Monday, February 27, 2012

Rocky terrain

If you're following my journey through Matthew and the gospels to know this Man, Jesus, better, then here's the scoop:  I'm stuck.  My journey has slowed down to a crawl because I keep opening my Bible to the same place.  It's like being on a rocky side of a mountain: you just can't take it fast.  I'm finding questions and realizing these are in passages I've "hated" (read "ignored and skipped over quickly in the past").  Ok, so "hate" is a strong word... but I really don't like them.  I have no answers and I don't like not having answers.  Those of you who know me well, I see you nodding your heads and chuckling in agreement.  I like having answers and I like them to be simple, logical, and fascinating.  Nothing gets a better audience.  (oooh, ouch!)

The first rock slide I'm facing is in Matthew 11:25 - "At that time Jesus answered and said,..."  OK, I've read and reread what came before... answered whom?  Himself from the previous verse?  The last time anyone asked a question was in 11:3, when the imprisoned John the Baptist sends his disciples to Jesus and asks, "Are you the Coming One...?"  and clearly, Mt.11:25 does not refer back to that question.  So who are you answering, Jesus?  And then the answer is a prayer, directed to the "Father, Lord of heaven and earth."  I can only assume Jesus is answering God and that the question is not recorded.  I will keep searching.

The next passage is Matthew 12:1-8.  Jesus and his disciples are walking through a grain field.  It could not have been a long walk, or the Pharisees would have judged the walking over the eating of grain.  As the disciples get hungry, they pluck heads of grain, rub them between their palms and eat the kernels.  This is considered "work" in the Jewish tradition and therefore the Pharisees rebuke the behavior of the disciples.  Jesus then goes to the OT and speaks of David, who ate the Showbread in the tabernacle, that only the priests were allowed to eat, and he was not struck down dead, or how the priests work on the Sabbath and thereby profane it and are blameless yet.  These scriptures (the David one, albeit, a bit more difficult) are basically saying, "hello, don't you see the exceptions to the rule?  So obviously the rule is not as rigid as you, in your additions to the law, have made it."

In verse 6 Jesus then calls himself the "One greater than the temple".  He's basically saying, "I made the law, I therefore understand it best!" (makes sense so far) but then verse 7 has me stumped again.  "If you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless."

The guiltless, I am thinking are the disciples... or possible in a broader sense, anyone they have passed judgement on.  But how does this fit in with the rest?  It is a direct rebuke to the Pharisees who are all about their new show, "Jewish IDOL - who keeps the Law best? vote for your candidate today!"  However, I am hearing a timeless truth here.  Jesus is not just rebuking the Pharisees, He is telling us something profound about God and about us.  Is it, that you, YHWH, desire a heart of mercy over one that just pays its dues?

As you can see... these are not easy scriptures.  One is simply an enigma to me because I am not seeing the context, the other is a smooth-faced cliff I am climbing very slowly, so as not to slip.  I don't want to miss this insight into the heart of God!  Holy Spirit, teach me!  TEACH ME!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment