Some rules of warfare are given to the people. One of them being that a city outside of the promised land must be given term of surrender before attacking, and if accepted they must be honored. But the cities and nations of people living inside the promised land must be given no such terms. They are to be completely destroyed.
This seems harsh to us in this day and age, but it wasn’t an uncommon practice back then to wage total war and to ignore distinctions between combatants and noncombatants. Also, apart from the cultural norms and the customs of the day, we can’t forget that these people were marked for destruction by God because of their exceptional wickedness. This is a judgement coming down upon them, the same as Sodom and Gomorrah, but with the sword of the Israelites as the instrument of judgement this time.
Jesus sends the twelve apostles out on a mission to proclaim the gospel to the people. This is like their first try at riding a bike with the training wheels removed, because Jesus stays behind while they go on thus mission and after the ascension they’ll have to run the entire ministry without him physically present.
All these healings and miracles catch the attention of Herod and he fears another prophet, or even John the Baptist raised from the dead. So he’s seeking to meet Jesus to feel him out, and this will come to pass during his passion.
Then we get into the feeding of the 5000, and this is one of the most well know miracles of Jesus. He heals many that came to Him, but when it becomes evening He says that these people need food, and there’s no such thing as late night drive thru at this point in history, so the only option is to send them away hungry the apostles think. But Jesus has them all sit down and he takes what food the apostles had on them, just five loaves and two fish, and He miraculously feeds 5000 men, plus women and children.
Like we read recently where a prophet is promised to be the new Moses, Jesus is the prophet who was promised in Deuteronomy 18. The disciples had said to him that they were in “a lonely place,” that’s to say the wilderness, and then feeds the people with miraculous bread. Moses also fed the people in the wilderness with the miraculous bread called manna.
Also this miracle prefigures the last supper and the Eucharist. The same wording used here and In the last supper narratives He ‘took, blessed, broke and gave’ the bread. And one final thing is that He gives the miraculous bread to the Apostles and they distribute it to the people, just like He have the Eucharist to the apostles who then distribute it to the whole church.
Jesus asks them two questions, the first one is somewhat important, in as much as it helps to inform our evangelistic and catechetical endeavors, but the second question is the most important question ever asked. Jesus first asked “who do people say that I am?” The disciples throw out a few answers that mostly show people think Jesus is some kind of prophet, but they maybe haven’t figured it all out.
Jesus then asks the big one, “but who do you say that I am?” And Peter steps right up to the plate and knocks it out of the park with his answer. He confesses that Jesus is not only the messiah, but in Matthew’s account he also nails it with His divine sonship too. Many of the Jews were waiting for the messiah, but that didn’t necessarily mean they were waiting for the Son of God. This was an entirely new concept and Peter nailed it, because God had revealed it to him.
I often think about this exact exchange because it’s one of the major moments in my conversion journey, Jesus is asking all of us through this scripture passage “who do you say that I am?” Take a moment to consider that question in pray. Ask yourself who Jesus is to you, and how does that effect your relationship with Him.
After this the group goes up the mountain, and there Jesus is transfigured before them. He has always appeared as a human person, but his divinity is revealed to Peter, James and John. This is his true identity, but hidden behind a veil of flesh, just like the Eucharist’s tru presence of Christ is hidden from our senses. (See The Transfiguration of Christ)