Matthew 14:34-36 (NIV) When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.
After the successful feeding of the 5,000, there was no time to rest on laurels. There were still many people who had not yet heard the message of the kingdom, and time was ticking away. So Jesus had His disciples put ashore in Gennesaret, just west of Capernaum.
Jesus had been through this area many times, so was quickly recognized. As soon as He was, the word went out that He was back in town, and the people started flooding in, bringing their sick.
Jesus didn’t really mind, and He didn’t feel put upon, even when people just wanted to touch the tassels on the edge of His robe to be healed. He allowed what many feel would have been an intrusion on His personal space, because the healings that the people received from Him did two very important things.
First, it brought wholeness, shalom, into the lives of God’s people, not only a positive blessing in itself, but a clear sign that God’s kingdom was becoming a reality right where they were living. Second, it opened the hearts of the people to hear the teachings about the kingdom that were never absent from Jesus’ lips. Very few would receive a miracle from Jesus and then be closed to His words. The power He brought into contact with their lives gave Him the right to be heard and taken seriously.
That is one of the reasons why it seems that there is so little openness to the gospel today. The majority of people presenting it have no power. Their lives are qualitatively no different from the lives of the people they are trying to reach. They have no personal experience of transformation to share. So they are perceived as mainly sharing a philosophy or a religion, and most people have had more than enough of both of those in their lives. So they close their ears and move on.
Some might claim that people shouldn’t need signs, and miracles, and stories of powerful transformation; that the message of the gospel should stand on its own. But Jesus Himself didn’t present the gospel that way. His words rang with the authority of personal experience with the Father Himself, and were nearly always accompanied by actions, miracles, and signs that were designed to clearly demonstrate that the kingdom of God that He was telling them about was a here-and-now reality.
Father, so many today pooh-pooh the need for miracles in sharing the gospel, that it’s really eye opening to realize that Jesus Himself never did. (The one possible exception being John 4:48, but even then He followed up immediately with a miracle for this father in need.) Instead, Jesus allowed Your power to flow through Him constantly, so that the people could see that what He was telling them was real. And He encouraged His disciples to use the same technique (cf. Matthew 10:7-8; John 14:12-14). It doesn’t do us any good to try to design new ways to share the good news of the kingdom when those ways are powerless and ineffective. We will never be able to design a way that is better than the way Jesus used. Help us to BE the kingdom, just like He was, help us to allow YOUR power to flow through our lives, so that our message today is as powerful as His was then, and so that lives can be changed as they were when the Church was new. Amen.