Matthew 13:1-2

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach.

We’re about to enter into what I think is one of the more fascinating sections of Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus teaches many things in parables. But before we get there, let’s notice one thing: Jesus’ message and popularity are spreading. As Matthew describes, there are so many people coming out to hear Jesus that he can’t possibly address them all in any normal fashion. And so he gets onto a boat and pushes off shore and speaks to them from there.

If you’ve ever spent time around water, you’ll understand his strategy. Sound travels incredibly well on water, especially still water. As my siblings and cousins and I discovered spending our childhood summers on Otego Lake, there are no secrets by the water. You can hear every whisper, every giggle, for dozens of yards around.

Beyond noting Jesus’ strategy, I think it’s important also to notice the narrative backdrop to this scene. Most recently, we have read about – at times even endured – the increasing tensions between Jesus and the Pharisees. They charged Jesus of being in league with the devil and he accused them of falseness in return. But amid this at times nasty clash, nevertheless word is spreading about this man who heals the sick, feeds the hungry, cares for the vulnerable, casts out demons, and stands with all who are in need.

Which is something we might remember: even when things aren’t going well, even when we are caught up in arguments petty or momentous, even when relationships seems tense, even when all manner of things seem on the brink of failure, still we’re invited to do the work. To do our work, God’s work, the work of the kingdom…and it will bear fruit. Because as Jesus said earlier, a good tree can’t do anything else. And we are those good trees and members of Jesus’ family who have been commissioned to share the good news of God’s grace and love for the world. And so even when things seem dark and difficult, we can focus on the work in front of us and trust that God will use it, prosper it, and by it continue to usher in God’s kingdom.

Prayer: Dear God, we don’t always see the fruits of our labors but both ask and trust that you will prosper our work and use it to extend the news of your grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.