22 October 2016

Matthew 14:34-36

“After the people of that place recognised him, they … brought all who were sick to him, and begged him that they might touch the fringe of his cloak” (vv. 35-36)

Psalm: Psalm 34:11-22


After all the drama and excitement of this chapter these last few verses could be easily dismissed. It is possible to see them as just added detail with little importance to the story. Maybe they are just a link to the next chapter. But that would be to miss out on some important points.

After the storm has calmed Jesus and the disciples landed at Gennesaret, a fertile and fruitful area on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Although by some it was nicknamed Paradise, there were still plenty of sick people in need of Jesus' healing.

The faith of these people stand in direct contrast to the doubt of the disciples just previously (Matthew 14:26). Whereas the disciples cried out in fear on seeing him, these people flock to be near him. What is more, at the end of chapter 13, as Jesus taught and healed in his hometown of Nazareth the people responded with rejection and hostility rather than the faith and welcome we see here (Matthew 13:54-58).

It is worth noting what Jesus is wearing. A cloak with fringes on is the sign of a devout Jew. It dates back to the time of Moses. The fringes are there to remind the people of all the commandments of God (Numbers 15:37-41). However, it was likely that many Pharisees would have thought the idea of so many sick people touching them to be unacceptable, even if only the fringes of their cloaks.

We noticed earlier in the week (link) Jesus responding to the crowd with compassion (Matthew 14:14). We see that once more in this account. What is worth noting is that nowhere does it mention Jesus teaching. There seems to be no expectation of people needing to listen to Jesus' words or show any sign of response. People merely need to come and touch his cloak in order to receive his grace. This seems a clear example of actions speaking louder than words.

To Ponder

  • What needs do you see in our nation, despite it seemingly being a land of plenty?
  • Not all of us have the gift of healing, so how might the Church respond to those in need in a manner similar to Jesus?

Bible notes author

The Revd Will Fletcher

Will is a presbyter stationed in the Sheffield Circuit. He has oversight of one multisite church (The Beacon Methodist Church) which is spread over three locations in western Sheffield.