“Unit 4, Day 2: Matthew 14,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)
“Unit 4, Day 2,” New Testament Study Guide
After learning of John the Baptist’s death, Jesus sought solitude, but He was followed by a multitude of people. He had compassion on them, healed their sick, and miraculously fed more than 5,000 of them. That night, Jesus walked on the sea to the ship His disciples were on.
Think of a time when you were very sad. What did you do to endure and overcome your sadness?
List some different ways that people try to endure and overcome sadness:
As you study Matthew 14:1–21, look for ways that can help you endure and overcome sorrow.
Matthew 14:1–11 records that King Herod unjustly imprisoned John the Baptist at the urging of his new wife, Herodias, who wanted to stop John the Baptist from condemning her unlawful marriage to King Herod (see Mark 6:17–19). After his wife’s daughter Salome danced before him, Herod publically promised that she could have “whatever she would ask” (Matthew 14:7). The daughter consulted with her mother and asked for the head of John the Baptist, and as a result, Herod had John beheaded.
John the Baptist was a friend and relative of Jesus Christ, and he was chosen by God to be the prophet who would prepare the way for the Messiah.
Imagine being a close friend of John the Baptist. How would you have responded after hearing about his unjust death?
Read Matthew 14:12–13, looking for what Jesus did when He heard about John’s death.
What happened when Jesus tried to be alone?
How would you feel if you were sad and wanted to be alone, but others were seeking your attention?
Read Matthew 14:14, looking for how Jesus responded when He saw the multitude following Him.
From this account we learn that by showing compassion for others even when we experience sadness, we follow the example of Jesus Christ.
- Summarize for a family member or friend the account of Jesus showing compassion after hearing of John the Baptist’s death. Then discuss the following questions with that person. In your scripture study journal, record whom you talked with and a brief account of your discussion.
How can showing compassion for others help us when we ourselves are suffering?
Why can it be difficult to show compassion for others when we are suffering?
When have you or someone you know experienced great sadness and still demonstrated compassion for another? In what ways did serving someone else help?
Read Matthew 14:15–21, looking for how Jesus continued to show compassion for the multitude.
Consider the following two scenarios:
Scenario 1: A young woman feels helpless as she watches her mother suffer from a terminal illness. She begins to question if Heavenly Father is aware of her family’s pain. She desperately wants to believe in God, but her doubts are beginning to overwhelm her.
Scenario 2: A young man has recently joined the Church. Many of his old friends have been openly critical of his decision to join the Church. He is starting to wonder whether he should continue to be an active and faithful member of the Church.
What are some other ways people may experience doubt or fear as they seek to follow Jesus Christ?
As you study the remainder of Matthew 14, look for statements of truth that can help you overcome fears, doubts, and discouragement.
Read Matthew 14:24–25, looking for what happened while the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee in obedience to the Savior’s instruction.
The phrase “the wind was contrary” in verse 24 means that the wind was blowing in the opposite direction of their destination.
In Matthew 14:23, notice that it was evening time when Jesus was alone on the mountain and the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee. The distance to cross the sea was about 5 miles (8 kilometers), and in good weather they should have been able to cross it in two to three hours. The Savior came to them during the fourth watch, which was sometime “between three and six [o’clock] in the morning” (Matthew 14:25, footnote a). This means the disciples had been fighting the wind to cross the sea all night.
Read Mark 6:47–48, looking for additional details Mark provides about this event.
If Jesus knew His disciples were struggling, do you think He could have spared them their struggles sooner? What might have been the purpose of letting the disciples struggle for a time before they were delivered?
From these accounts of the disciples crossing the sea, we learn that even though God might not always spare us from struggles, He knows what we are experiencing and will, in His own time, come to our aid.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What good can come from us struggling for a time rather than the Lord immediately delivering us from our trials?
How can knowing that the Lord is aware of our struggles strengthen our faith in Him even when He does not immediately deliver us from them?
Imagine you were on the ship and had been struggling against powerful wind and waves for many hours throughout the night, and then you saw someone walking on the water. What might you think or feel in this situation?
Read Matthew 14:26–27, looking for how the disciples reacted when they saw Jesus. You may want to mark what Jesus said to them.
Read Matthew 14:28–30, looking for what Peter desired to do when He heard the Lord’s voice.
How did Peter initially demonstrate faith?
What did Peter see that caused him to be afraid, doubt, and begin to sink?
Consider what the wind and waves in this account might represent in your life that could lead you to experience fear or doubt.
From Peter’s experience we learn that if we maintain our faith in Jesus Christ, we will not be overcome by our fears and doubts.
Read the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter, and mark what he said was the danger of failing to maintain our faith in the Lord: “It is my firm belief that if as individual people, as families, communities, and nations, we could, like Peter, fix our eyes on Jesus, we too might walk triumphantly over ‘the swelling waves of disbelief’ and remain ‘unterrified amid the rising winds of doubt.’ But if we turn away our eyes from him in whom we must believe, as it is so easy to do and the world is so much tempted to do, if we look to the power and fury of those terrible and destructive elements around us rather than to him who can help and save us, then we shall inevitably sink in a sea of conflict and sorrow and despair” (“The Beacon in the Harbor of Peace,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 19).
- In your scripture study journal, write several ways in which we can “fix our eyes” on Jesus Christ, as Peter did initially. Additionally, write about a time when you have seen how someone’s faith in Jesus Christ enabled him or her to avoid being overcome by fear or doubt.
Ponder what changes you can make in your life to maintain your faith in Jesus Christ, and set a goal to make those changes.
Like Peter, we might sometimes fail to maintain our faith in Jesus Christ and might give in to fear, doubt, and discouragement.
Read Matthew 14:30–32, looking for what happened as Peter was walking toward the Savior.
According to verse 30, what did Peter do when he realized he was sinking? (You may want to mark what Peter said.)
Like Peter, if we seek God’s help when our faith weakens, He can lift us from our fears and doubts.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How does God lift us from our fears and doubts?
Read Matthew 14:33, looking for how the disciples in the boat responded after Jesus and Peter got into the boat.
In Matthew 14:34–36 we learn that after this event, Jesus and His disciples continued their journey and arrived on the far shores of Galilee. When the people learned that Jesus was there, they brought people who were diseased to Him. Their faith was so great that all who came were healed by touching the hem of His clothing. Compare this with what happened with the people described in Matthew 13:57–58.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Matthew 14 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: