Despite the rejection of His own people and potential danger from Herod, the Lord Jesus continued in His ministry. In this lesson, we will study two of His well-known miracles and learn with the disciples the importance of faith. We will also observe the actions of Christ and learn from His heart of compassion.
Did You Know...?
- Bread and fish (14:17) were staples in Galilee, especially for the poor. John 6:9, 13 specifies barley loaves—the cheaper, coarser bread. [ref]
- Fourth watch (14:25): The ancient Hebrew world divided the night from sunset to sunrise into three watches (Judg 7:19; Lam 2:19), but the Romans used four. Jesus’ approach to the boat therefore occurred between 3.00 A.M. and 6.00 A.M. [ref]
- Gennesaret (14:34): Either the narrow plain, about four miles long and less than two miles wide, on the west side of the Sea of Galilee near the north end (north of Magdala), or a town in the plain. The plain was considered a garden spot of Palestine, fertile and well watered. [ref]
Why do you think Jesus withdrew to a deserted place by Himself?
What was it about the multitude that moved Jesus’ heart of compassion?
Why is the mention of Jesus’ compassion important in beginning the story of feeding the multitudes?Hide Answer
All that the Lord did for the multitudes, be it healing or preaching, came from a heart of compassion for the people, not an egotistic display of power or wisdom.
Why do you think Jesus asked the disciples to feed the multitude (16)?Hide Answer
He probably wanted the disciples to realize their responsibility of ministering to the people (9:36-10:1). But feeding the great multitude was an impossible task. So the Lord might have also wanted to train them to turn to the Lord as their source of power when ministering to the people.
What lesson can we learn from this miracle?
Think of an incident where God has also met your needs with very limited resource. What did you learn from the experience?
Why is the gesture of looking up to heaven significant in the story?Hide Answer
“The actions—looking up to heaven, thanking God, and breaking the loaves—are normal for any head of a Jewish household” [ref] .Here the Lord acted as the head of the household distributing food to his family. His action is also an acknowledgment of and an expression of thanks to the heavenly Father for His provisions.
“Made” in 22 is a very strong verb, which might be translated “compelled.” Why did the Lord “make” the disciples get into the boat “immediately”?Hide Answer
Jesus’ miracle was so great that the people wanted to make Him king by force (Jn 6:14, 15). Such uproar would hinder His ministry and possibly get attention from the authorities. He wanted to be alone and pray (Mt 14:13, 23; Mk 6:31). The disciples, who had set their hearts on being the greatest (Mk 9:34), may have lingered behind since their popularity at this point afforded an opportunity to become great.
What lesson can we learn from this action?Hide Answer
When we have accomplished something for God, we should withdraw from the crowd. Move on to the next task and do not linger in the past accomplishment.
What might be the significance of recording Jesus’ prayer by Himself? Why was it important for Jesus to pray aHide Answer
The Bible does not mention the exact purpose of Jesus’ prayer. But in the midst of rising opposition as well as popularity, and in view of the work He had yet to do, Jesus withdrew Himself and prayed alone. He did so probably to stay in touch with God, be focused on His mission, and receive strength from above (cf. Lk 22:43).
The gospels on occasion record that the Lord would pray alone in a quiet place (Lk 6:12, 5:16, 9:18; Mt 26:36). It is not surprising because He Himself taught us to pray in our inner room rather than in public (Mt 6:5, 6). By praying alone, He could seek the Father’s will and receive power to carry out His work.
Observe and contrast the disciples and Jesus.Hide Answer
We can see the struggle and panic of the disciples, including Peter’s (24, 26, 30), in contrast to the Lord’s calmness and power (25, 27, 32).
What details in this story indicate the authority of Jesus?Hide Answer
His ability to walk on water in the midst of great waves demonstrated His authority over nature. He calmed the fears of the disciples (27). He commanded Peter, “come.” He had power over the wind (32).
Why do you think Peter wanted to go to the Lord? What does this tell us about his personality?Hide Answer
Peter often acted as the spokesman for the disciples and was quick to speak and act (e.g. Mt 16:16, 26:33; Mk 11:21; Jn 13:8, 9, 18:10). In this story, his urge to go to Jesus was probably prompted by a sudden courage when he saw that it was the Lord and that the master was able to walk on water.
Why did Peter begin to sink? What does this teach us?Hide Answer
When he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid (30). When we look away from the power of God’s promise and look instead at the overwhelming circumstances, we also lose courage and sink into despair. Faith means not doubting but trusting that the Lord will take care of us as He has promised.
What can we learn about Jesus in the three verses that mention “immediately” (22,27,31)?
What is the significance of the disciples’ worship (33)?Hide Answer
This is the climax of the story. The Lord Jesus demonstrated that He was the Lord of heaven and earth and the Messiah. So the disciples came to Him, worshiped Him, and confessed His lordship. This should also be our response when we experience the work of Christ in our lives.
What can we learn about Jesus in this story?Hide Answer
He reached out to all people by travelling from one place to another. He was accessible to the multitudes. He was the Great Physician.
What do the people of Gennesaret teach us about seeking God’s help?Hide Answer
It is our duty to bring all the people around us to Christ so that they may be saved. The people of Gennesaret also showed their humble faith by asking to only touch the hem of the Lord’s garment. They were all made well because of their faith. We need to have the faith that if it is His will, God can help us even through the simplest means (cf. 8:8).