Musings on Matthew 4

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The temple in Jerusalem had a number of gates. One of these was for the exclusive use of the priests. The reason was simple. To minister in the Temple a priest had to purify himself. The rituals took ages and no priest wanted to risk being defiled by contact with an ordinary Jew. If they bumped into someone who wasn’t purified the priest would become unclean and have to start the ritual from scratch. The unclean defiled what was clean. This was the basic problem with the Old Covenant. No one was ever truly clean. They held off sin and death for a while but the cleansing and purification just covered up the truth for a moment. Men were unclean and no ritual, however thorough, really changed that.

What did change everything was Christ. For the first time there was a clean man on the earth. This time the cleanness, the holiness, the righteousness did not come from an external ritual. Jesus really was perfect and holy. He could not be made unclean.

In Matthew 9 an unclean woman came to Christ. For years she had suffered pain and embarrassment from an issue of blood. Not only did she suffer physically but her infirmity made her unclean. The law kept her out of the presence of the Lord. She was unworthy.

Now, desperate to be healed she reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’s garment. It was enough. In an instant she was healed. The unclean had touched someone perfectly clean and she was made clean and holy. For the first time in her life she was whole.

Christians worry about being defiled by unclean things, TV programs, new laws. We worry unnecessarily. Christ has made us holy and nothing we do changes that. As the Lord said to Peter when he lowered a collection of forbidden animals towards him ‘do not call unclean what God has made clean’.

We are the saints, the holy ones of God and that fellow Christian means you.

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