We can see four distinct pericopes in this chapter. The first is the Death of John the Baptizer (vv. 1- 12); the second is Jesus feeding the 5,000 (vv. 13-21); the third is Jesus walking on the sea (vv. 22-33); and the final one is Jesus healing the sick in the town of Gennesaret (vv. 34-36).
The death of John the Baptizer (or Baptist) stands out here. It seems to be a break in the narrative rhythm that has, up to point, be centered around Jesus. This episode recounting the execution of John stands out even more because of the flow of the narrative. But remember what we said about the Baptizer in chapter 3. John is simply the ‘forerunner’ and his ministry of preparing the way for Jesus is now complete. John has fulfilled his accomplished his part of the Father’s Plan.
The Eucharistic overtones of the Feeding the 5,000 is clear. Notice the words that Matthew uses to describe what Jesus did with the bread. Sounds familiar? This remarkable of generosity will be repeated again in Matthew’s Gospel- and then repeated into perpetuity after the Last Supper (we’ll come back to this).
Jesus then challenges the faith of the Apostles, especially Peter. It’s interesting: now that John the Baptizer is gone and the way was prepared before the Lord; it now seems that Jesus is preparing the Way for Peter for after Jesus has ascended. Peter has just entered the school of discipleship. And after the Lord saves Peter from drowning and Peter professes his Faith in Jesus Christ, nothing will ever be the same for him.
Point for Prayer
Notice Jesus’s remarkable act of generosity in the feeding of the multitude. Remember all the healings. He just has a generous spirit about Him. Let’s pray to have a share of that generous spirit today. Not that we necessarily need to give money or whatever: but just to have a generous way about us- quick to love, serve and forgive.