Back home — Matthew 14:28–33

The withdrawal of the King — part 8

40 blogs of Lent — day 10

It had been a long day, but also a short time in the life of Jesus. Shortly before he had been rejected in Nazareth, his birth town where his family still lived, heard that Herod had killed his cousin John and now had his sights on him. So in one day he sailed to a remote place, taught and healed the people, fed 500 men, olus uncounted women and children with the contents of one packed lunch, then set his disciples in a boat, gone away to pray then walked on the water and got in the disciples boat. All in one day.

Crowds gather as Christ heals the sick. Lithograph after Benjamin West
Credit: Wellcome Library, London.
Used under Creative Commons Attribution only licence

34 And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent word around to all that region and brought to him all who were sick 36 and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

Matthew 14:34-35


Back in Galilee Jesus and the disciples go to Gennesaret. Whether it is the town of Gennesaret, tothe south west of Capernaum, ot the plain of the same name we do not know, what is important is that this an area which has not been mentioned in the Gospels before, Jesus is back in Galilee, but he is keeping his head down. The Galilean ministry continues, but so does Jesus’ withdrawal.

Except it doesn’t. Jesus is recognised even here. The crowds come from all around the region. Jesus heals them.

The mention of crowds is important. Matthew is appealing in his Gospel to Jewish Christians, and through them to the Jews. The Jews would have been familiar with stories of miracles in their scripture, miracles by Moses and Joshua, by Elijah and Elisha, but these miracles were few and far between. Jesus ministry had boomed once news of his healings had got round, this was not trying to gather crowds like a showman would, he is trying to escape, more interested in training up a small group of his followers who in turn will teach their groups of followers and the Church will grow. But first Jesus has to prepare them for what he has to go through. The significance of the crowds is that no-one can say that Jesus did not perform miracles, they had been witnessed by many people who would have still been alive when Matthew published his Gospel.

Some Bibles have these three verses in the same section as Jesus walking on the water. The ESV has it under its own heading, but even the ESV Study Bible deals with this in with the walking in the water incident. Jesus os back in Galilee and it’s business as usual. Except with Jesus, business is seldom usual.

In the boat after the storm the Disciples had said, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Something has happened in Jesus’ ministry either side of that statement. Before Jesus had healed people with a touch or a word, even in Matthews version of the woman who touched his cloak in Matthew 9:20-22 it had been Jesus’ words which had healed (Mark and Luke said she was healed when she touched Jesus’ robe.). Matthew is keeping this back, Jesus has been proclaimed the son of God and now healing is not restricted to those he touches or speaks to, although that continues, but also to those who come in faith and touch Jesus.

Are you willing to come to Jesus?

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