Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26
Passing along, Jesus saw a man at his work collecting taxes.
His name was Matthew. Jesus said, "Come along with me."
Matthew stood up and followed him.
Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew's house with his
close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined
them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company,
they had a fit, and lit into Jesus' followers. "What kind
of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks
Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the
or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm after
mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle
As he finished saying this, a local official appeared, bowed
politely, and said, "My daughter has just now died. If you
come and touch her, she will live." Jesus got up and went
with him, his disciples following along.
Just then a woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped
in from behind and lightly touched his robe. She was thinking
to herself, "If I can just put a finger on his robe, I'll
get well." Jesus turned - caught her at it. Then he reassured
her: "Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now
you're well." The woman was well from then on.
By now they had arrived at the house of the town official, and
pushed their way through the gossips looking for a story and
the neighbors bringing in casseroles. Jesus was abrupt: "Clear
out! This girl isn't dead. She's sleeping." They told him
he didn't know what he was talking about. But when Jesus had
gotten rid of the crowd, he went in, took the girl's hand, and
pulled her to her feet - alive. The news was soon out, and traveled
throughout the region.
<The Message >
Jesus' closest followers were joined by society's riffraff with
nary a notice. Jesus' religious rivals (institutionally) had
trouble with this crossing of class lines. What group of people
(riffraff) in your community are outside the church? What does
that say about how close to Jesus your congregation is?
Does the church still follow Jesus' line, "I'm here to invite
outsiders, not coddle insiders"? Where do our church finances
go? Where do we spend our time? Can you have a Bible study that
does not have half the participants who are not "religious"?
Can you have a church that doesn't give at least half its resources
away to the benefit of individuals and families who do not have
Mercy? Religion? Why does it seem that this is always the choice?
What keeps us from automatically thinking, "Ah, merciful
people," when we hear the term religion come around in conversation?
Meditation on this and implementing the vision of that meditation
is perhaps a key task of church people in this and every age
What could have been a simply healing story showing the power
and glory of Jesus turns a sharp corner when Jesus comments,
"You took a risk of faith."
While it is always dangerous to equate faith with healing (one
only has to note the variety of ways in which healings are recorded
to see that this is definitely not a one-to-one relationship),
it may be accurate to say that every healing story gives evidence
of a risk, not a sure thing. It is like in fairy stories, you
don't get to the "lived happily ever after" until you've
gone through a three-fold testing/risking.
Jesus points to an important mid-point in the healing process,
that of risking to do things differently because keeping on keeping
on simply has been shown not to work. Happy risking to you.
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