In spite of John’s doubts, Jesus did not condemn him. He declared that John was the last and greatest prophet of the Testament. At the very beginning of the Year of Passion, John was by , in the same year that Jesus was going to die.
We are now going to study the events which brought about the death of John the Baptist.
Jesus was in the city of when he learned of John’s death. Immediately, Jesus started out on His first journey outside of Galilee by going across the lake to the town of . This episode can be found in Matthew to .
The First Journey: From Capernaum
Read Matthew 14:1-12.
Answer the following questions of observation from the passage you have just read.
Which Herod murdered John the Baptist?
What was the name of his unlawful wife?
Who was this woman’s legal husband? This brother was not the one who ruled over Iturea.
Who denounced this marriage as illegal?
What happened because of this?
What saved John’s life at first?
What celebration was taking place when John was killed?
Who pleased Herod so much that she was able to have John killed?
What did she do to gain the favor of this wicked king?
What request did she make of Herod?
Who did the girl talk to before she presented her request?
How was John’s head given to her?
Where did the girl take her prize?
Who took John’s body away to bury it?
To whom did John’s disciples go with their sad news?
Where did Jesus go when he learned of John’s death?
You must take care not to get the names of the various Herods mixed up. There are two of them which begin with the letter “A”. Archelaus was the older brother. The name of the younger brother who is also known as Herod the Tetrarch was .
Josephus was a Jew. He was born in Palestine about seven years after the death of Jesus and of John the Baptist. When he became an adult, Josephus went to live in Rome, where he wrote several books of great historical value.
Josephus was not a Christian. Nevertheless, his books give us important background for Bible history.
What is the name of the Jewish historian who wrote important books of history?
When was he born?
Where was he born?
Was he a Christian?
Where did he live when he wrote his books of history?
One of Josephus’ most famous and important books is called “The Antiquities of the Jews”. This work gives us a detailed history of the rule of Herod the Great. In the book, Josephus also makes mention of John the Baptist (Antiquities 18:5.2) and even the Lord Jesus Christ (Antiquities 18:3.3).
Josephus also talks about the daughter of Herodias. Since her name is not found in the Bible, we have “Salome”.
The writings of Josephus also help us not to confuse Philip, the legal husband of Herodiass, with the Philip who ruled over the province of Iturea. We know that Herod the great had several wives, and many children. Among these children were two Philips. They each had a different mother.
Herod Philip I. This Philip was not given an inheritance by his father. He left Palestine to live a private life in Rome. He did not govern any province in Palestine.
Herod Philip II. This was the man who governed the province of Iturea.
Josephus tells us that Herodias’ lawful husband was Herod Philip I. Josephus also tells us that Antipas had first been married to the daughter of an Arabian king. When he fell in love with Herodias, he left his first wife and convinced Herodias that she should leave her husband Philip in Rome and come to live with him in Palestine. The Arabian king declared war on Herod Antipas because of this and punished him severely in battle.
Josephus writes about these events:
“now, some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him….” (Antiquities, 18:5.2)
Sometimes people say: “Those stories in the New Testament are all made up, they were invented by the early Christians.” We know that this is not the case. How would you answer a person like this?
According to Josephus, Antipas was finally removed from office by the Caesar of Rome. Caesar also took Herod Antipas’ wealth from him and gave it to another. (Antiquities, 18: 7.1 and 7.8)
Before we end our study of Matthew 14:1-12, let us look at the PLACE where John was kept in prison. Josephus writes:
“Accordingly he (John) was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus… and was there put to death.” (Antiquities, 18:5.2)
Antipas had two beautiful palaces on the shores of the lakes in the provinces he ruled.
Throughout these lessons we are going to study the Doctrine of Man. We can see how Family stability can have great impact.
It is interesting to compare the first episode in the Semester of Withdrawal with the first episode in the Semester of Surrender. Read Matthew 19:1-6, in order to make this comparison.
In the first episode of the Semester of Withdrawal, Matthew presents a picture of a broken family which belongs to the kings of this world. It is a family destroyed by sin and divorce. This is the family of King .
