food for thought


William Barclay
The Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 16:13-16

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Our knowledge of Jesus must never be at second hand. A man might know every verdict ever passed on Jesus; he might know every Christology that the mind of man had ever thought out; he might be able to give a competent summary of the teaching about Jesus of every great thinker and theologian - and still not be a Christian. Christianity never consists in knowing about Jesus; it always consists in knowing Jesus. Jesus Christ demands a personal verdict.

He did not ask only Peter, he asks ever man: “You - what do you think of me?”

Daniel Coleman

God as a communicator is like a specific kind of writer, like a composer of music, whose text is inaudible until someone actually picks up a violin or guitar and brings the silent text to life. This is what I understand incarnational thinking to be about: we humans become God’s hands and feet as we enact or embody the sets of sings (His written word) we have received about how to love God and live in the world. Roland Barthes, the French semiotician, has used this musical analogy to describe the absolute importance of the reader to the life of a text. Until someone with a violin or piano makes sounds from a sheet of music, the musical text is dead, silent. The text is inert until someone makes it come alive by performing it. And this act of performance enlives the text, even brings its author back to life in a manner of speaking. Without an interpreter (reader, believer) the text (book, the Scripture, God Himself) has no real presence, no vitality, no existence. The text needs to be sung, performed, embodied by the reader or musical in order for it to come to life.

William Barclay
The Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 14: 34-36

"When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed."

This is just one of Mathew's almost colorless little connecting passages. IT is sentence or two of gospel story that the eye might easily pass over as quite unimportant; and yet it is very revealing of Jesus. There is beauty in it. Not sooner did Jesus appear anywhere than men were crowding and clamoring for his help; and he never refused it. He healed them all. There is no word here that he preached or taught at any length; there is simply the record that he healed. The most tremendous thing about Jesus was that he taught men what God was like by showing men what God was like. He did not tell men that God care; he showed men that God cared. There is little use preaching the love of God in words without showing the love of God in action. 

But there is also pathos here. No one can read this passage without seeing in it the grim fact that there were hundreds and thousands of people who desired Jesus only for what they could get out of him. Once they had received the healing which they sought, they were not really prepared to go any further. It has always been the case that people have wanted the privilege of Christianity without its responsibilities. It has always been the case that so many of us remember God only when we need him. Ingratitude towards God is the ugliest of all sins; and there is no sin of which men are more often and more consistently guilty.