Monday, 11 March 2013
texting matthew nine
Mt9v1-2 v1 'His own city..' Was Jesus' own-ership that of a merely loyal inhabitant or of a registered citizen invested and allied? This was Capernaum, not Bethlehem of his birth, nor Nazareth of his childhood. Own where you are now at thus: name it, belong, participate, seek it's best. v2 Paralysis. All sin causes damage, all damage is sin-caused. Rarely however, is the victim solely directly culpable for their own brokenness, but, exceptionally, in this case it seems so. Which gives me to think on what paralysis in my life is self-inflicted by my own sin, what inaction and rigidity is manifest in my spiritual life on account of guilt and shame? v2 Forgiven. Take heart BP your spills are forgiven. And the scribes twittered to themselves #bpcares #convictedofmisselling.. Forgiveness like this is so offensive. Unless you can also bear the cost and heal the wound, unless you can absorb the cause and the consequences, unless you can demonstrate that you were here at the beginning and you're in it for the long haul. See Jesus forgives because he is making all things new, he is making all things new because he forgives.
Mt9v3-4 'Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your heart?' WHY, which could be like 'why do trees grow?' which is an important way of asking the question, these causal links to the past, to one's body chemistry, to abuse & models & habits & the environment, & you should ask this question, it matters to Jesus, he wants to redeem all these things, he does. But there is also the WHY that addresses as a person as a freedom, as a face-to-face, Why do you think such vile things? It remains a real questions. Why the fuck do I? What joy or meaning or completion do I think I'll find in any apartness-from-Jesus? EVIL for evil is all that puts itself above & apart from Jesus, as these in this passage, the smug satisfaction of self-deceivingly placing oneself above & apart from the other, even from God. Break me, Jesus don't let it be so. So these evil thoughts that come, but you choose whether you will ENTERTAIN them or not. Why would you entertain them? Why would you get to know them or make them think they're welcome? They are not welcome, do you hear? You. Are. Not. Welcome. In Jesus name. Not near my HEART. The heart, as it conspires with the mind, the seat of being, the place of identity, the wellspring of life. Beware, dear hearts, you are robbed & spoilt by evil thoughts. Don't be, for you are your beloved's, you are in Christ.
Mt9v5-6 Which is easier healing or forgiveness? The pharisees (in me) ponder Jesus rhetorical question literally. Which is easier for those angels balancing on the heads of pins juggling the rocks God made too heavy for him to lift? Jesus' question mocks my theorising, in the hope of doubly freeing me, both from my original sins and from my subsequent self-justifying. Which is easier, healing or forgiveness? Silly. Jesus has no difficulty marking my papers, I have sinned and Rm3v23 fallen short of the pass mark of 1, my failure is total and terminal, there are no shades of ease in the remedy. Yet. Offensively, Jesus does remedy it. Pissing on my accountancy. Jesus give us all the same blank cheque of grace to cover it all, regardless of how long I think I've worked Mt20v12 or how far they think I've fallen Lk15v30. Some people pay for thrills.. v6 Is a verse for moving house – it is the outward display of a work Christ is doing in us.
Mt9v7-8 of all the shades & shapes of awe the heart might feel at coming up close to a miracle, that which is picked out here as the reason for an overflow of worship and delight is the fact that in this God gives authority to human beings. Not a focus on the Lordship of Christ here, but more on the way that God has stooped to come close, the transcendent God who is the Is Right Beneath Your Own Foot. It is God's humility in gifting us authority that confounds & captivates these hearts & minds. So this authority is a holy thing, I ask that I am not so quick to forget it, that I treasure & exercise it, risking, as Jesus shows us. This will change my posture, I have seen it, this is Something Has Happened, and this will cause new praises in others, & so their life, their best. This I want, Jesus. This I want.
Mt9v9-10 Follow me. Rob Bell speaks of such 'following' in the rabbinic tradition as being covered in the dust of you teacher, as in the muddied face of a chasing cyclist, unmudguarded adrenaline. That, reaching mid-teens, Torah students of 'Harvard' quality would be offered to “lech acharai” - “to come follow me” - to travel with their rabbi. Calling to be a disciple is thus an elite ascription of prized competance, as Lk6v3 Jesus compares his disciples to David's A-team 2Sm23. So, following, you would then 'powder thyself in the dust of their feet' bounding close behind him, that is, 'when I move, you move, just like that...' 'oh oobee doo, I want be like you, walk like you, talk like you, it's true..' 'there isn't an ocean too deep, a mountain so high it can keep me away..' We are ducklings after our mother duck. Follow me, is not merely follow my rules, nor follow my advice only, but follow Me, so the chase, so the human adventure, so the race marked out.