The first episode in the Semester of Surrender contains the teaching of Jesus, the real King, about the family. In Jesus’ kingdom, is not permitted.
Exercise: Underline in Red in your Bible, the Words: KING in Matthew 14:9, Kingdom in Matthew 19:12, 14, 23, 7 24, Throne & Thrones in Matthew 19:28.
Much of the teaching of the Bible is both Positive and Negative. The points which we choose to teach others can also be Positive and Negative. Both are useful in teaching and preaching, and should be used to balance one another, like the two legs on a human body.
When we bring out a Positive teaching point such as love, it is also helpful to give Negative examples. In this case, it would be examples of .
We shall study Christ’s teaching about Family Stability in greater depth when we come to the Semester of Surrender. But, in the meantime, it is worth noting that we have the same teaching point in both Matthew 14:1-12, and Matthew 19:1-12. One of them is positive and the other is negative.
Jesus Christ brings Stability to Family Life! This can be proven from the Bible and from scientific study. According to a study done at Harvard University, Two out of every five marriages in the United States end in divorce. However, in those marriages where both the husband wife are believers, read the Bible AND pray together, only TWO out of every TWO THOUSAND AND THIRTY marriages end in divorce! That is quite a difference! Two out of five as compared with 2 out of 2,030. These numbers are worth remembering. They are a good testimony of what Christ can do for the modern family.
When we are teaching about the Positive side of family life and about the family which follows God’s perfect plan, it is also necessary to present the negative side. It shows the unhappy results of sin upon the family.
Remember, with Christ in your family, you can have a happy, happy HOME!
Feeding the 5,000
At the end of the following unit you will be able to do each of the following:
Identify the only miracle which is mentioned in all four gospels and complete a Bible study of this episode using all of the techniques of Bible study you have learned.
By using the Old Testament, tell the history and importance of the Passover feast and discuss its relationship to the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000.
State two reasons why the people who witnessed the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 wanted to make Jesus King.
Complete a Comparative analysis of the Miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 in all four Gospels and take part in a discussion which compares it with the feeding of the 4,000.
Use the Bible to explain the source of Men’s fear, identify two general kinds of fearful reactions, and give a Biblical example of each.
Explain the three aggressive and two defensive adjustments to fear, identify them when given an example, and use the Bible to help someone overcome fear in their life.
Name three sources of ideas about religious truth and state two rules which you can use to decide whether or not to follow tradition or reason as well as the Bible.
Open your Bible to Matthew 14.
We have seen that Matthew tells about two different times when Jesus fed the multitudes during the Semester of Withdrawal.
On his first journey he fed people, near the town of in the province of . Matthew tells us this in chapter and verses (You may use your Bible).
On the second journey he fed people in the province of , as Matthew tells in (clue-look in next chapter).
For the present, we are going to trace Jesus’ steps on His First Journey. Later, we will study the first of these miracles in detail, and you will compare the two miracles as a part of your study.
The First Journey: In Bethsaida
In which of the four gospels do we find the episode of the Feeding of the Five Thousand? (Use the cross references in your Bible to answer)
Only one of Jesus’ miracles can be found in all of the gospels, which miracle is this?
Remember that, along with the death of John the Baptist, the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 (NOT the 4,000), is the BRIDGE between the Year of and the Year of . Therefore, we have a definite point in all of the gospels which marks the beginning of the Year of .
Exercise: Write the Words: “Year of Passion: Semester of Withdrawal” above these verses.
Mark 6:14 The death of John the Baptist
Luke 9:7 and the feeding of the 5,000.
John 6:1 Feeding the 5,000
Read Matthew 14:13-21.
Answer these questions of observation.
In Matthew 14:13 we read that “He withdrew”. From where did Jesus withdraw?
Why did Jesus withdraw from there?
This “solitary place” was near to what city?
How did the people follow him?
How did Jesus react to this crowd of people?
How many loaves were found among the people?
How many fish?
What did Jesus do after he had given thanks?
