9 November 2011Matthew 15:29-39
"The crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel!" (v. 31)
The Gospels tell at least three stories: firstly, the story of
Jesus of Nazareth who the early Church came to know as the Christ;
the second is the continuing story of God's dealings with the
people of Israel; the third is the emergence and early development
of a discipleship movement that came to be known as the
The first story can leave the reader in a state of wonder and awe. The second can disturb and confront. The third often leaves the reader with a sense of disbelief - surely nobody, least of all the disciples, can be that stupid!
Verses 29-31 reveal that Jesus was popular - people are following him everywhere. But not only that, they are following with intent! They know that Jesus is capable of the most amazing things. It is Jesus who can heal the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute and many others. The everyday folk who lived around the Sea of Galilee knew this - that is why they placed their disabled friends and family at his feet.
But it was the disciples who were not fully able to comprehend the magnitude of Jesus' power and ability. So when confronted with a mass catering job (born out of Jesus' compassion) they are dumbfounded, paralysed and unable to see the potential of Jesus' power. So Jesus does what any good teacher would do - he talks them through it: "How many loaves have you?" (v. 34)
In the end, not only was Jesus capable, he was more than capable: "seven baskets full" (v. 37).
It seems the disciples couldn't grasp what everyone else knew - Jesus was capable of anything! It seems that, for the moment, Jesus is willing to overlook their ignorance.
Are you more like the crowds who follow Jesus everywhere expecting him to do something, or the disciples who, despite experience, render him powerless?
How do you respond to those who say that there can't be a God, because if there was there wouldn't be so much suffering in the world?