THE MINISTRY OF CHRIST
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. When the men of that place recognized him, they sent the news that he had come to the whole surrounding countryside, and they brought to him all those who were ill, and besought him to be allowed only to touch the fringe of his robe; and all who touched him were restored to health.
This is just one of Matthew’s almost colourless little connecting passages. It is a sentence or two of the gospel story that the eye might easily pass over as quite unimportant; and yet it is very revealing of Jesus.
(i) There is beauty in it. No sooner did Jesus appear anywhere than men were crowding and clamouring for his help; and he never refused it. He healed them all. There is no word here that he preached or taught at any length; there is simply the record that he healed. The most tremendous thing about Jesus was that he taught men what God was like by showing men what God was like. He did not tell men that God cared; he showed men that God cared. There is little use preaching the love of God in words without showing the love of God in action.
(ii) But there is also pathos here. No one can read this passage without seeing in it the grim fact that there were hundreds and thousands of people who desired Jesus only for what they could get out of him. Once they had received the healing which they sought, they were not really prepared to go any further. It has always been the case that people have wanted the privilege of Christianity without its responsibilities. It has always been the case that so many of us remember God only when we need him. Ingratitude towards God and towards Jesus Christ is the ugliest of all sins; and there is no sin of which men are more often and more consistently guilty.
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