Chap. 8 - Who Gets Jesus' Attention?
Reading chapter eight, I'm struck by the kinds of people Jesus chooses to interact with, and the kinds He often delivers rebuffs to. First He heals a leper, then he heals a slave, and the slave of an officer of thee hated Roman army. I was really struck by this one actually--it hit me anew. At first, Ruden says the centurion asked Jesus to heal "my boy" and I, not thinking about what story I was reading, just sort of assumed it was his son. Then at the end of the story it says "slave boy" and I realize who it really is, and yet both the centurion and Jesus believe it is important for this slave to be healed.
On the other hand, a scholar comes to Jesus, so this is presumable someone who can get a pretty decent living, and Jesus says he won't like following Him because actually wild animals have better living conditions than Jesus does. (I know there is a debate going on among some Christians about whether or not Jesus was wealthy, which is confusing to me since there are crumbs like this throughout the gospels.) Also, a family man comes and asks for allowances to be made for those family obligations. I wonder if Matthew wants us to contrast the family man with the leper. Lepers were outsiders, rejected from the community, since people were terrified of the disease and worried about getting it. So being a leper would have been incredibly lonely. This guy is embedded in community, he has a good thing going, but the community is more important to him than Jesus, and that's a problem.
One thing that sort of makes me chuckle is the calming of the storm. The disciples are very, very worried about drowning. Jesus rescues them, of course, but He doesn't seem very happy about it. He asks them, "Why are you such cowards?" It helps me remember that Jesus helps us even when we're being dorks.