7 March 2013Matthew 15:29-31
" After Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain, where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he cured them, so that the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel." (vv. 29-31)
The best crowd I've been in was last summer's Paralymic Games. I had the opportunity of being in the stadium on the day that David Weir won his third gold medal - and the third gold for Great Britain that evening. It was a noisy, passionate and exhilarating experience.
Less enthusiastic crowds are those that I face every morning as I pile onto over-full train carriages on the London Underground system, hoping to find a small space of solace untouched by another human being. And on really bad days this is incredibly difficult to find.
In this passage, we see Jesus surrounded by crowds of people. He is sat on a mountainside overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Unlike other retreats Jesus takes up the mountain, this is a business trip of sorts. All around him are people in desperate need; people who are supported on their journey by carers, friends and family, all looking for hope and healing.
This crowd responds loudly and passionately as they begin to see Jesus heal one person after the next. We are told that they are amazed and that "they praised the God of Israel" (v. 31). There are two things worthy of note here:
- They praised God. This would have been a very noisy mountain party.
- The crowds of people were probably not Jews - they were after all, praising the God of Israel.
Somewhat unusually for Matthew's Gospel (which is normally seen asbeing a Jewish gospel for Jewish people), it is clearly signalling that there is an openness and a universality to the people God is interested in. Everyone seems to be welcome, no matter what their ability - and through their encounter with Jesus they are able to catch enough of a glimpse of the God of Israel that they are stirred to worship.
- How do you feel in a crowd?
- How do you think Jesus might have treated all the people in the crowd?
- How do imagine the disciples might have behaved? Why?
- What miracles have you seen today? What is your response to this?