Tuesday 3 September 2013

Matthew 9:18-38 - Healings and harvest

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Here in Matthew 9:18-38 we have a series of healings followed by some instruction about the harvest.

Even a ruler kneels before Jesus, he is desperate because his daughter has just died. On the way to deal with this, a woman simply touches the edge of Jesus' robe expecting healing. Yet she is not healed by the touch, but healing comes when Jesus speaks it out to her. Is this significant? What does it tell us about praying for healing?

And the ruler's daughter was dead, but when he takes her hand she lives. Touching a dead person makes Jesus technically unclean according to Jewish law. Not only does he bring life where there was death before, but he touches the law as well. She was dead when he began to touch, but alive when he stopped. What does this have to say about death, life and uncleanness?

Notice that the two blind men had a strange way of showing their gratitude, they ignored Jesus' warning about telling people. Perhaps they were so delighted that they couldn't contain themselves!

And why were people so astonished about the demon-possessed mute man? It's difficult to understand unless you know a little about Jewish teaching on demons. The religious leaders believed that to cast out a demon you must first discover its name and then use the name to cast it out. Either Jesus knew the demon's name without being told, or more likely he had no need of such knowledge. That's why this event so amazed the people who saw it. The Pharisees had to explain this, but they came to entirely the wrong conclusion. Jesus is full of surprises, he will surprise us too - in many ways.

And then we finally have the words about the harvest. Pay attention to the circumstances. Jesus has been teaching, proclaiming and healing. His compassion led him to say what he did to the disciples. Pray for more harvesters! It's still true today. There is no shortage of harvest, but there's a severe shortage of harvesters. We should pray about that - regularly and earnestly. What else might we do? Might we ourselves become answers to this prayer? What would that imply?

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