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Triumph of The Past
by Michael Lane
Sons and Daughters of the Wind
Fish will not live
where the water is too clear. But if there is duckweed or something, the fish
will hide under its shadow and thrive. Thus, the people will live in tranquility
if certain matters are a bit overlooked or left unheard.
Faith and Forgiveness
Being born of the Wind
is very, very closely connected with forgiveness of sins. In the third sending,
Jesus says: "Receive the Holy Wind. If you forgive a man his sins, they shall
be forgiven to him; and if you hold a man's sins, they are held" (Jn 20:22f.).
Forgiveness of sins is part of their healing work, done through the power of the
Wind. It is the healing of hearts. It need not be supposed that in this verse
Jesus is encouraging his disciples to withhold forgiveness. The suggestion is
rather that if they fail to promote this sort of healing, they are at fault.
They dare not cause one of these little ones to stumble. They were always taught
to forgive, to return good for evil.
Mary and the Cruse
Now there was in that city a woman who was a sinner; and when she knew that he was a guest in the Pharisee's house, she took an alabaster cruse of perfume, And she stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and she began to wet his feet with her tears, and to wipe them with the hair of her head, and she kissed his feet, and anointed them with perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he reasoned in himself and said, If this man were a prophet, he would have known who she was and her reputation. . . . Jesus said to him, There were two men who were debtors to a creditor; one of them owed him five hundred pence, and the other one fifty pence. And because they had nothing to pay, he forgave them both. Which one of them will love him more? . . . You did not give me even water for my feet; but she has wet my feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair, etc. . . . [We can know] her many sins are forgiven, because she loved much; but he to whom little is forgiven, loves little. And he said to the woman, Your sins are forgiven. Then the guests began to say within themselves, Who is this man, who forgives even sins? Jesus said to the woman, Your faith has saved you; go in peace. (Lk 7:37-50)
In another version of the story, the woman is identified as Mary, and Jesus says,
"Leave her alone; she has kept it for the day of my burial" (Jn 12:3, 7).
Peter and the Cock
Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, that in this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times. Peter said to him, Even if I must die with you, I will never deny you. . . . Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard; and a maidservant said to him, You also were with Jesus the Nazarene. But he denied it before all of them, and said, I do not understand what you are saying. And as he was going to the porch, another one saw him, and she said to them, This man was also there with Jesus the Nazarene. Again he denied it with oaths, I do not know the man. After a while, those who were standing came up, and said to Peter, Truly you also are one of them, for even your speech proves it. Then he began to curse and swear, I do not know the man. At that very hour the cock crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus. . . . And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Mt 26:34f, 69-75)
It might seem at first glance that after Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, his healing works cease. However, this encounter with Peter is a healing work, and a very powerful one. It is also very simple. As in the story of Mary and the Cruse, the subject is a disciple, there is no visible miracle, and there are tears. Peter imagines he is ready to lay down his life. Jesus knows otherwise and so says, "Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." Peter can't comprehend it and so puts it out of mind (just as the disciples previously did Jesus' prediction of his own death). He then proceeds to deny Jesus three times without even realizing what he is doing until the cock crow recalls him to himself with horror and shame. Had Jesus not said, "Before the cock crows," Peter would never even have noticed his deed. Bitter indeed are Peter's tears of self-realization, but they are also healing tears on the way to becoming, like Mary's, tears of gratitude, humility, and love.
The Woman with a Hemorrhage
And a large multitude followed him, and they pressed on him. And there was a woman who had had the hemorrhage for twelve years, Who had suffered much at the hands of many doctors, and had spent everything she had, and was not helped at all, but rather became worse. When she heard concerning Jesus, she came through the dense crowd from behind him, and touched his cloak. For she said, If I can only touch his cloak, I will live. And immediately the hemorrhage was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Jesus instantly knew that some power had gone out of him; so he turned around to the people and said, Who touched my garments? His disciples said to him, You see the people pressing on you, and yet you say, Who touched me? And he was looking round to see who had done this. But the woman, frightened and trembling, because she knew what had happened to her, came and fell before him and told him the whole truth. He said to her, My daughter, your faith has healed you; go in peace, and be healed of your disease. (Mk 5:24-34)
In the story of Mary and the Cruse, the bystanders think Jesus is pardoning sins, but Jesus refuses to take credit, saying, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." In the present story it is even more striking how the healing takes Jesus himself by surprise as he feels "power" go out of him. The woman's condition makes her unclean, like a leper, so she is not supposed to touch other people; but she thinks, "If I can only touch his cloak, I will live," and is determined enough to penetrate the mob surrounding him. Jesus is being mobbed, but he knows that someone has touched him in a different way from others and received healing. As in Mary and the Cruse, he declines to take credit for the healing but blesses it after the fact. And as Mary was in tears but is enabled by Jesus' blessing to "go in peace," so Jesus blesses this woman, who was at his feet "frightened and trembling," in the same language he uses with Mary, also calling her "my daughter" and saying, in Luke's version, "have courage" (Lk 8:48). Nothing is said about forgiveness of sins, but the words, "Go in peace" are virtually synonymous. They show that this is a healing of the heart as much as it is a physical healing.
