Follow by Email

Monday, January 16, 2012

Jesus doesn't back down - Luke - pages 33-40

Luke 13ish - "At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.' In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day...


After reading the Scriptures today, I simply cannot overstate how flabbergasted I was at how my interpretation of Jesus has swung from one side of the pendulum to the other.  I remember the feisty, fiery Jesus growing up with hellfire and brimstone, and sulfur and weeping and gnashing of teeth and flames and such.  As I studied further I came to know the human, tender, relevant and--shall I say--gracious side of Jesus that spoke to the postmodern in me.  I gravitated to verses that highlighted his love and mercy and grace, and conveniently side-stepped the verses that were--as they say--the "hard sayings of Jesus".  


I can't enumerate the times that I felt like I needed to tone down Jesus' language today as I read Luke.  I was frankly uncomfortable with his "matter-of-factness" as he told it like it was.  He spoke as one who didn't care about popularity one bit.  He was on a mission, and he had a message, and it was non-negotiable.  The thing that is hardest to reconcile is that in the same paragraphs he seemed to communicate almost contradictory thoughts, like a mixed message or something.  On the one hand he would be the Father who welcomed the son who squandered all his inheritance on prostitutes and decadence, but then--after being asked if there would "only a few people going to be saved"--he would be the owner of the house who had a narrow door and called anyone who did not enter it evildoers.  The margin of error didn't seem to have the slack I'd made up in my head.  I was tossed about in the reading today trying to get my feet on the seabed but to no avail.  The undertow of undulations in the text today threw me around like a jellyfish in the tempestuous surf.


The verse I mentioned in the beginning tugged at my heart.  It spoke of Jesus' certitude in who he was and why he came.  When threatened by fears of man and asked to leave and "go somewhere else", he retorted with the snark of a offended UFC fighter.  "Tell that fox that I'm gonna..."  I love it!  Just when you thought the gentle Jesus would roll over and play possum, he shows us that he's got some pluck in 'em!  He doesn't get pushed around or intimidated.  He isn't going to let people tell him where to go and what to do.  He's following higher orders and leaves when he's good and ready to leave.  I wonder what Pilot did when the messengers took back this response to him?  He must have keeled over that someone would have the audacity to call him a "fox"!  


His reason for not backing down wasn't a "muscle-flexing" macho-man contest.  He wasn't fighting for his masculinity, he was fighting for his ministry.  The mission drove him.  Did you hear him, "I will reach my goal."  He has is eyes set on the objective that no objection could shake.  He knew who he was and why he was here.


I love when he said, "In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day..."  Sometimes it's a simple as this line of logic.  I need that on somedays.  Strike that, I need that today.  It's been a day of slogging through sludge.  I feel like it just poured down "leave-this-place-and-go-somewhere-else" today...not in the sense of leaving Impact or Lowell, but just backing off on "putting my heart out there" and "fighting for the vision God's has planted in my heart for our church".  I encountered some attack and I felt the levies almost give a couple times.  It was great to read the galvanizing response of Jesus to critics.  "I must keep going...today, tomorrow, and the next day."  Yeah, I must.


I hope today you feel stirred by this random collection of responses to the story of Jesus.  I'm thoroughly enjoying how Jesus is messing with my "categories".  

4 comments:

Gene said...

Keep fighting for the vision God has placed in your heart for Impact, brother! Don't settle for anything less! Praying God will show you every day what that means for our time and our culture.

Reading so much of Jesus' mission every day is quite a download. Amazing stories! Amazing details! Amazingly consistent message! Amazingly preserved by the Holy Spirit through various oral and written texts!

Anonymous said...

Jason,
I still can not get my mind to unwrap the contradiction on p.34 where Jesus tells his host not to invite his friends/relatives to the party compared to p. 37 where he seems to be praising the shrew manager for using wordly wealth to gain friends so as to get rewarded. Can you shed some light on this?

Cristi

XERO said...

@Anonymous/Cristi: I found several contexts to this "Manager" portion of the story that are very different than those of the "Banquet" portion of the story. I believe the key to interpreting parables is to FIRST understand the true point of the story, and SECOND to understand that though some of the characters may do things that are immoral of sinful in our view, tit is just story, and no real offense is being committed. The parable simply sets the stage for the moral or point of the story to get across.

That said, the emphasis of the banquet part of the story is "Honor among guests", both familiar and unfamiliar. He's showing how one can be Exalted in the eyes of others by displaying true humility and by exalting the lowly. He continues his parable in the SAME context of his previous story, an explanation if you will. He's not saying that it is sinful or wrong to invite your friends, but in the context of Honor, this behavior in more than expected. He's using this story to say "wow those around you by following my example and looking out for those who can not pay you back."

The "Manager" story is a bit different. Here, we see a man using his plight against itself. we know that the manager IS a dishonest person (it's part of his name here), and we know he's about to lose it all because he was accused (or probably caught), but we ALSO see him using Discounts, Economics, and Salesmanship to turn an earthly system against itself, and save his butt.

The shrewd are commended for "Dealing with their own kind". Fighting Fire with Fire. The rich man in this story was more concerned about his wealth than anything else. By using Salesmanship and Economics, the manager was able to recover some of the losses that otherwise weren't actually there, by giving Discounts (something the rich man probably didn't think to do). After all 80% is better than 0% no matter how you slice it. He continues to say that the people of Light fail to be cunning when it matters. he's not saying to desire this world's wealth, but he's saying that we should always use what we have at our disposal to prove our faithfulness no matter how bleak the situation. (most times we cry out to God for a way out before we consider what he's already given us)

Can you see how different these 2 stories are? they aren't even really comparable, because they're talking about different things in different contexts. Apples and Oranges. So they can't be contradictions. The manager's story is actually more comparable to the Good son in the previous story, who couldn't see what he had all along.

I hope this helps with your question.

XERO

Jason said...

I think Xero (Shae) went into good and thorough detail, so won't expound more than that. But I would say that where there appears to be contradiction, I've noticed the context and the people he's addressing in those contexts textures the topic and the way he is getting at making his point. I think there is more going on a times in the context that we don't understand, but the people listening know exactly what he is referring to. I think of the story of the shrewd manager and when he was done with that "honesty disconcerting" explanation, their response indicated they knew exactly what he was talking about and why he went at it the way he did. I wonder if there was a common story in that day that he was referring to that only they would understand. Just a thought. Good question.