6th August Trinity 9 Matthew 14 v. 13-21
When Jesus heard about John, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. But the crowds found out about it and followed Him on foot from the towns. When He stepped ashore and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick. When evening came, the disciples came to Him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is already late. Dismiss the crowds so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” “They do not need to go away,” Jesus replied. “You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to Me,” Jesus said. And He directed the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He spoke a blessing. Then He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. About five thousand men were fed, in addition to women and children.
According to St. Matthew, Jesus had just heard the sad news of the beheading of His cousin, John the Baptist. He just wanted to be alone. The crowds who were with Him thought only of themselves and followed Him. So Jesus stopped and ministered to their needs. As it began to get late, Jesus challenged His disciples , saying, “ Give them something to eat.” They could find one small picnic from the crowd, so Jesus performed them well-known miracle to provide enough food for them all.
This story is not just about providing food for hungry people, though. From it we learn important lessons - First, that Jesus always responds to a situation of need with generosity. He didn’t just provide enough food for everyone, but more than enough. Secondly, He involved others in helping Him to minister to others. The disciples were invited to join in His act of generosity.
What does that say to us? Jesus invites us to join Him in acts of love and care towards others. How can we become involved in Jesus’ generosity to people?
13th August Trinity 10 Matthew 14v. 22-33
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. After He had sent them away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, but the boat was already far from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went out to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus spoke up at once: “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” “Lord, if it is You,” Peter replied, “command me to come to You on the water.” “Come,” said Jesus. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strength of the wind he was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me! “Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and took hold of Peter. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?” And when they had climbed back into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God!”
Jesus had had a busy day and was tired. His way of unwinding was to go away by Himself to be with God and to pray. Having a time of prayer helped Jesus recharge His batteries. Afterwards He rejoined some of His friends who had gone fishing on Lake Galilee. He walked towards them on the water. Peter recognised Him, leaped out of the boat and began to walk across the water towards Him. Suddenly, he took his eyes off Jesus, became frightened and began to falter. As we read, Jesus saved him but gently berated him for his lack of faith.
We are reminded by this story that we must keep our eyes on Jesus, especially through times of stress in our lives. We must also turn to God in prayer regularly as Jesus did. You may remember a chorus from Sunday School days –
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full on His wonderful face,
And the things of the earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace.”
20th August Trinity 11 Matthew 15v.21-25
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And a Canaanite woman from that region came to Him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is miserably possessed by a demon.” But Jesus did not answer a word. So His disciples came and urged Him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before Him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
The area of the towns of Tyre and Sidon was known to be Gentile country. Jew had no contact at all with Gentiles and so did not go anywhere near there if they could help it. So the Canaanite woman was severely rebuffed by Jesus’ disciples when she approached Him to ask for help in her distress. Jesus’ initial response to her was not encouraging either, but He was testing her, not rejecting her. His final response to her, as we would expect, was to help her. Although Jesus made it clear that He believed He had been called first to the Jews, there are references in the Gospels to times when He went out of His way to help Gentiles. Can you think of one such occasion?
Are we sometimes tempted to think that loving God means loving other Christians first? How can we respond to Jesus’ example of loving all people.
27th August Trinity 12 Matthew 16 v.13-20
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He questioned His disciples: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He admonished the disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Christ.
During the three years of Jesus’ ministry on earth, He walked from place to place with His disciples. Those were special times for them because they were usually alone with Jesus. He used those times to teach them things that they need to learn in order that they could continue His ministry when He had ascended into Heaven. With the question “Who do you think that I am?” Jesus was testing them to see how much they had learned about Peter’s reply -“ You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” – was a flash of inspiration given him by the Holy Spirit.
We can sometimes receive flashes of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, too - especially when we pray or read from the Bible.
Try to remember one of those “flashes of inspiration “ you have had ( or look out for the next one! ) What did it teach you?
Ask God to teach you to recognise when the Holy Spirit is guiding you.