Prophetic Events of Matthew 14--Part 1
Jan 21, 2010
In Matthew 14, we read the story of King Herod's lawlessness and how John the Baptist spoke out against his life style of the rich and famous. As a result of this, Herod's wife and daughter took revenge, having John executed.
It was the occasion of Herod's birthday (Matt. 14:6), so Herod must have been born around Passover. This story is also told in John 6, where we read in verse 4 that it was at the time of Passover. After John was executed, his disciples went and told Jesus. Jesus then went to the far side of the sea of Galilee, where He fed the 5,000.
The fact that He multiplied "barley" (John 6:9) suggests that it was done at the wave-sheaf offering, the day of barley harvest shortly after Passover.
John's death at Passover occurred precisely 40 years before the Romans surrounded Jerusalem and began their final siege that resulted in that city's destruction. That siege began on Passover of 70 A.D., according to Josephus.
John's execution also set the pattern for Jesus' death three years later in 33 A.D. His death started the 40-year countdown toward the end of the Roman war, when Masada was taken at Passover of 73 A.D.
In other words, God gave Judah and Jerusalem a 40-year grace period, according to the intercession in Ezekiel 4:6.
Upon hearing of John's death, Jesus withdrew across the sea of Galilee (Matt. 14:13), but the multitudes followed him on foot. They did not prepare very well, and so they became quite hungry. He fed the 5,000 men, along with the women and children, with five loaves of barley bread and two fish.
Actually, Jesus did not feed the multitude. He divided up the food and gave it to the disciples, and THEY broke it down further and fed the 5,000. This two-step process is often missed, along with its spiritual significance.
By comparing this account with that found in John 6, we see that this is a story illustrating the meaning and purpose of Passover and the wave-sheaf offering. In the latter half of John 6, Jesus also gives us commentary that teaches us the meaning of this miracle. Jesus connected it with the manna in the wilderness under Moses.
He said, "I am the bread of life" (John 6:35).
He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven" (6:41).
He said, "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves" (6:53).
Many of his listeners were offended, because they thought He was telling them to be cannibalistic. But Jesus made it clear that He was speaking of spiritual eating, rather than literally eating His flesh (6:63). One "ate" Jesus Christ through the ears, not through the mouth. It was about "feeding on the Word," because the Word had become flesh (John 1:14). We eat His flesh by hearing; we drink His blood by seeing. I explained this in detail in my tape, "Eating and Drinking Jesus Christ."
This is also the basis of the "sacrament" of communion. It is "eating" His flesh in the same manner as in the story of His feeding the 5,000. The word "communion" is from the Greek word for "fellowship." It speaks of conversation, hearing, asking questions, response, and having a personal relationship over lunch.
There is no true communion without having ears to hear what He says, regardless of how many times a person eats a wafer and drinks some juice or wine.
Jesus broke the "bread" when He gave His life to die on the cross. But there is a secondary step after this, because now the disciples are called to be broken bread in His hands in order to feed the multitude. Hence, when Jesus broke the bread, He prophetically indicated that His body would be broken at the cross. But when the disciples broke the bread in Step Two, they shared in His sufferings, being willing to be broken, to be crucified with Christ, in order that the world may be fed the Word of God.
The apostle Paul understood this when he wrote in 1 Cor. 10:16 and 17,
(16) The cup of blessing, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? (17) For WE being many are one bread and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.
He is saying that communion is a covenant by which we remember what Jesus did in Step One, and so we commit ourselves to Step Two, breaking the bread that is OUR OWN BODY. For we are "the body of Christ," and "WE being many are one bread and one body."
So is communion the breaking of the body of Christ? Yes, but not Jesus Christ. In Step Two, it is YOU, because you are the body of Christ. Communion certainly remembers what was done in Step One, but it is really an act of commitment to do as He did, lay down our lives as He did, to become the Living Word as He was. That is true "fellowship" with Christ.
When we do that, or when we become the Living Word ("barley"), we will find that the multitudes are truly fed, and that in being broken, the sum of our parts is greater than the whole. They took up 12 baskets of "body parts" left over (Matt. 14:20).
Insofar as the personal application is concerned, "gathering up the fragments" prophesies of resurrection, even as breaking the bread speaks of death. This is why, in Jesus' commentary in John 6:39, 40, 44, and 54, He says, "and I will raise him up at the last day." It is the meaning of gathering up the fragments.
In the immediate application, we "die daily" and are also raised daily. It is a way of life where we submit our soul's will to the will of the Spirit.
In the long-term application, the life of daily dying and being raised up makes us "barley overcomers," eligible for resurrection "at the last day."
Because the story of feeding the 5,000 comes immediately after the death of John the Baptist, the implication is that resurrection will be John's reward as well. John was faithful to his calling and was not afraid of death. He preferred to bear witness to the Truth of God's Word and was unafraid to call Herod's actions SIN. In so doing, he affirmed God's Law rather than what was politically correct.
We face the same issues today. What should we do when official government policy makes it a crime to call homosexual behavior a sin? What about calling abortion a sin? What about fornication and adultery? I do not advocate insulting sinners, "gay bashing," or killing doctors who perform abortions, but I do draw the line in the sand when governments legalize sin and then persecute us for daring to preach the Truth as stated in the Word of God.
We are called to be led by the Spirit, not by the will of earthly government. This is what got the early Christians into trouble. So what's new? This is the old old story. It goes back to Cain, who killed his brother because his own works were evil and his brother's were righteous (1 John 3:12).
If you have read my book, The Genesis Book of Psalms, you can see how the death of Abel was the pattern-setter for the rest of the martyrs to the end of the age.
The next story in Matthew 14 is about the disciples in the storm. That, too, is about tribulation that follows Jesus' ascension into the high mountain to pray (Matt. 14:23; John 6:15). It prophesied of Jesus' ascension to heaven to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25). Meanwhile, the disciples remain in a world of tribulation until He comes and gets into the boat with us. Peter (the overcomers) go out to meet Him and escort Him back to the boat. Then the storm ceases.
To be continued.
This is the first part of a series titled "Prophetic Events of Matthew 14." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones