Shock Value Luke 10:25-37

25 An expert in the Law of Moses stood up and asked Jesus a question to see what he would say. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to have eternal life?”

26 Jesus answered, “What is written in the Scriptures? How do you understand them?”

27 The man replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.’ They also say, ‘Love your neighbors as much as you love yourself.’”

28 Jesus said, “You have given the right answer. If you do this, you will have eternal life.”

29 But the man wanted to show that he knew what he was talking about. So he asked Jesus, “Who are my neighbors?”

30 Jesus replied:

As a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, robbers attacked him and grabbed everything he had. They beat him up and ran off, leaving him half dead.

31 A priest happened to be going down the same road. But when he saw the man, he walked by on the other side. 32 Later a temple helper came to the same place. But when he saw the man who had been beaten up, he also went by on the other side.

33 A man from Samaria then came traveling along that road. When he saw the man, he felt sorry for him 34 and went over to him. He treated his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next morning he gave the innkeeper two silver coins and said, “Please take care of the man. If you spend more than this on him, I will pay you when I return.”

36 Then Jesus asked, “Which one of these three people was a real neighbor to the man who was beaten up by robbers?”

37 The teacher answered, “The one who showed pity.”

Jesus said, “Go and do the same!”

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I’ve come to the conclusion that some of the Bible stories I heard as a child had a hidden agenda that was designed to make Jewish people look bad. 

This is the dark side of Christianity.  

You may have heard the saying  “Blowing out someone else’s candle does not make yours shine brighter.” But how often in the history of humanity have people justified the oppression of others by finding ways to make them look dumb or ugly or evil, in order to make themselves look better? 

This story of a Samaritan coming out as the good guy is an example.  I’ve always heard this story as condemning the two Jewish men who chose not to help the victim.  It may seem a stretch to you, but I think it was one of my first lessons in seeing Jews as being “wrong.” Other lessons followed, which I want to pursue at some point, but the biggest lesson was taught on Good Friday: the Jews killed Jesus. This lesson has a long history in the church, and even though it has been theologically debated and refuted, we hear those words during every Passion week, “Crucify him!  Crucify him!” and we know from Scripture that these were not Roman soldiers yelling “Crucify him!”

Three of the four gospel writers implicate the Jewish people

Luke: the chief priests, the leaders, and the people

Mark: the chief priests stirred up the crowd 

John: When the chief priests and the [Jewish] police saw him

Martin Luther, 16th Century reformer, is well-known for his anti-Semitic writings. Yet, Luther gave us the the key to loving all our neighbors: we are freed from sin to love our neighbor. Luther established that it was not the Jews who killed Jesus, but that my own sins killed Jesus.  I am responsible for Jesus dying like a despicable thief on an instrument of murder and torture. Or from a historical perspective, Jesus was killed because of an unjust political system.  He caused discontent among the crowds, attracted the attention of the authorities, became a problem to the carefully enforced peace of the state, and had to be removed. 

 Like Luther, we tend to pick and choose who qualifies as a neighbor.

The lawyer in today’s scripture, in true lawyerly argumentative style, wasn’t satisfied with a simple answer.  He, too, wanted a strict definition of who deserved to be treated as a neighbor.

Jesus answered him with a story, a parable.  This parable is so well-known that there are laws named after it.  Iowa’s Good Samaritan Law encourages those who witness a drug overdose to stay and call 911, rather than running out of fear of prosecution. 

It seems like a simple story: two bad guys and one good guy.  But that was not the formula Jesus used. 

Jesus was actually using a story telling device common to Jewish literature.  He follows the “rule of three” of good storytelling,  Since there are three traditional divisions among Jews (priests, Levites, and all Israel) one can expect that the third person would be an ordinary Israelite.

Jesus told this parable for shock value.  The shock was not that a Samaritan was a good guy—and it was not the first shock. The first shock was that the priest passed by.  The second shock was that the temple helper passed by. Jesus’s listeners would have expected both of them to stop and help the man. Just as you would expect your pastor to stop to help someone who was hurt, so did the Jewish audience expect the two men, because of their status as temple authorities, to stop. So the shock is that these two men passed by.  (Nor, contrary to one popular view do the priest and the Levite pass the injured man because of ritual purity concerns.) 

But then, of course, comes the shock that we have learned to embrace: a Samaritan stops by.  Not an ordinary Jewish person, who then becomes a hero. No. An enemy.  A creep.  An outcast. The last person you’d expect to help an injured Jewish person.  But the shock for Jesus’s listeners was double: according to the “rule of three,” the third man should have been Jewish, an ordinary Jewish person who would become a hero.  So, two shocks: NOT a Jewish person AND a Samaritan person.

Some of my colleagues were asking whom we would portray as the Samaritan if we were to cast this in a modern setting.  Here are some of their responses: 

  • a Muslim woman in a hijab who stops to help after a pastor and youth pastor “pass by on the other side.”
  • If you’re talking to a BLM or ANTIFA crowd, Trump.
  • a Cubs fan gets beat up, and a Bears fan and a Bulls fan pass by, but a Cardinals fan is the one who helps

But I have a better example—-from Texas—just this past week or so.

For the passers-by, let’s use Ted Cruz and a mayor from a small Texas town:

 One unsympathetic mayor took to Facebook to demand that “lazy” people get electricity and water on their own. Tim Boyd, the mayor of Colorado City, Texas, removed his post and resigned after writing that he was “sick and tired of people looking for a damn handout!”

For the hero, for the “Good Samaritan” of Texas, let’s use a furniture store owner: Houston furniture store owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale 

Anyone is welcome to use the beds and sofas in his showrooms, take in a movie or basketball game on his big screen televisions and sit down to a hot meal.

Mattress Mack is the perfect example in our time, not because he opened his doors, but because he has as many detractors as fans. I only know that because of Facebook comments.  In other words, he’s not perfect.  However, he is a nice contrast to the mayor of Colorado City and to Ted Cruz, who have been elected to not only represent people, but to provide for the people whom they represent. They have chosen to walk on by. 

Sometimes it’s helpful to see ourselves as one of the characters in a parable.  Who am I?  Who are you?  We have five parts to play.  The injured man, the priest, the temple worker, the Samaritan and the innkeeper.

OR am I the young lawyer, trying to obey the law and protect myself at the same time?

Dr. Arland Hultgren has written a book of commentaries on the Parables of Jesus.  The real heart of this parable is not what kind of story-telling device Jesus used, but about answering the question, “Who is my neighbor?” 

The earlier question was, “Who is my neighbor?  Here the question is, Which person proves to be neighbor?  If the issue is about love of neighbor, the question one should be asking is that of how one is to express that love, not to whom it should be expressed.  “One cannot define ones’ neighbor; one can only be a  neighbor.

Is Jesus saying that we cannot choose our neighbors? Is Jesus saying that the definition of “neighbor” is “everybody?”

The parable teaches that one cannot justify oneself by drawing distinctions between persons, deciding who is and who is not one’s neighbor, and using the law to do that.  The question for a disciple of Jesus is not, “Who is my neighbor?” but rather, am I neighbor to the person in need?”

Hultgren shows that how we define neighbor can be less than loving:

The one who asks, “Who is my neighbor?” thinks of others in the world as classified commodities. One can build fences to determine who is in the circle of those to be cared for, and who is not.  Then we and all others can “take care of our own,” thinking that our help should be directed to those we are related to by ties of family or friendship—things based on law, rights, bloodlines, culture, or tradition.

Have I built fences to keep out neighbors?  We certainly do that as communities. We have zoning laws, we have “homeowners associations,” we have gerrymandering—we have so many ways to include and exclude.  Are you wearing a mask? No? Go home. Do you have a passport? No?  Go home. You can argue for the necessity of these laws, but they all are based on excluding some, relegating some to non-neighbor status. Some are for the common good; some are for the privileged. 

Perhaps the Kingdom of God is too idealistic, too impossible, to ignorant of how people act. 

Jesus is trying to show us the life God has intended for us, a life of authentic love. We are not bound by laws when it comes to being a neighbor.  Our neighbor is simply the one who needs something. If we can supply that need, then we are obligated, not by law, but by love.  Amen.

They were Afraid to Ask Luke 9:28-45

28 About eight days later Jesus took Peter, John, and James with him and went up on a mountain to pray. 29 While he was praying, his face changed, and his clothes became shining white. 30 Suddenly Moses and Elijah were there speaking with him. 31 They appeared in heavenly glory and talked about all that Jesus’ death in Jerusalem would mean.

32 Peter and the other two disciples had been sound asleep. All at once they woke up and saw how glorious Jesus was. They also saw the two men who were with him.

33 Moses and Elijah were about to leave, when Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here! Let us make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But Peter did not know what he was talking about.