Who gave the bread to the people?
How much was left over?
How many men were satisfied?
Now let’s compare Matthew’s account with the episode as it is told in the Gospel of John.
Open your Bible to John 6.
What Jewish feast was near when Jesus fed the 5,000? (6:4)
To which disciple did Jesus speak about buying bread? (6:5)
Which of the disciples found the five loaves and two fish? (6:8-9)
Who gave this food? (6:9)
What did the people think when they saw this miracle? (6:14)
What did the people want to do with Jesus? (6:15)
After this, Jesus returned to what city? (6:24-25)
What was the subject of Jesus preaching after his return from Bethsaida? (6:35)
Where did Jesus give this sermon? (6:59)
What did many of Jesus’ followers do when they saw that Jesus was not going to begin a violent revolution and make himself king by force? (6:66)
Which disciple was one of the few who remained with Jesus, knowing that he was the Messiah? (6:67-69)
The following information is very important. Mark it in your Bibles. It is about the development in the Life of Jesus at the beginning of the Year of Passion. Underline in Red the following words in John 6.
6:15 They intended to come and make him king by force.
6:35 I am the bread of life.
6:59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
6:66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
In this sermon, Jesus explained the meaning of the miracle of .
Preliminary Study: The Passover
Now, we must do some further study in the Old Testament.
The time has come for us to look at the Old Testament background of the Passover.
You may recall that the twelve tribes of Israel went to live in Egypt about 200 years after the birth of Abraham. They stayed there in Egypt for about 400 years until they left under the leadership of Moses, who lived approximately 600 years after Abraham.
Now read Exodus 12:23-27.
It was Moses who led the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt toward the promised land of Palestine. Before Israel could escape from Egypt, God had to force Pharaoh to set them free by killing the firstborn of every family. At the same time, God PASSED OVER the homes of the Israelites who had sprinkled the door posts of their houses with .
Answer these questions from Exodus 12.
What animal did the Israelites have to kill for the Passover? (Exodus 12:3)
What were they to do with the blood of the animal? (Exodus 12:7)
What did they do with the meat? (Exodus 12:8)
What is the name of this feast?
In what book and chapter of the Old Testament do we read about the beginning of this feast?
The Doctrine of the Passover
According to John the Baptist, in John 1:29, Jesus was the of , who takes away the of the world. In other words, Jesus was the Passover sacrifice, whose blood would save his people from .
The Apostle Paul teaches that Our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us already. Read Paul’s words in I Corinthians 5:7.
According to Paul, who is our Passover Lamb?
The symbol of the Passover Lamb is one of the many symbols that the Old Testament gives us of Christ. During what feast was Jesus crucified? (Read John 19:14-15)
Remember, that Jesus, like all young Jewish men, became a “Son of the Law” when he reached the age of . After that time, every young man, along with all the godly Jews, went to the temple in the city of , to celebrate the Feast of the .
Read the following quotation taken from Halley’s Bible Handbook.
“The time was Passover (John 6:4), one year before Jesus’ death, when the passing multitudes were on their way to Jerusalem. Jesus himself did not go to Jerusalem this Passover, because on his previous visit they had formed a plot to kill him (John 5:1, 18). It was probably the first Passover he had missed going to Jerusalem since he was 12. He celebrated it by working one of his most marvelous miracles for the Passover-bound multitudes, the feeding of the 5,000” (Halley, notes on John chapter 6).
In what province did this happen?
The political situation had become very tense by the time of this Passover.
What had Herod done to John the Baptist?
Had the people been for or against John the Baptist? (See Matt. 14:5)
Were the people pleased or displeased with what Antipas had done?
According to John 6:15, who did the people want as their new king?
What king did the people want to get rid of?
This only added to their previous hatred of him.
Antipas was hated because he lived a lavish life in two spacious palaces, one at Macherus and one at Tiberias. Both areas were famous for their hot springs. One of these luxurious fortresses was on the east shore of the Dead Sea and the other on the Sea of Galilee.
