John the Baptist is dead. But Herod, Rome’s political liaison over Galilee, saw the miracles Jesus performed and thought he might be John raised from the dead (Matthew 14:2).
But what Jesus does next shows that he is greater than John.
When Jesus hears news of John’s death, he goes to the wilderness by boat for some solitude (Matthew 14:13). But people meet him there in the wilderness like they met John in the wilderness earlier. It seems like Jesus is the new John. But what happens next disproves that entirely.
Jesus heals the physically sick and then multiplies five loaves of bread and two fish until it feeds 5,000 men, and even more women and children (Matthew 14:20). John never did work like this.
This act showed that Jesus is not only greater than John but also greater than Moses.
This story should remind us of Israel’s escape from Egypt through the water, which Jesus passed over on a boat, and their miraculous mass feeding in the wilderness, where Jesus performed this miracle (Exodus 16:4).
Jesus directly multiplying the bread in the wilderness is proof to those around him that he is the same God who poured out bread for Israel. He is not like Moses. He is not like John. Because he is God!
After this miracle, a bad storm carried the boat out with the disciples on it. So Jesus walks on the stormy waters to reach the boat. He even calls Peter out on the water, making him able to stand on the sea as long as his faith in Jesus remained firm (Matthew 14:25).
After seeing this display of power, the disciples worship Jesus and say, “Truly you are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).
Moses took people through water (Exodus 14:22). John immersed people in water (Matthew 3:6). But Jesus walks on top of the water.
Jesus is not like John the Baptist. He is not like Moses. He the Son of God.
Why Is This Good News?
None of God’s famous messengers were able to bring final healing and deliverance. Despite all of Moses’ miracles, he did not enter the promised land of God’s kingdom. Despite John’s dynamic public ministry, he died before anything changed.
But these miracles show us that Jesus is not just a miracle worker or a great teacher. He is God himself who will once and for all bring the deliverance Moses tried to bring, and usher in the kingdom John pronounced.
And all we need to do is put our faith in him, as Peter did when he walked on the water (Matthew 14:31). He will heal all our diseases. He will provide us with the bread of life. He will conquer the storms. Because he is the Son of God.
See for yourself.
May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see the God who prepared his people for deliverance, and Jesus as the one who brought that deliverance once and for all.