Thursday, March 19, 2009

The view from the edge (Luke 7)

One communication theory suggests that people who are outside of the ruling class of a society have a better grasp on what's actually going on. After all, they have to navigate their own strata of society, as well as knowing how to work around "the powers that be." In the United States, people of color often use an impenetrable, dialect English to conceal their conversations from white supervisors in the room. As Bob Dylan sang in his memorable portrait of degradation Like A Rolling Stone,
You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain't no good
You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you.
Those who think they run the world are being watched by those whose lives they presume to manage. A poignant Turkish proverb, İt ürür, kervan yürür, talks about the futility of complaining -- the dogs can bark, but the caravan will keep moving right along.

Feodor Dostoevsky sought to warn his people about the contagion of demonic notions infiltrating his culture from envied, emulated, western Europe. In vain. The Marxism cooked up by a German parasite in a British library plunged Russia and her neighbors into a 70-year totalitarian nightmare. These same ideas are acting like a slow poison in Europe. When The State becomes both Parent (provider) and Child (legitimate heir of all accumulated wealth), the need for real parents and children is less obvious. None of the major western European nations are replacing themselves.

Luke, author of the gospel that bears his name, the Acts of the Apostles, and (possibly) The Epistle to the Hebrews, had that outsider's perspective. He associated closely with Paul, and was apparently a native of Troas. It is in this city that the voice of the narration changes from "he" or "they" to "we." Luke's gospel gives more attention than the others to people on the fringes. To women. To the occupying Roman soldiers. Consider today's reading:
Luk 7:2 Orada bir yüzbaşının çok değer verdiği kölesi ölüm döşeğinde hasta yatıyordu.
Luk 7:3 İsa'yla ilgili haberleri duyan yüzbaşı, gelip kölesini iyileştirmesini rica etmek üzere O'na Yahudiler'in bazı ileri gelenlerini gönderdi.
Luk 7:4 Bunlar İsa'nın yanına gelince içten bir yalvarışla O'na şöyle dediler: "Bu adam senin yardımına layıktır.
Luk 7:5 Çünkü ulusumuzu seviyor. Havramızı yaptıran da kendisidir."
Luk 7:6 İsa onlarla birlikte yola çıktı. Eve yaklaştığı sırada, yüzbaşı bazı dostlarını yollayıp O'na şu haberi gönderdi: "Ya Rab, zahmet etme; evime girmene layık değilim.
Luk 7:7 Bu yüzden yanına gelmeye de kendimi layık görmedim. Sen yeter ki bir söz söyle, uşağım iyileşir.
Luk 7:8 Ben de buyruk altında bir görevliyim, benim de buyruğumda askerlerim var. Birine, 'Git' derim, gider; ötekine, 'Gel' derim, gelir; köleme, 'Şunu yap' derim, yapar."
Luk 7:9 Bu sözleri duyan İsa yüzbaşıya hayran kaldı. Ardından gelen kalabalığa dönerek, "Size şunu söyleyeyim" dedi, "İsrail'de bile böyle iman görmedim."
As Luke tells the story, the "ruler of a hundred" (yüzbaşı) sent a delegation of Jewish elders to make his request. They told Jesus, Bu adam senin yardımına layıktır. Çünkü ulusumuzu seviyor. Havramızı yaptıran da kendisidir. Let's look at a few of the words:
  • Bu adam -- This man
  • senin yardımına -- of your help
  • layıktır -- worthy is.
  • Çünkü ulusumuzu -- because our nation
  • seviyor -- he loves.
  • Havramızı -- Our synagogue
  • yaptıran -- he built
  • kendisidir -- at his own expense.
An occupying soldier saw how the God of Israel, the true God, vastly surpassed the pagan idols he'd been raised in. His reverence for God showed itself in a love for the people of Israel, an affection that was returned.

When Jesus approached this officer's home, he sent out another message: Ya Rab, zahmet etme; evime girmene layık değilim. Let's look at the words:
  • zahmet etme -- don't trouble yourself
  • evime -- my house
  • girmene -- to enter
  • layık -- worthy
  • değilim -- I am not.
Unlike so many in Israel, particularly the rulers of this nation, the Roman officer recognized the authority of Jesus, and appealed to the chain of command. And Jesus was surprised, and said to those around him, Size şunu söyleyeyim, İsrail'de bile böyle iman görmedim.

Cultural transformations were hastening towards Israel -- and when the dust settled, God's purposes would outlive Israel, and be carried forward by many like this one-time outsider. The Jews settled into a petulant sulk that has lasted nearly 2,000 years, while the Messiah, and the Message, they rejected was embraced eagerly by the rest of the world.

Sometimes, the outsiders inherit, and have the last laugh.

No comments: