After the Sermon

reflections on Matthew 8-9

“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth” (Matthew 9:9).

When Matthew’s account of the sermon concludes, the crowd is amazed at the teaching of Jesus. Jesus was different. The sermon was different. This was not the kind of teaching they normally heard. You get the sense they were not only amazed, but refreshed as well.

This morning I have been watching Jesus as he descended from the mountain. I am struck by what catches Jesus’ eye. Jesus doesn’t seem affected by the large crowd that followed, a crowd that might be described as “adoring.” In fact, Jesus seems to be taking evasive action to escape the pressing throng. Clearly his words directed at them are more challenging than pandering.

Jesus had taken time to address the crowd as he preached, but after the sermon something else caught his eye. People. Individual people caught the eye of Jesus. And the people catching the attention of Jesus were those many would consider a distraction, maybe even a burden. People with problems. People with messy lives. People with needs. People who were not lined up to tell Jesus how amazing he was, but people who were lined up to get something they needed from Jesus.

Jesus may have made an evasive move to escape the adoring crowd, but here he walks right into one encounter after another with needy, messy people. A man with leprosy, that disease. A soldier of that army. A sick mother-in-law of that impetuous friend. A group who wanted a relationship with Jesus, but didn’t want to make that tough decision. A couple of violent demon hosts who lived in that graveyard. A paralyzed man on a  mat being watched by that bunch of religious watchdogs. A tax collector who domineered for that government. A disciple of John with that list of questions. A dead girl from that family of oppressors. A sick woman with that disease of uncleanness. A couple of blind man who want stop that yelling. A mute with that demon.

Jesus saw them. Jesus saw them all. Jesus saw them as individuals. Jesus saw them as people. Jesus saw them not as a distraction, but as the creation of the Almighty.

Today they will be all around me, too. People. Hurting people. Messy people. Distracting people. Interrupting people. People that have been marginalized. People that have been neglected. People that have been shunned. People that have been labeled hopeless. Yes, they will be all around me. They will be in my path.

Jesus saw them. The question is, will I?

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