When you write to convince others how do you write? When you write to pull the threads of prophecy together to whom do you write? When you believe before you write just how do your readers read?
All the context in the world, all the historical evidence available, all the sources and resources found and yet to be found – everything we do to “establish the facts” – all of that does what … ?
Seems to me it only provides a debating field. A place of learned comparison. The things I believe are facts enough to prove my theory … the things you believe are facts enough to prove your theory. In theory all this proving of theory should be sufficient – one is right and one is wrong.
In practice, beginning with a theory is simply comparing two emotional journeys of selected “facts of belief” all wrapped up as objective evidence. What we each select in – and select out – as supportive of our theory will dictate our journey and our conclusion.
In this case the Jewish nation was looking for fulfilment of prophecy. Matthew was writing to that endemic belief. As one not of that nation – a gentile – I struggle a tad. The elements selected in – the top and tailing of “and that fulfilled this prophecy” don’t press my emotional buttons of fact and evidence.
This chapter 4 of Matthew has 499 words. So far this post has 241 words. Almost each post I write has more than 499 words.
The chapter of Matthew has been translated loads of times. The culture and belief system in which I live has morphed and changed loads of times. I have changed as I read this chapter of Matthew. Any book I return to over the years will change as I do.
All of which proves “what” about God? All of which is evidence that proves what to whom?
There are four words in these 499 that connect inside me. Four words that may or not may not mean anything to you. Four words that today in this moment are my “evidence” – my “emotional evidence”. Four words whose significance in this climate of forensic evidence blow my mind at the ramifications, the science of proof, the knowledge of the ages. Four words which are almost invisible in the noise and emotion of debate.
Those four words are: “and he healed them.”
“News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.”
Science says this is impossible. Evidence says bring me the illness, the medical history, the lifestyle choices, the whole kit and caboodle. Facts say give me a list I can work through. Our emotional journey of belief and theory can – and often does – last a lifetime. That final step of “but can I believe?” always the penultimate step – never the ultimate and final step of confidence – of ownership – of “me”.
And he healed them.
I have seen people close to me ill, sick, hurt and in pain. I have seen those I love falter in their living. I have seen those I love wrapped in medical knowledge and solutions. And I have always prayed those solutions solve.
And then these four words.
I imagine all those times of agony. All those times when living was suspended as medicine worked. Whilst the faltering of a loved one’s living paused my own living. And those times when the living was extinguished.
And he healed them.
Would I have been there with our sick friends and family? Would you? Would I have been there watching others with their family and friends – would you? And what then would I believe – what then my evidence?
Chapter 4 of the book of Matthew has a lot that does not speak to me. And yet those four words of 499 are the words of my faith, my belief, my relationship, my love affair. I choose to deselect the words of “fulfilment of prophecy”. I choose to lay aside the cultural and historical context of those words. Not because they do not “fit” – but because they distract.
“And he healed them” is as timeless as love itself. Because I know love and I know healing.
730 words (depending on which word counter you use): pick the few that work for you (or keep on looking).