How to Tell a Good Man from a Bad One

by Andrew Forrest

I know it’s been a few weeks since I’ve sent out my daily posts on the Gospel readings, but I’m back from Israel and actually sleeping at night, so here we go again. The plan is for me to write a brief commentary on each day’s reading that I will post on my blog and email out to those of you who are subscribed to my Gospels 2019 mailing list. In addition, I write other posts on all sorts of other topics from time to time, and I email those out to folks who are on my Andrew Forrest newsletter list. Subscribe!

Context is Key to Understanding the Gospels

One of the keys to understanding the Gospels is to pay attention to context:

  • Where specifically is this story taking place?
  • What happened beforehand? What happens after?
  • Why did Matthew (or Mark, Luke, or John) place this story in this specific place?

Two Contrasting Banquets

Today’s story of the feeding of the 5,000 is a great example of the importance of context, because it occurs immediately after Herod’s beheading of John the Baptist at a drunken banquet. (I preached about that story yesterday.) After a banquet that culminates with a scene of horror –John’s severed head is brought in on a platter–Matthew tells us the story of a very different kind of banquet on the green hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee.

The crowds are gathered to see Jesus, and he has compassion on them. In addition to healing their diseases, Jesus presides over a remarkable miracle: everyone there is given plenty to eat.

How to Tell A Good Man from a Bad Man

Jesus has been telling us throughout the Gospel of Matthew: you know a tree by its fruit. A good tree produces good fruit, a bad tree produces bad fruit.

It’s not what someone says that matters, it’s what someone does. We know all we need to know about the difference between Herod and Jesus by comparing what happens at the two quite different banquets.

You know how to tell the difference between a good man and a bad man? Watch his actions, not his words.

Today’s Scripture

Matthew 14:13-21



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I’m blogging through the Gospels in 2019. Subscribe here to receive a weekday update on that day’s Gospel reading. (There is also an option to subscribe to non-Gospels posts as well through my plain ole Andrew Forrest Newsletter.)

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