Sin and sickness (Mt 9:5-9:7)

“Which is easier

To say?

‘Your sins are forgiven!’

Or to say?

‘Stand up!

Walk!’

But that you may know

That the Son of man

Has authority on earth

To forgive sins,

He then said

To the paralytic.

‘Stand up!

Take your bed!

Go home!’

He stood up.

He went to his home.”

 

τί γάρ ἐστιν εὐκοπώτερον, εἰπεῖν Ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι, ἢ εἰπεῖν Ἔγειρε καὶ περιπάτει;

ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτε ὅτι ἐξουσίαν ἔχει ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας — τότε λέγει τῷ παραλυτικῷ Ἔγειρε ἆρόν σου τὴν κλίνην καὶ ὕπαγε εἰς τὸν οἶκόν σου.

καὶ ἐγερθεὶς ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ.

 

This is exactly the same as in Mark, chapter 2:9-12, and Luke, chapter 5:22-25, about the healing and forgiving of sins for the paralytic.  Jesus posed the question which was it easier to do (τί γάρ ἐστιν εὐκοπώτερον) to say that your sins are forgiven (εἰπεῖν Ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι) or to say get up and walk (ἢ εἰπεῖν Ἔγειρε καὶ περιπάτει).  Jesus said that they should know that the Son of Man had the power and authority on earth (ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτε ὅτι ἐξουσίαν ἔχει ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς) to forgive sins (ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας).  He then told the paralytic to stand up (τότε λέγει τῷ παραλυτικῷ Ἔγειρε), take his bed (ἆρόν σου τὴν κλίνην), and go home (καὶ ὕπαγε εἰς τὸν οἶκόν σου).  Thus, that is exactly what the paralyzed man did.  He got up and went to his home (καὶ ἐγερθεὶς ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ).  Jesus forgave this man his sins and cured him of paralysis.  Normally, the power to forgive sins was what only God could do.  How were these powers related?

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Earthly and heavenly treasures (Mt 6:19-6:21)

“Do not store up

For yourselves

Treasures on earth.

Moths

And rust

Will consume them.

Thieves

Will break in

And steal them.

But store up

For yourselves

Treasures in heaven.

Where neither moth

Nor rust

Consumes them.

Where thieves

Do not break in

And steal them.

Where your treasure is,

There will your heart be also.”

 

Μὴ θησαυρίζετε ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ὅπου σὴς καὶ βρῶσις ἀφανίζει, καὶ ὅπου κλέπται διορύσσουσιν καὶ κλέπτουσιν·

θησαυρίζετε δὲ ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐν οὐρανῷ, ὅπου οὔτε σὴς οὔτε βρῶσις ἀφανίζει, καὶ ὅπου κλέπται οὐ διορύσσουσιν οὐδὲ κλέπτουσιν

ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρός σου, ἐκεῖ ἔσται καὶ ἡ καρδία σου.

 

This is another unique saying of Jesus in Matthew, although the idea can be found in Luke, chapter 12:33-34, with the last verse exactly the same.  You should not store up treasures (Μὴ θησαυρίζετε ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς) here on earth (ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς), because it was too much trouble to store things.  Either moths (ὅπου σὴς) would eat up the garments or rust would consume them.  This is one of the 3 times that moths are mentioned in the biblical New Testament.  The other was the Luke comparative and later in Matthew.  Garments were often considered treasures.  Rust was a more common term and applied to other goods.  Otherwise, thieves might break in and steal it anyhow (καὶ ὅπου κλέπται διορύσσουσιν καὶ κλέπτουσιν).  The opposite of the earthly treasures were the heavenly treasures (θησαυρίζετε δὲ ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐν οὐρανῷ) that you should store up.  Moths and rust could not consume them (ὅπου οὔτε σὴς οὔτε βρῶσις ἀφανίζει).  Thieves could not break in and steal them either (καὶ ὅπου κλέπται οὐ διορύσσουσιν οὐδὲ κλέπτουσιν).  Finally, we have the wonderful saying about where your treasure is (ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρός σου), there is your heart (ἐκεῖ ἔσται καὶ ἡ καρδία σου).  What you really care about is what is important to you.