Josephus tells us that, in that time the province of Galilee had more than 204 cities and villages with more than 15,000 people. Tiberias was the capital of the province. It was located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, several miles south of the town of Magadan.
The city of Tiberias was the beautiful Capital of Galilee. It had been built by Antipas himself and included a stadium as well as his palace. Antipas named the city, Tiberias, to honor the new Caesar in Rome. By doing so he hoped to put himself in the new ruler’s favor. Tiberias became the chosen center of high society. It had a large percentage of Romans and Greeks with whom Herod spent his time.
Antipas named the city Tiberiass in honor of the new Caesar who ruled in Rome. Two Caesars ruled in Rome during the life of Jessus, Augustus and Tiberias. The first Caesar died in the year 14 A.D. (After Jesus Birth).
Little by little, the Sea of Galilee became known by the name of the new and luxurious capital of the province.
In spite of the fact that Jesus visited all of the towns of Galilee, we should notice that the Bible does not mention a single time that he visited Tiberias, the capital of Galilee, where Antipas lived. But, we know that the people of Tiberias had heard of Jesus’ wonderful work.
Read John 6:23. People came in boats to the place where Jesus had performed the miracle of feeding the 5,000. Where did these boats come from?
According to the details found in John 6:23, what was the miracle that the people in Tiberias had heard about?
At the beginning of the Year of Passion then, the political situation was as follows:
an extremely wicked king lived in his lavish palaces at Macherus and Tiberias, while
the real king, lived humbly among the fisherman of Capernaum.
Which of these kings did the people want to crown?
Which of these kings did the people want to overthrow?
In John 6:15 we read about this popular uprising in Christ’s favor.
Let’s look at the opportunity the people were giving to Jesus to be their king. According to John 6:15, we can see once again, the same Three temptations which came to Jesus at the begginning of the Year of Preparation.
The temptation to use His divine power to establish His kingdom through a miraculous super production of material things is the temptation of without God, which is .
The temptation to use this miracle to show His power as a political leader, climbing to a high pinnacle of fame, is the temptation of without God, which is .
The temptation to lead a popular uprising in His own favor in order to overthrow Herod Antipas and take power through violent revolution is the temptation of Without God, which is .
When Jesus refused this call of the people to a revolt against Antipas, it was the end of all political hopes. From that moment on, many were disappointed and disillusioned with Him. According to John 6:66, what did many of Jesus followers do after that time?
We do not exaggerate then when we say that Jesus’ refusal to accept the people’s call to revolution against Antipas was the turning point at which His ministry stopped being POPULAR and became one of PASSION. What had, until this time, been ever increasing popularity was changed during that Passover season into a series of painful journeys of withdrawal. They too would end a year later when Jesus surrendered Himself to the terrible death on the cross.
In other words, when Jesus rejected the way of the sword to establish His kingdom, He had also chosen another way. The way of the suffering if the
One year later, again at Passover time, Jesus took bread in His hands a second time and broke it ass a symbol of His body. He invites those who are spiritually hungry to receive spiritual food from Him. Thus, we can say that the feeding of the 5,000 was a Foretaste, a year in advance, of the ordinance we call
We know that Jesus performed a miracle very much like this one we have just studied as He was finishing the second journey outside of Galilee, after His return from Phonicia.
While you still remember the details of the “Feeding of the 5,000”, read the story of the similar miracle in Matthew 15:32-39.
Now that you have also read the episode of the “Feeding of the 4,000”; some liberal Bible Teachers say that the “feeding of the 5,000” and the “Feeding of the 4,000” are just two different accounts of the same miracle. Using the comparison you have just made, write a paragraph which states why this CANNOT be the same miracle:
Hearing God’s Call
The things we want to hear are often easy to hear. But there are other times when we long to here something clearly, and it is much more difficult. Such is the case with hearing God’s call. We long for God’s direction in life, but find it hard to hear what God is saying to us. This is complicated by the fact that some people (who claim to be following God’s direction) do crazy and even violent things.