Mt9v11-12 It is true, the wise word that Jesus speaks to both our sickness and our health, for we are always in wars both, to be brought before Jesus. v9-10 speaks to our health, but here I linger to think about ways of being sick. & we have been thinking of the sickness of longing...lovesick, heartsick, homesick kinds of sick. Jesus came to meet you here. To meet you here.
Mt9v13-14 'People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa .. is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious hereafter? Away with the word in such a view.. I never made a sacrifice.' Livingstone. Phil, go and learn what this means and apply it. Mt11v30 Jesus burden's net weight is light, so his (sacrifice) is easy; Hb12v2 for the joy set before him he (sacrificed)..; Jm1v3 consider it pure joy when you (sacrifice)..; 2Cor9v7 God loves a cheerful (sacrifice).. .. This is not making-it-look-easy, but rather a sense of perspective of the joy of the big picture. For Good News to be good news, any apparent sacrifice in our gifts, weddings, evangelism must be conspicuously out-weighed by a total comportment of joy, otherwise our sacrificial gifts are unmerciful powerplay.
Mt9v15-16 you know what, I am taking this for the wedding, to speak all that's literal as well as metaphorical in what my heart hopes & fears at the moment, particularly for organisational exhaustion. Please God, be our means & end, let the wedding be joy not mourning, feasting not fasting, so let it be the overflow of my joy as being close to my bridegroom, which images deeper still joy of being with Jesus, of being close to You. Make it so, we need you.
Mt9v17-18 (v16) Patching up out being-torn death. Faith is not accessory, not an additive, not a modesty screen, not a stitch-in-time, not a nicotine patch, not a band-aid on cancer, not an opiate for the masses, not a cosmetic concealer. The gospel-as-accessory is ruinous, it tears apart the patch and the patched. As when faith is a patch you stitch onto natural revelation, it will unweave the rainbow, it is a ruinous way to consider both science and religion. As when Ruskin, Semper and Loos develop ornament-as-clothing, the life-within wars against the cladding and so emerges today's cruel modernism, naked and shivering and unpatchable. Oh Phil, do you now know, life and faith are active ingredients, an intrinsic unity of wine+skin,body+soul, nature+nurture. As Octavia Hill argues, old tenants in new apartments will tear the fabric apart: they are a unity to be developed personalistically, integratedly.
Mt11v19-20 I've been trying to contrive a something round these verse these two days, & ask for Christ's fresh eyes, even now. Jesus confronts us with 'follow me' 20 times in the NT, apparently, but here Jesus follows us, Jesus follows me. So I meditate on Ps139v5's behindness as well as beforeness. Sometimes we don't hear God's voice first, but bring v18 what confronts us, to find that v19 Jesus follows us, Jesus follows us.
Mt9v21-22 She touched him. Matthew Crawford on Working with your Hands: 'It's true, some people fail to turn off a manual faucet. With its blanket presumption of irresponsibility, the infrared faucet doesn't merely respond to this fact, it installs it, giving the status of normalcy. There is a kind of infantilisation at work, and it offends the spirited personality'. Reach out and touch faith, touch the tactile pedagogy of mature Christianity. Phil, learn that Jesus is real, his power is real, you are embodied, he desires your active participation. v21 'be made well' touching and making: Jesus is immersed in continual physical interaction, see you are not only Ps139v14 well made, you are Rev21v5 made new, and made well: and this for the purpose of making, making disiciples Mt28v19, making generally Ecc9v10, Col3v23, making pertaining to weddings: So1v11
Mt9v23-24 Jesus isn't pulling out Tim Burton faux naivete here. There is a self-knowingness which conveys something of his personality & intelligence, it is a healthy holy thing to remember, that humour goes beyond itself, that conviviality (stretching this verse) begins or deepens the interpersonal. So we, like Christ. & of being unafraid to be laughed at, as per our bolder friends, as per the anecdotes from those who have eschewed stripper socials. So we, like Christ: wry knowing, bold declarations.
