By Lilly Lewin
In our journey through Matthew, we’ve moved through lots of parables in the last few weeks and now we are moving into ministry miracles with Jesus. With all the events of this week, I know that I need reminding that miracles still happen. I need to glimpse the abundance of Jesus and be reminded of his great compassion for each of us.
Matthew 14 is a BIG CHAPTER. It begins with the story of the beheading of John the Baptist and then Jesus being told about the loss of his cousin. Jesus attempts to get away by himself to process his loss and grieve alone, but instead he is greeted by a very large crowd who have followed him out to his place of retreat!
READ Matthew 14: 12-36 (NIV) and other translations
12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus. 13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
I don’t know about you, but when I am trying to get away and get some time to think or process, I do not appreciate getting bombarded by a lot of people. I want my space. Yet instead of being annoyed with the crowds who find him, Jesus has compassion on them and heals them.
Who in your life is frustrating you at the moment? Who is invading your space or interrupting your peace?
Who could use some compassion rather than condemnation or criticism from you? Talk to Jesus about this person or persons. Ask Jesus to help you show them compassion. Pray for this person or persons.
What do you have that you need Jesus to multiply for you right now like he did the fish and bread?
What is the thing, emotion or physical item, or need that you have right now that you’d like Jesus to multiply?
Often we don’t believe that we have enough “fish or bread” to feed people or enough “fish or bread” to do the task Jesus has asked us to do… The disciples didn’t think what they had was enough for everyone… they probably didn’t feel like what they had was even enough for themselves. Yet in the hands of Jesus, their loaves and fish were more than enough!
Where are you feeling NOT ENOUGH today? Where are you experiencing not enough fish or bread to do the task at hand or to provide for all the people in need?
TALK TO JESUS ABOUT THIS. Let Jesus have the fish and bread that you have and multiply it for you!
Jesus provides what the people need… healing, food, trust, miracles…etc. What do you need right now?
Pray for people in your life who need healing, food, trust, miracles… maybe you need them too! Talk to Jesus about this.
Jesus even provides LEFTOVERS! There was MORE THAN ENOUGH! I love that there are twelve baskets of leftovers after they eat! How have you experienced the “more than enough of Jesus” lately?
Look back in your life and remember the times you’ve experienced the abundance of LEFTOVERS, the MORE THAN ENOUGH of Jesus and take time to thank him for this!
WALKING ON WATER!
What are the heavy seas and big waves, or the storm in your life that you need Jesus to calm? TALK TO HIM about this. Ask Jesus to calm them.
Be brave and don’t be afraid. I am here! (JESUS SAYS “I AM” like God in Exodus with Moses!) How can you receive this? How do you need to receive and believe this right now?
“Come and join me,” Jesus replied. Jesus tells Peter and you and I to GO FOR IT!…. What is Jesus inviting you to get out of the boat and join him to do? What is Jesus asking you to JOIN HIM in during this season of covid19?
What is Jesus inviting you to GO FOR? ASK HIM.
Why is it that the disciples worship Jesus after the walking on the water and not after the multiplying of the meal? What things prevent you from noticing the miracles? Which miracle do you need right now?
Father Richard Rohr says, “whenever Jesus sends disciples to cross the lake, Jesus is about to do something or say something preparing them to cross over to a new level of faith….helping them cross over a boundary of belief…. crossing boundaries of understanding…”
What boundaries is Jesus inviting you to cross in this season of your life? What NEW THING is Jesus asking you to learn or grow into as you cross the lake?
How can you provide food for someone this week? Bake something, make something for a neighbor or friend, give money or make a donation to a food bank or food project. How is Jesus inviting you to share loaves and fish this week?
Opening Image is “Loaves and Fishes” by John August Swanson 2003. Take time to pray with this painting.