bible blog 1018

This blog provides a meditation on the daily readings of the Reformed Churches, along with a headline from world news:

Hungary’s authoritarian ruler identifies his values as “Christian values”

Victor Orban

Victor Orban

Luke 4:38-44

J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

38-39 When Jesus got up and left the synagogue he went into Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus about her. He stood over her as she lay in bed, brought the fever under control and it left her. At once she got up and began to see to their needs.

40-41 Then, as the sun was setting, all those who had friends suffering from every kind of disease brought them to Jesus and he laid his hands on each one of them separately and healed them. Evil spirits came out of many of these people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he spoke sharply to them and would not allow them to say any more, for they knew perfectly well that he was Christ.

42-43 At daybreak, he went off to a deserted place, but the crowds tried to find him and when they did discover him, tried to prevent him from leaving them. But he told them, “I must tell the good news of the kingdom of God to other towns as well—that is my mission.”

44 And he continued proclaiming his message in the synagogues of Judea

Mark's image of Jesus healing

Rembrandt’s image of Jesus healing

As always it’s illuminating to compare Luke’s story with its source in Mark’s gospel. Mark particularly notes that he took the fevered woman by the hand-Mark wants to emphasise Jesus’ bodily presence- whereas Luke says that Jesus “stood over her” because he wants to emphasise Jesus’ authority (See bible blog 1017). Women are important in Luke’s narrative, from  Mary and Elizabeth at the beginning, via the “women who followed Jesus” to the women who stood by his cross. Here Jesus’ authority frees a woman from  fever so that she can fulfill her honourable role as hostess in her household. 

Jesus also exercises his healing authority on behalf of the sick people of the community. He easily identifies with the people and ares for them, but when they try to “own” him, as their village holy man, he rejects their request with some force: his vocation is to announce the good news of God’s rule throughout the land; it is not his own authority that brings healing, but God’s and it cannot be confined to one place. The author focuses on Jesus’ ability to give himself fully to people without being bound by their preconceptions.

Luke's image of Jesus healing many people

Jesus shows his authority in healing many people

The gospel writers are very precise in their different delineations of Jesus’ character and mission. As in this passage little details are important for the author’s portrait of Jesus and for the reader’s ability to see it. Sometimes simply appreciating the character of Jesus is the best use of scripture. Religious talk about love for Jesus is idle unless people take time to acquaint themselves with him, through the church’s memory of him inscribed in the gospels, which are accessible to  believer and non – believer alike

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