Matthewby Mike Raiter
Language keeps changing, which is natural, but sometimes in the evolution of language, the meaning of words is devalued. One example is ″unique″. Today you hear people say, ″It was quite unique″, or ″He is very unique″. ″Unique″ means ″one of a kind″. Something cannot be ″quite″ or ″very″ one of a kind. Someone either stands alone, with no rivals, or he does not. Today we see the uniqueness of Jesus, and Matthew's description renders absurd any attempt to liken the Lord Jesus to any other man or woman.
This passage is bracketed by references to the unrelenting pressure of the crowds upon Jesus (vv. 13, 35). It was exhausting for Him, and so Matthew records two occasions when He went away by himself to pray (vv. 13, 23).
In the first instance, the crowds followed Him. There were 5,000 men and so, with women and children, around 15,000 to 20,000 people (v. 21). Matthew contrasts this vast crowd with the paltry amount of food: just five loaves and two fish. Jesus then did what only God does, and miraculously created food and fed them all. Twelve is the biblical number for completion (12 disciples, 12 tribes), so the fact that there are 12 baskets of leftovers implies that there was enough food that day to feed all of God's people (v. 20). This Jesus is unique.
Again, Jesus retreated to pray (v. 23). During the night, He came to the disciples, whose ship was struggling in a storm (vv. 22-24). He walked upon the water and, in response to their terror-filled cry, announced, ″It is I″ (v. 27)-or literally, ″I am″-the very words Moses heard God speak at the burning bush. This is Yahweh in their midst.
How should we respond to this Jesus? Matthew regularly presents Peter as the spokesman for the 12 disciples (e.g., Matthew 15:15; 16:16; 17:4, 24; 18:21; 19:27). Peter trusts in Jesus and comes to Him as invited, but then takes his eyes off the Lord and focuses on the crisis around him, and begins to sink (vv. 28-30). We can all identify with Peter: periods of great faith followed by doubt and despair.
There can be only one response to the Jesus we have met today: worship and confession, ″Truly, you are the Son of God″ (v. 33). This Jesus is unique. Keep your eyes fixed on Him.
How do we see in this passage both the humanity and the divinity of Jesus?
Why does Peter's faith in Jesus begin to falter (vv. 28-31)? Why does Jesus rebuke Peter for his ″little faith″? What lessons do you think Matthew wants us to draw from this remarkable episode?