Mat 14 outline:
Mat 14:1-12, John the Baptist beheaded
Mat 14:13-21, Jesus feeds the five thousand
Mat 14:22-33, Jesus walks on the water
Mat 14:34-36, Jesus made perfectly well as many as touched the hen of His garment
Mat 14:1-13a chiastic structure:
1a) Mat 14:1, Herod heard the report about Jesus;
1b) Mat 14:2, Herod said of John that he was risen from the dead;
1c) Mat 14:3-4, John in prison because of Herodias;
1d) Mat 14:5, Herod wanted to put him to death but was afraid of the multitudes;
central axis) Mat 14:6-8, Herod’s birthday celebration;
2d) Mat 14:9, Herod was sorry to put him to death but was afraid of breaking his oath;
2c) Mat 14:10-11, John beheaded because of Herodias;
2b) Mat 14:12, John’s disciples buried his body;
2a) Mat 14:13a, Jesus heard the report about John.
Mat 14:13b-23 chiastic structure:
1a) Mat 14:13b, Jesus departed by boat to a deserted place by Himself;
1b) Mat 14:13c, The multitudes followed Him on foot;
1c) Mat 14:14, Jesus was moved with compassion for them and healed their sick;
1d) Mat 14:15-16, Jesus: You give them something to eat;
1e) Mat 14:17, We only have five loaves and two fish;
central axis) Mat 14:18-19a, He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass;
2e) Mat 14:19b, He took the five loaves and two fish, and blessed them and broke them;
2d) Mat 14:19c, He gave to the disciples, and they gave to the multitudes;
2c) Mat 14:20-21, They all ate and were filled, about five thousand men;
2b) Mat 14:22, He sent the multitudes away;
2a) Mat 14:22-23, The disciples departed by boat and Jesus was by Himself on the mountain.
This structure is very instructive in showing that, as in Mat 10, Jesus wanted His disciples to begin to do the works that He was doing. The central axis shows us how we accomplish that. But also, this entire structure forms a single element in the next structure concerning the next miracle:
Mat 14:13b-33 chiastic structure:
1a) Mat 14:13b-23, He has shown Himself to be the Son of God by feeding the five thousand;
1b) Mat 14:24, The boat was tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary;
1c) Mat 14:25-26, Jesus went to them, walking on the sea + they cried out in fear;
1d) Mat 14:27a, Be of good cheer + It is I;
central axis) Mat 14:27b, Do not be afraid;
2d) Mat 14:28-29a, Lord, if it is You, command me + Come;
2c) Mat 14:29b-31, Peter went to Jesus, walking on the sea + O you of little faith;
2b) Mat 14:32, When they got into the boat, the wind ceased;
2a) Mat 14:33, They worshiped Him as He has shown Himself to be the Son of God.
Again, His disciples began to do the works that He was doing:
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.” Mat 10:24-25
So He gave them His power to cast out unclean spirits and heal all kinds of sickness and disease, Mat 10:1;
He taught them how to preach that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, Mat 10;
He opened their eyes to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, Mat 13:11, 16;
He trained them to feed the hungry – not by raising funds, but by trusting Him to supply the need miraculously if need be, Mat 14:15-16;
He even taught them that they too had power over the natural world, Mat 14:28-31.
We can see that feeding five thousand could serve a ministry purpose. But what purpose would walking on water serve? To show His disciples that He had power over the natural world? I think they already had seen that. No, this chapter is about bringing His disciples to the place where they were doing the same things that He was doing (Joh 14:12).
Preaching, yes. We are comfortable with that. Teaching the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, yes. We are comfortable with that. Alleviating suffering by building hospitals and orphanages, yes. We are comfortable with that.
But also, if we are believers (if we believe Him and His Word), casting out demons. We are not comfortable with that.
Healing sickness and disease miraculously. We are not comfortable with that.
Multiplying food. We are not comfortable with that.
Walking on water. We are not comfortable with that.
You know, Jesus was working full time to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. He had long days of preaching and healing the sick. The people who could benefit from His compassion were limited to the time and place where He was. His goal, in making disciples that would be like Him, even in walking on water, and then giving them His same Spirit (Act 1:8), was so that the kingdom of heaven could come to every time and every place – through His disciples who were like their Master.
Heidi Baker is a good example. She and her husband are missionaries in Madagascar, and have built orphanages all through the country. She was comfortable with expressing compassion and alleviating suffering like that. But then God told her to start raising the dead. So from obedience, for the next year, every dead person she saw, she laid hands on them and commanded them to live in the name of Jesus. And none of them did. But God had given her a command, and she fulfilled her part. Actually making them live, was God’s part. She concerned herself with her part, and let God concern Himself with His part. In the second year, they started getting up and living!
We serve a big God, and because He is moved with compassion, He wants to do big things. Let us not limit Him by our comfort level. Let us be believers, and place our trust in Him, and do our part, so that as He wills, He can do His part.