Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ Matthew 14:13-15
Jesus heard John the Baptist had been executed, and withdrew to a deserted place by himself. When the crowds heard it, they followed. And then the disciples turn up.
When did they arrive? Did they come with the crowd? Did they lead the crowd? Were they how the crowd “heard it” in the first place?
Was it their fault Jesus couldn’t get time alone without having to walk on the lake…?
‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.Matthew 7:13-14
This isn’t so much playing as just noticing. There are many who take the road to destruction, but few who find the road to life. Surely such a swapping of verbs can’t be an accident. But what does it mean? Is the difficulty finding the right road, or is it actually taking it? Or both?
Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ Matthew 17:4-5
While he was still speaking… how rude of God, to interrupt. And to interrupt with the words “listen to him” – shut up, stop talking, start listening….
Or is the voice giving Moses and Elijah a slap down? Peter would build three tabernacles, one for each of them; Moses, Elijah, Jesus: but the voice says “this is my Son – not the other two – listen to him“…
And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up…
When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path…
He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’ Matthew 13:3-4, 19, 31-32
I wonder if it’s the same birds who eat the seed, snatching it away, and, just two parables later, come and nest in the Kingdom tree…
‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.Matthew 5:13
But what if salt gets too salty, Jesus? What about heart disease and arable land lost to salinity? What does too much salt of the earth look like?
Salt is powerful and effective, changing it’s environment. But at it’s best it is also subtle, even hidden. Taste the salt, and you’ve used too much….
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them. Matthew 5:1-2
Maybe it’s because of “Life of Brian”, or maybe it’s because we call this the “sermon on the mount”, but I always pictured this story as describing Jesus speaking to a large crowd. But read those words again. Doesn’t it look more like he fled from the crowds, and gave this teaching just to a smaller group?