Saturday 27 August 2016

Bible Book:

“When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.’” (vv. 1-2)

Matthew 8:1-4 Saturday 27 August 2016

Psalm: Psalm 143


At the end of this period of teaching, Matthew's Gospel recordsthat Jesus came down from the mountain. However, this is more thana statement of geographical or physical fact: in Jesus' time andearlier, mountains were where God's presence was particularlyfocused, where people went to meet with God. Abraham went up MountMoriah when he believed he was to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 22); Moses went up Mount Sinai toreceive the tablets of the Law (Exodus19); Elijah defied the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1Kings 18), after which he encountered God in the 'still smallvoice' on Mount Sinai (1Kings 19). The Psalmist lifted his eyes to the hills, fromwhere he expected to receive help (Psalm121). Jesus was transfigured on a mountain, possibly MountTabor (Matthew 17; Mark9; Luke 9).

From the mountain-top experience of teaching, Jesus came down tothe plain - and was immediately confronted with a criticalsituation. 'Behold' a person suffering from leprosy came requestinghealing. In the Bible narrative, the term 'leprosy' does notnecessarily mean Hansen's disease (modern leprosy), it mightsignify any chronic and apparently intractable skin complaint.There were strict rules and regulations surrounding suchcomplaints, resulting in the ostracising of the sufferer and theirbeing forced to move to isolated places away from human habitation.And should such a sufferer recover, there were equally strictregulations concerning their reception back into the community.

In recording this incident, Matthew's Gospel reinforced theprinciple that not only is the word of God to be heard, it is to beenacted. This is the first of a series of healing stories - of acenturion's servant (Matthew 8:5-13), of Peter's mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15), of two demoniacs (Matthew 8:28-34), of a paralytic (Matthew 9:2-8). The gospel, the good news, isto be worked out as well as proclaimed. There is no one who cannotbe touched by the hand of Jesus, by my hand, by your hand…

To Ponder

  • Reflect on an occasion when you have had a profound spiritualexperience, and have then immediately had to deal with an 'earthly'problem. How did you feel?
  • Think about your 'mountains' - the places where you feelnearest to God. Do you get to them as often as you would like? Howmight you improve this? Or how might you find new mountains thatare easier to access?
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