Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Human Jesus

August 18, 2018

I’ve been thinking some more about Jesus as human by thinking about Biblical texts that portray Jesus’ humanity. We have the story of young Jesus in the Temple giving his parents a smarty pants sort of answer, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). He sounds like a thirteen year old.

In Matt 17:17  he seems frustrated, “How much longer must I put up with you?”

But what has caught my attention most is the story of when the devil tempts Jesus. (Matt 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13). There is a lot to talk about in this story- the implications of these particular temptations, how the temptations mirror the temptations of Israel, the surprising revelation that the devil controls “all the kingdoms of the world” but I want to focus on the idea of Jesus being tempted.

As the text reads, or better put, as I have read the text, the devil presents a temptation and Jesus responds promptly. But that’s not how temptation works- at least for me.

The devil could try to tempt me with lima beans( which I despise and haven’t eaten in 40 years or so) or something I don’t want, say a jumbo jet. But those aren’t really temptations are they. It takes no effort at all on my part to refuse those sorts of temptations. Lima beans? No thank you.

And some temptations would be quite situational. If I am really hungry, tempting me with a candy bar might be successful. If I am not hungry, I am better able to resist. But tempting me with, say healing for a family member, or safety for my children, even coming from the devil, I might need to take some time before I turn that down. I would really have to think about what was gained and at what cost.

The devil tempts Jesus with human necessity, particularly after a 40 day fast, food. The devil tempts Jesus over his trust in God. Would angels really save him if he jumped? The devil tempts Jesus with what Jesus knows will be his anyway, authority over the world- but without the personal suffering and sacrifice.  Real temptations.

What scripture doesn’t tell us is how much Jesus struggled with these temptations, or if he struggled at all. After these temptations, Jesus begins his ministry, evidently now clear in his own mind and heart where his allegiance was. I wonder if that essentially unshakable allegiance was forged in a struggle over the devil’s temptations?

If Jesus was seriously tempted to abandon God’s plan for him, does that affect how you think about him? Do you feel somewhat let down by this human who was tempted? Or do you feel some solidarity with, kinship with the human tempted Jesus? Or do you feel that you can take your struggles with temptation to Jesus, knowing he understands exactly what it means to be tempted?

What we say

August 15, 2018

Our President’s language has, once again, caused debate.

When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!

This is not the first time the president has spoken disparagingly about another human.

In May there was this statement about members of the MS-13 gang

“You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are,” the president added. “These aren’t people, these are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.”

And the next day,

 “We have laws that are laughed at on immigration. So when the MS-13 comes in, when the other gang members come into our country, I refer to them as animals. And guess what — I always will.”

And there are, as we all know, many more examples. And there are examples of this inappropriate language from other prominent people because, how our leaders conduct themselves really does matter.

 Whether one likes Trump or not. Or supports him.

Whether one likes Omarosa Manigault or not. Or believes her.

No matter whether you are a gang member or not.

This language is inappropriate.

And I mean theologically inappropriate.  I don’t care if you can politically maneuver your want into supporting these statements. Theologically these statements are wrong.

One of the basic tenets of Christianity is our believe that humans are created in God’s image. We, each of us, all of us, are image bearers of God.

Here are some things Jesus had to say about our language.

“Then he [Jesus] called them [the crowd] to him and said to them, “Listen and understand; it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Matt 15:10-11

“Then [he] said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes from the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unclean hands does not defile.” Matt 15:16-20

“You have heard that it was sad to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.; But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool’, you will be liable to the hell of fire.”  Matt 5:21-22

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” Matt 5:43-46a

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” Matt 7:1-2

I think you get the idea….

And in case you were going to bring up the story in Matt 15 (and Mark 7) about the Canaanite woman, I suggest you refresh your memory on similes, metaphors, analogies, and allegories, which you can do here.

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