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John was in high repnte among the people, and Herod migh: have been afraid that his murder might excite commotion. Herod, though a wicked man, does not appear to have beea insensible to some of the common principles of human nature. Here was a great and most manifest crime proposed: no less than the murder of an acknowledged prophet of the Lord. It was deliberate. It was to gratify the malice of a wicked woman. It was the price of a few moments' entertainment. His conscience, though in feeble and dying accents, checked him. He would have preferred a request not so manifestly wicked, and that would not have involved him in so much difficulty. For the oath's sake.' Herod felt that he was bound by this oath. But he was not. The oath should not have been taken. But being taken, he could not be bound by it. No oath could justify a man in committing murder. The true principle is, that Herod was bound by a prior obligation, by the law of God, not to commit murder; and no act of his, bé it an oath, or any thing else, could free him from the obligation. "And them which sat with him at meat. This was the strongest reason why Herod murdered John. He had not firmness enough to obey the law of God, and to follow the dictates of conscience, against the opinions of wicked men. He was afraid of the charge of cowardice, and want of spirit; afraid of ridicule, and the contempt of the wicked. This is the source of much youthful guilt. We are led along by others. We have not firmness enough to follow the teachings of a father, and of the law of God. Young men are afraid of being called mean and cowardly by the wicked; and they often sink in vice, never to rise again. At meat.' That is, at supper. The word meat, at the time the bible was translated, meant provisions of all kinds.
10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. 11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel : and she brought it to her mother.
What an offering to a woman! Josephus says of her that'she was a woman full of ambition and envy, having a mighty influence on Herod, and able to persuade him to things he was not at all inclined to. This is one of the many proofs that we have that the evangelists drew characters according to truth.
12 And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
The head was with Herodias. The body, with pious care, the disciples buried. "And went and told Jesus.' It is not unreasonable to suppose that in their affliction they came to him for consolation : in all our afflictions we should follow their example, and go and tell Jesus.
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.
A full narrative of the feeding of the five thousand is given in each of the other evangelists: in Mark vi. 32–44; in Luke ix. 10—17; in John vi. 1-14. “And when Jesus heard of it, he departed. He went to a place of safety. He never threw himself unnecessarily into danger. It was proper that he should secure his life, till the time should come when it would be proper for him to die. 'By a ship into a desert place.' That is, he crossed the sea of Galilee. He went to the country east of the sea, into a place little inhabited. Luke says, ix. 10, he went to a place called Bethsaida. See note, Matt. xi. 20. ‘A desert place,' means a place little cultivated, where there were few or no inhabitants. On the east of the sea of Galilee there was a large tract of country of this description-rough, uncultivated, and chiefly used to pasture flocks.
14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
'Was moved with compassion. That is, pitied trien. Mark, vi. 34, says he was moved with compassion because they were as sheep having no shepherd ; they had no teachers and guides, who cared for them, and took pains to instruct them. The scribes and pharisees weré haughty and proud, and cared little for the common people; and when they did attempt to teach them, they led them astray. They therefore came in great multitudes to him who preached the gospel to the poor, Matt. xi. 5 ; and who was thus the good Shepherd, John x. 14.
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.' That is, the day is passing away; it is near night,
16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.
John adds, that previous to this, Jesus had addressed Philip, and asked, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? This he said to prove him; that is, to try his faith; to try the confidence of Philip in himself. Philip immediately began to think of their ability to purchase food for them. Two hundrei! pennyworth of bread, said he, would not be enough. In the original it is two hundred denarii. These were Roman coins, amounting to about seven pence three farthings each. The whole two hundred therefore would have been equal to six pounds, nine shillings, and two pence sterling. In the view of Philip this was a great sum; a sum which twelve poor fishermen were by no means able to provide. Jesus knew how much they had, and he required of them, as he does of all, implicit faith, and told them to give the people to eat. He requires us to do our duty, or what he commands; and we need not doubt that he will give us strength to accomplish it.
17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.
These loaves were in the possession of a lad, or young man, who was with them, and were made of barley, John v. 9. Barley was a cheap kind of food.
