Lectionary Year B
February 9, 2003
Step IV: Cross-Section
A. Primitive Christianity
(JFC) The parallels occur in Matthew 8:14-17 and 23, Luke 4:38-44. And, in John
4:46-53 Jesus also heals a sick son of a royal official in Capernaum by challenging the official to believe what Jesus says, that the son lives. Otherwise, Jesus' preaching and healing are mentioned together in Matthew 4:23 and 9:35. In the Synoptics and Acts, "while not all sicknesses are the work of demons, though they may all be seen as the work of Satan. . . in most of the stories of the possession what is at issue is not merely sickness but a destruction and deterioration of the divine likeness of man according to creation. The center of personality, the volition and active ego, is impaired by alien powers which seek to ruin the man and sometimes drive him to self destruction (Mk. 5:5)," says Foerster in Kittel's TDNT. All illnesses, maladies, evil possessions are subject to Jesus' power to heal. Matthew 10:8 tells of Jesus' sending out the disciples telling them to "cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers/diseased, cast out demons." Demons were frequently cited in these times, e.g., Matthew 9:34, 17:18 and 11:18 where John is accused of being demon possessed. Too, in John 7:14-24, we read of Jesus' being accused of having "a demon!" His grievous prayer, alone in the garden of Gethsemane, is in Mark 14:23-43, after which He declared it was time to be going on. Jesus' preaching content is described in Matthew 4:17 as, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come." Luke tells us, in 4:16-19, that Jesus came to Nazareth, His hometown, and in the synagogue there, He read from Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Then He said, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." In Acts 28, Paul visits Malta where he encounters Publius' father sick in bed with fever and dysentery. He visits him, prays, touches him with his hands and cures him.
B. Old Testament and Judaism
(JFC) Old Testament healing (qerapeu,w) is like secular serving and evidently no persons, especially no priests, did any healing before Christ did. See Esther 1:1b, 2:19 and 6:10. Judith 11:17 does commend serving God, but far from healing the Divine. The fascinating story of Tobit's blindness and attempts to treat it is in 2:10 and 12:3 of the apocryphal book bearing his name. Many different forms of heralding come in the First Testament. We read of such exciting announcing in Genesis 41:43 and Esther 6:9 and 11. Isaiah seems to get at the Old Testament's idea of preaching, where (58:1) it says, "Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins." Yet, mercifully, Isaiah 61:1 refers to an eschatological event when the captives will be liberated and the imprisoned be released. The Day of the Lord is announced/heralded in those passages before the Advent of Christ, e.g., Joel 2:1, Jonah 1:2 and 3:2, Zephaniah 3:14f and Zechariah 9:9.
C. Hellenistic World
(JFC) In Greek speaking Judaism we find healing to refer to both medical treatments
and the care of the soul, the latter especially in Philo, according to Beyer in Kittel's TDNT. Demon possession, apparently, never appeals to these elite philosophers, they considered much of the body evil anyway. They might have appreciated that Jesus healed Simon's mother-in-law with a mere touch of a hand and, perhaps, as well, that many people came to Jesus and sought Him and that He went throughout Galilee, too.
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