Matthew 14:23
And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Matthew 14:23. When he had sent the multitudes away — As well as his disciples, and was now alone, he went up into a mountain apart — Though Christ had so much to do with and for others, yet he chose sometimes to be alone; and those are not his followers who are averse to solitude, and out of their element when they have none to converse with, none to enjoy, but God and their own souls; to pray — This was our Lord’s business while alone; not merely to meditate, but also, and especially, to pray to his heavenly Father. It is true, he had not the same reasons for prayer that we have, for he had no sins to be pardoned or conquered, nor any depravity of nature to be subdued and taken away; but he had a variety of infinitely important services to perform, many temptations to overcome, and unparalleled sufferings to endure; and in all these, as man, “of a reasonable soul, and human flesh subsisting,” he had need of divine supports and consolations. He had also to pray for mankind in general, and his church in particular, and now especially for his disciples, whom he had just sent to sea, and who, he foresaw, were about to be over-taken by a dreadful storm, and therefore it was necessary he should pray for their preservation, and that their faith might not fail in the midst of their trouble. But in thus retiring to pray, as he often did, our Lord seems chiefly to have intended to set us an example, that we might follow his steps. Like him we must use private, as well as public and social prayer; and, as he directed, Matthew 6:6, must perform it privately. As he dismissed the multitude and his own disciples, we must disengage ourselves from our worldly affairs, cares, and concerns, and even withdraw from our Christian friends and the members of our own families, that we may converse with God in secret. The ministers of Christ, in particular, must take care to mix secret devotion with their public labours for the instruction and salvation of mankind, if they would secure that divine blessing without which neither the most eloquent preaching, nor the most engaging or benevolent conduct, can command or promise success. And when the evening was come — This confirms the observation made on Matthew 14:15, that the Jews had two evenings. The latter is here meant, beginning at sunset, and termed by us the twilight: he was there alone — And, it appears from Matthew 14:25, there he was till toward morning. The night came on, and it was a stormy, tempestuous night, yet he continued instant in prayer. It is our duty, at least sometimes, upon special occasions, and when we find our hearts enlarged, to continue long in secret prayer, and to take full scope in pouring out our hearts before the Lord.

14:22-33 Those are not Christ's followers who cannot enjoy being alone with God and their own hearts. It is good, upon special occasions, and when we find our hearts enlarged, to continue long in secret prayer, and in pouring out our hearts before the Lord. It is no new thing for Christ's disciples to meet with storms in the way of duty, but he thereby shows himself with the more grace to them and for them. He can take what way he pleases to save his people. But even appearances of deliverance sometimes occasion trouble and perplexity to God's people, from mistakes about Christ. Nothing ought to affright those that have Christ near them, and know he is theirs; not death itself. Peter walked upon the water, not for diversion or to boast of it, but to go to Jesus; and in that he was thus wonderfully borne up. Special supports are promised, and are to be expected, but only in spiritual pursuits; nor can we ever come to Jesus, unless we are upheld by his power. Christ bade Peter come, not only that he might walk upon the water, and so know his Lord's power, but that he might know his own weakness. And the Lord often lets his servants have their choice, to humble and prove them, and to show the greatness of his power and grace. When we look off from Christ, and look at the greatness of opposing difficulties, we shall begin to fall; but when we call to him, he will stretch out his arm, and save us. Christ is the great Saviour; those who would be saved, must come to him, and cry to him, for salvation; we are never brought to this, till we find ourselves sinking: the sense of need drives us to him. He rebuked Peter. Could we but believe more, we should suffer less. The weakness of faith, and the prevailing of our doubts, displease our Lord Jesus, for there is no good reason why Christ's disciples should be of a doubtful mind. Even in a stormy day he is to them a very present help. None but the world's Creator could multiply the loaves, none but its Governor could tread upon the waters of the sea: the disciples yield to the evidence, and confess their faith. They were suitably affected, and worshipped Christ. He that comes to God, must believe; and he that believes in God, will come, Heb 11:6.And straightway Jesus constrained ... - See Mark 6:45-56; John 6:15-21. The word "straightway" means immediately; that is, as soon as the fragments were gathered up. To "constrain" usually means to compel. It here means to command. There was no need of compulsion. They were at this time on the east side of the Lake of Gennesareth. He directed them to get into a ship and cross over to the other side; that is, to Capernaum. Mark adds that he sent them to Bethsaida Mark 6:45. Bethsaida was situated at the place where the Jordan empties into the lake on the east side of the river. Compare the notes at Matthew 11:21. It is probable that he directed them to go in a ship or boat to Bethsaida, and remain there till he should dismiss the people, and that he would meet them there, and with them cross the lake. The effect of the miracle on the multitude was so great John 6:14 that they believed him to be that prophet which should come into the world; that is, the Messiah, the king that they had expected, and they were about to take him by force and make him a king, John 6:15. To avoid this, Jesus got away from them as privately as possible. He went into a solitary mountain alone. In view of the temptation - when human honors were offered to him and almost forced upon him - he retired for private prayer; an example for all who are tempted with human honors and applause. Nothing is better to keep the mind humble and unambitious than to seek some lonely place; to shut out the world with all its honors; to realize that the great God, before whom all creatures and all honors sink to nothing, is round about us; and to ask him to keep us from pride and vainglory. Mt 14:22-26. Jesus Crosses to the Western Side of the Lake Walking on the Sea—Incidents on Landing. ( = Mr 6:45; Joh 6:15-24).

