Saturday, April 23, 2005


Jesus was an iconoclast, to say the least. He never shrunk from telling it as he saw it, which was always the right way and, different from other such hard-headed people, always the truth. And he made no qualms about shattering the icons, about breaking notions that the masses and the elite had about God, about God's relationship to us people, and about ourselves. When one looks at Jesus, one cannot help but to feel as if one's staring at the sun, an image garnered by John the Revelator in the first few lines of his apocalyptic vision, terrifying as it was. That is because, asides from Jesus, before and outside of Jesus, we are merely content to look at and observe shadows. We are blind. But Jesus comes with his spit-mud pies and tosses them into our eyes.

"What do you see?"

"I see men that look like trees walking around."

So, Jesus strikes us again and rubs the spit-mud confection under our brows.

Behold, all things are made new.

I get the sense that every time Jesus tells a parable, or uses some object as the focal point of a lesson, or makes a funny one-liner (If someone asks for your robe, offer them your tunic as well... The camel through the eye of a needle.... Get that log out yo' eye...), he is calling us to not just nod our head in agreement on an obscure truth, or to make us complete a sheet of some creedal screed, or to fill-in the missing points of our systematic theology so that we are complete and lacking nothing in our dogmology (Like that word? I wonder if I'm the first to make it up. Ahhh, I doubt it). I get the sense that he tells these tales, these sarcastic asides, these object lessons to cause us to contemplate, to consider, to hear with our ears if we have been granted that God-given ability. He calls into question our most common and common-sense assumptions and backs his own claims and stories on the power of God through his miracles and authority. Miracles that, obviously, no sinner can do but only one sent from God could. Because who had ever heard of a man restoring the sight to the blind? But he does it here, and he does it there. And he does it again and again. Furthermore, I believe that when Jesus told a story he intended, and generally got, his audience to internalize his point(s). It was sugar for his hard, gravelly - but ultimately satisfying - medicine.

This principle is perfectly exemplified in the story of the Good Samaritan. For where the lawyer questioning Jesus was merely looking to justify himself before the masses, before Jesus and before God by asking for the definition of neighbor - certainly, he thought, his neighbor would be Jewish, civil, highly religious, a priest or somebody in the ecclesiology, a good sort from decent stock - Jesu, the Joy of my salvation, had other things in mind. Jesus, as usual, messes with the man's mind, the man's preconceptions, the man's prejudices. But he does it in an underhanded way. He sucks him, and all would-be listeners, into a story, a good story that lasts for thousands of years in the forefront of the populace's pate. Not only is your idea of your neighbor corrupt, your whole notion of love is utterly screwed.

Peace and love.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Be kind. Rewind.