When Herod Antipas a heard about Jesus,
he said to his advisers, "This must be John the Baptist come back to life again! That is why he can do such miracles."
For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod's brother Philip).
John kept telling Herod, "It is illegal for you to marry her."
Herod would have executed John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet.
But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias's daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him,
so he promised with an oath to give her anything she wanted.
At her mother's urging, the girl asked, "I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!"
The king was sorry, but because of his oath and because he didn't want to back down in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders.
So John was beheaded in the prison,
and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother.
John's disciples came for his body and buried it. Then they told Jesus what had happened.
As soon as Jesus heard the news, he went off by himself in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed by land from many villages.
A vast crowd was there as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
That evening the disciples came to him and said, "This is a desolate place, and it is getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves."
But Jesus replied, "That isn't necessary -- you feed them."17
"Impossible!" they exclaimed. "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish!"
18"Bring them here," he said.
Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. And he took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and asked God's blessing on the food. Breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave some of the bread and fish to each disciple, and the disciples gave them to the people.
They all ate as much as they wanted, and they picked up twelve baskets of leftovers.
About five thousand men had eaten from those five loaves, in addition to all the women and children!
Immediately after this, Jesus made his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake while he sent the people home.
Afterward he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.
About three o'clock in the morning b Jesus came to them, walking on the water.
When the disciples saw him, they screamed in terror, thinking he was a ghost.
But Jesus spoke to them at once. "It's all right," he said. "I am here! Don't be afraid."28
Then Peter called to him, "Lord, if it's really you, tell me to come to you by walking on water."
29"All right, come," Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.
But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. "Save me, Lord!" he shouted.
Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and grabbed him. "You don't have much faith," Jesus said. "Why did you doubt me?" 32
And when they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.
Then the disciples worshiped him. "You really are the Son of God!" they exclaimed.
After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret.
The news of their arrival spread quickly throughout the whole surrounding area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed.
The sick begged him to let them touch even the fringe of his robe, and all who touched it were healed.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)