A second chapter of Jesus’ actions – mostly healings. This focuses in on the Jewish establishment’s response to him.
They view Jesus with open skepticism, and are threatened by him. It’s their role in the Bible. In all the interactions here, they are out of step with Jesus.
In various stories of healing here we get on one side:
- a tax collector (Matthew, the author himself) and
- his “sinner” dodgy friends, with whom Jesus has dinner after Matthew follows him,
- those being healed,
- the disciples of John the Baptist and
- the “crowd”, the general populace.
The people in these groups get it. Jesus is amazing, he is there for them.
On the other side in each story is the negativity and sniping of the Pharisees and teachers who call him a blasphemer, criticise his choice of associations, and say his healing comes from the devil.
At the centre of it, in answer to Johns’ disciples’ sincere questions why Jesus doesn’t fast, Jesus’ metaphors about new wine in old skins, and patching old cloth with new fabric. They tear, they are not up to the task.
His teaching is a massive paradigm shift, a denial, to an extent, of what has been before.
The only old testament quote is from Hosea, Jesus came for the sick not the healthy. In the opening healing, Jesus asked the blind person if they believed he could help them, it was that person’s awareness of needing help and faith that Jesus could meet it that healed him.
It ends with Jesus seeming overwhelmed. So few get it, so much need.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”CH 9 v 36-38
His response to the attacks on him is compassion for the people trying to make sense of the world.
So far the book has been a credibility sandwich around Jesus’ claim to be God, and to be announcing the kingdom of God. That was the three chapter sermon on the mount.
Before it, 4 chapters of his origin steeped in scriptural prophesy and genealogical provenance. After it, 2 so far of his actions of undeniable godly power, and the challenge to respond honestly at face value to that.
And so it remains. The healings of Jesus are still awkward for people. It’s hard to hate his teaching of love and compassion, but the magical God-power element of healing, controlling weather and being the “chosen one” forces the response to go further than admiration. And he teaches that you must respond.
I went to the retirement event of my salvo friend Paul. An interesting mixture, the guy has a ministry to some vulnerable people. But so many honest harvesters. Workers for the kingdom.
Writing on Monday morning. Feeling a desire to be focused, disciplined and get on with it this week. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.