Rebel with a Cause
Three of the four gospels tend to show Jesus in conflict with the Jewish lawmakers of the time, confronting Pharisees and others at almost every turn. These images of Jesus make it easy for us to think of him as basically a rebel, out to show the establishment how wrong they are. In today’s gospel reading however, we’re given a drastically different view of Jesus.
Jesus Knew the Law
Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, the Christ － but he wasn’t against the Jewish people or the Jewish faith. In fact, Jesus was a very devout Jew (except for the times that he chose helping others over abiding by the Law) and a very knowledgeable Jew.
In the gospel reading today, Jesus is questioned by a scribe, who is one of the class of acknowledged teachers of the Jewish faith and tradition. They are tossing scripture quotations back and forth and, in the end, the scribe acknowledges Jesus’ understanding of the Mosaic Law － in essence, sanctioning Jesus’ teachings.
The world today can be a crazy place － perhaps even more so than when the gospels were written. The almost instantaneous sharing of information and ideas around the globe tends to make things seem more ambiguous, rather than helping to clarify; it creates division instead of bringing us together. Anyone who has eyes or ears knows that things are not right in the world, which can often make us want to rebel. We want to lash out against the establishment that has brought us to this point in history.
But perhaps one lesson we can learn from today’s gospel reading is that being a rebel doesn’t necessarily mean rejecting everything wholesale. In fact, we should truly understand what we are rebelling against. It isn’t enough to simply know (intuitively or otherwise) that the system is broken. First we need to understand the system from the inside out. We need to know our enemy, as the cliché goes. For if we know the current state of affairs, it’s much easier to know what needs to be changed and how to best go about changing it!
The Land of Milk and Honey
In today’s first reading, Moses talked to the Israelites about the promised land － the land flowing with milk and honey. It’s an image that a tired people could hold in their minds and look forward to in order to keep going. They knew where they had been, where they were, and now Moses was telling them where they needed to go.
As Christians, we are called to build the Kingdom of God here on earth. We are called to create a world where the land is flowing with milk and honey (at least figuratively) and all people are welcomed. (HINT: If you’re not doing that, it’s hard to call yourself a follower of Christ.) But until we understand where we’ve been and where we are now, we’re going to have trouble figuring out how to get to that destination. Whether it’s politics or religion, we need to first understand how and why things got to be the way they are, and then we can better focus on the long, long road ahead.
What would you like to change in your community?
What would you like to change in your church?
How well do you understand the reasons these things are the way they are today?
Copyright 2006-2018 by Brandon Jubar
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