Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 27
What I Read Today: Luke 18 & 19.
What Stood Out Today About What I Read: Luke 18: 15-17, “Now people were even bringing their babies to him for him to touch. But when the disciples saw it, they began to scold those who brought them. But Jesus called for the children, saying, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.’”
Random Thoughts About What I Read:
I’m fascinated by the books Malcolm Gladwell writes. For the uninitiated, Malcolm Gladwell is a best-selling author/writer for the New Yorker and his books remind us that, sometimes, we don’t know what we think we know.
For example, he might take a look at why crime rates dropped in New York City in the 1990’s…and the reasons we were given were incorrect and then he gives a different slant on the data. He might look at how teachers are certified in the United States and suggest we do the opposite and give the reasons why. He might look at the factors that made someone “great” (like the Beatles) and find a common factor no one else saw (like how it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become great) before. Lots of essays of that ilk.
In one instance he took a look at great hockey players and noted that most were born in a January–then he discovered that month was the cut-off date for pee-wee hockey age divisions. He noted it only made sense that the kids born in January of 1990 were going to be basically a year or 8 months bigger/stronger/faster than a kid born in December or August of that same year. Those bigger/stronger/faster kids were given more teaching/encouraging/buzz than the other kids, hence, given primary spots in the Canadian developmental leagues, so it only followed that there would be an inordinate amount of NHL players born in January or February. I think a great follow-up to that would be to find out if there were any Canadian dads who, after reading that, tried to convince their wives the best time to try to start a family would be in April or May for that very reason!
See what I mean? We don’t always “know” what we think we “know.” It’s amazingly heady stuff that gets outside the box and challenges people to keep looking for truth and not just accept what we’ve always been taught.
And that’s what Jesus was doing in these chapters: Showing people that they don’t KNOW what they think they KNOW.
I mean, in the parable of the persistent widow’s prayer for justice. Jesus was pointing out that another outcast with no real power in society would be able to get the judge’s attention, if for no other reason than her very persistence. Jesus was illustrating the importance of being persistent in faith to wait on the Son of Man to return. But…um…wait a minute. Isn’t the Guy telling the story the King telling stories of The Kingdom, and if He’s here NOW, why would we have to wait for a return of sorts?
Then we get a story about a Pharisee with all the actions and education and outward appearance of the religious elite who will surely populate this Kingdom. Wrong. It’s the homeless guy admitting he needs help that will get in.
Stop bothering the Master with these children. They are a waste of time. We’ve got Kingdom business to attend to here. The disciples were the bouncers for Jesus’ crowds and keeping moms with kids away from him seemed like the right thing to do, right? Um, not so much. In fact, being like these children is the key to understanding this Kingdom. Whoa. Wait a minute. That can’t be right, can it?
God has blessed the rich. Surely their wealth is a sign of their obedience to God, hence, they’ll be major players in the Kingdom, right? Um, not so much. In fact, sell all your stuff and come along and follow Me. “Stuff” isn’t the stuff of the Kingdom. In fact, your very own family isn’t more valuable than pursuing the Kingdom.
Lemme see if I’ve got this right: The King of King and Lord of Lords is going to be spit on and killed? And then rise from the dead three days later? Assuming I could even get my head around such a plan, that hardly seems to be the best way to establish yourself as world ruler, right?
The traveling party to Jericho has important business to tend to…but we have time to stop and deal with an accidental parade attendee who is hollering like a madman? Not only that, but Jesus will ask him what he wants. To see. That’s it. Just sight. Okay. Done. And all that for only one new follower? Strange way to get just one vote, right?
Tax-collectors were despised…even though one of them was walking with Christ as a full-time follower. Imagine how despised the boss of all the tax-collectors was. He climbs a tree to see the procession. Jesus invites himself to stay with the guy to the chagrin of the masses. The guy repents of the very things that made him rich, and Jesus calls him a son of Abraham. And that He was the guy whose entire reason to be here was to seek and save the lost. Just a little reminder at the reality, even at the expense of public relations.
People were expecting Jesus was going to Jerusalem to officially become their king. A groundswell of support was making it at least look possible. Then Jesus discourages their hopes with a parable about a ruler who goes away and then comes back with a VENGEANCE. Again, not the best PR move.
Then the King arrives on a colt with the crowds singing a Messianic psalm. The religious leaders of the day warned Jesus that this level of PR would get him killed, so it’d be best to tell the disciples to pipe down. It’s a “yes” or “no” proposition…yet Jesus’ response is along the lines of “Well, I suppose I could. But, you see…this is the very day that Daniel 9 highlights because it’s precisely 173,880 days from the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem that Nehemiah talked about in 445 B.C. So, they have to sing that song right now, because if they don’t, the rocks will have to do it.” Odd.
The king weeps in public.
The next day he throttles the establishment during their Super Bowl week of money making by driving out the con artists and money grabbers.
Hardly a way to usher in a Kingdom, right?
And, the more I think I know about Jesus…
…mostly reminds me that He is not Someone I can simply put in a box with my rows and lines about Who He is and What He’s about.
Because he wants to be our King.
And teach us to keep looking for the truth about Who He is and What He’s about and flip our lives upside-down in the process. Because there’s a way we suppose things are supposed to be done.
And there’s His way.
And usually His way is outside our little boxes and our rows and lines.
(Tomorrow’s Reading: Luke 20 & 21)