Friday, May 29, 2009

One bright day in the middle of the night (Acts 3)

The Hellenistic mind writhed in misery when confronted with paradoxes. Lovers of this kind of rationalism have a great deal of trouble with religious realities. That "enlightenment" thinker Thomas Jefferson wrote about
... the flames in which their oracle ... consumed the poor Servetus, because he could not find in his Euclid the proposition which has demonstrated that three are one, and one is three ...
Yet something in us enjoys paradoxes. The world is too big, too amazing, too unruly, to cram into the confines of our paradigms. Pi does not equal 3.0. Paradoxes often form the heart of jokes and humor, those virtues that make life in a tragic world a delight. For example:
One bright day in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight.
Back to back they faced each other,
Drew their swords and shot each other.
A deaf policeman heard the noise,
And came and caught the two dead boys.
If you don't believe this lie is true,
Then ask the blind man, he saw it too!
In Acts 3, we see a time in the life of our people when they had the leisure to walk to the temple day after day at 3:00 for the time of formal prayer. In medieval Europe, people would stop what they were doing and pray where they were when the bells rang. Muslims have a "window" of time during which they find a quiet room, face Mecca, and recite the set prayers for the hour. They do this five times a day. Somehow, though, the apostles, at least Peter and John, don't have jobs to go to. As they walk into the temple, they heal a beggar, and preach a sermon to the astonished onlookers.

A sermon loaded with paradoxes.
Act 3:12 Bunu gören Petrus halka şöyle seslendi: "Ey İsrailliler, buna neden şaştınız? Neden gözlerinizi dikmiş bize bakıyorsunuz? Kendi gücümüz ya da dindarlığımızla bu adamın yürümesini sağlamışız gibi...!
Act 3:13 İbrahim'in, İshak'ın ve Yakup'un Tanrısı, atalarımızın Tanrısı, Kulu İsa'yı yüceltti. Siz O'nu ele verdiniz. Pilatus O'nu serbest bırakmaya karar verdiği halde, siz O'nu Pilatus'un önünde reddettiniz.
Act 3:14 Kutsal ve adil Olan'ı reddedip bir katilin salıverilmesini istediniz.
Act 3:15 Siz Yaşam Önderi'ni öldürdünüz, ama Tanrı O'nu ölümden diriltti. Biz bunun tanıklarıyız.
Act 3:16 Gördüğünüz ve tanıdığınız bu adam, İsa'nın adı sayesinde, O'nun adına olan imanla sapasağlam oldu. Hepinizin gözü önünde onu tam sağlığa kavuşturan, İsa'nın aracılığıyla etkin olan imandır.
And, a few words:
  • buna neden şaştınız? -- at this / why / you are astonished ?
  • Neden gözlerinizi dikmiş bize bakıyorsunuz? -- Why / your eyes / fixed / on us / you are staring?
  • Kutsal ve adil Olan'ı reddedip bir katilin salıverilmesini istediniz. -- The holy / and / the just / One / you betraied / a / villain / to be delivered / you wanted.
  • Siz Yaşam Önderi'ni öldürdünüz, ama Tanrı O'nu ölümden diriltti. -- You / of Life / the Lord / you killed, / but / God / Him / from the dead / raised.
If Jesus was indeed the Lord of Life, the Ambassador from heaven, then ignoring him is the dealiest mistake any man, or nation, can make. Israel did not get away with this faux pas. I rather doubt we will, either (speaking as a US citizen).

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