Friday, May 27, 2011

Note to Self

Jesus resurrected a dead girl, telling her parents to keep the resurrection a secret, which was an impossible command given that crowds of people already knew about it. Following that, Jesus gave sight to a couple of blind men who managed to gain private audience with Him. Similarly Jesus also instructed them to keep the healing a secret, as if they could hide the fact that they had gained their sight. As those men were leaving, a mute, demon-possessed man was brought to Jesus. Jesus drove out the demon, the man spoke, and the Pharisees accused Jesus of working for Satan.

Note to Self
It all makes sense when you do not think about it. :-) Do not get me wrong. There are times when you can think too much about something. (I know that all too well from the field of engineering.) Yet you at least need to think about the basic elements of situation to ensure you have a design which will last, or a story that is credible. In this study, we will see a passage of scripture which just does not add up.

Matthew 9:35-38 is a very odd collection of verses. It starts out OK. Matthew 9:35 has Jesus roaming around, healing people and teaching about the Kingdom of God. Then Matthew 9:36 takes a bad turn:
When [Jesus] saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. NIV
That is good, no doubt! However, think about it just a little bit more, and it gets strange. Jesus is God. God sees not only these crowds, but everybody on the entire earth. Depending on your brand of Biblical scholar, God had seen the world for at least 3000 years by that point, yet He had not been moved to compassion by their suffering, and He had not bothered to send them a shepherd before now. At most, you could make a case that God did provide compassion to the Jews, but what about the rest of the world population? Nothing. No love. No compassion. Jesus' behavior does not match God's behavior.

Next following, Matthew 9:37 is an observation that there are too few workers for the plentiful harvest; the harvest essentially referring to soul-winning for God. The use of the term “harvest” has some metaphorical implications which we will discuss at a later time with more robust verses, but for now, ponder what this may have meant about the times in which Jesus lived...

We conclude the passage with Matthew 9:38 in a peculiar state, with Jesus saying:
"Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field." NIV
On first reading, it makes sense. There is a lot of work, so they (the disciples) need a lot of workers, but who are they supposed to ask? The Lord of the harvest, who is God, who is Jesus. So Jesus knows of the need, Jesus has the compassionate will to do something, but Jesus tells His followers to ask Him to do something about it.

That is absurd! It is like if you hired a cleaning man to clean a messy room, and then when the cleaning man walks into that room, he turns to you and says “Hey, you should really hire somebody to clean this place up. It is a mess!” It is as if Jesus was making a “note to Self” or telling His disciples, “Hey, remind Me that I need to send out workers to collect this harvest.”

Just to add to the absurdity, according to Luke 10:1-3, Jesus makes this same statement while He is sending out seventy-two workers into that harvest field.

There is one school of skeptical thought that the story of Jesus evolved quite a bit, from Jesus being only a prophet, to being fully Spirit-infused prophet, to being the fleshly Son of God sans divine power, to being actually part of God in human form; part of the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If so, this passage could be an artifact left behind from Jesus' more human, less divine, fabled existence, where there was a rigidly defined separation between Jesus and God. This theory would make sense, as there is nothing illogical about a man petitioning a god. (Assuming that a god exists, that is!)

From the school of Biblical faith, however, this does not stand out as odd at all. Jesus prayed many times to God in the Gospels (Matthew 14:23, Matthew 26:39, Luke 3:21, Luke 22:32, John 17:9). By definition, that should have been unnecessary (John 10:30). However, if Jesus prayed to God, then what is so odd about Jesus telling others to pray to God about something He already knows about? Given that God knows our inner thoughts and desires, all prayer should be unnecessary, but we are still told to pray. In fact, we do not even know what we are supposed to pray for, but we are still told to pray (Romans 8:26-27).

And it all makes sense, when you do not think about it. ;-)

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