Matthew 14 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Matthew 14)

Verse 2

[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.

He is risen from the dead — Herod was a Sadducee: and the Sadducees denied the resurrection of the dead. But Sadduceeism staggers when conscience awakes.

Verse 3

[3] For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.

His brother Philip's wife — Who was still alive. Mark 6:17.

Verse 4

[4] For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.

It is not lawful for thee to have her — It was not lawful indeed for either of them to have her. For her father Aristobulus was their own brother. John's words were rough, like his raiment. He would not break the force of truth by using soft words, even to a king.

Verse 5

[5] And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.

He would have put him to death — ln his fit of passion; but he was then restrained by fear of the multitude; and afterward by the reverence he bore him.

Verse 6

[6] But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.

The daughter of Herodias — Afterward infamous for a life suitable to this beginning.

Verse 8

[8] And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.

Being before instructed by her mother — Both as to the matter and manner of her petition: She said, Give me here - Fearing if he had time to consider, he would not do it: John the Baptist's head in a charger - A large dish or bowl.

Verse 9

[9] And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.

And the king was sorry — Knowing that John was a good man.

Yet for the oath's sake — So he murdered an innocent man from mere tenderness of conscience.

Verse 10

[10] And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.

And he sent and beheaded John in the prison, and his head was given to the damsel — How mysterious is the providence, which left the life of so holy a man in such infamous hands! which permitted it to be sacrificed to the malice of an abandoned harlot, the petulancy of a vain girl, and the rashness of a foolish, perhaps drunken prince, who made a prophet's head the reward of a dance! But we are sure the Almighty will repay his servants in another world for what ever they suffer in this.

Verse 13

[13] When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.

Jesus withdrew into a desert place — 1. To avoid Herod: 2. Because of the multitude pressing upon him, Mark 6:32: and 3. To talk with his disciples, newly returned from their progress, Luke 9:10: apart - From all but his disciples. John 6:1.

Verse 15

[15] And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.

The time is now past — The usual meal time. Mark 6:35; Luke 9:12.

Verse 22

[22] 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.

He constrained his disciples — Who were unwilling to leave him. Mark 6:45; John 6:15.

Verse 24

[24] But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

In the evening — Learned men say the Jews reckoned two evenings; the first beginning at three in the afternoon, the second, at sunset. If so, the latter is meant here.

Verse 25

[25] And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

The fourth watch — The Jews (as well as the Romans) usually divided the night into four watches, of three hours each. The first watch began at six, the second at nine, the third at twelve, the fourth at three in the morning.

If it be thou — It is the same as, Since it is thou. The particle if frequently bears this meaning, both in ours and in all languages. So it means, John 13:14,17. St. Peter was in no doubt, or he would not have quitted the ship.

Verse 30

[30] But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

He was afraid — Though he had been used to the sea, and was a skilful swimmer. But so it frequently is. When grace begins to act, the natural courage and strength are withdrawn.

Verse 33

[33] Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

Thou art the Son of God — They mean, the Messiah.

Verse 35

[35] And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;

Mark 6:45.