Sunday, August 27, 2006

Jesus Saves

Okay, this is obvious. But I wanted to post a few observations from the first two healings related in Matthew's gospel, and the title seems appropriate.

According to the apparent chronology (I have not checked a parallel gospel presentation), these are the first two miracles performed in Jesus' public ministry:

First, Jesus healed a leper. He actually reached out and touched the untouchable! Since he was still being followed by a great crowd, He must have went to the leper who would be avoiding crowds. The collective gasp of the crowd could have changed the weather pattern with the low pressure system created! Jesus showed that he was willing to risk his own health for that of a contagious outcast. He did this asked that the man healed not tell the religious authorities to whom he would go for ceremonial cleansing. Jesus knew that such a claim would be detrimental for the former leper.

Second, Jesus heals a servant, sight unseen. This was a servant of a powerful Gentile soldier. Can you imagine a less likely person to come looking for a Jewish rabbi? But the word was out, and the centurion knew something about authority! Jesus taught with authority -- the word had spread quickly from the mountain (Matt. 5-7) and this soldier just KNEW this man could work a miracle. As this stranger asked, Jesus declared the servant healed. And it happened!

Earth-bound humanity just doesn't understand God. We have such a hard time understanding ourselves. And so, when God comes down and walks among us we reject the notion that He cares enough. We expect Him to play by OUR rules. The religious leaders of Jesus' day expected the Messiah to be a military leader to deliver them form the Romans. Here is a rabbi that defiles himself touching the ceremoniously unclean and then has the nerve to commend the "faith" of a Roman soldier over that of the priests and Levites! What would the Macabees have done?

He loved us -- filthy, sick, and pagan -- so much that he came down and lived among us. And we killed Him! But give praise to God, for He didn't stay dead. He lives, sitting now at the throne of the Father as our priest and king.

Ideed, Jesus saves.

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