Matthew 14:22-36 Part 3

Up to this time we have witnessed our Lord Jesus Christ doing some wondrous things as He “crossed over” to the Gentile nations.  And we can do nothing more than stand in awe as these things are opened up to our minds and our faith.  The proper response, of course, is to look up and praise God with thanksgiving for so great salvation!

Our Lord shook heaven and earth as He crossed over to the Gadarenes.  And while He was there He cast out the demons from their city and sent them under into the abyss.

And in this chapter He crossed over again in order to break the Bread of Life.  And, in doing so, He imaged the new humanity – the new flesh – which He would provide for the world’s salvation.  For His Body was that which, when eaten, satisfied the eternal hunger of mankind.  For unless man is reborn – unless He has taken on the new flesh – he is not included in the new heavens and the new earth!

And, then upon returning from that place near the Syrian town of Bethsaida, Jesus walked, unaffected, upon the raging waters of the Sea.  The nations had gathered against Him and His disciples – along with the dragon and the beasts and fallen humanity – but He was unaffected by them and calmed them.  And He required an understanding and faith in all of this by His disciples, for He was completely victorious in it all.  There must be no fear about that.

So these three things we must remember so far, with respect to Jesus crossing over to the Gentiles: 

1) He cast out the demons and sent them under;

2) He broke the Bread of Life, signifying the new creation, and the new humanity;

3) and He conquered the nations and subjugated them under His feet.  (Nothing they do has any effect on His Sovereignty.)

And now Matthew records another “crossing over” here in the last verses of the chapter.  Listen again as I read the last three verses once more:


“And passing over they came to the land in Gennasaret.  And having recognized Him the men of that place sent forth into all that region, and they brought to Him all those having the infirmities.  And they were beseeching Him that only they might come in contact with the tassel of His mantle; and as many as came in contact were restored.”


The apostle John records, in His Gospel, that after the incident on the Sea, Jesus and his apostles landed at Capernaum.  Many of those who had been fed near Bethsaida across the Sea had returned to Galilee and had sought Him out.  And they, along with probably other Galileans and some Pharisees, found Him and His disciples and heard Him speak about His Body being the Bread of Life.  He told them that His Body was not like the manna which came down from heaven while they were in the Sinai (all of whom, having eaten, died in the desert), but that His Body was that which came down from heaven and, when eaten, gave eternal Life!

And upon hearing that, most of these people, many of whom had received His healing and had been fed miraculously in the wilderness, turned form Him and didn’t follow Him any more!  Apparently they thought that teaching too bizarre, so they rejected it!  The miracles and the healings notwithstanding, they rejected the WORDS of God!  They rejected the flesh of Christ the Sacrifice!  They rejected the union in Christ without which no man can see God!  They rejected the fact that their humanity in Adam was despicable to God, and that there had to be a new humanity in Christ Who was the perfect Law-keeper!

And then Matthew records another “crossing over” – the one recorded here in our text.  And you’ll notice that each event is the result of unbelief in Israel, but that there is belief and healing and restoration to the nations across the Sea!

This time, as verse thirty-four indicates, they landed in Gennasaret (the third crossing over) – a territory in Syria for which the Lake was named.  It was an area, kind of small in size, which lay between Gadara (where Jesus had cast out the demons) and Bethsaida (which was close to the wilderness where Jesus fed the five thousand).  So this was new territory for Jesus.

But He wasn’t so new to them!  For, as verse thirty-five says, some of the men recognized Him.  Now, there may be a number of reasons for this; one of which is that the territory of Gennasaret was, as I said already, in-between two areas where Jesus had already been, and in which He had already done wondrous things.  And perhaps some of the men in Gennasaret had been in Gadara when Jesus set it free from demon infestation. And perhaps some of them were curious enough about the huge crowds in the wilderness of Bethsaida to go over there and see what it was all about!

In either place they would have witnessed the mighty works of God the Son as He brought the covenant of God out of Israel and into the nations!

The second reason some of the men of Gennasaret would have recognized Jesus is the fact that all of this was now Roman territory (and had been for decades) and normal trade between peoples would have brought some of those people across the sea into the Capernaum area, which was near the highway to the great Mediterranean cities of Tyre and Sidon.  And, by this time, Jesus had been manifested by His Father for two years.  And as the record has already shown, Jesus was known far and wide among the peoples of the whole area!

And, then, there’s a third reason.  Not only was there a recognition of Him by some – but there was a wide knowledge of Him by the populations of all the surrounding nations.  And, along with that, an anticipation of Him.  God was not only preparing to send Israel into oblivion; He was also preparing the Gentiles for His revelation!  More than likely there were many, living close to Israel as they did, who knew the history of Israel – that there was a Messiah coming – and who had heard over and over again that the prophets of Israel all through their history had gone to the Gentiles and manifested the glory of God among them.

