Sunday, March 27, 2011

Religion is Interruption

UCLA begins its third quarter today, so just a little Matthew nugget for you.  In Matthew 8:21-22 someone comes forward, wanting to follow Jesus but asking that he be allowed to first bury his father. And Jesus makes the seemingly callous remark, "Let the dead bury the dead."

It's one of those "WHAT THE...?" places in the New Testament, and that is precisely why it's there -- to shock, to disrupt, to make us stop bouncing along like being a Christian is rainbows and kittens and get us to pay attention again.  Our relationship with Jesus is like everything else in life -- the longer we look at something, paradoxically, the less of it we see.  Familiarity obscures rather than brings out the rough edges.

And Jesus doesn't want that for us.  He doesn't want us to coopt him and his message like we coopt everything else into our comfortable plans and assumptions.  So from time to time he makes extreme statements like this to wake us up again.  (Dissing his mom when she comes to visit -- same thing.)

So what we have here is not Jesus indicating he doesn't care about our families or about human loss. It's not really about that at all, in fact, but about that mission the man longs for, the mission that Jesus sends us all on to heal and to preach. That mission is of the utmost importance to Jesus. And he wants us to understand the same, to see that it's more important than bingo or buying dog food or even the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy (no!).  And he brings that out through some classic "WHAT THE...?" hyperbole.

And speaking of "WHAT THE...?"

No comments: