Thursday, July 20, 2017

Matthew 17:9


This verse is one of the many times that Matthew has us to understand that Jesus told them about he resurrection.  But how did they perceive this?  Did they even have a frame of reference?  For an ultimate resurrection yes (see Job), but for what Jesus was saying, I think not.  They probably could not get past his predictions of crucifixion. 

Neil Simon wrote a play called God’s Favorite, based on Job.  The theme--If you are close to God, you get to go through horrible things.  He was trying to be funny (he doesn’t always succeed, but he still makes money at it).  Simon is a Jew.  Matthew is a Jew.  WE are immersed in the Jewishness of the gospel with Matthew.  It’s not that he has no recognition of the Gentiles, they just aren’t central to his argument.  

We are told that pagans of this time had myths about resurrections and dying kings coming back to life and that was the source of the Christian story (nonsense, of course).  But the Jews did not such stories.  These were not people sunk deep in superstition.  They knew death and that it was final.  We encounter the Jewishness of the gospel of Matthew again in the story of the young man who for reasons both neurological and demonic (and we have to accept some level or kinds of demon possession exist), needs healing.  His Jewish family takes care of him; they do not try to end his life.  They value life. 

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