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Lesson 7: Lord of Jews and Gentiles *

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 possessed.)

    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 news.)

      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 Commentary.)

      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 storm.)

      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" worship.)

      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 sin.)

  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.
* Copr. 2016, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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