This Lent, I am reading the New Testament from start to finish. I am surprised at how different it is than the pieced scripture that’s come into my memory over my short time as a Christian (the flip-n-read method). It’s a pretty great story. Pretty juicy.Today I am closing up the book titled Matthew, the one written for Jewish audiences. It’s more relevant to today than you would think…in case you didn’t.
Jesus vs. “The Man”
Christ was plopped into a tumultuous world. He grew up and went from a Jewish construction worker to a well-known prophet in a pretty short time. He developed a really close entourage called the “Twelve” consisting of everything from a fisherman to a sinful equivalent of someone that works for the IRS. Needless to say, they were a motley crew. He healed people to show them he was legit. He was pretty revolutionary. He told everyone that instead of listening to the rules we should have a mental overhaul and act backwards–treat those in the lowest position as they are in the highest and Kings like they are underprivileged because that’s how it really is in God’s eyes. Basically, he told everyone that fancy carts and fancy sandals were kind of BS. One time he got so mad about corruption and greed in his society that he flipped over some money tables because they were charging people to go to church and that was pretty awesome. Through this, be gained a lot of street cred. He went against the status quo pretty hard. He became so utterly popular that he couldn’t get away from his fans–he even had to go out into a boat for a sermon because there were so many people crowding the shore that he couldn’t fit. At times it totally tired him out, but he pushed on through and endured some pretty exhausting simplistic questioning from his puzzled posse.
He really ticked off the religious conservatives of that day, the Pharisees. They were totally old fashioned, and didn’t want to budge on their beliefs. Jesus called them out for being totally hypocritical--they looked great and religious and grand on the outside with their rich temples and sacrifices and perfect practices–but on the inside they were not all that nice. They cared more about their church than they did about practicing what they preached. To boot, they were so threatened by a radical like Jesus that they were dead bent on killing him (needless to say, this went against their spiritual law). To them, the church meant more than basic humanity. They killed him. He shoved in in their face by rising from the dead and spreading his teaching farther and wider and warned those conservative Pharisee jerks with a big, fat, “I’ll be back” as he rocketed into heaven.