Friday, January 06, 2017

Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 9:1-8

This is similar to the story in Mark where the roof if taken off; that might be a purposeful omission since it wasn’t important to Matthew’s narrative about power and validation of Messiahship. I didn’t understand this for years, for some reason, because I didn’t understand the “which is easier part?”  It is easier to say “Your sins are forgiven” because there is no outward proof.  It is much harder to say, ”Rise and walk” because that has to be followed with a healing understood.  Jesus did both, not just for himself or the scribes, but for the paralytic man, who apparently had not that being forgiven meant healing of his physical condition. 
We also do not understand, at first or even after a while, the full meaning of “your sins are forgiven.” We do not forgive ourselves and still let our scruples and Satan keep us in bondage to “not feeling forgiven.” We don’t have a right to be more righteous than God.
The scribes are an interesting bunch.  Although we see them as the bad guys, they were the ones who copied Scripture, so accuracy was vital to them.  In their minds they were not really out of line to question his ability to forgive sins, but Jesus says they are thinking evil, perhaps because they were less concerned about the man’s healing than their personal interpretation of Scripture.
This makes me think:  how many times do we put adherence to traditional interpretations of the faith ahead of meeting legitimate human need? How much do we use our interpretation of Scripture to keep from seeing those real needs and attempting to meet them?  Jesus condemned the man who put a gift on the altar and said it was “corban” rather than help his parents.  (By legitimate need I do not mean sex or sexual expression.)  If we say “God bless you” to the poor but do not feed them we are not showing real faith.  I think the Bible is pretty clear on this. 
Was Jesus a mind reader?  I think the implication here is that he could tell from their nonverbal behavior what was going on in their minds. I don’t believe Jesus was clairvoyant in some spooky way.  He was not clouded by sin and probably had heightened abilities to read people.  I may be quite wrong there, though, but the Scripture doesn’t say he retained all his “omni-ness” in the flesh.

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