Wednesday

Matthew 9:27-38 Wednesday 9 October 2013


Background

These three verses (above) form a hinge in the Gospel ofMatthew. They sum up a section about the ministry of Jesus whichbegan at Matthew 4:23 and they form a bridge into theministry of Jesus' disciples who are about to be sent out asshepherds and harvesters themselves.

This bridge underlines the fact that if the disciples are toexercise authentic ministry they need to keep paying attention tothe vocation of Jesus. This vocation is reinforced here as beingthe proclamation in word and deed of the good news of God'skingdom. In these few verses, it is the healing aspect of thatkingdom that is emphasised through the healing of the two blind menand the man without speech.

Some difficult questions are raised by these healing stories forthose of us who are disciples and are therefore called toparticipate in Christ's healing ministry: does physical healingreally happen through prayer and the laying on of hands? Why aresome healed and others not? How can we avoid the damage caused bythe assumption that some people are not physically healed becausethey lack faith? Are people with disabilities necessarily less thanwhole? Is the ministry of healing a specialist gift?

Contemporary research into the nature of human health reinforcesthe link the between the spiritual, the psychological and thephysical. This does not mean it is appropriate to assume that thereis a simple causal connection between sin and suffering, or faithand healing. Jesus himself makes this plain by his differentapproaches in this chapter - in one case, sins are to the fore (verse2); in three cases the faith of the seeker is key (verses22, 29); in two cases no questions are even asked (verses25, 33).

As disciples called to follow Jesus, like him we all need tolisten carefully to and connect with people in their uniqueness,allowing ourselves to be channels of God's amazing grace inwhatever way is needed at the time. If we have faith, we should notbe surprised if sometimes physical healing is part of whatresults.


To Ponder

  • What thoughts or questions do you have about prayer and thelaying on of hands?
  • How might Methodist churches be more bold in offering God'shealing?
  • What guidelines might need to be in place to make thatexperience safe for those who are vulnerable?
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