Courses

The Historical Jesus: Lecture Thirteen


He also said to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, 'It is going to rain'; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, 'There will be scorching heat'; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? "And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny."

The disciples are not only to keep an eye to the sky; they are also to act wisely in the here and now. That is, they must conduct themselves as citizens of this world too.

He said therefore, "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches." And again he said, "To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened." "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, open to us,' then in reply he will say to you, 'I do not know where you come from.' Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.' But he will say, 'I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!' There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and a ll the prophets in theelves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last." Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Jesus once more reiterates the notion that loyalty to him requires obedience and constancy. One cannot be a disciple, so far as Jesus is concerned, and be half hearted at it. They must not rest on their laurels in the belief that everything is well with them. Or they might find themselves surprised on the day of judgment to be cast into gehenna.

See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.' "

This saying has mystified theologians for centuries. Most likely it refers to the fact that Jesus himself will go away rather than the Romans or the existing power structures. But one day he will return and he will be blessed rather than cursed. But this interpretation is only one of many.

For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

Again Jesus stresses the importance of humility for those who belong to the kingdom.

Then Jesus said to him, "Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had be en invited, 'Come; 92 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.' Another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.' Another said, 'I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.' So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, 'Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.' And the slave said, 'Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.' Then the master said to the slave, 'Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.'

Jesus here describes what some have called the messianic banquet. Most likely, however, Jesus merely describes in parabolic fashion the fact that not everyone who is invited will respond to the invitation to participate in the kingdom. Or, as Luther put it, "Faith is not everyones thing".

"Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. "Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manur e pile; they throw it hear listen!"

Again, Jesus reiterates the fact that the disciple must be loyal. An unfaithful disciple is a contradiction in terms! An oxymoron! There is nothing more impossible than "jumbo shrimp" or "saltless salt" or "faithless disciples"!