Friday, December 14, 2007

Jesus the Skandalon

His birth was a scandal. Imagine the whispers and innuendos in Nazareth: little pious Mary, of all girls, to wind up pregnant before she was married. And Joseph seemed to be having some problems with it himself. Did this mean he wasn't the father? It was probably a good idea to get right away to Bethlehem for the birth. Then no one could count the months.

He was attended by outcasts -- shepherds and Gentiles. He spent his earliest years being raised in a foreign land, the land of Israel's slavery (how symbolic is that?), instead of spending all his formative years in the Holy Land, Eretz Israel.

He hung out with all the wrong people. he let that rebel, that critic of kins, John the Baptist, baptize him. He couldn't even get respectable rabbinical students to be his disciples, instead he collected a bunch of riff-raff to follow him , including some fishermen and even, unbelievably, a tax collector. He did not show proper respect for the religious authorities: he called the temple a den of thieves and had a lot of vile names for the pharisees. He touched lepers, and bleeding women, he healed on the sabbath. he spoke to samaritans (politely!) and even one on one with women he wasn't related to. And for all his disreputable ways, he seemed to think he was God. Even his family thought he'd lost it at one point. And there were far too many miracles -- showy stuff with demons and storms and interrupting funerals!

Then, as if He hadn't offended enough people, he had to go and die shamefully, painfully, like a criminal, in the exact way the Law said was accursed. And he didn't even have the decency to stay shame-faced in the tomb! Everything about him was inherently offensive to the well-bred and self-righteous. The way he treated the really bad people, you'd have to conclude he didn't take sin seriously enough. The way he contradicted some of the traditions of the rabbis you'd think he was a bit of a liberal...

You have to wonder how Christianity ever got mistaken for the religion of respectable people!

And, by the way, no one ever, ever took sin more seriously than Jesus did!

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