Epistles to the Cyberchurch - Su Min

To: All
From: Su Min
Subject: Framed Picture

Dearly beloved,
Today we shall first take a step back and review the text Matt 8:18- 9:1, bearing in mind that the original text comes from an oral teaching tradition, and it was a spoken word to listeners in small groups, learning about events in the time of Jesus.

The frame of the picture relates to Jesus crossing the Sea of Galilee: in the opening verse, we find it is Jesus who gives the command to depart from Capernaum to the other (eastern) side of the lake. Jesus seeks to be relieved of the pressure of the multitude around him. In contrast, in the closing verse, the journey is in the reverse direction, from the East shore to Capernaum, under pressure from the crowd who want to get rid of Jesus. It is the crowd who besought Jesus to depart. What an irony.

Within this frame of Jesus coming and going, across The Sea of Galilee, is the main text, a small discourse on the price of following Jesus, followed by two miracles, the calming of the storm, and the healing of the demon possessed men.

The sequence that unfolds is as follows:

What a joy it is for me that by looking at the text as a picture within a frame, we can recall, almost word for word, the scriptures as recorded in the Gospel according to St Matthew, Ch 8 Vs 18-34. It seems to me that this was the very way that the early disciples were able to preach the message of salvation and redemption so accurately, repeating the same message each time inerrantly, for they had assembled the gospel message in word pictures outlined by frames, and transmitted the message in reproducible small packets. (There may be some connection to the way messages are transmitted in small packets across the Internet, but I digress!)

We are fed by the word of God. It is our daily bread. When consumed and digested and absorbed, it nourishes us so that we can grow and better serve our Lord and Master. The text that we just reviewed aids us in evaluating the cost of following Jesus, helps us draw comfort from Jesus in the midst of any storm, refocuses our awareness of the spiritual dimension of struggles on this earth, confirms compassion as an important attribute of our Saviour, and allows us to compare and contrasts our response to Jesus with the people of Decapolis and the grateful healed man who had been demon possessed, but now was glad to tell of all the great things God had done for him. Praise be to God.

We move onto the healing of the paralytic. The text is Matt 9:1-8. Parallel passages are found in Mark 2:1-12, Luke 5:17-26. Read the passages, my loved ones, and may God add His blessing to your reading of His Holy Word. Thanks be to God!

And we, scattered all over cyberspace, at the turn of the millennium, also are filled with awe, and stand amazed at the compassion of Jesus who has the authority to forgive us our sins. We have never experienced anything like this. We have experienced the remarkable cleansing of our souls and the forgiveness of our sins by the One who has Authority over All. Praise be to God.

Jesus has returned from his rest and recuperation across the Sea of Galilee. His outgoing trip was marked by a sudden tempest which he quelled by command. His brief sojourn at Gergesenes was marked by the healing of the demon possessed men and his rejection by the multitudes of Decapolis. Jesus returns to Capernaum and great crowds gather. Some to be healed. Some to learn and listen with respect. Others to criticise. Hmm, those with destructive critical intent still seem to be around, 2000 years later! The paralysed man is brought to the feet of Jesus despite the great crowd. Such is the faith of the band of friends that Jesus commends them and publicly pronounces the forgiveness of the sick man's sins.

There is no theological basis for linking the paralysis to any specific sin or sinfulness. The paralytic was as much or as little a sinner as you and I are, and equally we are all in need of forgiveness. In a sense he was equally spiritually paralysed as physically paralysed, and Jesus first cured the spiritual paralysis. Do you recognise that spiritual paralysis in your soul? Can not walk in God's way? Do you perceive your spiritual blindness? Can not see spiritual truths as embodied in the Holy Scripture? Are you spiritually deaf, failing to hear the message of hope and redemption that Jesus has preached and his faithful disciples have echoed through the ages? Are you spiritually malnourished spiritually stunted, spiritually anaemic, devastated by spiritual cancer? Jesus can heal you, if you will let him. Unless you are too proud to confess your sins. Unless you are too proud to submit to the Lordship of Jesus.

The teachers of the law had not perceived that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah, the Son of God. They though that a fellow man had no business trying to forgive sins. Jesus knew their thoughts. He demonstrated his spiritual authority by display of physical authority. The crowds were amazed at the spectacle, but like the crowds at Decapolis did not see the spiritual significance. The crowds at Decapolis had focused on their physical loss. The crowd at Capernaum focused on the physical healing, wrongly assuming that this power of healing has been given to a fellow man, not hearing or believing that indeed Jesus was Son of God.

Let us pray

For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min

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