You do not need much in a moment to create a situation where crowds will gather. Something as simple as a fender bender brings people to a slowing halt. I’ve seen milk spill in cafeterias and people flock to watch the milk trickle along tile like it was art. Many crowds gather with great noble intent only to find opposition misunderstanding the point. The result being bean bag bullets and tear gas.
Crowds will gather. Some with malicious intent. Others for the benefit or remembrance of others. Crowds have been gathering for thousand of years. Crowds gather to build towers or to take a group of people out at a sea.. When they gather sometimes some amazing things happen in the middle of them that only a few will notice.
In the conclusion of Chapter 4 of Matthews Gospel, he tells us that large crowds gathered and followed Jesus. The result of His dynamic preaching characterized by incredible authority and clarity. They came from all over the region. Not just Jewish people. But folks from the Decapolis and Syria; Gentiles coming from all over also.
His healing was directed to the ones with various diseases and pain: The demon possessed, the epileptic, and the paralyzed. People who knew something was wrong with themselves. Whether they had been the beneficiary of suffering by someone else or because of their own doing the knew they were the problem that needed healing. When He healed it not only articulated the lesson that He could heal, but His was the type of healing that was in-discriminatory.
When He saw that the crowds continued to follow, He gives them a lesson in His actions. I could keep doing miracles only, but your trust in me would be subjective to my next healing. Matthew states that Jesus saws the crowds and by opening His mouth tells us that there is something to be known. There are two lessons that are implicit in any time Jesus opens His mouth.
- If Jesus opens his mouth the recipient has learned and demonstrates that Jesus is important if he or she is actively listening. Because every words that proceeds from His mouth is more important that bread.
- The content of the message from Jesus should be learned also.
Oh what great grace there is when Jesus opens His mouth. Perhaps another way to look at it is: was Jesus obligated to open His mouth and say anything to anyone? Or perhaps another way to look at it is this:
I think we have all had the humbling moment where a speaker is unpacking scripture and it sounds like they are talking directly to you. Or an important person like the CEO or your boss or a leader of a group turns to you and asks you a direct question or your opinion about how something should be done. Or in general a person normally in passing suddenly takes notice of you and if only for a brief moment you realize you have stepped into another world you don’t deserve to be in. This is Jesus teaching of the kingdom. He unpacks a place you do not belong and for His disciples He says its not just a story. If you are His you are already in that kingdom.
How incredible is the humbling moment where your past and present circumstances meet with an eternal solution. They were destitute, and poor, and hurting. They’d been beat up by their past. They had diseases which could make them outcasts because of it. Their demons plagued them. They were hopeless and pain inflicted (and pain inflicting on others perhaps?) Poor, destitute, pain carrying people from all parts of the world. Both sides of the tracks. Every family make up. And Jesus heals them all. But he does not just “heal” He opens His mouth in a message that in summary says “In My kingdom external healing is simply not righteous enough.”
If you see the picture in Matthew 5:1-2 and not just read it as narration, just imagine it for a moment. Knowing the background of the people, the horrid state many of them had come from. The incredibly troublesome times. The various walks of life. In my picture I see a lot of murmoring and noise slowly quieting to a low chatter and then silence. The only thing left is the restlessness of the soul. And in that quiet state Jesus sees the crowded souls in all their hangups and sin and frailties and self-righteousness that they will never be able to “fix” on their own. There are a few who are clearly aware of their state and honest of their inability to move from. These are the ones who clearly hear Jesus open his mouth and say:
When Jesus sees crowds, He opens His mouth and grace and judgment flow from it. I would like to say I would have been in the crowd of disciples among a crowd of people who departed from all other things (“Blessings”) that I think I need. I would hope I would be able to say with confidence that ‘while I am utterly destitute, in His kingdom I am already blessed.’