Monday, April 4, 2011

Matthew 14:34-36 - "And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret."

More people, more healings, more clamoring after Jesus. This short passage appears to be a bridge that leads into Jesus' next confrontation with the Pharisees in chapter 15. But before we move quickly on, let's take note of a couple of things. The disciples have only been able to get so far from the madding crowd, and their precious break has already come to an end. The only rest they have gotten was when they were in the middle of the sea, and even then with Jesus pulling stunts like walking on water, they were never able to be fully at ease.

But Jesus himself has gotten even less of a break. He had already spent most of the night praying on the mountain, then he hiked all the way down to the seashore and walked two additional miles on the water to reach the disciples' boat. By the time he reached them it was close to sunrise ("the fourth watch," 14:25), meaning he might have gotten a couple hours' sleep on the boat before he had to rise again to start his day with the multitudes of Gennesaret clamoring for him when they docked. Surely, we can add sleeplessness to the list of Jesus' sufferings during his life on earth. If you've ever taken care of an infant around the clock, feeding and changing and rocking him all day long and throughout the night, running on only a few hours' sleep at a time, take comfort that Jesus knows all about your suffering. He keeps watch with you during those long and lonely nights.

The people of Gennesaret are begging to touch even the fringe of Jesus' cloak. News must have reached them about the hemorrhaging woman who had received healing simply by touching the hem of his garment (9:20-22). You feel tempted to despise these people who treat Jesus so superstitiously, but apparently Jesus does not despise them. Somehow there is enough faith mixed in with their superstition for him to honor with genuine healing. "As many as touched [his cloak] were cured" (v. 36). Jesus had told the hemorrhaging woman "your faith has made you well" and no doubt the same applies to these Gennesarites. It is always faith that Jesus honors--and perhaps because it is the desperate faith of the sick and needy, such desperation has made their faith true enough to overcome even the superstition that would otherwise taint it.

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