Saturday, March 31, 2007

Misunderstanding Jesus

On my way to church this morning, I heard a woman on NPR saying that liberal Christians were making a comeback on the political scene (not her words, but the idea) and that Jesus had talked more about "serving the poor" than anything else. Not really. I can't find such a program in the listing, so it must have been a quip quote in the news since we were approaching the hour--I moved on to another station

Often in the New Testament women "get it" when the men, even Jesus' close followers, are clueless. I think that's why the resurrection was revealed first to women. But the woman I heard today is missing the big picture. She probably thinks the feeding of the five thousand in Matthew is about feeding the poor and hungry; that sowing the seed and harvesting is about grain. Jesus did not set aside any of the concerns of Mosaic Law for the poor--don't exploit or oppress them, but have compassion. However, God didn't need to send his only Son to die on the cross for that message--it had been told and retold for thousands of years. But the biggest emphasis of the New Testament is who Jesus said he was. The conservative Christians also major in minors--like homosexuality (most Biblical admonitions and advice on sex are for men who lust after women, not men) or modest dress or homeschooling. But at least the records show they are more generous with their money than the liberals, and they know who they are worshiping.

The primary focus of the Gospels isn't the poor, or poverty, or even misuse of wealth (although all are very important topics) or end times, but the last week of Jesus' life leading to his death and resurrection. When the woman anoints and worships Jesus with the expensive perfume, who is it that expresses concern for what that money could have done for the poor? Why Judas, of course.

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