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Matthew 14

April 10th, 2011 by Vic

Matthew 14

“Phantom Reality?”

April 10, 2011

 

Last week end while we were in Nampa visiting our kids, I read a book by David Korten, Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth.  He says we need another American Revolution to free us from the corporate bankers and Wall Street illusionists.  Their motive is greed.  They have never created a valuable tool in their lives.  They have not grown anything edible.  They have created a phantom wealth that is really just a number on a spread sheet.  They make money on money and never create anything useful for their neighbor.

 

It was not the greedy British aristocracy that started the American Revolution and it will not be our greedy leaders and bankers that restore our freedom.  It will be neighbor helping neighbor, banker helping neighbor, a village of people helping one another and holding one another accountable.  Our culture will not be cured with money.  Crime, abuse, addition, and stupidity will not be cured with money.  Remember Jesus caused a major crash on Wall Street 2,000 years ago.

 

The GDP is a false measure of our nation’s health.  A true measure of our health and success is the number of divorces, the population of our prisons, teen pregnancies and suicides.

 

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “The things that are seen are temporal.  The things that are not seen are eternal.”  The writer of Hebrews says the things that are seen were created by the unseen.  Which means the original or the real is the unseen.

 

In today’s reading the disciples are learning some lessons from life that confirm the reality of the unseen and the value of a relationship with Jesus.  We find a greedy, power hungry Herod assuming he is in control.

14:1-2

Herod, the tetrarch, was one of 4 sons of Herod the Great who were appointed rulers over parts of Israel.  Herod the Great was the one who met the wise men and heard of Jesus’ birth.  He was only 4 ½ feet tall.  When he died Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to Nazareth.  His son Herod Antipas now rules this part of Israel and his greatest fear has come to pass.  John the Baptist has come back to life.

 

Herod had married a daughter of a neighboring Arab king of the Nabateans.  It was a political marriage.  Herod was seduced by his sister-in-law and decided to divorce his Nabatean wife to marry his sister-in-law, Herodias.  She was also his niece.

 

That caused him problems.  The neighboring Arabs harassed him with raiding parties and John the Baptist confronted him with God’s law.  Now reports have come to him that John has come back to life.  Jesus and John were cousins.  They may have had some of the same features and mannerisms.  Maybe their moms dressed them the same.  Neither married.

 

14:3-12

John told Herod the truth.  John told him that God was real and he had broken God’s law.  It is dangerous to rebuke an egotistical tyrant.  There is an interesting contrast here between John and Herod.  Herod feared his wife (3), his subjects (5), and his friends (9).  John was not worried what anyone thought of him, but God.  His self esteem was based on God’s opinion of him.  John did not compromise.  He had strong convictions.  He was committed to doing the right thing.

Herod had a birthday party.  His wife Herodias arranged for her daughter to be the entertainment.  She was a vindictive woman seeking revenge against John the Baptist.  She was blaming him for her problems.  She apparently did not hesitate using her daughter even though it was not proper for a royal princess to dance in public.

 

This princess had no goal in life, but to please her mother.  Her mother Herodias had no goal in life, but to destroy John the Baptist, a man who told her the truth.  He made her uncomfortable.  He made her look bad.

 

The disciples of John told Jesus what had happened.  That’s a good lesson.  When you suffer a tragedy, go to Jesus.  When wicked people seem to be winning, go to Jesus.  When someone you love suffers a terrible injustice, go to Jesus.  He helps us see reality.  He reminds us of the unseen.

 

What does Jesus do when He hears the report?

 

14:13-21

He wanted to be alone, but could not get away from people.  When His vacation was ruined by the paparazzi, Jesus had compassion on them.   This word for compassion was used for the inward parts of a sacrificial animal.  It is more than a ‘gut feeling’.  It is when your insides get all knotted up and you are sick at heart.  This is how Jesus looks at us.  He saw their need and was motivated by compassion to heal the sick.  He set aside His need and healed the sick.  Jesus never considered anyone a nuisance.  He was never too busy for people.  He did not watch the clock while visiting.

 

When evening came, the disciples try to tell Jesus what to do.  Maybe they were tired and assumed Jesus was tired too.  Maybe they were hungry and assumed the crowd was hungry too.  Maybe they were afraid of a food fight or riot.