For the exposition, see on [1303]Joh 6:15-24.

John saith no more than that he departed himself into a mountain alone. Matthew and Mark say it was to pray. From whence (as from others places of holy writ) the duty of secret prayer is commended to us by the great example of our Saviour: he chooseth the mountain for it, as a place of greatest privacy and solitude.

And when the evening was come: this confirmeth the former notion, that the Jews had two evenings. They called that part of the day after the sun had began to decline the evening, which was the evening before spoken of, interpreted by the other evangelists, when the day was well spent; and the twilight, which is here called the evening, and which is the time which we most usually call by that name.

And when he had sent the multitudes away,.... Had ordered them at least to go away; for, it seems, according to John 6:22 that they did not in general disperse: there was a large body of them that continued upon the spot all night, expecting his return; in which being disappointed, they took shipping, and came to Capernaum.

He went up into a mountain apart to pray; perhaps the same he went up to before, and from whence he came down, John 6:3. This he chose as a proper place for prayer, where he could be retired, and alone, have his thoughts free, and, as man, pour out his soul to his Father, on his own account, and on the behalf of others; and particularly, he might be concerned about this notion of a temporal kingdom, that his disciples and others were so fond of; and pray that his disciples might be convinced of their mistake, and that the people might be hindered from prosecuting their designs. His going up into a mountain and praying there, were quite contrary to the canons of the Jews; which forbid praying in places ever so little raised.

"Let not a man stand (say they (m)) , "in an high place", and pray, but in a low place and pray; as it is said, "Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord", Psalm 130:1. It is a tradition, that a man may not stand, neither upon a throne, nor upon a footstool, nor in any high place and pray, because there are no high places before God.''

This rule is delivered by Maimonides (n), in this form:

"A man may not stand in a place that is three hands high, or more, and pray, neither upon a bed, nor upon a seat, nor upon a throne.''

But Christ did not look upon himself obliged, by these traditions of the elders; but chose such places, whether high or low, which were most private and retired.

And when evening was come; when it was now dark, John 6:17 when the second evening was come and ended; see Matthew 14:15 and it was properly night,

he was there alone; in the mountain, where he continued the greatest part of the night, even until the fourth watch.

(m) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 10. 2. Piske Tosaph. in ib. art. 52, T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 4. 4. Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora precept. Affirm. 19. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 70. 3.((n) Hilch. Tephillah. c. 5. sect. 7.

And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 14:23. ἀνέβη εἰς τὸ ὄρος. After dismissing the crowd Jesus retired into the mountainous country back from the shore, glad to be alone—κατʼ ἰδίαν, even to be rid of the Twelve for a season.—προσεύξασθαι: “Good for prayer the mountain, and the night, and the solitude (μόνωσις), affording quiet, freedom from distraction (τὸ ἀπερίσπαστον), and calm” (Euthy. Zig.).—ὀψίας γεν. refers, of course, to a later hour than in Matthew 14:15.

23. when the evening was come] See Matthew 14:15.

he was there alone] This is a simple but sublime thought:—the solitary watch on the lonely mountain, the communion in prayer with the Father throughout the beautiful Eastern night.

Matthew 14:23. Τὸ ὄρος, the mountain) which was in that region. Mountains and elevated places (see Acts 10:9) are especially suited for prayer, on account of their solitude, and their being open to heaven.—κατʼ ἰδίαν, apart) Not even the disciples being present. In such a retreat, matters of the greatest importance took place between God and the Mediator. It was no dramatic representation that interceded for us.[672] What passed between Christ and the Father may be inferred, for example, from Psalms 16 and Luke 11:2-3. Cf. Matthew 14:1 and John 17—προσεύξασθαι, to pray) beyond midnight; see Matthew 14:25. The fruit may be seen in Matthew 14:33-34.

[672] “Non intercessit actio scenica”—i.e. our Lord’s intercession was real, genuine, substantial; not mythical, theatrical, or fictitious.—(I. B.)

Verse 23. - And when he had sent the multitudes away. Matthew speaks merely of the dismissal as such (ἀπολύσας τοὺς ὄχλους); Mark refers to his parting words (ἀποταξάμενος αὐτοῖς, i.e. probably to the multitude). He went up into a mountain - the mountain (Revised Version); Matthew 5:1, note - apart. Κατ ἰδίαν is to be joined with the preceding, and not to the following words (cf. ver. 13; Matthew 17:19). And when the evening was come (ver. 15, note), he was there alone. For some eight hours, if it was spring or autumn (ver. 25). Matthew 14:23
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