Sunday, January 10, 2010

Matt. 3 -- the threshing floor

Historical processes are messy. From time to time, nefarious characters take charge and bring about a reign of terror. Then, the ages roll on, and these tyrants who viewed themselves as our saviors are covered with the opprobrium they deserve.

From time to time the process is accelerated, and a society reaches a "tipping point." One uncooperative soul who refuses to "get with the program," and "play by the rules," can redefine the world at these moments of transition. One example is the story of Kemal Ataturk, who led armed resistance against the victors of WW I, taking on the combined armed forces of England, France, Greece, and Italy -- and winning.

John the Baptist described Jesus in these kinds of terms:
Mat 3:12 Yabası elindedir. Harman yerini temizleyecek, buğdayını toplayıp ambara yığacak, samanı ise sönmeyen ateşte yakacak."
Picture a threshing floor, a large, flat, smooth area where the farmer spreads out the grain, and threshes it. He may drive a heavy sledge back and forth across it. Or, if he can't afford an ox, he can always use a flail, two poles connected by a leather strap, to separate the wheat from the chaff. After pounding away for a while, he takes a shovel, and tosses the mixture into the air. The lighter chaff is blown away, while the precious grain falls back to the threshing floor.

First century Israel was about to be pounded vigorously, then winnowed. Most of the culture turned out to be chaff, and blew away. At Jewish weddings to this day, you break a wine glass to commemorate the destruction of the last Jewish temple.

But we have no grounds for getting smug. Jesus continues to thresh and winnow humanity. May we be found among the good grains!

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