The Paralyzed Man Lowered Through the Roof
And the power of God was present to heal them. And some men brought a paralytic on a quilt-bed; and they wanted to go in and lay him before him. And when they found they were not able to carry him in, because of many people, they went up to the roof, and they lowered him down on his quilt-bed from the ceiling into the midst before Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, Man, your sins are forgiven. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason saying, Who is this man who talks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins, except God only? But Jesus knew their thoughts, and he answered and said to them, What do you reason in your heart? Which is easier to say, Your sins are forgiven, or just to say, Arise and walk? But that you may know that this human being [AL] has authority on earth to forgive sins, he said to the paralytic, I tell you, Arise, take up your quilt-bed and go to your home. And immediately he rose up before their eyes, and took his quilt-bed and went to his house, praising God. (Lk 5:17-25)
physical picture here is that the house is built into a hill, so the branch-roof
is easily accessible and can be opened by removing a few branches (AL).
In Matthew and Mark's versions, Jesus calls the man, "My son." In Mark's version,
instead of "knew their thoughts," Jesus "perceived in his wind," etc. As with
the Woman with a Hemorrhage, faith is manifested by determination to get to Jesus
in spite of a mob; and "Have courage, my daughter" in Luke's version of the Woman
with the Hemorrhage is paralleled by "Have courage, my son" in Matthew's version
of this one. As with both that story and Mary and the Cruse, the bystanders accuse
him of presuming to pardon sins in his own right.
Now the servant of a centurion was seriously sick, one who was very dear to him; and he was near death. And when he heard about Jesus, he sent to him Jewish elders, and besought him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they begged him earnestly, saying, He is worthy to have this done for him; For he loves our people, and has even built us a synagogue. Jesus went with them. And when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent some of his friends to him, and said, My Lord, do not trouble yourself; for I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof; That is why I was not worthy to come to you; but just say a word and my boy will be healed. For I am also a man in government service, and there are soldiers under my command; and I say to this one, Go, and he goes, and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it. When Jesus heard these things, he was amazed at him, and he turned and said to the people who followed him, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith as this. So those who were sent returned to the house, and found the servant who was sick, healed. (Lk 7:2-10)
In Matthew's version, Jesus and the
centurion actually meet, but in Luke they converse entirely through intermediaries.
In Matthew's version, Jesus also declares, "A great many will come from the east
and from the west, and sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom
of heaven" (8:11).
The Bandit on the Cross
And there were coming with him two other malefactors, to be put to death. And when they came to a place which is called The Skull, they crucified him there, and the malefactors, one on his right and one on his left. . . . Now one of the malefactors who were crucified with him, blasphemed against him, saying, If you are the Man of Fire, save yourself and save us also. But the other rebuked him, and said to him, Do you not fear even God, for you are also in the same judgment? And ours is just, for we are paid as we deserve and as we have done; but he has done nothing wrong. And he said to Jesus, Remember me, my Lord, when you come in your kingdom. Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise. (Lk 23:32f., 39-43)
Matthew and Mark call them "bandits." They may have been involved in an uprising. This healing from the cross is Jesus' last act of healing work before he had to leave. It shows a very pure and simple faith. The first bandit is willing to believe only if Jesus will get them down off the cross; but the second simply loves Jesus as the Lord of Life. Instead of challenging Jesus, he confesses his own sin and boldly and simply asks Jesus to "remember" him when he returns. His faith, like Mary's, is not tied to the bodily presence of the Master but is steady in the expectation of Jesus' imminent death and his own. And Jesus replies equally simply with a perfect blessing, "You will be with me in Paradise." He might equally have said, "Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace." And who can doubt but that the man did go in peace?
In this essay, I have made use of
the Aramaic Light commentaries by Rocco Errico and George Lamsa, which I indicate
by the letters AL. Quotes are from Lamsa's Modern New Testament from the
Aramaic, with changes as noted.
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