|Jesus heals the Paralytic, Carl Bloch|
Gosh, I am so enjoying reading Matthew. Once, at a difficult time in my life, I read and played the Gospels over and over again (while trying to deal with domesticity and housework) until I knew them almost by heart.
John, I adored, the poet, the mystic, the philosopher, the tender-hearted intuitive understander of Jesus. Luke, a tender-hearted poet too. Mark, full of drama, passion and brevity. Matthew, to me, was the dullest of the lot, the tendentious Jewish rabbi who goes on entirely too long in his later chapters, but who one has to get through to get to the rest, if one has scholarly habits of mind, as I have. In traditional iconography, John is the eagle, Mark is the lion, Matthew is human. Yeah!
Well, blogging through the Bible is a different ball game to reading through the Bible. You cannot read through familiar passages at the speed of light.You do have to stop and look and ask, “What is the Spirit saying to me through this passage?”
And through this exercise, I am again encountering the magic of majestic Jesus walking through his days, seeing people, touching, healing, loving, teaching. Sometimes, it’s as if he walks into my room, and I see him afresh.
It is an encounter with a unique being. His habits of mind are unique, he sees things differently, he says things differently. He has amazing power. It is possible, however, that is not the accounts of his power which touch our hearts twenty-one centuries later (for they could have been invented, as myths were) but what he said, how he thought, how he saw reality.
The way he suggests we should live, in the Sermon on the Mount, for instance, in profoundly counter-intuitive. It would never have occurred to us. Does it make sense? I guess we have to try it and see.
He stretches our mind to a new dimension, and challenges us not to let it return to what it was before.
1 Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2 Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
A connection between sin and paralysis, physical, emotional or spiritual appears to established
So he said to the paralysed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”7 Then the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.
The Calling of Matthew
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
Obedience not rendered immediately is often not rendered at all, because you see, Jesus moves on.
This habit of Jesus’s is one of his most refreshing–and not highlighted often enough. Who did he choose to associate with? Sinners. Those beyond the pale. What fresh air!!
He associated with those who needed a doctor. With those who desired mercy. Not with the righteous, but with sinners.
Jesus Questioned About Fasting
14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”
Sigh. Fasting does appear to be a Christian duty.
Jesus is not putting a patch on an old wine skin. He is bringing something entirely new which will need new forms of expression.