Devotionals Archive

Daybreak: Matthew 14:1-36

Mar 12, 2021

“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.” (Matthew 14:23)

The school bus will be coming any minute, and your second-grader can’t find his shoe. You breathe a quick prayer, and then thank the Lord when the shoe is located behind the couch. Quickly you grab your briefcase and head for work, hoping the traffic will not be slow today, since you’re running late. When you get there, your boss has a rush job, and before you finish it your telephone rings — not once, but five times!

While we all hope that stressful issues will not pile one on top of another, we recognize the sort of day that leaves a person almost panting by its end. A little time to be quiet and connect with the Lord becomes a welcome relief. 

My wife and I like to go out of town occasionally for what we call the 3-Rs: Rest, Relax, and Renew. We get away from the stress of our jobs, the responsibilities of ministry and church, and best of all the telephone. During these times away we enjoy the obvious: rest and relaxation. But more importantly, we study and discuss God’s Word, and spend time in prayer. We set goals for our spiritual lives, and also for our home. We have found that these times away help us return to our post of duty renewed in our souls and more focused on the ministries God has called us to in our local church.

When He was on earth, Jesus had stressful days, too. In this text, His day started with bad news: John the Baptist had been martyred. When Jesus heard the news, He went apart to a desert place, but the people followed Him. As the day progressed, He ministered to the crowd and fed five thousand men, plus women and children. By the evening, He needed physical rest and comfort, and to meet with his Father so He could gain the strength to go on. He sent the people and the disciples away and went up into a mountain alone to pray.

If Jesus recognized the importance of making time in His busy schedule to get away and be alone with God the Father, how much more important it is for us to follow His example! We must set aside time in our everyday activities to come apart from responsibilities and stresses, and to seek God and His will for our lives. 


In this chapter, Jesus was about two years into His earthly ministry. The chapter begins with the account of the beheading of John the Baptist. The king in this chapter was Herod Antipas. He was a son of Herod the Great (who had the babies of Bethlehem killed). Jesus stood before Herod Antipas during the crucifixion trial. The word tetrarch indicates that he ruled one of the four districts of Palestine. Another of the districts was ruled by his half brother, Philip. Philip’s wife, Herodias, left him to be with Herod Antipas. She hated John for crying out against their immorality, and connived to have him executed and his head brought to Herod on a charger (a table platter).

John had been the forerunner, the one who had “prepared the way” for Jesus. He was the one who had baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, and declared, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). His death surely grieved Jesus. However, even though His own heart ached, Jesus “was moved with compassion” toward the multitudes. The original word for this phrase indicated a concern that was more fervent than sympathy. Jesus truly cared deeply about the people. 

The four Gospels all recount the feeding of the 5,000. In Jewish culture at that time, often men and women did not eat together. Since there were 5,000 men, the total crowd could have been 10,000 or 15,000. Through the years, some have tried to explain the miracle away, but its validity is confirmed in John 6:14-15, when the people tried to make Jesus a king because of this miracle. 

Another outstanding miracle is recounted in this chapter. Between 3:00 a.m. and 6 a.m., Jesus walked on the sea toward the disciples. Although impulsive, Peter’s “Bid me come” showed faith, and the result was that he found himself in a very unusual situation — walking on the water toward Jesus! When Peter looked at the waves, he began to sink. What an object lesson to the disciples of the value of keeping their eyes on Jesus! 

Following that event, Jesus again went among the people, healing the sick who came and touched Him. Fringes were on the borders of the garments worn by Jewish men at this time; possibly that is what people reached to touch. 

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV.   The opposition to the King
      C.   The consummation of the King’s rejection
            2.   Rejection of the forerunner (14:1-36)
                  a.   The murder of John (14:1-12)
                  b.   Christ’s withdrawal: further teaching (14:13-36)
                        (1)   Lesson of His sufficiency (14:13-21)
                        (2)   Lesson of His presence (14:22-36)

A Closer Look

  1. Who did Herod the tetrarch think Jesus was?
  2. What does Jesus’ strong desire to get alone and pray reveal about His relationship with His Heavenly Father?
  3. Reflect on your own spiritual life. How strong is your desire to get alone with God the Father and pray? What can be done to intensify this desire?


Ask yourself today: when was the last time I physically got away to be alone with God to read His Word, pray, and seek His will? Then make a determination today to set time aside soon, where you can be without distractions, and get away with God.

Reference Materials