECTS IN RELATION TO WHICH IT IS PRACTISED, Our progress in knowledge, grace, and holiness, and the obtaining guidance and assistance from God in all seasons of peculiar need. There are some particular occasions in regard to which this duty may be practised to advantage. There are some particular seasons in which Christians should be much in private prayer; such as times of affliction, public calamity, prevailing departure from the knowledge, experience, and practice of true religion; seasons of suspense and embarrassment; seasons of ease and prosperity.


(J. Townsend.)

Herod, Herodias, Jesus, John, Peter, Philip
Galilee, Genneseret, Jerusalem, Sea of Galilee
Alone, Apart, Ascended, Climbed, Crowds, Dismissed, Evening, Hill, Mountain, Mountainside, Multitudes, Prayer, Solitude
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 14:23

     2081   Christ, wisdom
     2360   Christ, prayers of
     4933   evening
     5763   attitudes, positive to God
     5873   habits
     5901   loneliness
     8328   quietness
     8620   prayer, practicalities

Matthew 14:22-23

     5921   privacy

Matthew 14:22-33

     2012   Christ, authority

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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