Mt9v25-26 I sit sipping my coffee this morning, being brought from sleep to life, let caffeine not be my saviour. As with all idols, elevating wakefulness in a hierarchy of virtues, or using chemical assistance as a cover for neglecting right sabbathing, will take its toll. .. 'the crowd had been put outside' – Who is 'the crowd' for you? Three possible motives for evicting the laughing mob: 1. Clarity of discernment-of-a-still-small-voice requires a certain measure of silence and solitude. 2. The will to crowd-pleasing and people-pleasing is identifiable in their absence. Crowd-fasting brings into focus for me what I do for intrinsic motives before an audience of one. 3. Dealing with people as persons not as things is our aim. Ruskin makes it a dichotomy: 'You either make a tool of the creature, or a man of him. You cannot make both' – Your Talithas must be ministered to as persons not propagandistic pawns.
Mt9v27-28 Following & asking, questioning & answering. They followed Jesus, shouting requests. What does that look like for us? What does that feel like? We are told Jesus' questioning response only comes when he had 'gone indoors' .. was he ignoring them before? Was there eye contact? Do we know how to hound this Christ? Praying for those who feel they drag after Jesus shouting. & of going inside, an architectural meditation, the boundaries of a room which makes possible face-to-face, the questions & answers as Jesus' here. Too strong, perhaps, but still, God, take me in to the holy of holies. You ask for belief, the richer, love-believes-all-things, gives-itself-completely, kind of belief. If we ask, you will come.
Mt9v29-30 Believing prayer. Believing prayer. Jesus wants that from us so much. He longs for us to really know him and so his questions prod us to say what we think and to do what we love and to believe what we believe and so to lean in with believing prayers. Lk9v20 Who do you say that I am? Jn21v17 Do you love me? Mt9v28 Do you believe that I am able? .. O I believe, help my unbelief! .. v30 Shh now, some of this is just for you-and-Jesus (not all post-secret subscribers), sometimes its just for you to enjoy, just for you to know, just for yoru internal person to be united to jesus through. Some God encounters don't need to be translated. Not every healing has to be broadcast. Because God wants to know you as an ends in itself. You are now a mans to an end, you are not an evangelistic cog in an impersonal gospel machine. You are a Person and God loves you. Shh now Phil.
A word out of time,
Running ahead, lagging behind,
Out of kilter, off track, off beat.
of the misaligned.
Take me to Jesus,
As he and she and they.
Christ remakes this ether,
From marrow to sky.
Drives out, keeps out, speaks out,
So to seal me (in).
Mt9v33-34 “Good morning Eeyore,” said Pooh, “Good morning Pooh Bear” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning, which I doubt,” said he...The willful doubter chooses to ignore the evidence because their prejudice regarding 'belief' itself is faulty, thus the skeptic claims: “For those who don't 'believe', no amount of evidence is enough. And for those who do 'believe', no evidence is necessary.” Such are we Pharisees, who willfully prefer to doubt and so end entangled in the strange logic of demons casting out demons...There is a faulty syllogism at work: demons have power, power changes people, Jesus changed people, therefore Jesus was a demon. This betrays a belief in the superior power of demons over and above the goodness evidenced by Jesus here. As those who might demonise Octavia Hill ('never was any house like this seen in London') Syllogistically: OH=profit=capitalist=power=injustice=she cheated.
Mt9v35-36 Jesus has compassion on us, because we are helpless. Knowing this over those we pray for, that they would know the voice of the shepherd (praying over H today) – Jesus aches after them, know it again and remember that it precedes v37-38 every time you hear them read: otherwise potentially ugly words, for who wants to be harvested? But Jesus speaks them beautifully, because he sees these lost sheep for their lostness, while he knows each dazzling dimension of what it is to be found. And wants them to know. I am oft a wandering sheep, lost of my carer, blind to her voice. Today God said Is30v18 I wait to be gracious to you, Sarah, dear sheep, please let me shepherd you.
Mt9v37-38 The. Harvest. Is. Plentiful. It actually is, dear Phil, take the Bible at its word, calibrate your sight, adjust your expectations thusly: every bus a combine harvester, every tube carriage white for harvest, every colleague brims with kingdom potential, they are each a full sheaf of grain waiting to be artisan bread. True, no one wants to be 'harvested' as though they were dolphins tangled in a dragnet, but harvested in the sense of being brought to a God-designed glory out the raw material of vegetable matter. So, pray earnestly v38? But it's a goldrush town, it's a wedding feast, no? Who wouldn't want it? Mt22v5 'But Phil paid no attention, went off back to his farm, and there murdered some evangelists...' and I have been one who Pr10v5 'snorteth in the summer'...Inclined to legalism and laziness, pray for me earnestly to the Lord of the Harvest, for eyes to see the harvest that *is* ripe.