Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday Controversies

Mark presents Tuesday as a day of controversy, a day when Jesus gets into debates with various parties.  Matthew and Luke--which seem to use Mark as the skeleton for their presentations--follow suit.

The controversies are these:
1. Some temple people ask him where his authority comes from.  He responds by asking them where they think John the Baptist's authority came from.  Fun pictures this incident triggers in my mind.  No doubt Jesus' disruption in the temple drew a lot of attention to him.  Many would say that, logistically, it more than anything else set him on a trajectory for crucifixion as a revolutionary type figure.  You can imagine Jesus actually teaching about the movement started by John the Baptist, triggering this question.

2. Jesus tells the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, clearly an indictment of the Jerusalem leadership, with Jesus as the son the tenants killed, bringing God's judgment.  One of the most interesting features of this parable is that it includes a quote from Psalm 118:22, which is the same psalm that is quoted in relation to Jesus' entry into Jerusalem.  It supports the picture of Jesus knowing that he is going to Jerusalem to be rejected and thus that actions like the one he makes in the temple could have been pre-planned, intentionally provocative.

3. Some Pharisees and Herodians try to trap Jesus on the subject of taxes.  If as is usually said, the Romans were the ones to put people to death, then this subject could be a trap.  Jesus pretty much dismisses coinage as having nothing to do with God.  Money has nothing to do with God.  If Caesar has lost a coin, give it back to him.

4. Some Sadducees try to make Jesus look stupid for believing in resurrection.  Sadducees of course did not believe in any meaningful afterlife of any kind.

5. A teacher of the law asks Jesus what the greatest commandment is.  Love God; love neighbor.  This would have been an answer many Pharisees would have agreed with.

6. Then Jesus gives them a tricky question about the interpretation of Psalm 110.  It would be interesting to know if Jesus winked when he raised this question.  Were they saying he could not be the messiah because he was from Galilee?

7. Jesus comments on how much more a widow gave to the temple than many rich people.  This fits with my sense that there is a "wealth/poor" theme involved in the temple action.

8. Comments on hypocritical leadership by teachers of the law/Pharisees.  Matthew, probably writing at a time when the Pharisees had become the leadership of Israel, not long after the destruction of Jerusalem, expands Jesus' condemnation of them to its most feverish pitch in the New Testament (chap. 23).  Luke-Acts has a much less harsh view of the Pharisees, and did not see being a Pharisee as incompatible with being a believer.

9. Chapter 13 gives the "eschatological discourse," Jesus' prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem that took place in AD70.  We find Matthew's version in chapters 24-25 and Luke's in chapter 21.  Each has unique features in keeping with their theological emphases.

It is easy to see tension in all these related to what Jesus has done in the temple, related to Jerusalem's rejection of him, related to his sense of God's impending judgment on Jerusalem for their values and their rejection of him.

1 comment:

Mr. Mcgranor said...

The dispensatilaist and covenant theology crowd - cannot understand the destruction of The Temple by Christ. Stating continually Christ's Jewishness out of context hoping they can rebuild their wall with your gentile flesh.