Jesus Feeds the Crowd

(Matthew 15:29-39)

Jesus feeds the crowd again in this section. This is the second miracle where Jesus feeds the crowd with just a few loaves and fishes.

The details of this miracle are similar to when Jesus feeds the crowd of five thousand. In this case we see there are four thousand men plus women and children, so it is a substantial crowd following him. Apart from the miracle itself, the lesson to be learned is strengthened by him doing this miracle twice. So what are the lessons to be taken from this?

1. The hand of the Lord is not shortened. He is able to provide for his people even being able to create food from nothing.
2. He is compassionate to his people. They had been following him for three days and he did not want to send them away hungry.
3. He shows we are to provide both spiritual food and physical food when the need is there.
4. It is hypocritical to say when someone is in need of food or clothing to, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled, without giving them the things needed for the body,” (James 2:16) That is, our faith is completed by our deeds and actions.

Now even today when Jesus is not walking the earth as he did two thousand odd years ago, we still see his miraculous power at work. His people who follow him are constantly watched over and guarded and do not suffer want. Testimonies abound of how people have sought the Lord for many things and received his blessing, sometimes in miraculous ways. As examples, here are a few instances from my own life and experience of the Lord’s provision and protection.

In all things we can come to him. There is no matter too great or too small that he cannot resolve. We need to firstly have the faith to bring our needs and concerns to him and then give him praise and glory to God when the prayers are answered. We also need to understand that sometimes the answer will be “No.” It is just like when our own children come to us for things that we know from experience is not good or right for them.

So if Jesus can feed the crowd on just a few loaves and fishes, he can do just about anything we may ask. The key is to ask and to believe that you will receive an answer.

Jesus Healing People

(Matthew 15:29-31)

Jesus healing people was a large part of why people followed him around. It would be no different today. When you consider the amount of sickness in the world today, and back in Jesus’ day, Jesus healing people was almost a full time job.

But the message he had to give was not just healing of the body. He also taught the people the good news of the New Covenant. There was a spiritual healing for the people too if they would listen and accept his word. That same offer of Jesus healing people spiritually is still available today. And the healing ministry along with all of the other miracles performed was done for the specific purpose of confirming the truth of the message. We see at the end of Mark that when the disciples were sent out to preach, there were miraculous signs performed to back up the message. The scripture says, “And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.” (Mark 16:20)

Many people who first come to Christ do so when they have reached rock bottom. When they are completely down and out spiritually they begin to wonder if there is anything more to life, and start to seek in the spiritual dimension. Some go completely in the wrong direction and become spiritually ill, but those who seek the Lord find him or are found by him. When they come to the feet of Jesus in the spirit through prayer and repentance, they are healed as the people brought the sick and laid them at his feet for physical healing in this section of scripture. It says they brought the lame, the maimed, the blind, the dumb and many others and Jesus healed them all. None were missed. No sickness, deformity or issue was too hard or too great for him to overcome.

We see the people on seeing Jesus healing people were amazed and they were in wonder at the mighty power of God they were seeing in front of their eyes. They knew the source of this power for they glorified the God of Israel on seeing these miracles performed. And all the while Jesus continued to teach them the truth of the Kingdom of God.

Unfortunately many would reject his teachings at the time. The multitudes turned against him when he was brought before Pilate and put to death. But thereafter they recognised their error when Peter stood and preached to them on Pentecost day and they repented and turned once again to the Lord, this time for spiritual healing. Today this opportunity still exists to turn to Jesus for healing of the spirit. When we learn about the truth of the gospel, it is freedom and release that heals us in the spirit. In Jesus Christ we can find and receive his peace into our hearts and live in harmony with the Lord and one another.

The Hem of His Garment

(Matthew 14:34-36)

After Jesus had walked on the water with Peter and calmed the seas, they came to the other shore to land at Gennes’arat. On arriving the local people recognised Jesus and sent word to all in the region. People came from all around for healing and to merely touch the hem of his garment so they would be healed. And the healing power of Jesus was such that to merely touch the hem of his garment was sufficient, for as many as did touch the hem of his garment were made well.

