Key Verse | Matthew 14:33

And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." 

Scripture | Matthew 14

The Death of John the Baptist

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus, and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, 1 because John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. 10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way 2 from the land, 3 beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night 4 he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, 5 he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Jesus Heals the Sick in Gennesaret

34 And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent around to all that region and brought to him all who were sick 36 and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.


[1] 14:3 Some manuscripts his brother's wife
[2] 14:24 Greek many stadia, a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters
[3] 14:24 Some manuscripts was out on the sea
[4] 14:25 That is, between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.
[5] 14:30 Some manuscripts strong wind

Pressing Circumstances Can Expose our Faith

Devo | Matthew 14

Have you ever been frustrated with yourself for struggling to grasp a new concept? I struggled to understand fractions in elementary school and Intro to Philosophy in college. Those concepts took...

Have you ever been frustrated with yourself for struggling to grasp a new concept? I struggled to understand fractions in elementary school and Intro to Philosophy in college. Those concepts took time and experience for me to understand them.

Another concept I often become frustrated with is sanctification: the lifelong journey for every believer as they learn about and become more like Christ. I want sanctification to be immediate, but thankfully, this passage shows me otherwise.

The disciples participated in one of Jesus' greatest miracles: multiplying loaves and fish to feed over 5,000 people. Afterward, while in the boat together, they encountered Jesus walking on the water. Peter stepped out in faith to meet Jesus but soon noticed the wind and began to sink. Jesus responded, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:31b) Notice that Jesus did not say, "you of no faith." There's room to grow. When they returned to the boat, the others responded with, "Truly you are the Son of God." (Matthew 14:33)

When I read this, I thought, "Peter just witnessed the miracle of feeding the 5,000! Even if the waves were crashing, how did he easily doubt when he knew Jesus and had witnessed Him accomplish the impossible?" Considering the multiple experiences that occur in this Gospel narrative, though, I realized it took time and multiple experiences with Jesus before Peter confessed, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16)

Later, in the book of Acts, we read about several occasions where the Holy Spirit reveals more to Peter about living life as a Christian (see Acts 10). It encourages me that the disciples and first apostles had their own long-term journeys of understanding who Jesus is, what that meant for them, and how it informed their lives. They had to learn, and I must learn, too, with the help of God's Word, Spirit, and people. What comforts me most of all is that Jesus is aware of this process and is faithful to meet us where we are in our journey to know Him more.

Discussion Questions

1. What characteristics of Jesus have you become aware of over time?

2. What have moments—or even seasons—of doubt looked like for you? What tends to be the thing that takes your eyes off Jesus? (In this passage, Peter gets distracted by the chaos of the wind and resulting waves that threaten his perceived safety and security.)

3. Sometimes it can be tempting for us to take the driver's seat in our own sanctification process, but sanctification involves the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Peter 1:3). How can you surrender to the Spirit today to allow Him to accomplish His work?

Meet Bethany Moss

Good morning! My name is Bethany, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share God's Word with you today. I live in Dallas, work in the field of mental health, and serve at Watermark as a Community Shepherd. Over the last several years, God has used authentic and transparent gospel community to transform the way I relate with Him and with others. 

9 Comments available

Hugh Stephenson 7 months ago


GM Bethany. Great devo and great questions. I often marvel at the zig zag who witness miracle after miracle but struggle to believe. Its interesting that in later passages Jesus calls them out.

Q1 – Patient compassion. Compassion with boundaries. He has an immense heart for the “least of these”. Yet, He heals who He heals and then moved on. He doesn’t run around frantically as if there is a shot clock on Him. One author notes , (paraphrasing), that although Jesus will sometimes do things “immediately” he never hurried.

Its as if he knows something I don’t!  He knows His purpose and stays focused.

Q2 – My eyes move off Jesus when the world uses my sinful nature to tempt me inot something that gets my immediate interest.


Hugh Stephenson 7 months ago

Q3 – There are so many words that describe the state I want to be in to let the Holy Spirit work: contentment, abiding, resting, peaceful, tranquility, meditative, reflecting, open, quiet. It is quite a challenge for me to get there and stay there.

