...The biblical texts upon which Jesus seems to have drawn saw the restoration of the land [of Israel], which was of course part of the whole agenda of the return from exile, as closely bound up with the restoration of broken and damaged human beings. When the wilderness and the barren land were summoned to rejoice, as in Isaiah 35, it was time for the eyes of the blind to be opened, the ears of the deaf to be unstopped, for the lame to leap like a deer and the tongue of the dumb to sing. Jesus' healings, which formed a central and vital part of his whole symbolic praxis, are not to be seen, as some of the early fathers supposed, as "evidence of his divinity." Nor were his healings simply evidence of his compassion for those in physical need, though of course they were that as well. No: the healings were the symbolic expression of Jesus' reconstitution of Israel. This can be seen to good effect in the contrast between Jesus' agenda and that of Qumran. Read the so-called "messianic rule" from Qumran (1QSa). There the blind, the lame, the deaf and the dumb were excluded from membership in the community of God's restored people. The rigid - ruthless, one might say - application of certain purity laws meant a restrictive, exclusive community. Jesus' approach was the opposite. His healings were the sign of a radical and healing inclusivism - not simply including everyone in a modern, laissez-faire, anything-goes fashion but dealing with the problems at the root so as to bring to birth a truly renewed, restored community whose new life would symbolize and embody the kingdom of which Jesus was speaking.
From The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is, InterVarsity Press.
I'd also like to thank iTunes for making Over the Rhine's Films for Radio available for $9.99. Although I bought the album a long time ago, and lost it a few years back, it's still familiar to me. I guess those songs haunted me, but this time in a pop-py sense (not to be confused with the seeds).