They knew that God had sent Jonah to a city on the border between Syria and Iraq to preach the Gospel; they knew that Elijah and Elisha had used the mantle with the tassels to part the waters of the Jordan River to cross over to the Gentiles; they knew those stories about Elisha and Elijah – that they had treated the Gentile people with great kindnesses and performed great miracles for their benefit; and, of course, they knew about those things that Jesus had done among them on the shores of the Sea.

God was preparing them for the New Heavens and the New Earth – the victory of His Son over the nations and the inception of the New Humanity!  And as soon as He stepped on shore they recognized Him, according to Matthew here in verse thirty-five, and they sent messengers into all that region that Jesus was there!

And amidst all the foaming, turbulent wasteland of Gentile, pagan humanity, the excitement rose.  And for miles and miles around they gathered their sick on the shore of the sea!  The word was passed from hill to hill and hamlet to hamlet as men rushed to spread the word into all the adobe houses and encampments – “the One we heard about is here.”  “The same One Who cast out the demons in Gadara is at the shore!”  “The One Who fed that big crowd over near Bethsaida has come to us.  He’s the same One Who we saw at Capernaum Who heals the sick and raises the dead and makes people clean!”  “Maybe this is the same mantle Elijah used when he struck the River with it and then He crossed over!”  “He’s the Jewish prophet, and He’s crossed over to see us!”

Perhaps even some of these men in Gennasaret had been in Capernaum when Jesus was going to the ruler’s house to raise his daughter from the dead – when the woman with the twelve-year issue of blood touched the tassel of His garment and was healed.  (chapter nine)

But however they had gotten the idea that they needed to touch the tassel on His mantle, that’s what they did, according to verse thirty-six.  In fact, as Matthew said, they were beseeching Him – praying to Him, begging Him – that they might grab the tassel and hold it!  And in the rush and excitement of the huge crowds, all who were able to get close enough to touch it were healed.  Or restored.  That’s an important word that we’ll get to in a few minutes.  But I want to spend a little time here with the tassel.  I don’t know if we really can understand all there is here, but we need to say something about it.  I remember mentioning a couple of things when we were in chapter nine, but I certainly didn’t cover all there is to say about it.

But the tassel had been a permanent and required part of the dress of all the men of Israel since God commanded it – as recorded by Moses in Numbers chapter fifteen at verse thirty-eight.  And it became a part of the dress of a peculiar people as they were separated out in every way from the surrounding nations.  Now here’s the context of the Law of the tassels:

Israel had been in wilderness for thirty-seven years, and they were about to be numbered in preparation for their occupation of the promised land.  And God was distinguishing between sins of ignorance and error as opposed to out-right, high-handed presumption and rebellion.  And He had made clear that Jews and strangers (Gentiles) were subject to the Law!  Sins through ignorance or mistake were to be forgiven if there is repentance and an atoning offering made.  But high-handed rebellion was a reproach unto God, and the person who did that was to be cut off from among the congregation!  Again, the passage is very specific to include Jews and gentiles!

Then, in verse thirty-two of that chapter in Numbers, a test case came up!  There was found among them a man who was working on the Sabbath!  He was out gathering wood.  And it was determined that this man was presumptuous and rebellious against God’s Law of no work on the Sabbath!  He was not ignorant of God’s Law; and he was not making an error in judgment concerning the interpretation of the Law.  He was insolently defying authority!

So he was incarcerated until his case came up; and then God told Moses to have him stoned to death!  So the congregation stoned him!  Now, that text makes it very clear that there are two Laws for the Law-breaker:  one for the one who makes a mistake or acts in ignorance, and the other for the one who defies the Law and will not obey!  And both Laws applied to God’s separated-out people and the stranger, or Gentile, who lived among them!  There was no distinction.

And, then, right after that, God gave to the people the Law of the tassels.  And the tassels were to be sewed on the four corners of the mantle, which was the outer garment draped around the shoulders and under the left arm, and they were to be placed there on that outer garment where they could be constantly seen in order to serve as a reminder to the Law!  The tassels were to always be before their eyes to prevent them from directing their eyes to the things of the world, and that they do the things of the Law in order to sanctify themselves to God Who had brought them out of the wilderness of Egypt!

The tassels were not to be objects of pride, but they were to awaken the people to remembrance of doing their duty!  All day every day they were to seriously consider that the Lord is God and our God and Redeemer, and that they were to see themselves as bound in duty, interest and gratitude to Him; and therefore to keep all His Commandments!  And that’s Jews and Gentiles!  In Israel and outside Israel!  They were to sin neither in ignorance nor in high-handed rebellion.  Sin results in separation from God and separation from His people.  But remembering His commandments, to do them, results in that state of life which involves inclusion – a continuation – in the Covenant of God.