 

Jesus instead tells the disciples what they are to do.  He wants them to admit that they cannot do it on their own.  Jesus gives to the disciples and they give to the people.  We can only give what we have been given.

 

Jesus demonstrates that all gifts are from God.  He had an attitude of gratitude.  Ingratitude is the ugliest of all sin.  Jesus gave thanks, broke and gave bread and fish to the disciples.  It was just a small thing.  God blesses small things.  God still does miracles in our lives.  We give what we have received and begin to realize that we are blessed even more.  The leftovers were greater than the initial investment.

 

14:22-36

Jesus compelled the disciples to go back home ahead of Him and then He tells the crowd to go home.  Maybe there were rumors about making Jesus King.  After everyone left Jesus went up on a hill to pray.  His cousin John had been killed and He knew His death was also coming soon.  News in the paper was not encouraging.  Jesus prayed.  He took time to be alone and talk with His Father.

 

We have storms coming in our lives.  God can use them for good.  We need to pray.  How do you deal with storms?  When your life is buffeted by the wind and waves what do you do?

 

The last time the disciples were in a big storm Jesus was in the boat with them.  Now Jesus was not there.  Why did Jesus send them alone into the storm?  Probably for teaching and testing.  God used a storm to correct Jonah.  God used a storm to test Noah.

 

The solution to their problem came walking on the water.  Sometimes the answer to our problems is beyond our imagination.  It seems God likes to surprise us.

 

The disciples were terrified.  The sea was full of evil spirits.  These big tough fishermen were so fearful they cried out.  God’s answer to our problems does not always fit into our expectations.  The fear of the disciples is like the fear of all who are threatened by insecurity in the face of the unknown.  But fear is unwarranted where Jesus is present.  Perfect love casts out fear.

 

Jesus heard their panic and commanded them to be of good cheer.  “Don’t be afraid.  It is I.”  It is a choice you have.  You must choose to be happy before the solution comes.  Choose to be happy so you can recognize Jesus.  The Bible says Jesus was filled with the joy of gladness.  He was a happy person.  The children knew that and they were attracted to Him.  The disciples were tired and troubled.  They were not happy campers.  The solution to their storm and fear was Jesus, but they did not recognize Him.  This is not the way He usually walked.

 

Why did Peter want to walk on the water?  Was he asking Jesus if he could come out and play with Him?  Why do people sky dive?  I don’t know.  Maybe he just wanted to be with Jesus.  Maybe He wanted to do what Jesus was doing.  Peter is a good example and a bad example.

 

Jesus invited him to come and Peter took a risk.  He jumped out of the plane that had 2 good wings.  He stepped out of the boat that appeared to be the safest place to be right now.  It is good to take a risk when you hear Jesus say “Come”.  But don’t take your eyes off Jesus.

 

Peter got distracted.  I don’t want to sit in the boat and criticize Peter.  But there are some lessons here.  We are so tempted to be distracted by the storms rather than focus on the solution.  Do you remember where Paul was when he wrote “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice!”?  He was in a dungeon.  A couple verses later he continues, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

 

Immediately Jesus picked Peter up and took him back to the boat.  Salvation comes from Jesus.  The solution of our storms is in Jesus.  Jesus rebuked Peter for not learning that yet.

 

In the boat they worshiped.  When storms pass, worship.  In worship they realized that Jesus was the Son of God.  He really was more than the tired and grieving cousin of John the Baptist.  This is the first time they call Him the Son of God.  This Jesus who rules over nature and even the realm of evil is rightly worshiped as the Son of God.  Worship is the climax of this chapter.

 

When Jesus got back to the Gennesaret area He was recognized as the healer.  The people were made perfectly whole if they touched the hem, the blue fringe, or the tassels around the bottom of his clothing.  For the Jews (Numbers 15:38) these tassels were to be reminders of the commandments of God.  Blue came to be symbolic of heaven.  There may be some symbolisms for bowing down to touch the blue hem.

 

Keep your eyes on Jesus and be whole.  For the Christian, the storms of this world are as bad as it is ever going to be.  We should be happy people.  The joy of the Lord should be our strength.  Heaven is our home country.  We are kingdom citizens.  But we will never be any earthly good unless we are heavenly minded.  Life is not about the here and now.  Life is not about money and power.  It is all about Jesus.

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