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Sunday after Pentecost (cycle a)
Proper 13 (18)

Texts & Discussion:
Genesis 32:22-31
Psalm 17:1-7, 15
Isaiah 55:1-5

Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:13-21

Other Resources:


Matthew Henry,    Wesley
Word Study:

This Week's Themes:

Ministry of Compassion
and Hospitality

Christian Unity
Transformed by God



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Taking Our Place in the Crowd
Sermon based on Matthew 14:13-21
by Rev. Karen A. Goltz

Many of us are pretty familiar with most of the major characters in the Bible.  We know about Jesus, we know about Peter, we know about Paul, we know about Mary and Joseph.  We know about the disciples, the chief priests, the Pharisees, and the scribes.  But there's another major character that I think gets overlooked most of the time, and I believe that this character is just as important as any other.  This character doesn't really have a name, but is almost always there.  This character is known simply as ‘the crowds.'

The crowds first appear after Jesus has gone among the people, teaching them and curing them of their illnesses.  The crowds begin to follow him, listening as he gives his sermon on the mount.  They follow him everywhere, and he continually has compassion for them, and teaches them and cures their ills.  Jesus sees them as harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd, and he takes responsibility for them, becoming their shepherd.  He continues to teach them, continues to cure their sick.  Sometimes he calls them to him, but mostly they follow him of their own accord.  Sometimes Jesus sends them away, but they always return.  They joyously welcome him to Jerusalem, and then they come after him with swords and clubs at Gethsemane.  Persuaded by the chief priests, they demand that Barabbas be released, and that Jesus be crucified.  They have their moments of great faith, and they have their moments of great doubt and fear.  They suffer, and they rejoice.

But who are these crowds really?  Who are the people in them?

At various points throughout Matthew's gospel, an individual person will come out of the crowd and approach Jesus.  It's a leper, asking to be cleansed.  It's a centurion, asking that his paralyzed servant be healed.  It's a scribe, asking to follow Jesus.  It's a church leader, asking that his daughter be restored to life.  It's anyone with a need, be it physical, spiritual, or emotional, for themselves or for someone close to them.  It's anyone of any station in life who is harassed, anyone of any station in life who is helpless.  It's you, and it's me.

There are times when we can relate to Peter or Paul.  There are times when we can relate to the disciples as a whole.  There are even times when we can relate to the chief priests, the Pharisees, and the scribes (though we may not want to admit it).  But with the crowds, it goes beyond merely relating to them.  We are them...[continue]