Here we see that Jesus fame had spread throughout the land. Everywhere he went from here on there were crowds. They came to be healed, to see the mighty works and to hear the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus did not self promote to achieve such a presence in the land. There was no marketing, no hype, no trumpets or town criers going before him to announce his arrival. There was no You Tube or Facebook or Internet to spread the word of him in those days, but still his fame spread like wildfire. In fact in many of the healings Jesus specifically told the people to tell no one as we see in Mark 7:36, “And he charged them to tell no one; but the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.” Despite telling the people to keep it quiet, the more they spread his fame.

It stands to reason that he would be seen for it is written elsewhere, “So also good deeds are conspicuous; and even when they are not, they cannot remain hidden.” (1 Timothy 5:25) And also, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.” (Matthew 5:14) In this scripture Jesus was referring to the disciples and those who followed his word. If the disciples cannot be hidden, how much less the author of salvation, Jesus Christ himself?

The faith of the people had grown to such levels that we see them wish only to touch the hem of his garment and the believed they would be healed. And as many who did touch the hem of his garment were healed. In another section we see a woman with a flow of blood come to him and touch the hem of his garment without his knowledge and she too was healed. But Jesus was aware of the power going out to do the healing and when she realised she could not hide she confessed. Jesus made the comment for her to go in peace for, “Your faith has made you well.” (Luke 8:43-48)

The key to healing is faith. We see this also under the anointing with oil for healing. In James 5:14-15 we see this shown, “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” In this case we see that it is a combination of faith. The sick person must have faith enough to call for the elders of the church to anoint and pray for him or her. And the elders must have faith that the anointing with oil and prayer to the Father, both in the name of the Lord Jesus will heal the sick person. Indeed our whole life in Christ is based on faith in Jesus and we live in him only by faith and the power of Jesus’ name.

A Prophet is Without Honour

(Matthew 13:53-58)

There are three valuable lessons in this last section of Matthew 13, culminating with the teaching that a prophet is without honour in his own country and house. In this part we see him finish his parable teachings and returning to his own home country.

Firstly though we see an insight into Jesus earlier life and his family life. Contrary to how he is often portrayed, Jesus was part of a wider family. We know that his mother was Mary and his earthly, though not biological father was Joseph. However Jesus is often portrayed as an only child. This was not the case for here we see there was an extended family. He had four brothers who were names here as James, Joseph, Simon and Judas and he also had a number of sisters who were not named. The sisters were described as “all his sisters” who could mean three or more, and definitely at least two, although you would expect if there were only two they would say “both his sisters.” (Vs. 55) So Jesus understood the issues and problems as well as the benefits of family life.

Secondly we see that the people of his hometown all recognised him. They knew who he was for he had grown up among them. This was Jesus, the carpenter’s son who played and worked in their streets and villages as a child and young man. They were puzzled because they had heard about him but when he came and taught with such wisdom in their synagogue, they were astonished. However they did not recognise him as the Son of God. Thus they took offence for they were hardened of heart because of their familiarity with the old Jesus, not this teacher of God’s Kingdom bring the good news of the gospel. They could not accept that this was the same person and so they did not believe in him.

We see also that because of their unbelief and lack of faith, Jesus did no mighty works there. Why? Because the works that he did were based on faith. The people had to believe that God could do the works that Jesus did before they would come to him for his help. For example, if a person did not believe Jesus could free them from a sickness, disease or infirmity, they would not come for healing. Over and over we see this when Jesus said, “Your faith has made you well” (Matthew 9:22, Mark 5:34, Mark 10:52, Luke 8:48, Luke 17:19, Luke 18:42) Without faith the people would not come. Was the power Jesus had lessened because the people did not believe? Absolutely not. But if they did not come and ask for healing through a lack of faith, then they would not get healed. Jesus did not force his will or his healing power on anyone. They had to make the first move, and the first move is faith. The people did not believe for they considered him to still be the carpenter’s son rather than the Son of God.

Finally we find Jesus make the statement that a prophet is without honour in his own country, land and house. This is the same as saying that familiarity breeds contempt. In his own house and country a prophet was nobody special. Everyone knew them for they had grown up together so they knew the person’s behaviour, strengths and weaknesses. A prophet in another place is among strangers who do not know these things and so they listen for all they have to judge the character of the person is what they see and hear. But in his own home a prophet is just a brother or son and part of the wider family unit.

