God’s blessing to you all—
I was impressed deeply this week in reading through the Book of Matthew, when I came to chapter 14 with its various stories. The feeding of the 5,000 is one; and Peter walking on the water is another—both amazing miracles.
I was even more blessed, though, with the setting of the chapter. It began with the vicious death of John the Baptist, which led to Jesus’ very human reaction. The account says that when He heard of this, the violent murder of his friend and cousin, “He withdrew from thence in a boat to a desert place.” As I read it this time, it seemed that He was looking for solitude and a place to grieve. But no—this quite justifiable respite was to be denied Him. The multitudes “followed Him on foot from the cities.”
His response? “He had compassion on them.” A wonderful statement, which seems so beyond us we are nearly stunned by it. Compassion? On them? They should have had compassion on Him! He was bereaved; didn’t He at least deserve some space? But He understood that they did not understand, and He gave them space.
So He went on ministering to them, feeding them, and that done, He finally resorted to making his way to Gennesaret, as if to seek solace across the water. But not even there did He find it. Again the crowds pressed in, seeking their share of His miraculous healing—and we can’t blame them for that. Anyone who has been in physical pain or sickness understands the basic urgent desire for help, and it’s no wonder that they pressed upon Him.
But then came the statement that really met my heart: “As many as touched Him were made whole.” He didn’t even try to reach out and touch them—they crowded around, perhaps mobbing Him, perhaps pushing one another, each desperately reaching out a hand, even a finger, if only they could touch this Man. And those who succeeded got what they needed—fully, totally, blessedly healed. What joy and respite! What overwhelming relief!
So how do we touch Him? We need to do this, and when we do, we get what we so deeply lack. Are we fearful over the state of our nation? About the outcome of the election? Over our wayward friends and relatives? Even about our health? If we are honest, we must admit that we’re prone to harboring a whole nest of needs like that, needs that yield to no earthly solution. But there is a solution, though it’s counter-intuitive: we must press in to touch the intangible, and we do it in only one way, By Faith.
With that faith, He has also offered some practical things that help, the best being Communion. There we can touch the intangible. But another practical thing is a weekly period of time: He has provided space, opportunity, a way. He had no solitude in which to assuage His earthly grief, but He sees to it that we do. He gave this Day to us as a gift of grace, a period of time in which He seems to make Himself especially available. It’s almost as if He’s telling us to remember the Garden of Eden, when He once walked and talked with man. Surely Adam had no lacks in those golden hours!
And on this Edenic day, we, too, can enjoy the Presence, and leave all grief and fear and anxiety outside. Let’s do that this Sabbath, shall we? I join you in touching Jesus, and finding our needs really met as we too are “Made whole.”