The signs that the day of Yahweh was coming (Joel 2:30-2:32)

“I will show portents

In the heavens,

As well as on the earth.

There will be

Blood,

Fire,

Columns of smoke.

The sun shall be turned

To darkness.

The moon shall be turned

To blood.

This will happen

Before the great day

Of Yahweh comes.

Before the terrible day

of Yahweh comes.

Then everyone

Who calls

On the name of Yahweh

Shall be saved.

In Mount Zion,

In Jerusalem,

There shall be

Those who escape,

As Yahweh has said.

Among the survivors

Shall be those

Whom Yahweh calls.”

Yahweh, via Joel, talked about the signs that the day of Yahweh was coming. There would be signs in the heavens and on earth, with blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun would darken and the moon would turn to blood before the great and terrible day of Yahweh. Everyone who called on Yahweh would be saved at Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Some would escape. Others would survive, but they would be called by Yahweh.

The sun (Sir 43:1-43: 5)

“The pride of the higher realms

Is the clear vault of the sky.

As glorious to behold

As the sight of the heavens.

The sun,

When it appears,

Proclaims as it rises.

What a marvelous instrument!

It is the work of the Most High.

At noon,

It parches the land.

Who can withstand its burning heat?

A man tending a furnace

Works in burning heat.

But the sun scorches the mountains

Three times as hot.

It breathes out fiery vapors.

Its bright rays

Blind the eyes.

Great is the Lord

Who made it!

At his orders

It hurries on its course.”

Sirach points out the beauty and utility of the sun in the sky. The rising sun proclaims what a marvelous instrument it is of the Most High God. We have all seen the beauty of the rising morning sun as it proclaims the glory of God. At noon, the sun parches the land, scorching the mountains with its burning heat. Sirach says that the sun is 3 times as hot as a blast furnace. That may be true for somewhere along the line as sun rays head to earth, but here on earth, it is not quite as hot as a burning fire. However, it is true that its bright rays can blind you if you look right into the sun. Certainly the Lord, who made the sun, is to be glorified, as we see the sun move around the earth until sunset. Oh, oh, it is the earth moving around the sun, and not the other way around. However, it still is a lovely poetic thought of sunrise and sunset.

The powerful word of God (Wis 18:14-18:16)

“While gentle silence enveloped all things,

Night in its swift course was now half gone.

Your all powerful word leaped from heaven.

He leaped from the royal throne,

Into the midst of the land that was doomed.

He was a stern warrior.

He carried the sharp sword of your authentic command.

He stood.

He filled all things with death.

He touched heaven

While standing on the earth.”

That night in silence, the all powerful word of God (ὁ παντοδύναμός σου λόγος) leapt from heaven (ἀπ᾿ οὐρανῶν). In the original Exodus story in chapters 11-12, it is God, Yahweh himself, who kills the infants at midnight. Here it is the word of God who came from his royal throne (ἐκ θρόνων βασιλειῶν) as a stern warrior with a sharp sword. He was the one who killed all the first born children while still touching heaven (οὐρανοῦ) here on earth (γῆς).

The hidden work of God (Eccl 8:16-8:17)

“I applied my mind to know wisdom.

When I wanted to see the business

That is done on earth,

How one’s eyes see sleep

Neither day nor night.

Then I saw all the work of God.

No one can find out

What is happening

Under the sun.

However much they may toil in seeking,

They will not find it out.

Even though those who are wise

Claim to know,

They cannot find it out.”

Qoheleth wanted to know about wisdom so he applied his mind. He wanted to see everything that was done on earth. However, no one could tell him what was happening here on earth, under the sun. Even the wise ones could not find out, despite their labors. These wise humans were not able to discern the wisdom of the work of God.

Yahweh looks for the wise ones (Ps 14:2-14:2)

“Yahweh looks down from heaven

On humankind.

He wants to see

If there are any who are wise,

Those who seek after God.”

Yahweh is perched in heaven looking down at all the humans. He wants to see if there are any wise ones who seek God on earth. The concept of wise is the one who seeks God. It was common to believe that God was up there somewhere.