34 While Peter was still speaking, a shadow from a cloud passed over them, and they were frightened as the cloud covered them. 35 From the cloud a voice spoke, “This is my chosen Son. Listen to what he says!”

36 After the voice had spoken, Peter, John, and James saw only Jesus. For some time they kept quiet and did not say anything about what they had seen.

37 The next day Jesus and his three disciples came down from the mountain and were met by a large crowd. 38 Just then someone in the crowd shouted, “Teacher, please do something for my son! He is my only child! 39 A demon often attacks him and makes him scream. It shakes him until he foams at the mouth, and it won’t leave him until it has completely worn the boy out. 40 I begged your disciples to force out the demon, but they couldn’t do it.”

41 Jesus said to them, “You people are stubborn and don’t have any faith! How much longer must I be with you? Why do I have to put up with you?”

Then Jesus said to the man, “Bring your son to me.” 42 While the boy was being brought, the demon attacked him and made him shake all over. Jesus ordered the demon to stop. Then he healed the boy and gave him back to his father. 43 Everyone was amazed at God’s great power.

While everyone was still amazed at what Jesus was doing, he said to his disciples, 44 “Pay close attention to what I am telling you! The Son of Man will be handed over to his enemies.” 45 But the disciples did not know what he meant. The meaning was hidden from them. They could not understand it, and they were afraid to ask.

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One of my favorite forms of fiction, of novels, is a genre called “magical realism.”  The stories always seem believable— people eating, loving, working, making mistakes, getting in trouble, but at some point, something happens that seems, in the context of the novel, perfectly normal, but could never happen in real life.  It is normal for the characters in the story, but not for me or you. Magical realism is about different levels of reality working at the same time. The first example I ever read was a story in the sophomore literature book from which I was teaching.  I don’t remember the plot or the title of the story, but I do remember being sucked into the story and believing every word all the way to the end.  I had to pull myself back to the asbestos floor tiles and chalk board of Room 9 when the story ended.  After that, I sought out authors in that genre.  I mentioned one in last Sunday’s sermon, José de Sousa Saramago.  Other authors I enjoy include Isabel Allende and Laura Esquivel.

I mention this form of literature because today’s Bible story could be labeled as “magical realism.” None of us could ever hope to witness Jesus and Elijah and Moses—in real time—in real life—-standing around talking to each other, plain as day.  Yet Peter, John and James did witness this exclusive gathering. Something impossible really happened.  

Something else to notice about today’s reading is that there seem to be two very separate stories, one being the transfiguration and the other being the poor boy possessed by a demon.  Why did the organizers of the lectionary put these two stories next to each other? Why did Luke put them next to each other?  

My answer: they are connected because one informs the other.  Knowing about the transfiguration is meaningless if we focus on that scene alone.  

Raphael, an Italian painter of the High Renaissance. painted the Transfiguration. Like our text today, it portrays both stories. In the top are Jesus, Elijah, and Moses illumined beyond human understanding, with Peter,  James, and John looking on, unable to comprehend what their eyes are seeing. Below this scene of glory is a heartbreaking scene of the child, held up by his father, possessed by demons, surrounded by helpless people.  The men on the left are the disciples, who are not able to help the little boy. The connection between the two scenes is the little boy, whose face is turned upward toward Jesus and the prophets.The apostles are pointing and looking every which way, not able to help.

 Luke describes the scene this way: 

38 Just then someone in the crowd shouted, “Teacher, please do something for my son! He is my only child! 39 A demon often attacks him and makes him scream. It shakes him until he foams at the mouth, and it won’t leave him until it has completely worn the boy out. 40 I begged your disciples to force out the demon, but they couldn’t do it.”

Frederich Buechner writes about a woman he met who had a reputation as a successful faith healer.

The most vivid image she presented was of Jesus standing in church services all over Christendom with his hands tied behind his back and unable to do any mighty works there because the ministers who led the services either didn’t expect him to do them or didn’t dare ask him to do them for fear that he wouldn’t or couldn’t and that their own faith and the faith of their congregations would be threatened as the result.  

How many of my prayers are simply token requests that don’t expect results? How often do I pray because I’m supposed to pray?  How often to I really expect God to answer, to act on my prayers?

 This woman, Agnes Sanford by name, said:

You had to expect. You had to believe. Remember the parable of the Unjust Judge? The woman pestered the judge until he gave into her. It takes work, and practice and faith.   

