Jesus, God With Us, Part 3
God with us: Jesus forgave sins
God with us: Jesus forgave sins
As mentioned in several of the passages quoted in the last article, the number one enemy we need saving from is sin. This is the reason given for the name Jesus:
Jesus’ healings represented something far more profound than mere physical and mental soundness—they proved he had been given power to forgive sins. This parallel between healing and forgiveness is described in the Old Testament:
He made people whole.
Matthew frequently makes this important connection in his gospel. The Greek word (┮ώ┕┺) for “save” in the announcement, “for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matt 1:21) is the same word translated “made whole” in the healings of Jesus (see, for example, Matt 9:20-22; 14:34-36 ┙┞┒┮ώ┕┺ derived from ┮ώ┕┺).
He took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.
Jesus’ healing of those who were sick is said to fulfill a prophecy of Isaiah:
Surprisingly, the passage clearly refers to forgiveness of sins:
The Son of man has power on earth to forgive sin.
Perhaps the most impressive example is Jesus’ healing of the man with palsy.
Jesus first ‘healed’ the man by forgiving him of his sins, and then, to prove he had this power, he healed the man of his palsy. It seems Jesus might have stopped after the first step if the scribes had not challenged his authority. Forgiveness was Jesus’ priority; the physical healing was just an outward sign of the inward reality. Of course, the man benefited from both.
The sick need a physician and sinners need to repent.
Jesus applied the parallel between healing (the sick need a physician, not those who are whole) and the forgiveness of sins. He called sinners to repentance, not the righteous.
Lest they convert and be healed/be forgiven. When asked to explain why he taught in parables, Jesus quoted the following passage from Isaiah:
Healing and forgiveness are two sides to the same coin. Both have to do with making a person whole…The Aramaic Targum of Isaiah translates the last line, “And repent, and it be forgiven them.” Mark’s parallel passage cites this Targum, “That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest haply they should turn again, and it should be forgiven.” (Mark 4:12). In contrast, Matthew cites the Hebrew:
Again, the key to clearing up the apparent inconsistency is the connection between healing and forgiveness. They are two sides to the same coin. Both have to do with making a person whole; in one case, outward wholeness and in the other, inward wholeness. Healing is a blessing and forgiveness is an even greater blessing. As the Son of man, Jesus has the power to do both.
God with us: Jesus fed the multitudes, twice
The blessings of the covenant include God’s provision for an abundance of food:
There are two episodes in Matthew’s gospel that describe Jesus miraculously feeding a multitude (Matt 14:13-21; 15:32-39). In each episode, Jesus was testing the disciples. Did they have faith that God would provide food? Did they believe God was with them through His son? John makes it explicit Jesus was testing the disciples:
The testing aspect of these feeding episodes arises again (Matt 16:6-12), where Jesus applies Isaiah 6:9-10 to the disciples.
Instead of having confidence that God through Christ was with them to protect them even amid these life-threatening storms,
they feared, they doubted, they showed little faith.
God with us: Jesus calmed the seas, twice
There are two episodes where Jesus calmed storms at sea (Matt 8:23-28; 14:22-33). In both cases, the disciples feared for their lives. In the first episode, the storm caused the ship to be covered with waves, but Jesus was asleep.
In a second episode, Jesus was walking on the sea toward the disciples’ ship. The disciples saw him and were troubled. Jesus told them not to be afraid. Peter went out of the ship to walk on the water to Jesus.
In both cases, the disciples cried out, “Lord, save us/me.” And in both cases, Jesus said they are “of little faith.” Like the feeding miracles, the disciples struggled with these tests. Instead of having confidence that God through Christ was with them to protect them even amid these life-threatening storms, they feared, they doubted, they showed little faith.
God with us: Jesus crucified, buried, raised from the dead
The vast majority of Matthew’s gospel reflects the covenant blessings. There is only a brief but excruciating time that corresponds to the covenant curses (Matt 26-27; “for a little while…” Heb 2:9 NET, NIV, NRSV). Leading up to the crucifixion, Jesus explicitly told his disciples what was going to happen (Matt 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; 26:1-2). He told the Parable of the Vineyard about how the husbandmen would kill the householder’s son so they could seize his inheritance; the scribes and Pharisees knew he was referring to them (Matt 21:33-46). At the last supper, Jesus took the cup, gave thanks, and said, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt 26:28 NIV, NRSV, NTE). He came to Gethsemane, where he told his disciples, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death;” (Matt 26:38). Three times he prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matt 26:39, 42, 44). Jesus was bound, led away, and delivered up so he could be put to death (Matt 27:1-2). On the cross, Jesus prayed, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46; quoting Psa 22:1). And then he died (Matt 27:48) and was buried (Matt 27:57-66). On the third day he rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples in Galilee, just as he had told them he would (Matt 28).
These events, done according to the Scriptures, became an essential part of the gospel (1 Cor 15:1-4). Throughout his ministry, Jesus fulfilled the true meaning of the phrase, “God is with us.” The miracles he performed during that brief three-and-a-half-year span were a mere foretaste of the blessings still to come when he returns to establish once again the kingdom of God in the earth.
(Austin Leander, TX)
1 See also, Mark 5:28, 34; 6:56; 10:52; Luke 17:19. The same word is also translated “healed” in Mark 5:23 and Luke 8:36.
2 L.G. Sargent writes, “Mark’s paraphrase of Isa 6:9-10 (quoted in full in Matthew) corresponds with the Targum rather than the Hebrew or Septuagint texts…,” Mark: The Gospel of the Son of God, 1983, p. 64.
3 For the most part, this article has not discussed the large teaching sections in Matthew’s gospel (Matt 5-7; 10; 12-13; 16; 23-25). Of course, these passages do refer to our current theme, such as the beatitudes (Matt 5:3-10), the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9-12), the parables of the kingdom (Matt 13), etc.
4 These articles were influenced by the writings of Birger Gerhardsson: The Testing of God’s Son: (Matt 4:1-11 & PAR), An Analysis of an Early Christian Midrash, 1966, Wipf and Stock, Eugene, Oregon. The Mighty Acts of Jesus According to Matthew, 1979, Wipf and Stock, Eugene, Oregon. “Mighty Acts and the Rule of Heaven: ‘God is with us’”, To Tell the Mystery: Essays on New Testament Eschatology in Honor of Robert H. Gundry, eds. Thomas E. Schmidt and Moises Silva, Library of New Testament Studies, vol. 100, 1994, pp. 34-48.