Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Metaphorical disconnect (Mat. 16)

OK, let's set the stage. Jesus recently fed more than 4,000 people from a handful of supplies. The team is boarding their commuting vehicle, and someone forgot to pack the box lunches. Not the best time for a food-based metaphor.
İsa onlar, "Dıkkatli olun, Ferisilerin ve Sadukilerin mayasından kaçının!" dedi.
Today's words:
  • dıkkat -- Caution!
  • Dıkkatli olun -- Watch out!
  • maya -- leaven / yeast
  • ikiyüzlük -- Hypocrisy. iki- -- two. -yüz- -- face. -lük -- having the characteristics of.
  • kaçmak -- avoid
Well, the official political and religious leaders of Israel had just finished demanding a sign from Jesus -- "and maybe then we'll take you seriously." Jesus, however, knew the folly of defending yourself to people whose minds were already made up. He warned his people against letting that kind of corrosive skepticism take root in their minds. Like leaven in dough, contemptuous unbelief would eventually permeate one's entire attitude towards life.

His disciples, however, were thinking about lunch, and missed the point. Our Lord's rebuke, however, anchored in in their minds so well that we still read this saying today. Unfortunately, history demonstrates that they still missed the point.

The "leaven of the Pharisees" is defined in one of the gospels as "hypocrisy." The popular religious leaders of the day took delight in their ceremonial displays of their religious fidelity. Thirty years or so later, when Paul brought a painfully garnered "care package" to the church at Jerusalem, the leaders were barely polite. Yes, that's nice, that those gentiles thought to help out. But what REALLY matters is -- we have many among us who are zealous for the Jewish traditions. So why don't you play along with them?

Jesus knew better than to "play ball" with the Pharisees. Paul tried to make nice, tried to get along, and demonstrated by his painful experience that there's just no pleasing some people.

In the long run, many Jewish Christians buckled under the pressure, and went back to their native culture. Short-term relief, however, came at the price of eternal damnation for themselves and their descendants. And, the short-term was short, indeed. The Christians in Jerusalem who stood fast, who remained faithful to Jesus, took the unanticipated break in the Roman siege as their sign to beat feet and get out.

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