Lesson 7 w/AnswersMatthew 14:1-16:12


We continue our study of Matthew by taking a look at some of Christ’s miracles. In particular, we will examine Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand, His walking on water, and His feeding of the four thousand; and yes, he did both. In Chapter 14 of his gospel, Matthew vividly depicts Christ as someone who is now focusing his ministry on teaching the disciples and continuing His preparation of them for the task that lies ahead—namely spreading the Gospel that He, Jesus Christ, is the Messiah.

Read Matthew 14:1-16:12 and consider the following:

  1. After reading these chapters and looking at the miracles of feeding so many people, the healings Christ performed, and the description of His encounter with the disciples as He walked on water to help them; how would you evaluate the reaction of the crowds to Christ compared with the reaction of the disciples to Christ?
    1. ANSWER: The crowds of people were amazed by Jesus power and many believed, but the disciples didn't yet understand that Jesus was the Messiah and had sovereign power over all of his creation. Each miracle Jesus did brought more crowds who had physical needs, healings of some kind and they had faith that Jesus would heal them, and yet the disciples would see the same miracles and not understand the power of Jesus when it was time to feed everyone, or when Peter lost his faith walking on the water. By the end of Chapter 16, however, the disciples see that Jesus is the Messiah, a fact proclaimed by Peter—but it took almost three chapters of miracles and the Holy Spirit for them to finally understand.
  2. What was Herod’s reaction to Christ after Herod beheaded John the Baptist? (see Matt. 14:1-2)
    1. ANSWER: Herod believed that Jesus was actually John The Baptist risen from the dead.
  3. Do you think that if Christ came today and actually performed these miracles at this point in time that more people would believe that he is the Messiah, the risen Christ? (See Luke 16:31)
    1. ANSWER: No, not really. Christ tells us that even someone came back from the dead, as he did, people wouldn’t believe it. Those who don’t want to believe will always look for a way to discredit or ignore the truth. It’s no different today than during the time Christ physically walked the earth.
  4. Read Matthew 14:12-21 again. How many people did Jesus feed with the five loaves and two fish? (No, 5000 people is not the correct answer; read verse 21 again.)
    1. ANSWER: While its popular to say that Christ fed the 5,000, in point of fact he fed many more that day as they did not count all of the women and children who were also present. Assuming an average family of four Jesus more likely fed 20,000 or more with the five loaves and two fish.
  5. After critical examination of this miracle, who is the real source of the food? (see verse 19)
    1. ANSWER: God is the source, through His son Jesus.
  6. Who distributed this food? (see verse 19)
    1. ANSWER: The disciples served everyone.
  7. Look at the miracle described in Matthew 14:22-36. What can we learn from this miracle? There is much. For example:
    1. When did Jesus go to pray? Was this his custom? (See Mark 1:35) Should it be a pattern that we follow?
      1. ANSWER 1: He went to pray in the evening, to a secluded place.
      2. ANSWER 2: In Mark 1:35, it is recounted that He went to pray in the morning, again to a secluded place.
      3. ANSWER 3: And yes, we should take time to withdraw to a quiet secluded place for prayer, either in the morning, or in the evening, or both. Jesus prayed regularly and often in seclusion.
    2. What did Jesus demonstrate that he had power over in this miracle? Is that all? (Don’t overlook the fact that he knew that they were in distress and needed help; even though they were far away from him.)
      1. ANSWER: Clearly, Christ demonstrated that he had power over nature, along with the power to hear their thoughts, and to know their situation even though he was not physically with them. Just as he does with us today. He also demonstrated power that allowed Peter to also walk on water just as Christ was doing. As long as Peter’s faith remained strong, when he began to doubt and fear he began to sank, but just as today when we do that Christ reaches down and lifts us up, keeping us safe from the turbulent waters.
    3. How much time had elapsed since the feeding of the large multitudes and this event? Could the disciples have forgotten that miracle by this time?
      1. ANSWER: Actually no more than a handful of hours had elapsed between the storm and the miracle. Just as with us when trouble comes on suddenly we forget Christ’s power to safe us and protect us.
    4. Do you think that somehow Peter’s experience on the water foreshadowed his experience during Christ’s arrest? Are there any similarities?
      1. ANSWER: Of course. He originally told Jesus he would never deny him, and then when trouble came he lost faith and denied Christ three times.
    5. Was Jesus, or was Peter, able to walk on water because they were in a resurrected body? If not, how do you explain this miracle?
      1. ANSWER: Neither of them had a resurrected body. Jesus has always had power over his creation from the very beginning of creation. He used Peter’s faith to demonstrate that nothing was impossible for man if they believed in Jesus. It had nothing to do with having a resurrected body.
    6. What does verse 27 say to us when the seas of life are tossing us around?
      1. ANSWER: It encourages us to continue to keep our eye directly on Christ and not the storm. When Peter saw the wind he became frightened, he lost faith, and started sinking. The same is true with us. When storms come and we are being tossed about, we need to anchor on Jesus, knowing that he will protect us, and not focus on the storms.
    7. We observed that Peter had a brief lapse in faith. How did Jesus react to this lapse when Peter cried out for help? (see verse 31) What does this tell us about Jesus when we cry out for help because our faith is weak?
      1. ANSWER: Jesus loves us in spite of ourselves. He understand Peter’s shortcomings and reached out to help him, and not to let him drown because of his lack of faith. We need to remember this during those times when our faith is weak, Jesus is still standing there beside us, he will not forsake us, even in our darkest hour.
  8. Read Matthew 15:1-20. What is Christ teaching in this passage that applies to us today?
    1. ANSWER: He is teaching us that it’s not what we do; rather, it’s what we think. It is our motivations and desires that matter. We can’t "act" our way to heaven; we have to have a repented heart and a sincere love of Jesus. Acting like a righteous person will never make us righteous. We should judge each other by our actions, as they are a picture of who or what is living inside us. Don’t focus on religion as a practice, or foods that can and cannot be eaten, or other "religious" practices. Focus on loving Jesus and allowing him to love you. This is the key lesson that Jesus is trying to teach us in these verses.
  9. In Matthew 15:29-39, how many people were fed? (And no, it’s not 4000; look again.)
    1. ANSWER: Again, here we see that the 4,000 number was simply the men in attendance. It is more likely that he fed 16,000, or even more, that day.
  10. In Matthew 16:1-4, what is the "sign of Jonah" that Christ refers to? (see also Matt. 12:38-45)
    1. ANSWER: This sign is comprised of the death of Christ, His three days in the grave, and Him rising on the third day. Just as Jonah rose again to preach repentance and forgiveness to the Ninevites, so Jesus came to forgive and to save the lost.
  11. In Mathew 16:5-12, Christ refers to the "yeast of the Pharisees". How does this term relate to Matthew 15:1-20, and what would be the equivalent of this today?
    1. ANSWER: Christ is referring to the Pharisees’ teaching lies and leading the people astray. Yeast was seen as sin, something very evil, that once mixed into to the dough would spread all through it. Here too, the Pharisees and their teachings on tradition, their man-made rules, and the burdens they piled on everyone were like a yeast working all through the chosen people, ruining both them and God’s plan for them. The Pharisees were evil, and Jesus wanted everyone to know it. They stand in stark contrast to the Bread Of Life; they brought death, while Jesus brought eternal life.

Can we see from the miracle of the feeding with the five loaves and two fish, that Jesus was demonstrating to the disciples that he was the true source of the Bread of Life? Can we also see that the job of his followers was to seek him out as the only source and to distribute this food to those who were in need? This is what Jesus is showing us today as well. While he was focused on teaching this lesson to the disciples regarding the Jews who would follow after them; he later demonstrates this for the Gentiles as well, when he feeds the four thousand, some of whom were probably Gentiles, based on the location.

Sea of Galilee

Today as followers of Christ we should seek Him out as the true source of the Bread of Life and freely share this will all of those who hunger and thirst and are searching for Him.

Through this miracle, as well as the others, we see first-hand the power of God in Jesus. We see his power over the elements, his power over the natural order, and his power over evil, demons, sickness, and fear. This same one who fed so many, who rid demons, who healed the sick, the deaf, and the blind; this same Jesus lives in us today. Through His Holy Spirit he imparts this power to us for the spreading of the Gospel Message; and he imparts this power to help those whose faith is weak, or who are searching for life’s answers.

Caves at Caesaria-Philippi

So let us take this theme from the lesson today, namely that "Nothing is impossible for God"; absolutely, positively, nothing. And let us be empowered to boldly go wherever Christ leads us, having no fear and lacking nothing, as God supplies all our needs. What a life of victory we can lead if only we will make Jesus the Lord of our life. Won’t you commit today to turn over the lordship of your life to Christ and begin to live the life that Christ has designed for you?

I am praying for each of you that Christ will fill your hearts with peace and joy and the blessed assurance that all we need is ours through Him.

Have a great week everyone!

In Christ,