Epistles of Thomas

September 17, 2008

Matthew 7-9

Filed under: New Testament — Thomas @ 12:19
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Ask, seek, knock. Jesus promises good gifts to the children of God. He mentions two examples: bread and fish. How many of us think this entitles us to a nice house, a new car, or other things we want? How does this promise fit in with the next statement: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (7:12)? It sounds like quite a challenge and if we are dreaming of nice things we had better ensure that they are shared by all especially as he has just talked about loving our enemies and storing up treasures in heaven rather than on earth.

7:21-23 speaks of false disciples who Christ will disown on that day. Many of us might be tempted to point fingers at others but keep in mind that the chapter began with a caution that if we judge others we will be similarly judged. This chapter concludes with a shocking statement: “28When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” I would suppose this reflects that rabbinical writers refer back to Rabbi Yadda ben R. Yadda ben R. Yadda. Jesus made all his statement without appealing to any earthly authority such as a Rabbi.

Why did Jesus prohibit the healed leper from telling everyone about his healing (8:4)? Did the leper’s request “Lord if you are willing, you can make me clean” reflect the Lord’s prayer: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (6:10)? This is why it is important to read different translations because the Greek word is thelo in 8:4 and thelhma in 6:10. The former is used of people’s desires or wishes whereas the latter is used in the NT almost exclusively of God’s will.

What are the implications for Israel of Jesus’ statement at 8:12? Could it be that the children of Abraham have less faith in their God than a Roman centurion? At 8:26 he calls even his own disciples “you of little faith.” How would the centurion have fared in that storm? 8:28-34 records the story of two demon possessed men being freed from bondage. Given that pigs were forbidden to Jews how ironic is it that the demons asked to be cast into the pigs and then promptly drowned them? In v34 the whole town went out to see Jesus after hearing of this – in order to tell him to leave! They loved their unclean pigs more than two cleansed men. Who were the Gadarenes?

In 9:2, Jesus forgave a paralysed man. Do you think the man was looking for forgiveness or healing? Which are sick people today looking for? The leaders immediately thought Jesus to be a blasphemer and he proved his right to forgive sins by healing the man. The reaction of the crowd was to praise God because of his giving this authority to human beings. In 9:30 Jesus again healed someone and told them not to talk about it “but they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.” Why are the people harassed and helpless, like a sheep without a shepherd (9:36)? What does Jesus intend to do about this situation?

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