18 He said, Bring them hither to me. 19 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.
"To sit down.' In the original it is, to recline on the grass, or to lie as they did at their meals. The Jews never sat, as we do, at meals, but reclined or lay at length. See note, Matt. xxiii. 6. Mark and Luke add, that they reclined in companies, by hundreds and by fifties. And looking up to heaven he blessed.' Luke adds, he blessed them; that is, the loaves. It is remarkable that our Saviour always sought a blessing on his food. In this he was an example for us. It is right thus to seek the blessing of God. He provides for us; he daily opens his hand, and satisfieth our desires; and it is proper that we should render suitable acknowledgments for his goodness. And brake. The loaves of bread, among the Jews, were made thin and brittle, and were therefore broken and not cut.
20 And they did all eat, and were filled : and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.
"And they did all eat, and were filled.' This was an undoubted miracle. The quantity must have been greatly increased, to have supplied so many. He who could increase that small quantity so much, had the power of creation; and he who could do that, could create the world out of nothing, and had no less than Divine power. "Twelve baskets full.' They were probably such as travellers carried their provisions in. John, vi. 12, says, that Jesus directed them to gather up these fragments, íhat nothing
might be lost: an example of economy. God creates all food; it is all needed by some person or other; and none should be wasted.
21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.
Probably the number might have been ten thousanil. To feed so many was a stupendous miracle. The effect was such as might be expected. John says, vi. 14, that they were convinced by it, that he was that prophet that should come into the world ; that is, the Messiah.
22 T 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. 23 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.
And straightway Jesus constrained,' &c. See Mark vi. 45– 56. John vi. 15—21. To constrain, means here, to command. They were at this time on the east side of the lake of Gennesareth. He directed them to get into a ship, and cross over to the other side; that is, to Capernaum. The effect of the miracle on the multitudes was so great, John vi. 15, that they believed him to be the Messiah, the king that they had expected; and they were about to take him by force and make him a king. To avoid this, Jesus got away from them as privately as possible. An example for all who are pressed with human honours and applause. Nothing is better to keep the mind humble and unambitious, than to seek some lonely place; to shut out the world, with all its honours; to realize that the great God, before whom all creatures and all honours sink to nothing, is round about us; and to ask him to keep us from pride and vain glory.
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves : for the wind was contrary.
John says they had sailed about twenty-five or thirty furlongs. About seven and a Wal! Jewish furlongs made a mile; so that the distance they had sailed was not more than about four miles. At no place was the sea of Tiberias more than ten miles in breadth; so that they were literally in the midst of the sea.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
In the time of our Saviour the Jews divided the night into four watches. These watches consisted of three hours each. The first commenced at six, and continued till nine; the second from nine to twelve; the third from twelve to three; and the fourth from three to six. The first was called evening; the second midnight; the third cock-crowing; the fourth morning, Mark xii. 35, It was in the last of these watches, or between three and six in the morning, that Jesus appeared to the disciples. So that he had spent most of the night alone on the mountain in prayer. Walking on the sea.' A manifest and wonderful miracle. It was a boisterous sea. It was in a dark night. The little boat was four or five miles from the shore, tossed by the billows.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
“They were troubled. They were afraid. It was sufficient to awe them. In the dark night, amidst the tumultuous billows, appeared the form of a man walking on the waves. They thought it was a spirit, an apparition. The ancients believed that the spirits of men frequently appeared after death to the living.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him, and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid ; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Here is an instance of the characteristic ardour and rashness of Peter. He had less real faith than he supposed : more ardour than his faith would justify: rash, headlong, and incautious, really attached to Jesus; but still easily daunted, and prone to fall. He was afraid therefore when in danger, and sinking, cried again for help. Thus he was suffered to learn his own character, and his dependence on Jesus: a lesson which all christians are permitted to learn by dear-bought experience.
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. 33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
Here was a new proof of the power of Jesus. He that has power over winds and waves has all power. John adds, vi. 21, that the ship was immediately at the land whither they went;