Introduction: A common belief is that men cannot understand women.
This might be an idea started by women! Are there people you do not
understand? Of those you do understand, do you understand them all
the time? One of the reasons to study the Bible is to better
understand God. I think one reason Matthew wrote the material we
study in this week’s lesson is to teach us to trust God, even when we
do not understand His decisions. Let’s plunge into our study and
learn more!

  1. The Death of John the Baptist

    1. Read Matthew 14:6-11. What was the cause of John’s death?
      (Herod’s bravado, immaturity, and worry about losing face.
      Herodias’ scheming, anger at being rebuked (by John for
      her improper marriage – see Matthew 14:3-5). All this is
      tied together with a lewd dance by Herodias’ daughter.)

      1. If you loved John, if you were his disciple, his
        death would be a terrible blow. What do the
        circumstances add to your reaction?

    2. Read Matthew 14:12. Why did John’s disciples go to Jesus?

      1. Would they think that Jesus should have rescued John?
        (We discussed two weeks ago that John the Baptist was
        likely wondering why Jesus did not rescue him.)

    3. Read Matthew 14:13. Why did Jesus seek some private time
      after He heard the news about John’s death? (He was
      adversely affected by it. Perhaps He was thinking that
      this confirmed He would die at the hand of the Romans.
      Perhaps He was simply sad that His cousin was dead.)

    4. Read Matthew 14:14. Would you have done this if you were
      Jesus? (I suspect I would be nursing my own grief and
      emotions. But, we see that Jesus is more concerned about
      helping others.)

  2. The Feeding

    1. Read Matthew 14:15-17. Is this the answer you would give?

      1. Re-read Matthew 14:14. With this context, is that the
        answer the disciples should have given? (They were
        not looking at the big picture. They were not relying
        on the power of Jesus. They were relying on what they

    2. Read Matthew 14:18-21. How important are the disciples to
      this miracle?

      1. Do you need to have perfect faith to be involved in a
        miracle? (Obviously not. This, of course, is great

      2. Re-read Matthew 14:16-17. Was Jesus expecting the
        disciples to perform this miracle?

      3. How did Jesus perform this miracle – feeding 15,000
        from five loaves and two fish? (Look again at Matthew
        14:19. He looked to heaven, gave thanks and started
        breaking the bread.)

    3. Read Matthew 14:22. This is odd – “Jesus made the
      disciples get into the boat.” Why would they not want to
      go? (Read John 6:14-16. This gives us the answer. John’s
      parallel account reveals that the people, seeing this
      great miracle, decided to make Jesus their king. No doubt
      the disciples said, “Wow, let’s do this! We will be Jesus’
      assistants in the new kingdom!”)

  3. The Storm

    1. Read Matthew 14:23-24. Did the disciple’s problem with the
      wind reflect their attitude – they just were not making
      progress in life?

    2. Read Matthew 14:25. What is the “fourth watch?” (This is
      between 3 and 6 in the morning according to Adam Clarke’s

      1. What does that tell you about the extent of the
        disciples’ difficulty with the wind? (They have been
        making little headway since dinner.)

      2. What are your thoughts about the mood of the
        disciples? (They were unhappy about not being able to
        make Jesus king. They were frustrated with the

      3. Why did Jesus walk on the lake to see them?

    3. Read Matthew 14:26. Do you think Jesus expected this
      reaction? (I doubt it. He came to comfort them, not
      frighten them.)

    4. Read Matthew 14:27-31. Would you say that Peter had
      “little faith?”

      1. Compared to who? The disciples in the boat?

      2. Why does Matthew include this story in this series of
        stories? (The death of John looks like a defeat to
        outsiders. Jesus’ disciples are discouraged. Matthew
        tells these stories to argue against discouragement.
        He shows us that Jesus has the power to do miracles,
        the ability to convince others to make Him king, and
        the authority over gravity and the elements. I think
        the point is that Jesus chooses when to intervene, He
        does not lack the authority to intervene.)

    5. Read Matthew 14:32. Why not walk to shore? (Jesus is
      focused on those in the boat.)

    6. Read Matthew 14:33. The disciples now show faith. Jesus
      has come to them and changed their mood entirely. Will
      Jesus do that for you? Will He come in times when you are
      discouraged and frustrated and show you His power?

      1. Many people deny that Jesus is God. They say He is
        just a “good man.” What does this say about those
        people? (They know nothing about the Bible. The Bible
        makes a very clear claim that Jesus is God.)

    7. Read Matthew 14:34-36. Was Jesus making a judgment on who
      would be healed and who would not be healed? (No.)

      1. Why not? (We started the chapter with Jesus making a
        judgment on whether to rescue John. We end with
        universal healing for all who come to Jesus.)

  4. Tradition

    1. Read Matthew 15:1-6. This is another example where it
      seems that Jesus responds to a charge of wrongdoing by
      saying “You, too, are wrongdoers!” Is that truly what
      Jesus is saying? (The religious leaders allege a violation
      of their “tradition.” Jesus responds by saying that their
      tradition is a suspect thing. It nullifies God’s word in
      at least some respects.)

    2. Read Matthew 15:7-9. What does Isaiah prophesy about the
      problems with God’s people? (That they follow the rules of
      man rather than the rules of God. They do not have “heart”

      1. Frankly, I think the disciples should wash their
        hands before they eat. Why such resistance from
        Jesus? (This is an important point. There are plenty
        of good ideas. The question is whether we are focused
        on “good ideas” or on the requirements of God.)

    3. Read Matthew 15:10-11. Has Jesus changed the topic? (No.
      He calls to the crowd so that they will understand His
      message about the dispute over hand washing.)

      1. What is Jesus’ message? (What came out of the mouth
        of the religious leaders was criticism. This is much
        worse than not washing your hands.)

    4. Read Matthew 15:12. Are you offended by this idea that
      what goes into your mouth does not make you unclean?

    5. Read Matthew 15:13-20. How do you understand Jesus’
      message – is He just talking about hand washing? (It seems
      His message goes deeper. The things we eat and drink are,
      like washing hands, a matter of better living. They
      reflect good ideas. However, what we say reflects what we
      think, and the mind is where we find the true battle over

  1. The Gentile

    1. Read Matthew 15:22-27. How do you explain Jesus calling
      this poor woman a “dog?” (Read Matthew 15:28. Jesus was
      testing her.)

    2. Re-read Matthew 14:36. Is this fair? All who touch Jesus
      are healed. This woman has to successfully endure insults
      to have her child healed. What is going on? (I think this
      is for the benefit of the disciples (see Matthew 15:23).
      Jesus wants to show them that gentiles can have great
      faith. Learn a lesson from this for those times when God
      seems to resist helping you.)

    3. Friend, we see that Jesus makes decisions on helping and
      healing that are sometimes hard to understand. Will you
      determine today, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to
      simply trust God?

  2. Next week: Peter and the Rock.