Thursday, January 21, 2010

Matt. 10 -- the Man of Peace

Jesus began his public ministry by taking up the message that John the Baptist was preaching at the time of his arrest: "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." But what did that mean? A shiny new boss to replace the shabby old boss? A lot of folks thought so. We read of other messianic movements, charismatic rabble-rousers who gathered crowds and made militant noises.

Or, was God's Kingdom a place of liberty, where men quietly governed themselves and their own households, with little need for human oversight?

On the one hand, as a thaumaturge (fancy word for miracle-worker), Jesus definitely was a center of attention. On the other hand, He was happy to share his charisma, eager to let others in on the action, the fun, the party. Consider the marching orders he gave the twelve disciples, as he sent them to bring the happy news of God's Kingdom to all of Israel:
Mat 10:7 Gittiğiniz her yerde Göklerin Egemenliği'nin yaklaştığını duyurun. Mat 10:8 Hastaları iyileştirin, ölüleri diriltin, cüzamlıları temiz kılın, cinleri kovun. Karşılıksız aldınız, karşılıksız verin. Mat 10:9 Kuşağınıza altın, gümüş, ya da bakır para koymayın. Mat 10:10 Yolculuk için ne torba, ne yedek mintan, ne çarık, ne de değnek alın. Çünkü işçi yiyeceğini hak eder. Mat 10:11 Hangi kent ya da köye girerseniz, orada saygıdeğer birini arayın ve ayrılıncaya dek onunla kalın. Mat 10:12 Onun evine girerken, evdekilere esenlik dileyin. Mat 10:13 Eğer evdekiler buna layıksa, dilediğiniz esenlik üzerlerinde kalsın; layık değillerse, size geri dönsün.
Let's look up a word or two:
  • saygı -- respect, esteem, regard.
  • saygıdeğer -- respectable, honorable, esteemed.
We talked about "the townman" yesterday, the flunky, the functionary, the domesticated native leader who keeps the machinery of oppression working efficiently.[1] Although Jesus called one such to be his disciple, he did not tell his followers to seek out the official people of power in the villages they went to. Rather, they were to seek out a "man of peace," a local notable with real stature in the community.

Nationalism resulted, in nation after new nation, in the appearance of internal pilgrims, a class of migrant bureaucrats who learned the new official national language, and went to strange places to implement the new order. Jesus, however, told his people to work with the existing local opinion leaders. The Kingdom of Heaven grows up quietly within existing families and communities. It is not imposed from outside. Unless those already on the inside are prepared to embrace the Lord and His Kingdom,[2] then it's a waste of time to make noisy assertions.


[1] People normally have to cooperate with their own enslavement.

[2] "The gospel is like a joke told to a circle of men. And one man smiles." (Ivan Illych)

No comments: