Church of Christ
Locks Cross Roads
6) Matthew 15:29 and following
And He went up into the mountain, and sat there. Which mountain is not identifiable, because the area east of the
Sea of Galilee, and standing out in contrast with it, is marked by heights rising to 1000-2000 feet, Golan Heights.
The Decapolis area is essentially pagan country, consisting of ten free Greek cities within the territory of ancient
Israel, mostly located east of the Jordan Valley. Why should Jesus be so ready to help people who are not strictly
Hebrews? Because this mixed Jewish-Gentile population dwelt in at least a nominally Israelite territory, there would
be less confusion about the primary goal of His mission. The Lord now illustrates its intended ramifications by
blessing both Jews and Gentiles together. Because of the mixed character of the Decapolis population, Jesus can
easily carry out the Syrophoenician woman's principle without compromise, even if on the drastically limited scale we
see here. He can "let the children first be fed," while "the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs."
Matthew 15:29 - And Jesus departed then, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and He went up unto the
mountain, and sat there. And there came unto Him great multitudes, having with them the lame, blind, dumb,
maimed, and many others, and they cast them down at His feet; and He healed them: insomuch that the multitude
wondered, when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing: and
they glorified the God of Israel. And Jesus called unto Him His disciples, and said, I have compassion on the
multitude, because they continue with me now three days and have nothing to eat: And I would not send them away
fasting, lest haply they faint on the way. And the disciples say unto Him, Whence should we have so many loaves in
a desert place as to fill so great a multitude? And Jesus said unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said,
Seven, and a few small fishes. And He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground; and He took the seven
loaves and the fishes; and He gave thanks and brake, and gave to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes.
And they all ate, and were filled: and they took up that which remained over of the broken pieces, seven baskets
full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, besides women and children. And He sent away the multitudes,
and entered into the boat, and came into the borders of Magdala.
And they cast them down at His feet: this surprising verb "cast them down" may also be used with no connotation of
violence in the sense of "to put or lay down" which is probably the nuance intended here.
Genuine faith in Israel's Messiah can be found even among Canaanites (Matthew 15:21-28), and, finally, Gentiles
can sit down with Israel to feast on the Messiah's bounty even in this world (Matthew 15:29-39). What a challenge to
a lot of Jewish theology this chapter must have been!
I have compassion on the multitude. When people hurt or have needs, the Lord responds with the strength, the
kindness and the thoughtfulness of a gentleman. These people He helps are not Christians, as we would esteem
them, but just frail human beings many of whom are outside the limits of revealed religion. Nevertheless, He shared
with them His bounty, not stopping to check their synagogue attendance record or ask to see their baptismal
certificate before providing them a crust of bread and some fish tidbits. They had not even asked for food, just help
and healing; He lovingly gave them more than they imagined He had!
Jesus challenges those who are content with doing nothing merely because they have little with which to work. How
many loaves do you need?
Jesus would not do all this work Himself, nor would He summon even one of the angels in heaven to do what His
human helpers could.
Jesus did not use heavenly means to provide the need until the full extent of earthly provision could be ascertained
Jesus taught by practical demonstration that Jews and Gentiles can sit down in peace to eat bread together in His
Kingdom, their only points of common interest being their own deep need and His invitation and provision.
If we see the Gospels as living lessons on "What It Means to Be the Body of Jesus Christ on Earth Today," the
Church, then, must express the compassion of the Lord for people, not by sentimentalities more or less hypocritical,
but by swift action to correct the needs of people in each situation faced. Jesus always left men with strength for the
way: does the Church do as well?