Monday, November 1, 2021

A God Who Speaks

On the surface, it's troubling: these stories that we have in Luke where Jesus spoke to a demon and a fever, but not to the man or the mother-in-law. It paints this picture of Jesus that I have to wrestle with a little bit, this Jesus who walks in and takes care of things but...doesn't seem to take care of persons. This Jesus who is so different from the Jesus that I've fallen in love with on every other single page of the Scriptures. 

But if He's not a Jesus who speaks to the man and the mother-in-law....

Take heart, though, because you know what? I think He did. I think Jesus spoke directly to the man in the synagogue, and I think he spoke to Peter's mother-in-law at the house. 

I think the Jesus that healed this man and this mother-in-law is the same Jesus who turned around in a crowd to talk to a bleeding woman who had touched the hem of His garment. I think the Jesus that healed this man and this mother-in-law is the same Jesus who stopped on the side of the road to talk with a blind man who was calling out His name. I think the Jesus that healed this man and this mother-in-law is the very same Jesus who we see on every other single page of the Gospels, spending His time in the flesh with men and women in the flesh and talking to them, not just taking care of their problems. 

This is a challenge for some who want to say, wait a minute, Luke doesn't tell us that. It seems dangerous to just go about adding things to the Bible, expanding on the stories that we're given. Doesn't God give us those stories for a specific purpose? Aren't these stories in Luke what God wanted us to hear?

They are...and yet, we know instinctively that there are always details missing from the story of Jesus. For example, what was He wearing when the bleeding woman reached out and touched the hem of His garment? We assume it was just the standard attire of the day, but the writers don't tell us that. What kind of vessel were they drinking wine out of at Capernaum? We don't know, but we fill in that detail in our minds based on what we understand of the culture of the day. How did the friends get the paraplegic onto the roof to drop him in front of Jesus? We aren't told, but we know that houses of the day often had ladders or other roof access permanently built into their structures, so it's not hard for us to fathom something like this happening. (We do not think they had to go get a ladder and thus carry both a paraplegic and a ladder.) 

For that matter, the Scriptures never tell us what Jesus looks like and yet, we have a fairly standard representation of Him circulating in our midst (one that is being culturally corrected by our generation, but even this has no basis in the Scriptures - no one tells us what Jesus looked like). But we have a general idea based on what we know about what persons from this region and time looked like - from other sources that we have about this region and time and people. 

The truth is that we're always filling in the details based on what we know and what we understand. We are always, quite naturally, expanding upon the details given to us in the Scriptures to create a coherent picture of the events in our minds. 

And so, when we picture these scenes where Luke tells us that Jesus spoke to a demon and to a fever, it's not a stretch at all for our minds to picture a Jesus who is also speaking to a man and a woman. To a Jesus who fellowships with Peter's mother-in-law over the dinner that she got up to cook. To a Teacher in the synagogue who has a few words for the healed man, too. 

Because this would be consistent with Jesus's nature and what we know of it. This would fit with the facts that we understand about who Jesus is. Just as we have a concept of what a cup might have looked like at a wedding or how a ladder might have been attached to a house or what a tunic with tassels on it might have looked like, so we are certain that Jesus was a Lord who talked with persons. There is no conflict here. There is no distortion of the biblical witness. 

But there remains a question, and that is this: if Jesus indeed spoke to the man and the mother-in-law, why didn't Luke just tell us that? And a question we're still answering in our own faith. We'll take more about this tomorrow. 

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