Friday, September 23, 2016

Fresh Studies in Matthew, 4:23-25

Matthew 4:23-25 summarizes a great deal of activity.  Jesus healed and taught, the two things the church still does pretty well today and the world doesn’t recognize.  One might wonder, why stop there, geographically?  Why not go on further to other lands and to more people.  Perhaps because that’s our job.  Perhaps because the healing was to show compassion and to verify Messiahship.  Perhaps because he was to go to the Jews first.  Perhaps because he would never have died for our sins if he kept healing and traveling and teaching and healing and traveling. 
What strikes me is that there is no sense of judgment, no sense of the spectacular. No money changes hands. There is no distinction of classes, poor are healed and rich are healed, and one is not counted more worthy than the other.  If they came, they came in faith, and therefore he healed them. 
Returning to this passage, which we overlook in the whole narrative.  What would these diseases be called today?  Were they genetic? Congenital (from the womb), from a virus or bacterium (leprosy is bacterial, but not all Biblical leprosy is what is called Hanson’s disease now), or from trauma?  Were they psychological (demon-possession) or physical?  Does this passage mean he healed all varieties? We add in the man born blind in John 9, the paralytic in Mark 2, the ten lepers, the fevered girl, the woman with a hemorrhage, etc., that yes, all varieties were included, based on their knowledge of medical science.  Was there anything he couldn’t or didn’t heal?  Apparently not, although his disciples were limited.  The healing brought the people in; what did the preaching and teaching do?  They verified the healing, that there was more to his presence than a physical, temporary blessing; there was also a call on their hearts. 
At the time the synagogues were open, but what was the message.  The gospel of the kingdom, the good new that the kingdom had arrived although it was not the one they expected.  I find Matthew hard to fit into our perfect American evangelical soteriology and eschatology.  The gospel of the kingdom is not the “Four Spiritual Laws.”

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