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Matthew 15:29-39 - Homiletics

The return.

I. THE JOURNEY .

1 . The Lord leaves the borders of Tyre. He had sojourned for a short time in this heathen land. He had wrought one mighty miracle; one heathen woman had shown a strangely energetic and persevering faith—a faith that we Christians may well covet earnestly. Surely some heathen souls—two at least, one would think—must have been drawn to Christ and to salvation by that work of love and power. They may, perhaps, have been among the little company who, thirty years afterwards, "kneeled down on the shore, and prayed," when St. Paul left Tyre on his last journey to Jerusalem. But the borders of Tyre were not to be the scene of the Lord's personal labours. He departed, going northwards at first through Sidon. He looked on the great Phoenician cities, with their commerce, their magnificence, their idolatries. So now from heaven he looks down on our great towns, with their strange sharp contrasts of wealth and poverty, luxury and misery, with their unbelief and heathenism, with their drunkenness and uncleanness. His followers were to labour afterwards in those great centres of population. His own work lay not there.

2 . He comes to the Sea of Galilee. He turned southeastwards, and came through the half-heathen Decapolis to the eastern coast of the well known lake. He went up into a mountain and sat down there, perhaps for prayer and meditation, perhaps for quiet intercourse with the twelve. But again he could not be hid; the healing of the deaf man who had an impediment in his speech ( Mark 7:32-37 ) was soon noised abroad. Great multitudes came; they were rough, ignorant mountaineers, inhabiting a semi-pagan country; but they saw the works of Christ; they recgonized his power and love. They brought the sick and suffering from all the neighbourhood, and cast them down at Jesus' feet. We do not read of any words—they knew not how to pray; but in their intense eagerness and excitement they cast down their suffering friends before the Lord. The action was enough. The sick lay around him; their reverential attitude, their mute distress, pleaded with the compassionate Saviour; he healed them all.

3 . The wonder of the multitude. These peasants of Decapolis were men of simple hearts; they had not been prejudiced against our Lord by the emissaries of the Pharisees; they saw the Lord's power, and they wondered. But they did more than wonder; they glorified the God of Israel. Possibly they had worshipped other gods; but it was the Prophet of the God of Israel who had wrought these marvellous cures; they recognized his majesty, as Naaman the Syrian had done ages before. It is a lesson to us. God's mercies should lead us on to adoration. Worship is what we owe to God, and worship is the prostration of the whole being, bowed low in adoring reverence before the glory of God. May the mercies of each day lead us to practise here on earth that holy unselfish worship which we hope hereafter to offer before the glory throne!

II. THE SECOND MIRACLE OF THE LOAVES .

1 . The Lord ' s words. The disciples made no suggestion now, as they had done before under similar circumstances ( Matthew 14:15 ). Their confidence in their Master was increasing; their reverence was deepening; they felt, it may be, that patient waiting was their most becoming attitude; it was not their place to offer advice. But he called them; he would teach them, and us through them, to care for the bodily wants of our fellow creatures. "I have compassion on the multitude." "These words," Stier well says, "in the mouth and from the heart of Christ, have called into existence all the institutions of philanthropy, unknown to heathenism, for all sorts of indigence and distress." The people were hungry; some of them (the Lord knew, as he knoweth all things) had come from far; they had continued with him three days. Their deep interest in the Lord's teaching, their wonder at his miracles, had so absorbed their thoughts that they had made no provision for their necessities, and their food was exhausted. Probably they were strangers from Decapolis; very possibly they had not heard of the feeding of the five thousand, who seem to have been gathered together on their way to the Passover. But these ignorant country people forgot themselves in attending upon the Lord. He cared for them. So he will care for us if we continue in his service, casting all our care on him.

2 . The disciples. They must have remembered the former miracle; their question, indeed, as reported by St. Matthew, sounds almost like an allusion to it: "Whence should we have so much bread?" The Lord's words seemed to imply that they were to provide the food; whence should they obtain it? He could supply it—that they knew; they knew not yet certainly whether it would please him to do as he had done before; they did not presume to prescribe his course of action. Their stock of provisions was very small, somewhat larger than on the former occasion, but utterly inadequate for the wants of such a multitude.

3 . The miracle. Again the Lord gave thanks, teaching us that we should never omit to acknowledge the bounty of God at every meal; again he brake the bread in that gracious manner so long and so well remembered ( Luke 24:35 ); again the disciples were his ministers in conveying the food to the assembled crowds. "And they did all eat, and were filled." The seven loaves and the few little fishes satisfied the hunger of four thousand men. The evangelist reminds us that, though the men only were numbered, there were women and children also. The Lord provided liberally for all alike. In Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female. Christianity has raised woman to her proper place in society. The Lord always loved the little children; he bade them come to him. He fed the whole multitude in his sovereign power and generous bounty, as now from day to day he feedeth us, fathers, mothers, children. "He satisfied them with the bread of heaven." There was enough, and more than enough; the disciples took up seven baskets full (and those baskets of large size; compare in the Greek, Acts 9:25 )—more, apparently, than the little store which they had at first. So he will bless our basket and our store if we trust in him.

LESSONS .

1 . The multitudes brought their sick to Christ; let us commend our sick in faithful prayer to the mercy of the Lord.

2 . They glorified the God of Israel; let us learn always to recognize his gracious hand, and to adore him who giveth all things.

3 . He had compassion on the multitude; let us learn of him to feel for the needy and helpless.

4 . Let us look to him for our daily bread; the Lord will provide.

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