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Luke 5; Mark 1:40-2:22; & Matthew 8:1-4

09.30.2010

Today, Jesus calls Peter, hauls in a ridiculous amount of fish, heals a leper, heals a paralytic, calls Matthew, and makes the outlandish claim that He has the ability to forgive sins.  That must have been quite a day, one that requires winding down with a large sweet tea and a ham biscuit.*

Luke 5:8 | Peter responds to Jesus’ miracle with the fish by recognizing that Jesus is anointed by God.  He is starting to realize who this man is, but it’s a slow (and sometimes tortuous) process that really doesn’t end until after the resurrection.  Then, finally, Peter realizes that Jesus is God and is the promised Messiah.  This is going to be a running theme: Peter being dense.

Luke 5:16 | The original Greek in this verse suggests that Jesus would continuously, thoughout His ministry, remove Himself to a quiet place and pray.  While it’s a bit odd to imagine God praying to Himself, this is the intimate communion between the figures of the Trinity that is the very essence of God’s all-loving nature. 

This is consistent, also, with the idea that Jesus is a man, led by the Spirit.  The Father has not revealed everything to the Son all at once, but rather Jesus is learning and receiving guidance from the Father through the Spirit throughout His life.  I’m sure He knows the end game and the general theme of what’s to come, but I imagine that it’s through prayer that He is able to gain insight into the Father’s will for the present.

Matt 8:4 | After healing the leper, Jesus tries to maintain what the ESV scholars call ‘the messianic secret.’  The main idea is that Jesus tells people not to blab about His miraculous healings because He doesn’t want to turn His ministry into a spectacle.  This verse is Matt’s, but Mark often refers to the crowds of people who hound Jesus and demand miracles without paying much attention to what He is saying. 

It’s a common misconception, but Jesus’ ministry is not about doing good and healing and loving people, like a mobile Salvation Army or something.  Nor is it solely about dying for the sins of the world.  If that were the case, He could have died just as sinlessly as a baby or a kid.  The point of the ministry is to declare the fulfillment of God’s law and prophecies, usher in the Kingdom of God, and preach the good news.  Or at least that’s how I understand it.

The interesting question this concept of ‘messianic secret’ raises, then, is why, if Jesus wanted to minimize the hype, did it build anyway?  Why did the leper immediately run and tell everyone about how Jesus healed him?  Why was Jesus so swamped with looky-loos and thrill seekers that He often had to run away and set up shop elsewhere?  If it was God’s will that the ministry stay low key at this early point, why did it not?  I suppose that’s a free will issue, isn’t it?  We keep coming back to that.

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* Ok, well, probably not a ham biscuit, for obvious reasons…

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