At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,  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.  For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife.  For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.  And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.  But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.  Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.  And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.  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 he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.  And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.  And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.  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.  And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.  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.  But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.  And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.  He said, Bring them hither to me.  And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.  And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.  And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.  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.  And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.  But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.  But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.  And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.  And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.  And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?  And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.  Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.  And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret.  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;  And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole. (Matthew 14:1-36 KJV)
- True ministry appreciates that killing the messenger doesn’t kill the message (verses 1-5). John the Baptist’s message still run powerfully and with inescapable conviction in the conscience of Herod the tetrarch. The messenger was dead, but the message was still alive. We can kill the messenger but we can’t kill the message.
- True ministry reminds us that altars of unbridled party culture and sensuality can easily be the dying place of truth and sober judgement (verses 6-12). History shows that. Nebuchadnezzar enjoyed a godless party with the gods of gold and silver and ended up with a pronouncement of the end of his kingdom by God. Samson was instantly transformed from a deliverer to a captive at the party lap of Delilah. Herod lost sound judgement at the height of a party and ignored his own conscience in ordering the beheading of John the Baptist.
- True ministry upholds that His presence turns dry, thirsty and dusty places into places of renewal and abundance (verses 13-15). Jesus, upon hearing about the death of John the Baptist, withdrew into the desert by ship. The multitudes left the cities where He was absent and went on foot into the desert where He was present. There, Jesus healed the sick among them while feeding their souls with the true bread of His Word. Following Jesus isn’t for the comfort and convenience consumers but for the convinced, consecrated and committed disciples. The rewards are however worth the sacrifice.
- True ministry incorporates the Lord’s invitation on us to exchange our meager for His mega. A small boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish was sufficient to feed 5,000 men, excluding women and children. Our meager becomes mega when it is turned into His hands. It becomes sufficient to satisfy and to remain.
- True ministry sobers us with the reality that His extravagance is never a license for wastefulness. The disciples had to pick up twelve baskets of the fragments that remained. God is extravagantly gracious but never wasteful. We must always commit to be faithful stewards of all that He has entrusted to us.
- True ministry builds believers who know that they can supernaturally walk on what was naturally meant to drown them (verses 22-27). This doesn’t mean they are presumptuous. Like our Lord Jesus in this text, they pray in total dependence upon God before embarking on whatever they do. Jesus took hours in prayer before walking on the water. He that had set aside His divine prerogatives depended on God in prayer on all matters, including walking on water on this day. We must be careful not to ascribe the honour that belongs to God to another. It was Jesus who was walking on water, but the disciples could only relate such a distinct and rare honour to a ghost. Jesus declared to them that He was the One, and not a ghost. True ministry shows us that Jesus invites us to participate with Him in doing supernaturally with Him what we couldn’t do naturally without Him. Peter did what Jesus had done. He walked on the water.
- True ministry ought to remind us that disciples of Jesus are called to show forth His praises, not to show off their achievement (28-33). Peter was successful enough to walk on water, to the wonder of his fellow disciples. That would have been enough to impress them as some kind of a superstar. When he begun to sink however, he cried out to Jesus. He wasn’t too successful to pray, even cry out. He wasn’t too anointed to keep growing in faith.
- True ministry extols the glorious virtues of Jesus Christ in all their diversity
(vs. 34-36). Having received the disciples of John, having healed many, having taught the multitudes, having multiplied fish and bread, having walked on water and having invited Peter to that faith adventure, Jesus caps this with another aspect of His miraculous works. As many as touched Him were made perfectly whole. Oh to be awestruck with the awesome wonders of Jesus. He is inexhaustibly glorious and gracious. Paul said the following about the ministry God had given him.
3:8-12 KJV  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:  In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
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