I heard a message awhile back that centered on the boy whose lunch supplied the five loaves and two fish, (John 6:9); what was he thinking as he saw all this take place? How many other miracles had he seen? Did he become a follower? What did he learn about Jesus and the Kingdom form this event?

Alan Beam 7 months ago

Great devo, Bethany! Thanks for sharing these insights into God’s Word this morning.

Question 3 hits close to home for me. I’ve spent most of my life trying to sanctify myself, or at least project an image of a “good Christian” so that I might be honored by others. But God has been teaching me in the last couple of years what it looks like to be absolutely surrendered to Him, to abide in Christ, and to let Him work in (changing my heart) and through (changing my actions) me.

It’s a matter of heart and mind discipleship to continue to surrender, one moment to the next, and to trust God to keep me in that place of surrender. God is so good!

Sue Bohlin 7 months ago

Thanks so much, Bethany!

I focused on how Jesus responded to the need of a huge group of hungry people: He directed His people to do what they couldn’t, without Him. When they said, "We have only five loaves here and two fish,” I loved Jesus’ nonplussed reply: “Bring them here to Me.” Which is code for, “No big deal, I’ve got this.” He effortlessly multiplied that ridiculously small beginning into enough to fill what had to be 10,000 empty stomachs plus 12 baskets of leftovers (so each of the Twelve could hold in his hands physical evidence of the miracle).

I love reading this in the context of The Chosen, where God has done the miraculous in taking Dallas Jenkins’ paltry loaves and fishes and multiplying it to feed millions of viewers spiritually, around the world. And we get to see this miracle in our day!

Greg Jones 7 months ago

2/2 “Hardened hearts”, how Mark’s gospel describes the disciples when he wrote. Over time, with time to better grasp the concept of loaves, Matthew’s gospel describes Peter a little differently.

After Matthew, over more time, John’s gospel describes those fed by Jesus as wanting to take him by force and make him kingJohn6:10-15.

In all the gospels I see the struggles and sense the frustrations. After reading the devotional I can see how a frustration can spiral into a hard heart, for myself and into others. But a different view of struggles can initiate a spiral of better understanding.

I’m feeling better about some things that frustrate the disciples. Great devotional, thank you.

Greg Jones 7 months ago


“Have you ever been frustrated with yourself for struggling to grasp a new concept?“

Can you raise a hallelujah?

How do I feel about that?…idk?

Struggling to grasp a new concepts can be one of those traits in a person that inspires a teacher to find new ways to explain new things. Sometimes a teaching trait is to teach strugglers to mimic the teacher’s frustration.

Dr Phil, I think I struggle with new concepts…and teach others to mimic my frustration.

Well Greg, I like to say when someone knows better, they can do better.

I might be watching too much Dr Phil…

Mark6:47-52, written before Matthew’s gospel, is the same account of Jesus coming to the disciples walking on the water. Mark describes the disciples as “terrified” v50, and “amazed” v51. They were both these things because they didn’t understand about the loaves-their hearts were hardened, v52.

Michael Scaman 7 months ago

Surprising how the disciples sometimes made to send people way.

The discipled proposed Jesus would send away little children and in this case the crowds. In both cases they would become memorable parts of the gospel accounts.

They were a work in progress.

Linda Green 7 months ago

So with you on sanctification being frustrating- because it’s me that drops out of the process when it becomes uncomfortable. Yet my good Father hasn’t given up on me. I often think about the absence of sin in Heaven- in me and around me. Can’t wait to be free of the dark side!

Love that just the hem of Jesus’s garment was enough to heal! (Matthew 14:36) Thinking I don’t need to understand everything- just to come to Jesus.

Michael Scaman 7 months ago

Jesus speaks of 'the sign of Jonah" in Matthew 12 and 16 and in between is the death of John the Baptist here in Matthew 14 where Jesus is moved to go away by Himself.

John did say 'He must increase and I must decrease". The spotlight is off John and onto Jesus.

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