Now, all of that (as we revert here for a minute) was subverted by the Pharisees, wasn’t it?  They wore long, trailing tassels to distinguish themselves as doctors of God’s Law.  The tassels became objects for others to look upon rather than to remind them of their duty to God.  The glory was for them rather than for Him!  And it’s just one small example of the pride of life in which the Pharisees did distinguish themselves.

But back to the tassels.  Other than the reiteration of this Law in Deuteronomy chapter twenty-two, there is only one other place in the Old Testament other than the prophets, where the word is used.  And that’s in Ezekiel chapter eight where the Lord took the prophet by the “tassel” of his hair to the temple to see the abominations that were there.  And although a good case could be made here for a connection between the use of the word there and the “lawlessness” which was going on in the temple, I don’t see much benefit in making that case now.

But I do see a case being made for the surrounding nations being aware that they were included in the Law of God to Israel.  And that Law is closely connected to the tassels being commanded by God so that the people would remember to do all the works of the Law!  And these points, coupled with all those other instances mentioned already, would lead the Gentiles in Gennasaret to reach for Jesus’ tassels!

And the image that is created here is that the Gentiles are, indeed, included in the Law of God; and that, somehow, they will be restored and included in His covenant!  And that, indeed, is exactly what the rest of this verse indicates!  “And as many as came in contact were restored!”  (verse thirty-six)

Now, as we look at this word “diasozo”, or “restored”, as it appears in this verse, let’s remember that Gentiles were considered as unclean.  And they were not allowed in the temple.  The unclean were separated out from Jewish society and looked upon as rejected and not included!  The Word of God had come to the Jews.  And the Messiah of the world was to be a Jew!  And if you weren’t a Jew, then you were excluded.

At the same time we’re thinking about that, let’s also remember that any one with a continuous issue of blood was also excluded.  According to Leviticus chapter fifteen any woman who had a continuous menstrual flow was considered unclean and separated out from any connection with the covenant people!  And it was the woman in Matthew chapter nine who had just that problem, who touched the tassel of Jesus’ mantle and was made whole!

And knowing all these things, I don’t think there’s anyone in the world who could not make the connection between the “uncleanness” of this woman and the “uncleanness” of the entire Gentile population of Gennasaret!  So when they begged and beseeched Jesus to touch His tassel, and clamored to get close enough to do just that, it was for the purpose of cleansing and restoration!  If they could grab hold of it they would be healed and included in the Word of God to Moses.  And the nations would no longer be excluded from the covenant of God, but they would be subject to the same Law – and the same salvation.

These people didn’t even ask for Jesus to touch them – but only that they might touch His tassel.  And when they did, they were restored.  As I mentioned, the word is diasozo – from sozo, “to save”.  Of the several words available to Matthew which might indicate “healing”, none were used.  Only this word, an unusual one, which is a cognate of “to save”.  The people were sick, and they wished to be healed, but Matthew says that every one who came in contact with Jesus’ tassel were “saved”, or restored to the same covenant inclusion given to Moses in the Law.  Gentiles were being included in the Covenant!

As I said, the word is an unusual one in the New Testament.  It’s only found in one other place in the four Gospels – and that in Luke chapter seven where the Roman (Gentile) centurion asked for Jesus to come and “restore” his slave!  And the use of that word by the centurion in asking for Jesus’ attention was met with these words from Jesus:  “I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”

Secondly, the word is used three times in Acts of the apostle – all three with reference to Paul being “saved” from danger, including shipwreck in a turbulent sea, while on the way to Rome.  And the last time in the Scripture is in First Peter chapter three where the apostle relates the history of Noah and seven others being “saved” by water in the inundation of the great flood!

Now, upon first glance there doesn’t seem to be a logical connection between all of these passages.  But, upon further investigation, there is a connection!  The word means a comprehensive salvation, and inclusion in the covenant, in the midst of coming judgment!  In every case it’s used, there is the background of coming floods of judgment and destruction.  But, on the foreground, there is covenant inclusion and coming salvation for all the people of God!

The incident with the people of Gennasaret is used by Matthew to indicate exhaustive and comprehensive salvation for the Gentile nations, and their inclusion in God’s covenant promises!  The covenant is for them!  The Law is for them!  They are no longer excluded!  But in the judgment to come upon the apostate people of God, the nations are set free – as prophesied by the Law and the prophets.

The people who sat in darkness have seen a great Light.  In great floods and destruction they have been restored to their rightful place in God’s Law.  And God said that He would write His Law in their hearts – they needing no more “tassels” to remind them.  And He would be their God and they would be His people.


“It shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see My glory.  (Isaiah sixty-six)

 “Even unto them will I give in My house and within My walls a place and name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.  And the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the Name of the Lord, to be His servants, every one… who takes hold of My covenant – even them will I bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer… for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.”  (Isaiah fifty-six)