Even Jesus had this experience and it was included here to show us an insight into the nature of man. Often when we try to bring the good news to our own family and friends we too are treated with a lack of faith. These people know our past and us. If we had a colourful past they will not believe this is the same person speaking to them as the one they knew. And so they too may take offence as they did with Jesus. Sometimes the people closest to us who we may want to bring the message of the gospel to are the hardest to convince. With them we need to adopt a silent approach so that they may be won over by observing our changed behaviour. The apostle Peter wrote of this very thing saying, “Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do not obey the word, may be won without a word by the behaviour of their wives, when they see your reverent and chaste behaviour.” (1 Peter 3:1-2)

So we can take heart from these lessons and understand that if we are rejected by those we know best, it may be that it is not the right time for them. They may need to be convinced not by words but by seeing the changes in our life.

Jesus’ Power to Forgive Sins

(Matthew 9:1-8)

In the previous chapter of Matthew we saw that Jesus showed he had the power over all physical ailments, demon possession and the elements of this world. Now we begin to see the spiritual power he has to enable us to conquer and overcome the passions and weaknesses in our lives.

In this first section of chapter nine we see that a paralytic is brought to Jesus for healing. Previously we saw Jesus heal the sick and lame and so there is no question that he would have the power from God to do this healing as well. But we see now that Jesus takes a different approach to this healing than he had previously.

Instead of just saying to the man, “Rise and walk,” Jesus says to him, “Your sins are forgiven.” This is an unusual statement given that the man has come to be healed. But the lesson here is quite profound. The scribes who were there at the time said that Jesus was blaspheming by saying that the mans sins are forgiven. Their position was that only God can forgive sins, and to a degree they were correct. But they still did not understand that Jesus is both the Son of God and he IS God. So when Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven” he was within his rights to do so and was not blaspheming at all.

He then upbraided the scribes for thinking such evil of him. It is clear that no man on earth, and certainly not a sinner or blasphemer can say to a paralytic to rise and walk. Man does not have the spiritual authority let alone the healing power to do such a thing and the scribes as well as the people at the time knew this too. So Jesus used the power of healing in this case to prove that he had the authority to forgive sin. He said to them, “Which is easier, to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?'” (vs.5) He knew that they knew no man could say to a paralytic “Rise and walk” and see the man healed. So using this knowledge he then said to them, “But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he then said to the paralytic — “Rise, take up your bed and go home.” And the man rose and went home, fully healed of the paralysis that had kept him bedridden.

The healing was done in this case to prove to the people that Jesus could forgive sins. The healing was not for the sake of the healing alone, but to prove Jesus had AUTHORITY to forgive sins. The testimony of John the Baptist when he bore witness to Jesus was, “”Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) And in this section of Matthew we see Jesus proving he had the authority to do exactly that. In this healing he showed he could and would be able to take away the sins of mankind. This is an important point for without the removal of sin we cannot enter the Kingdom of God. No sinner will enter God’s Kingdom, but in Jesus our sins can be taken away for he has both the power and authority to do so. This matter will be discussed in greater detail in future posts or can be studied further on the website www.freegiftfromgod.com.

The Power of Jesus Conquers All Things

(Matthew 8:28-34)

When Jesus took a boat across the water he came to the district of the Gadarenes where he met the demoniacs living amongst the tombs. When these demoniacs saw him it is evident that the demons in the two men recognised who Jesus was and understood his power over them, for they were subject to him.

There were many demons afflicting these men. In the other gospel versions of this section the demons called themselves “Legion” indicating not so much a name but a number. The structure of the ancient Roman army was made up of a number of legions of soldiers. A legion was essentially a complete army which included cooks, armour bearers, smiths and tradesmen to maintain and repair equipment as well as soldiers. It was effectively and army in its own right along with all the necessary service and support personnel necessary to wage war. Typically a legion comprised of up to about six thousand men. So when the demons possessing the men Jesus met called themselves “Legion” they were most likely referring to the number of demons possessing the men, which may have been as many as six thousand evil spirits.

These demons recognised Jesus as the Son of God and were afraid. It is evident also from other scriptures that when a demon is cast out of a man it is most unpleasant for them. Matthew 12:43 says, “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest…” So when the demon is cast out it is like wandering through a hot, dry and hostile desert for them and they suffer much torment as a result.

Now the demons in this case, having been commanded to depart from the men, did not wish to be tormented and so they begged Jesus to be allowed to enter the herd of swine. Jesus gave them leave to do so, but their wish was short-lived as the herd immediately rushed down to the sea and drowned and the demons would have to wander the waterless places anyway.

