BRIEF INTRO: Last time we ended our study after Jesus got into the boat, the boat the disciples (the men who were the first generation of gospel preachers and were to be the rulers over the 12 tribes of Israel -Matthew 19:28) were in as they battled strong winds. These men couldn’t understand who Jesus truly was, “their heart was hardened” (v. 52). These men had no excuse considering all they saw, heard, and experienced. But neither do we!
The other gospels show us that the disciples understood only by degrees. Therefore their statements (throughout their days of walking with Jesus) shouldn’t be interpreted as if they had a “post resurrection” understanding of Him. They always seem to come to the same point over and over again, each time at a deeper level of understanding. But always with a mixture of apprehension! They haven’t arrived yet, AND neither have we!
Jesus, who previously instructed the twelve to go to Bethsaida (v.45), now instructs them to cross over the sea again, this time going into the region of Gennesaret on the western shore of the sea (see photo for a better understanding of their travels back and forth).
53 “When they had crossed over they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored at the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him.”
FOCUS ONE: Jesus recognized
Immediately the people recognize Him. Why? Most likely, they had heard about the miracles He was performing from others. They listened to the news about the demons He cast out, the woman with the blood issue being healed by only touching Him, and I am sure they would have heard about thousands of people being fed till satisfied, even though there were only five loaves of bread and two fish!
It seems probable, as well, that they would have been told that twelve scraggly looking men usually surrounded this outstanding preacher and miracle worker. So, upon seeing this group coming on shore, it was evident to them exactly who He was. This text has no hint of doubt or confusion about His identity. Instead, “the people immediately recognized Him” (v. 54).
55 “and ran about that entire country and began carrying here and there on their pallets those who were sick, [a]to wherever they heard He was. 56 And wherever He entered villages, or cities, or a countryside, they were laying the sick in the marketplaces and imploring (entreating) Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and all who touched it were being [b]healed.”
FOCUS TWO: Jesus pursued
These verses reveal that Jesus’ popularity was at an all-time high. People from that region began gathering their sick and lame and bringing them to wherever Jesus was. We can imagine that in many cases, that was no easy task. Getting their friends and loved ones to Him required some sacrifice and hardship along the way. But they did it. Why? They desired a miraculous intervention in the lives of their sick loved ones.
No matter where He went: villages, cities, or the countryside, there was a particular scene that would unfold. People from all over the place would bring their sick and lay them in the market places. These were the open spaces used for buying and selling and would afford much room for the sick people to be placed.
We are not told whether or not Jesus healed anybody in any other way than by them touching the fringe of His cloak. In our text, this was the main avenue of approach they used with Jesus (v. 56). They had heard about this man and were ready to take advantage of the situation. I wonder if the story of the woman with the blood issue influenced them (5:25)!
To “entreat” means that they kept begging again and again and again. We see this same Greek word (parakaloun) used in 5:10 regarding the demons asking not to be sent out of the country. In other words, they were persistent!
“As a good Jew, He wore the fringes and tassels commanded by God in Numbers 15:37-39 and Deuteronomy 22:12 (see picture). It was these that they sought to touch for healing.
I am taken back by how gracious Jesus was to these people. Rather than being angry for their constant neediness. Rather than being self-focused, He was others-focused. So unlike many of us. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. Even though it seems that they were not interested in His teaching, we find that “as many as touched it were being cured” (v. 56).
We know from other synoptic accounts that Jesus healed people in varied ways (speaking, touching, spitting on the ground, and then wiping it in the eyes of a man, etc.). But here, the scriptures say healing occurred only by touching the fringe of His cloak!
Now we know that it was not the “touching” that healed them. Nor was it the particular piece of clothing they touched. Christ healed no one except “by faith” (5:34; Luke 5:20; Luke 18:42). This context does not change that reality.
FOCUS THREE: Jesus’ compassion
Unlike Jesus, we often tend to do things expecting something in return. We do it when it works for us and if we feel someone is deserving of our help. NOT JESUS! From start to finish, he sought to do the Father’s will. Lack of sleep and food, no issue. No alone time, no matter. Constant cries for physical help but little if any desire for spiritual aid, not a deterrent to Him!
I know we are not Jesus, BUT we are to imitate Him (Ephesians 5:1; 4:32; Luke 6:40). It is sad to think that many people are more concerned about their temporal significance, “more concerned about their bodies than their souls.”
Do you get upset when you feel people are taking advantage of you?
When you see a need, do you try to fill it?
Do you show proper appreciation and consideration for others when asking them favors?
These are a few things to consider as we seek to imitate Jesus in our walk of faith.