Buechner explains that prayer without faith is pointless. According to this faith healer,    

Inside us all, there is a voice of doubt and disbelief which seeks to drown out our prayers even as we are praying them. 

Do I really believe that God can move mountains, cure COVID-19, bring unity among the nations of the world?  Is a prayer for world peace a joke? 

Look at these two stories—Jesus in all his glory and a little boy in all his misery.

What is the connection? The little boy is the connection, the reason, the mission, the purpose of the ministry Jesus has given to the disciples.  They have failed. They cannot cure the little boy?  Why not? 

41 Jesus said to them, “You people are stubborn and don’t have any faith! How much longer must I be with you? Why do I have to put up with you?”

Where do we fit in this story, in this work of art?  Are we illumined by the glory of God or do we avoid the light, staying in the shadows?

This story may seem so far removed from our expereince—being filled with light so bright it rivals anything Clorox could do to a load of laundry. Where do we fall in that picture?  Hiding in the shadows? Heck, no!  We, more than ever, are anxious for sunlight and being outside and being among people.  

Let me suggest that our church building is as close as we come to glory on a regular basis. But guess what! We’ve discovered we don’t even need the building! For now, it has to be our ZOOM time together.  What brings us close to glory? The Word, as it is expressed in singing and prayers and preaching. Jesus expected that same glory, that same power to manifest itself in the disciples, so that they could use the glory of God for good of the people of God who were suffering.   They could not stay on the mountaintop.  We cannot stay in our sanctuaries, real or makeshift.

One pastor wrote in response to this idea of going out into the world this rather depressing observation:

  How many times have we preached a sermon and as the congregants leave the sanctuary they shake your hand and say, ” what a wonderful message…great sermon,” only to head down to coffee hour and behave just as they always do? I can understand Jesus’ frustration especially after being on the Mountain top with Peter James and John witnessing his divine nature.

Why do we even need to worship?  You know how few people attend worship. Why is the mountaintop experience of worship necessary? 

David Lose, Luther Seminary professor puts it this way. 

Which is why the next scene and second half of this week’s passage is so important. Because the retreat to worship and the time to listen to the Word, be immersed in the cross, and be gathered in prayer leads inevitably to a return to the “everyday world” of human need where Jesus heals the sick and opposes the forces of evil. If worship is a retreat, in other words, it is not a retreat from the world but a retreat in order to come back to the world in love, mercy and grace.

If worship is our mountaintop experience, how do we hold that in our hearts and minds during the week.

If we cannot think and speak and act in the name of Jesus, how can we share in God’s glory? Can we rebuke the unclean spirits that frighten us? Can we bring light to the dark places of our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ? 

We are the ones who must be transfigured.  We must use the privilege of worship, of Bible study, of music to recharge our faith, to strengthen our belief that through God all things are possible. 

We can interpret Jesus’ time with Moses and Elijah as a time of transition, a time of facing the future.  Moses and Elijah represent the law and the prophets, the pillars of our  history, 

But let’s not skip over why Jesus is on the mountain: 

Jesus took Peter, John, and James with him and went up on a mountain to pray. 29 While he was praying, his face changed, and his clothes became shining white. 

Jesus is moving toward Jerusalem, toward his death.  For the second time in Luke’s gospel, he tells the disciples that he will die.

44 “Pay close attention to what I am telling you! The Son of Man will be handed over to his enemies.” 45 But the disciples did not know what he meant. The meaning was hidden from them. They could not understand it, and they were afraid to ask.

Jesus is facing his death. It will not be pretty. He will not pass away in his sleep.  He will not be lying in a comfortable bed with palliative drugs to ease his pain. He will endure all the pain of all the people of all time, the pain of sin. He will endure beyond anything imaginable—he will die and rise again, to live again, just as human as he was the day he was born. 

It would be easy to say, because Jesus did this for me, I owe Jesus, I must pay Jesus back by doing good deeds.  That is not how it works. This is a stumbling block for us: in our human weakness, we cannot accept a gift without either deserving it or giving something back in return.  Jesus loves us unconditionally.  He does not expect anything.  So what are we supposed to do?  Love.  We don’t love because we could or should or would. We love because Jesus has freed us from sin —->to love.

We don’t come down from the mountaintop and jump into the sad places to impress Jesus.  We jump into the hard places, we walk the scary paths, we enter the dark rooms because we love Jesus.  That love is given to us by the Holy Spirit—it’s like being given athletic ability or artistic ability—we are all given the ability to love.

