Courses

The Historical Jesus: Lecture Eleven


Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering." Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops. "I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Hypocrisy is not an option for participants in the Kingdom. Neither is accession to the whims of society or respect for public opinion. The disciple must turn a deaf ear to gossip for he or she knows that whatever they say or think is well known to God. And most of all he or she must always keep in mind that no matter how many friends they lose because of their commitment cannot sway them to abandon God, who will never abandon nor forget them.

"And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say." Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me."

But he said "Who made me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?"

Never must the disciple deny the master; nor may he or she assign a task to the teacher which is not rightly his. Jesus did not come to settle family quibbles or act as an arbitrator between labor and management. Then, as now, folk tried to distract Jesus from his mission by giving him little sub-tasks to perform. He did not perform on demand then and he will not now.

And he said to them, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God." He said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you-you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 1 Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

This rather lengthy section demonstrates that riches must not gain first place in the heart of the disciple and money and materialism must not become the disciple's god. Jesus was acutely aware of the fact that people are prone to do everything they do in life for the sake of material goods. So he calls on his disciples to put God above things. Though this series of sayings is almost 2000 years old it still finds little room in the modern discinds a way of evading this call to sell all they have and give to the poor!!!

But we must let Jesus be Jesus and come to the place where we admit our unwillingness to do what he says rather than trying our best to twist what he says so out of shape that it becomes unrecognizable.

"But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour." And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says to himself, 'My master is delayed in coming,' and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful.

So, Jesus says, be on guard for the coming of the Son of Man. Jesus' use of the third person pronoun has led some to suggest that the Son of Man is another other than Jesus himself. Or more simply, that Jesus saw himself as proclaiming the one who was to come- the Son of Man. Though this is possible it is not likely, for the Aramaic phrase "son of man" simply means "I".