However, our lives cannot be guided by unusual people. Too many people have served God and humanity because they heard God’s call. There are also many ordinary, less publicized people. These include hospital volunteers, school aides, children coaches, and others who have consistently made a difference in this world.
The question then becomes: how do we hear God’s call? How can we differentiate between the voice of God, our own will, and all other voices which call us in this world? Do we listen for an audible voice? Or do we need to pay attention to more subtle things around us and within us? James Fowler (who specializes in adult faith development) wrote a book entitled “Becoming Adult Becoming Christian.” Fowler says that we should look for our v0cation by “an approach that combines giving attention to one’s gifts and inclinations, with a careful listening to the Christian story and vision, both in dynamic relation to the structure of needs and opportunities presented by the surrounding world.”
In this session, we will look at this issue of hearing God’s call. We will consider the factors mentioned by Fowler: our gifts, the Christian vision, and the needs of our world which call out for a response. We will start by taking a look at a story from Acts – how Paul was planning to go one way, but was called by God in another direction. We will look into how he discerned that call, and what it means for us to discern God’s call. This story occurred when the Apostle Paul was on a Missionary journey to establish new churches. Prior to this, all of the churches he had established had been in the area know as Asia Minor. This call led to the first churches in Europe.
Read Acts 16:6-10
From this passage, describe how Paul makes his decision?
How do you make decisions?
In verse 7, “the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them” to enter Bithynia. What do you think that means?
If you had a dream like Paul’s how would you react to it?
What do you think was the most influential factor in Paul’s conclusion that Jesus wanted this change of direction for his ministry?
How sure do you think Paul was that this was the right way to go?
When was the last time you made a decision that changed the direction of your life or work?
How confident were you at the time that the decision you made above was the right one?
What dream or vision for your future is calling you at this point in your life?
What will you look for as you seek to determine if this dream is God’s call for your life?
Called to a New Life
We will consider the difference between what the world calls us to and what God calls us to. The following passage is from the beginning of Paul’s first letter to the church of Corints. In it he tries to help his readers understand the difference between what human wisdom says is good, and the life to which God calls us.
Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
From this passage, how would you describe the Corinthian Christians to whom Paul was writing?
Why does Paul remind these Christians of their previous status?
What is the significance of the fact that God “chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise,” and “the weak things of the world to shame the strong”?
In comparing myself to the Corinthians, i would have:
Where have you usually had the greatest amount of influence?
Having read this passage what quality of yours (that you have previously seen as “weak” or “foolish”) do you now think God might be able to use?
Briefly describe a situation where God uses the weak, lowly, and despised to build his kingdom in our day.
What is the lesson of this passage for you?
The fact that the Corinthians can boast of party slogans is a clear indication that they over value human wisdom, and that they misunderstand the nature of the gospel. In the light, Paul explains in verses 18-25 the difference between human and divine wisdom. He shows that the gospel is decidedly not a type of human philosophy, because it involves such a reversal of human expectation. Who would have thought that God would work through the scandal of the cross? Only God could demonstrate his power through a dying, powerless “criminal.”
Paul then goes on to “prove” that God does indeed work through weakness. He first looks at thee Corinthians (verses 26-31), and then at himself (2:1-5). He points out that they were not very clever and he was not very persuasive. So the fact that they are Christians “proves” that God works through weakness. How else could the fact of the church of Corinth be explained?
For a week, keep a list of every time someone puts down your ability (or the ability of someone around you). As you review this list, ask yourself the question: “How can God use what others see as a weakness in me?”
TES:”A Man Born Blind” Testimony of Jim Kostich
I REALLY didn’t know any better.
I remember sitting in church occasionally as a child. Back then most
of my family attended Catholic churches, and most of the “mass” was in
Latin. I remember being self-conscious and worrying about being in sync
with the rest of the crowd – standing when they were standing, sitting
when they were sitting, kneeling when they were kneeling. I remember
trying to figure out where we were in the little paperback liturgy
booklet and chiming ” … and also with you” in the appropriate gaps of
the priest’s two-note melody. I remember lots of “Hail Mary”s and an
occasional Lord’s prayer. But most of all, I remember gazing at the
beautiful stained glass and the dozens of candles and trying to figure
out what the statue of a bloodied, dieing man bound and nailed to a
cross had to do with all this.
By the time I had reached school age, my grandparents and parents
had had a falling out with the church – seems we weren’t giving as much
money to the church as the pastor felt was appropriate. So my
churchgoing days were pretty well limited to when my other grandmother
took me – not often, but already too often for my tastes. I had never
really gotten the hang of things and always had a kind of spooky, eerie
It was some time later that I first opened up a Bible – and even
then for completely the wrong reasons. You see, a bunch of my friends
used to get together to play the home game “Jeopardy” and for the most
part, I was the undisputed champion – unless the game had a “religion”
or “Bible” category. Then, I’d fall so far behind in that one subject
that I’d never catch up. I studied up on Genesis, Exodus and Matthew
enough to regain my title as neighborhood champ. I thought for the most
part they were pretty good stories, although not quite as interesting
as the Greek, Roman or Norse mythology I had taken a liking to.
Of course, I had never made any sort of mental connection between
any of this and my salvation. For starters, I was never really all too
sure there even WAS a God. I was very fond of science, and it sure
seemed that every day another “miracle” of God was being explained away
as some sort of random act of nature. The sun wasn’t placed in the
heavens to give us light and warmth – it was flung there by chance in
some all-encompassing “Big Bang”. And life wasn’t “created” – it just
sprung up with the right mixture of chemicals and electricity. And of
course man was nothing special – just the latest stage of an endless
line of mutations from those first simple life forms.
Even if there was a God, how could I be left out of His Kingdom? I
was a pretty clean kid – never stole, rarely “swore”, certainly never
murdered or raped. I could point to dozens of people who were far
“worse” than I was – besides, one of the few things I was ready to
believe about God was that he was all-forgiving! How could He forgive
those gigantic sins of everybody else and have a problem with my tiny
And finally, even if my misunderstanding should somehow displease
God and I would spend the rest of eternity in Hell, I didn’t care! I
could handle it! ( I have no idea how that ultra-macho idea got into my
brain, but boy, does it sound stupid, now.)
Well, my slightly-inflated self image took a beating pretty soon
thereafter. It seems like in very short time I became a college
dropout, a divorced father of two, and an alcoholic. Even this didn’t
particularly phase me, but it was at this time that I started to
recognize that there was something missing in my life. I married again
shortly after, and finally began to see the light. My wife Lory was not
yet truly a believer, but she did know much more about the Lord and His
promises than I did. Some of our best discussions (and worst arguments)
were about religion. I took a very negative stance at first, but God
slowly softened my heart and allowed me to accept the truth. An old
friend of hers recommended a Bible and we began to study God’s word
Soon we discovered some Christian music that we liked – mostly Keith
Green and later Don Francisco and the Talbot brothers. It was through
their testimony in song that I first got a glimpse of what it FEELS
like to trust in Jesus. We had been talking for some time about looking
for a place to worship God and learn more, but didn’t know where to
start. Even our meager studies of the Bible at home had convinced us
that we could not be comfortable in the denominations we were familiar
with, so we were really looking for something new. God led us to a
small congregation not far from our home, where the Bible is studied,
spoken and practiced.
After a few visits to this church, Richard, the pastor, came to
visit us. He took the time to explain to us that, if left to ourselves,
we are all lost. Even the single tiniest sin separates us from God, and
the only way to be forgiven is through God’s grace as offered through
Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. After Richard left, I felt convicted
immediately, as if all my shortcomings of the previous 30 years had
finally caught up with me. Lory felt the same way, and after more study
and prayer, we both came to trust in Jesus as our Saviour.
The Lord has blessed us greatly in the years since, and I thank Him
for each blessing – but no earthly blessing can possibly compare with
how he opened my eyes to His truth, and died so that I might yet live.
This article originated on The Salvation Online Network