James wrote in his epistle that, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder.” (James 2:19) We see here in Matthew that they had good reason to believe and shudder for they knew they would receive no mercy for their evil ways and would be cast into a place of despair. Nor should they receive mercy as in this case they had tormented these men they possessed and caused them much suffering and harm. The end judgement of these demons was a just punishment for their actions.

The last few verses are interesting too. The people who came out to see him from the town nearby were greatly afraid at what they heard and saw. They were so afraid that they asked him to go away. Jesus did not attempt to force himself on them and nor does he force himself on anyone today. He did as they asked and got into the boat and left. It is interesting that even though a great sign had been performed among them, they did not want any part of what he was doing. There are many people today who say, “Show me a sign and then I’ll believe.” In reality if the do not believe without the sign, the sign may not make much impact. Jesus showed this same principle in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). For after the rich man died and went to Hades he asked that Lazarus be sent back to warn his brothers. But he was told that the brothers had the teachings of Moses and the prophets that they needed to listen to. But the rich man said, “…if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'” Then he was told that, “‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'”

A miracle means nothing to one who has no belief. The miracles Jesus did confirmed the truth of the message he taught, but it is the message that is most important, not the miracle. We must listen to the message and not get dazzled by the miracle for the message of Christ is what will lead us to life.

In the whole of Matthew chapter 8 we see that Jesus has power over all things. He healed the sick, calmed the storms and cast out demons all to show that his is the power from God. We who believe in him should take comfort from the knowledge that he cares for and protects us. And he also showed that no issue was too small or too great for him to handle if we only have faith and believe in Jesus.

Trust Jesus in All Situations

(Matthew 8:18-27)

Here we see that as the crowds began to press upon him as his fame grew and word of mouth got around that miracles were being performed. After seeing these things the people began to press around him wanting to be close to him and seeking more. Under such circumstances he was unable to rest and nor would the people be able to rest.

He showed this when a scribe said to him that he would follow Jesus wherever he went. This is not unlike high profile people today who are hounded by the paparazzi and constantly being followed. Jesus made this point in vs. 20 saying,”Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” There was no place he could go at that time where he would not be followed and thus not be able to get a break from the people. We must remember that although he was the Son of God, he was here as a man and suffered all the issues a man suffers including being tired and exhausted.

Jesus needed to move on & he needed to get some rest. He said to his disciples to get into a boat to go across the water. As they went a great storm arose and he boat was being swamped, but Jesus was so tired he slept through it all. The disciples with him though were in great fear thinking they would perish. They still had not the faith to know that they had the Son of God with them and he would protect them from all dangers. When you consider for a moment that he could raise people from the dead it becomes evident that a storm should have been of little concern to the disciples.

At this stage though they did not have that faith for it was still early in Jesus ministry and they were young in Christianity. They had not learned they needed to trust in the Lord and know that he is watching over them and us. So fearing disaster they woke him up saying, “Save, Lord, we are perishing.” His response was simple and showed their lack of faith, “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?” This was a simple enough position. They had seen the miraculous works he had just done, but their faith was still not strong enough to recognise that Jesus was God and could do anything. So he spoke to the storm and rebuked the wind and waves and it became calm. He showed them his power is unlimited. The disciples were shocked and amazed because it was unheard of that anyone could speak to the weather and change it by a word.

Through these proofs he showed the disciples that there is no need to fear the storms of the world, nor the storms of life. Whether physical matters, such as sickness, spiritual matters, like demon possession, or other things that may cause us to be afraid as they feared the storms, there is nothing that Jesus cannot and will not bring under control when the time is right.

We need not fear these things either for the Lord showed in all these scriptures that he protects and he will control these things. When we do have issues though, as the disciples feared being swamped, we need to call out to the Lord for help and he will save us. As we go through the storms of life we need to remember that we can call on him for help and that He has the power to save us from any and every situation.

The Unlimited Healing Power of Jesus

(Matthew 8:14-17)

In first part of this section (vs.14-15) Jesus goes to Peter’s house and seeing Peter’s mother-in-law lying sick with a fever he heals her. There are a couple of interesting points here in this small section. Firstly this woman was Peter’s mother-in-law which shows that he had a wife and thus was married. This was further indicated by Paul who likewise showed that Peter was married in 1 Corinthians 9:5. Some have thought that Peter was celibate but this was clearly not the case.

