Luke 9:7-9; Mark 6:14-29; Matthew 14:1-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15; Mark 6:45-52; Matthew 14:22-33; John 6:16-21; Mark 6:53-56; Matthew 14:34-36
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Matthew: Today we read about the beheading of John the Baptist. I found this painting below by the Italian artist Caravaggio from the year 1610 titled "Salome with the Head of St. John the Baptist." I almost hesitated to post this painting up, but I think it's worth us considering. This is what happened to the man who proclaimed Jesus' ministry was coming. This is what happened to the man who baptized Jesus in the Jordan. And of course this brutality pales in comparison to what Jesus went through on the road to Golgotha. This painting below and thinking about Jesus' passion, suffering, and death just made me think that sometimes following God does not lead strictly to "health and wealth." But sometimes truly following God leads to suffering and poverty. But - and here's the key but - it also leads to eternal life! So, no, perhaps many/most/all of us will not go through what John went through in today's readings or in this painting below. But you know what, if we are truly following God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I think we need to realize that this type of thing can happen. But if this type of thing happens while pursuing and loving Jesus with all that you are, then it's of course worth it because Jesus will raise you up on the other side!
In Matthew chapter 14 today we read about two miracles - Jesus feeding the 5,000 (or really 10,000 to 15,000 counting men, women & children - Matthew just counted men, as his Gospel was written to a Jewish audience, which had men eat separately from women and children at that time/place) and Jesus walking on water. While these 2 miracles are amazing and again confirming that Jesus is God - a couple of other things stood out me. First was verse 23: "Afterward he went up into the hills by himself to pray." If Jesus did this - do you think we should do the same? How often do we get away from the "crowds" or even the "disciples" or loved ones in our life to be by ourselves and pray? Do you do this at least for a few minutes each day? Do you do this for longer periods of time too?
Verses 29 & 30 also stood out to me today: "All right, come," Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. "Save me, Lord!" he shouted." These verses made me wonder in our own lives - Are there times or areas our lives where Jesus has said, "Come", and we've moved forward in faith. But then - the waves came... the challenges came... the doubts came... the insults came.... and we started to waver in our faith? Maybe we got scared - and started to sink? Well - I do admire that Peter did cry out to Jesus to save him in this situation - and we then get the reassuring verse 31: "Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and grabbed him." If you feel like there are some areas in your life where you are sinking - will you cry out to Jesus to save you? Do you believe he will instantly reach out his hand and grab you?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Matthew chapter 14 titled "The Feeding of the Five Thousand" is at this link.
Mark: Today we read in Mark Chapter 6 verse 46: “Afterward he (Jesus) went up into the hills by himself to pray.” What a beautiful verse for each of us to meditate upon! Jesus went by himself to pray to God. It is interesting to note that this took place just after Jesus fed the 5,000. Jesus had been working hard – he is God and yet he still felt the call to pray to the Father. I think this verse is such a great reminder that you and I need to follow Jesus’ example in this verse. And we’re so not God! :) So, think about how much more crucial it is for us to pray. Jesus knew that God was his source of strength. His comfort. His wisdom. And prayer was the one sure fire way for Jesus to really connect and spend time with God. How is your prayer life these days? Are you finding a good amount of time each day to be by yourself and pray? If not, can you schedule this time into your calendar each day?
Worship Video: Today's readings in Mark 6 about Jesus praying and Psalm 40 about David praying reminded me of the Casting Crowns song "What If His People Prayed." Here's a great live version:
Are you praying? Click here and pray!
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
p.s. Download our monthly Small Group study notes for our Chronological Bible readings at this link.
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