They were afraid to ask.”  I’m using this phrase slightly out of context. The disciples were afraid to ask. Are we afraid to ask? Are we afraid to ask for healing? for world peace?Are we afraid to ask for change, for transfiguration?   Amen.  

Now What? Luke 6:1-16

6 One Sabbath when Jesus and his disciples were walking through some wheat fields, the disciples picked some wheat. They rubbed the husks off with their hands and started eating the grain.

2 Some Pharisees said, “Why are you picking grain on the Sabbath? You’re not supposed to do that!”

3 Jesus answered, “You surely have read what David did when he and his followers were hungry. 4 He went into the house of God and took the sacred loaves of bread that only priests were supposed to eat. He not only ate some himself, but even gave some to his followers.”

5 Jesus finished by saying, “The Son of Man is Lord over the Sabbath.”

6 On another Sabbath Jesus was teaching in a Jewish meeting place, and a man with a crippled right hand was there. 7 Some Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses kept watching Jesus to see if he would heal the man. They did this because they wanted to accuse Jesus of doing something wrong.

8 Jesus knew what they were thinking. So he told the man to stand up where everyone could see him. And the man stood up. 9 Then Jesus asked, “On the Sabbath should we do good deeds or evil deeds? Should we save someone’s life or destroy it?”

10 After he had looked around at everyone, he told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did, and his bad hand became completely well.

11 The teachers and the Pharisees were furious and started saying to each other, “What can we do about Jesus?”

12 About that time Jesus went off to a mountain to pray, and he spent the whole night there. 13 The next morning he called his disciples together and chose twelve of them to be his apostles. 14 One was Simon, and Jesus named him Peter. Another was Andrew, Peter’s brother. There were also James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus. The rest of the apostles were Simon, known as the Eager One, 16 Jude, who was the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed Jesus.

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Just when everybody thought they knew the rules, Jesus changed them. Well, he didn’t change them so much as challenge them. 

 Rules need to be challenged sometimes. “Whites only” is one rule that has been challenged.  Traffic camera laws have been challenged; I never understood that; I have played plenty of fines because I was going too fast; it wasn’t the camera’s fault: it was mine. 

Is it that breaking a rule is acceptable, but getting caught is not?  The Pharisees were trying to catch Jesus breaking a rule.  This was the best they could do on this particular day: catching his disciples “working” by helping themselves to a few grains of wheat.  

The funny part about this is that Jesus ramped it up, just for the fun of it, in my opinion. 

Jesus: Hold my beer. You think that’s bad? Watch this!  

And he restored a crippled hand to wholeness. Right in front of the teachers and the Pharisees!  On the Sabbath!

We have had some issues interpreting laws in our own time. Is it lawful to assemble in a place and yell?  Is it lawful to assemble in a place and break windows and doors? Is it lawful to assemble in a church or restaurant and breathe on each other during a pandemic?

We talked a few Sundays ago about “Disney Princess Theology”—always identifying with the good guy in the story.  But I could easily identify with the Pharisees in today’s story.  How often have I nitpicked my way around a rule to get my own way? How often have I pointed fingers at someone else screwing up when I’ve committed the same sin in a different place?  

Let me give you a great example.  Barring all common sense and suggestions and quasi-rules of the CDC (Center for Disease Control), I joined my friends at Murphy’s Pub last Wednesday. We all wore our masks from our cars to our table, but as soon as we ordered, we doffed our masks and drank and talked.  We pretended that we were socially distanced because only four of us sat at a table that was about two x five.  At one point, we noticed our waitress wasn’t wearing a mask.  So, I held up mine and asked, “Do you need a mask?” I tried not to sound snarky, but, well, …. She replied, with a big artificial smile on her face, “No.”  Well, we, who were after all major mask makers in Clinton County, nodded knowingly to each other. But here’s the thing.  We weren’t wearing masks either. We were drinking and eating and talking.  We were more danger to her than she was to us.  Nonetheless, I rode my high-and-mighty horse all the way home and texted the owner, Connor, who said that of course I can use his name in my sermon because he stands by his word.  Here is what he said: 

Hi Diane. I had a feeling you’d be reaching out… I heard your comment to my bartender Gabby when she delivered your food and assumed you weren’t happy with our policy. This isn’t a simple answer so here is my best response. Since March, we have had countless restrictions placed on our business (100% of them without our input). We have continuously been told how to operate our business and although we did not agree with much of it, we have followed every single mandate, including mask wearing from early November to the 1st of the year. During this time we learned 2 things:

1. We realized that mask wearing in restaurants is not always effective. Our staff were touching their faces far more than normal because they were continually adjusting their masks while trying to communicate with our customers, trying to take a breath while working many hours on their feet, etc.. After they touched their mask they would touch glasses, food, etc. Now that they aren’t wearing masks they are not touching mask and glass thus reducing transmission. We also don’t wear gloves because we know hand washing is far more effective (not to mention prices for gloves have gone up in cost nearly 500%, if we can even get them). Another thing we realized was that masks were sometimes more of a formality with our customers …Example: Patrons walking in and then sitting down and conversing with non-household members for any period of time without masks. We simply did not see the benefit. 

2. I believe it is every employee and customer’s right to decide what to do with their body. About half of my staff choose to wear masks and half choose not to, and I support all of their decisions. I follow this same policy with our customers, I completely understand everyone’s decision to wear a mask or not wear a mask. 

The great thing about this is that everyone has the right to make his or her own decisions. We currently have zero employees that are COVID positive and zero that are in quarantine or isolation. If an employee has ANY symptoms they are required to stay home and I feel this is far more effective then a mask mandate within our business. 

Rules challenged; hypocrites exposed.  Jesus exposed the Pharisees; Connor exposed us.  I told him we were hypocrites.  I told my friends, too.

The pandemic has created all kinds of rules, which in turn have been challenged. Part of this is because the rules are, as Connor pointed out, inconsistent and always changing. When we talk about “getting back to normal,” will we challenge any rules?

I think, too, about unwritten rules, especially in our context as a congregation. What unwritten rules have we challenged in the last year? We don’t meet for worship in the sanctuary. The pandemic has forced me to break rules: We haven’t celebrated Holy Communion for a few months.  I haven’t visited anyone or held office hours in several months. I broke a rule last week by accepting a funeral in our church; I forgot that we had made a rule declaring we would not host funerals in the sanctuary during the pandemic. Because we had ignored our “rule” about taking turns cleaning the church had more than a few dead bugs and  cobwebs as part of the decor. 

How do we know when to challenge a law? Jesus looked at the intent of the law.  The intent of “Honor the Sabbath” was, according to Luther’s Large Catechism,  “that they [the Jews] should abstain from toilsome work, and rest, so that both man and beast might recuperate, and not be weakened by unremitting labor.”

Plucking a few grains of wheat or healing someone could not be defined as “unremitting labor,” could it?  

Wall Street presented us with another example of interpreting the intent of the law.  I won’t try to explain, but my impression is that people with just a little bit of money to invest used the same rules as the people with lots of money use to invest and suddenly, something wasn’t “fair.” What is the intent of the law?

I’ve heard that the law always benefits those who write the law.  In the case of Wall Street, I’d say yes.  In the case of a law that just passed the Iowa Senate and is headed for the Iowa House this week, the law can be interpreted as benefitting 3% of the children in Iowa’s 34 poorest school districts or it can be interpreted as attacking public schools in favor of private schools. 

Look at the Ten Commandments.  The first two are about honoring God and the last eight are about promoting life, liberty and pursuit of happiness among all people. Jesus looked at the intent of the law and acted accordingly.   Did Jesus have an agenda that day? Was he out to get the Pharisees?  They were certainly out to get him. Jesus took advantage of a teachable moment.  Teachable moments are those occasions  that randomly occur in our daily lives, moments that give us an opportunity to be our best, whether it be in solving a problem or helping a person. We become a spur-of-the-moment-blessing to someone. The Pharisees saw a teachable moment: “Your disciples shouldn’t be harvesting grain on the Sabbath!!!!” and Jesus took that moment to teach the correct use of the law. The law is not meant to hinder, but to help.

So, again: what is the purpose of the law? What is the purpose of traffic laws? To protect us. What is the purpose of tax laws? To provide infrastructure for us.  

Jesus would have been a great lawyer, right? But we don’t need Jesus as a lawyer because we have Jesus as a Savior.  Jesus takes the place of our lawyer and wipes the record clean. We don’t have to argue before God about our choices. We don’t have to defend ourselves when we know we have no defense. Jesus has us covered. Sins forgiven. Love unending.  Thanks be to God and to our Savior, Jesus Christ! Amen.