The death of John

When Herod the tetrarch heard about the things that Jesus was doing, he said to his counsellors, “This is John the Baptist. He’s risen from the dead! That’s why he has such power!”

For Herod had arrested John and imprisoned him as a favour to Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had told Herod, “You aren’t allowed to marry her.”

Herod would have liked to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they all believed that John was a prophet.

But at Herod’s birthday party, Herodias’s daughter performed a dance for the guests that greatly pleased him, so he promised with an oath to give her anything she wanted. Prompted by her mother, the girl said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist on a plate.”

Then the king regretted what he had promised. But because of the oath he had taken in front of the guests, he issued the necessary orders. So John was executed in prison and his head was brought on a plate and given to the girl, who then took it to her mother. Later, John’s disciples came to collect his body and buried it. Then they went to Jesus and told him what had happened.

When Jesus heard the news about John, he left in a boat and sailed to a remote area. But the crowds found out where he was going and followed him on foot, coming from many towns. When Jesus landed and saw the huge crowd that was waiting for him, he had compassion on them and healed all those who were ill.

As evening approached, the disciples came to Jesus and said, “This is a remote place and it’s getting late. You’d better send the people away so they can go into the villages and buy some food for themselves.”

“That isn’t necessary,” said Jesus. “You can give them something to eat.”

“We’ve only got five loaves of bread and two fish,” they said.

“Well, bring them here,” said Jesus.

Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up toward heaven and gave thanks. Breaking the bread and the fish into pieces, he passed them to the disciples, who then distributed the food to the people.

When the people had eaten as much as they wanted, the disciples filled twelve baskets with the pieces which were left over. There were about 5,000 men were fed that day, besides the women and the children.

Following this, Jesus told the disciples to get back in the boat and cross over to the other side of the lake. While they were doing this, Jesus sent the people back to their homes. Then he went up into the hills by himself to pray. And when night came, he was still there alone.

Meanwhile, the disciples were far away from land, with the boat being buffeted by the strong wind that had arisen and the heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw the figure walking on the water, they were terrified.

“It’s a ghost!” they cried.

“Don’t be frightened!” called Jesus. “It’s me! Don’t be afraid!”

“Lord, if it really is you,” said Peter, “give the command for me to come to you, walking on the water.”

“Come!” said Jesus.

Peter climbed over the side of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he felt how strong the wind was, he became frightened and started to sink.

“Lord, save me!” he cried.

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him.

“My friend of little faith,” he said. “Why did you doubt?”

When they climbed into the boat, the wind dropped and the disciples worshipped him.

“You truly are the Son of God,” they said.

After they’d crossed the lake, they arrived at Gennesaret. When the people there recognized that it was Jesus, they spread the news of his arrival throughout the whole area. Soon people were bringing all those who were ill to be healed. They begged Jesus to let the sick touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

Matthew

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