religion

Jesus and his environment – pt 3

Jesus is at ease with his role as creator
Jesus isn’t shy about his relationship to nature. Reading through Matthew, I can’t help noticing how malleable Jesus considers the world around him. Everything’s flexible, unfinished. He seems to consider the things around him more as raw materials than fixed objects. He talks as if the laws of physics don’t apply to him. Jesus is, it would seem, very comfortable in his role as creator.

Consider this rebuke to the Pharisees:
“I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.” (3:9)

Or the matter of fact way that he tells the disciples to feed four thousand people in the middle of nowhere:
“They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
“Bring them here to me,” he said. (14:16-18)

Or his comment that entire mountains can be sent packing by faith:
“If you have faith and do not doubt… you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.”(21:21)

Eyebrows were raised right across Palestine at such statements. Jesus’ language is extreme and apparently reckless. We know from John’s gospel that some people walked away at one point at his invitation to eat his flesh. From Mark we learn that he eventually went on trial for one of his claims – the one about tearing down the temple and rebuilding it again in three days. Nevertheless, Jesus expects more of the world than you or I. He doesn’t feel bound by it, and he can make these great, seemingly unverifiable statements without batting an eyelid.

One person at least, was prepared to take him at his word. Hence the devil’s temptation when Jesus was alone in the wilderness:
“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (5:3)

Read pt 4

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