The second thing we see in this small section is that Peter’s mother-in-law had a fever. Most fevers are associated with infection of some kind and usually not too much to worry about. We don’t know how serious this fever was or the underlying condition causing the fever. It may well have been associated with something quite minor such as a common cold or could have been something more serious. The point here though is that if this was a minor condition it shows that Jesus was concerned not with just major health issues, which were the “big” miracles, but he was also concerned with the small infirmities as well. God is not just God of the big stuff but of the small stuff too. And there is no problem too large or too small that we cannot take to him, even a minor fever from the common cold.

In the next verse (vs. 16) we see many people were brought to him for healing and to have demons exorcised and he healed all of these people. There were no questions, no requirements to be healed, no offerings given or requested. It was a matter as simple as, they came, they were sick and he healed them. All who came were healed. None were too difficult and no case was a bother to him.

Matthew then wrote in the final verse in this section (vs. 17) that Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah who said, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” So we see from this and my previous posts that there were many purposes to these miracles and healings. They were a sign to confirm the message he preached, they were to fulfil Old Testament prophecies and of course they were to show the power of God.

Why Jesus Healed the Sick

(Matthew 8:1-13)
 
(At the end of chapter seven of Matthew we see Jesus finishes his sermon on the mount. The people having heard his words were astonished at his teachings for he taught as one who had authority. He spoke powerfully and boldly to the people all the words of life and what would be the keys to entry into God’s kingdom.
 
(Then as evidence of this authority he had, he confirmed all of the words through the acts that he did. This is one of the reasons he did many of the miracles including healing the sick and infirm. We see over in Mark 16:20 saying, “And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.” The signs the disciples were given to practice included healing the sick and the purpose of these signs was to back up the ministry. Likewise when Jesus preached, his ministry and words were confirmed by the signs. No man could do the miracles he did unless the power of God was with him to do it, and so it was evidence that the words He spoke were the words of God.
 
(Now after finishing the sermon on the mount Jesus went forth and healed many who were ill which confirmed the message he had just given. But there are other teachings in this message as well. We see in the first section of Matthew 8:1-5 where Jesus cleansed the leper. Under the Mosaic law there were explicit teachings as to what needed to be done if ever a leper were cured of leprosy. There were offerings to be made over a period of time and they needed to be pronounced cleansed by the priests at the temple and various other practices. At the time of Jesus there was no New Covenant in effect because it did not commence until Jesus died, so the people were still under the law. Also Jesus could not be seen to be breaking the law and he would not, for he came to fulfil the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17). So in accordance with the law he instructed the leper now healed to go and make the offerings and show himself to the priests in accordance with the ordinances on the cleansing of leprosy.
 
(Jesus was not making a great song and dance about this healing either. He was not doing the healings so that people would come to him and look upon how great and marvellous he was. On the contrary he typically told the people who were healed not to tell anyone but go and do as he instructed them. The point of the healings was not personal edification or gain but to confirm the message of the Kingdom of God.
 
(We then see a second healing in this section on the servant of a centurion in Matthew 8:5-13. This healing is different in several ways. Firstly, Jesus was prepared to go to the sick man and heal him, but the centurion said it was unnecessary to do that. The centurion recognised the power of Jesus and that if he would just say the word it would be done. He knew that the power of God was everywhere and that it did not require the Lord to be physically present for his healing power to go forth. Jesus marvelled at this centurion for Jesus saw that the man’s faith was great. This man had an understanding that many others did not. He had faith and so the Lord did the healing as the man requested and his servant was healed instantly.
 
(Although there were many healings done by Jesus and many miraculous things occurred, they were done for a purpose. They showed the power of God and were a wonder and blessing to those who received them, but the main purpose of the healings was to back up the words that Jesus spoke. It is the ministry that is important for the ministry and teachings are what will lead a person to life. Eventually all of the miracles will cease for they will not be required. In God’s kingdom there will be no sickness or death and so healings will not be needed. But the teachings of life are eternal. It is these that are more important and must be noted.
 
(Some Christians and some churches today are seeking miracles once again. It is more important to seek the kingdom. We should rather seek the truth and find the faith that will lead us into the kingdom of God as this is everlasting. Miracles and healings are temporary and of this world only, but the truth lasts forever. Focus on finding the truth that leads to God through Jesus Christ instead.