Stephen was the first recorded person to lose his life for Jesus during the church age, but John the Baptizer was the first to do so while Jesus was here on earth.
Herod didn’t like John, especially because John called him on the carpet for marrying his brother’s former wife. Marrying family was wrong then and still is. Obviously Herodias didn’t like John either, thus the scheme to have John killed. And most likely it was a sexually lewd dance (early days of pole dancing?). Jesus loved John and when He heard the news went away to grieve & spend time with His Father in prayer.
Then came the feeding of the 20,000+ That’s right, it was 5000 men PLUS women & children, so this is a more realistic number! Regardless, Jesus wanted to let His disciples know that He is “Jehovah JIRA” = the Lord provides. Jesus had been doing all kinds of healings, now he wanted them to know that He is the One who provides for people needs, down to the basics. There is no explaining the fish & chips that kept popping up as they handed out food to everyone – it was a miracle! But I’d love to have seen it!
Next up, the disciples are out in a boat at night being rocked by the waves and up walks Jesus. They freak out, “…they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.” Jesus tells them it’s Him and to chill and then Peter wants to try it (me too). And sure enough, he walks on water, until he takes His eyes off Jesus. Jesus & Peter climb back in the boat and the wind & waves cease – WHOAH!~ Yeah, it caused them to say, “Truly you are the Son of God."
*When it comes to confronting someone on sin, how do you respond? In their face? Compassionately? Chicken out? These things are never easy. Pray first, remove any planks in our own eyes and do it in love! But do it – for the sake of Jesus and truth!
*When is it hardest top trust God? In trials? When we don’t like His answer? When things seem impossible? The disciples we all left holding a basket of leftovers, a grim reminder that we can trust God to do the impossible!
*Ever take your eyes off Jesus? Yeah, me too. And when I do I fall, just like Peter sank. Lord, please help us to fix our eyes on YOU – not on our circumstances! The song goes, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”