Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Daily Devotion for Lent 2019 - Day 12

Scripture Reading: Matthew 8:1-9:1 (NRSV)

There's a new sheriff in town!

We can all identify with what this dog is feeling.
Jesus begins to show what living out the Sermon on the Mount looks like today in chapter eight.  He is doing more than providing healing physically.  Jesus is restoring people relationally.

In the first miraculous healing, Jesus encounters a leper.  Notice that the man doesn't ask to be made well but to be made clean.  In that day, lepers would have been removed from society.  In fact, approaching a non-leper like this could have gotten him stoned to death.  The Law was very clear on the matter:

  The person who has the leprous disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head be disheveled; and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, “Unclean, unclean.”  He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.
                                                                      Leviticus 13:45-46 (NRSV)

So this is why Jesus tells him to show himself to the priests.  This is part of the Law.  Jesus has come to fulfill the Law as in Matthew 5:17.  It was the duty of the priests to declare a person clean again and fit to rejoin society.

Within the very next segment, Jesus heals a foreigner.  Not only is this a foreigner, it is a centurion.  He is a leader of soldiers that are occupying their country!  So when Jesus says to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, he puts his money where his mouth is.

The last story of the demoniacs may be a kind of play of Matthew's on the admonition not to cast your pearls before swine lest they turn and maul you.  Jesus is in foreign territory and shows that just as has power over the sea prior to this, he also retains power outside of Judea.  He casts his power (pearls) before swine and they ask him to leave.  At least they don't turn and maul him but they are not interested in the disruption.  This rebuke may be indicative of his own people who will later crucify him.

The story shows that reconciliation is often costly (a whole herd of swine meant the loss of a lot of wealth).

To be in relationship has been shown by Jesus to sometimes be expensive.  But what is it worth in human lives saved?

What kind of relational healing do you need in your life today?

What do you think it would cost?

Prayer for the day:
God, we sometimes feel separated from our friends and family.
It is as if we've been yelling, "Unclean, unclean!"
And there are other times we've been doing the ostracizing.
Sometimes it has been accidental and sometimes we were quite conscious of what we were doing.
We pray to you in Christ that Jesus might heal the brokenness among us - that of our own making and that which has visited us without cause.  Amen.

Photo by Will Lin via Flickr.com.  Used under the Creative Commons license.

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