Matthew 9 & 10
Authority pops up again here but this time it’s Jesus’ authority to forgive sins and he shows this by healing a man who is paralysed. Something new, fresh and vibrant is happening here with Jesus and following old, human-made religious structures and systems only ruins the ‘new’ thing. But this ‘new’ thing, ironically is actually Jesus (and the Father’s) plan the whole time from the dawn of creation and in response to the fall.
It’s tricky to explain but the best image I can come up with is scaffolding. Around landmarks and buildings which are being built or renovated, scaffolding is needed. Perhaps you’ve seen these large restoration or construction projects where around the scaffolding is a large cover with a picture of what the building will look like once the work is done. But this picture is NOT the real thing.
In the context of Jesus vs the Pharisees and crew, the religious elite – sincere as they were – I’m not denying that or painting them as pantomime villains, they were more concerned with the scaffolding than what was actually behind it. Or more obviously, they were concerned with the Temple, rather than whether God was in it or not. How this can often be a response we can get caught up in. Being more concerned with the way we do things and not who we are doing them for. Buildings groups, PCCs, church meetings, committees, events organizing and lots of other ‘church’ activities and traditions, types of songs, worship styles and even dress codes can often take the place of who we are doing it all for and also detract from the heart of God’s message of love and forgiveness. We too can easily become preoccupied with the scaffolding and not the real structure.
When Jesus’ message is heard in these chapters and in our time too – something fresh is seen and heard. The cover comes off, the scaffolding is removed and the building is on full and glorious display – accessible to all. I guess it’s one of the reasons why #doyouknowHim? is so exciting. The focus being purely on Jesus as the sole unifying factor for diverse churches, traditions and individuals is an example of stripping away the covers and dismantling the obtrusive scaffolding to reveal the Jesus who is attractive, inspiring, life changing.
One last thing to highlight. Ch 9 : 36 – 38. Jesus’ gut-wrenching compassion for the lost and the sadness of there being too few workers in the field. The harvest IS plentiful. People ARE seeking answers to questions that JESUS can answer. The harvest is plentiful… but are we brave enough to go out an reap?
Have a think…
- Why do you think Jesus’ teaching and message felt so fresh to his listeners?
- Why did he seem to have more authority than other teachers?
- Do you think His message – his REAL message would be fresh today?
- What kinds of ways have you experienced / been part of where Christians have been more concerned with organization and rule keeping at the expense of the gospel?
- Jesus’ compassion for those who are lost is actually very visceral – why don’t we have a similar level of compassion for those around us who don’t know Jesus?
- Why don’t we ‘go reaping’ if the harvest is truly plentiful and people are increasingly seeking for meaning and love?