Sunday, June 13, 2010

281: Poor Disciples

Matthew 15-17
" 'Are you still so dull?' Jesus asked them. 'Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?' " - Matthew 15:16-17

The day starts out with the Pharisees asking Jesus why his disciples don't wash their hands before they eat. Jesus replies by saying that the Pharisees break the law of God (namely "honor your father and mother"). So what? Jesus doesn't actually address the Pharisees's point, he just accuses them of breaking another one of God's laws. As a side note, I had someone tell me that one of the redeeming scientific takeaways from the bible was the "washing your hands" concept. I guess Jesus didn't get that memo.

Jesus then says that it's not what goes into your mouth that makes you unclean, but what comes out of it. No, sorry, wrong answer. You can't say that the laws of the prophets will remain unchanged (down to the letter) and then say that the dietary laws are irrelevant. The majority of some Old Testament books are about what you can and can't eat. Is Jesus changing the laws of the prophets or not?

Jesus's disciples tell them that he's offended the Pharisees (as if he cares about offending the Pharisees), and they ask him to explain his parable. I guess the Pharisees get it, but the disciples don't. Jesus, before he explains the parable, asks the disciples if they are still so dull. What? Did this add to anything? Did it help your disciples understand more? Surely not. What's the point in belittling the disciples? Sorry we can't all be the "son of God", stop being a pompous douchebag.

Jesus's assholery hasn't even begun. A Canaanite woman comes crying out to Jesus to save her daughter (who is possessed by a demon). The disciples tell Jesus to make her go away because she won't quit following them. Jesus says that he was only sent for the lost sheep of Israel. Now, if he'd just stopped there and healed her, I would have no objection. However, Jesus continues. The woman kneels before Jesus and pleads with him, he responds by saying, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." The woman says that even dogs eat the crumbs that fall at the children's feet. Jesus proclaims that the woman has much faith and agrees to heal her daughter.

As usual, I was sure that some Christian website had an explanation for why our all loving Jesus would call a woman a dog (other than being a racist, immature ass hole). The only explanation I've found is that the two were obviously having a great laugh:
So the dog reference was a joke really and Mark’s original readers would have thought of Jesus and the woman having a good laugh. But those Roman readers would have been laughing too. After all, in breaking boundaries and including all the Gentiles in God’s plan of salvation, Jesus had gone to the dogs!
Needless to say, I'm calling bullshit. This woman is on her knees begging for her daughter's life. This is the time for a good joke? Not to mention that this in no way comes across as a joke. The dog, if you'll remember, is an unclean animal. If we put this in Jesus's Jewish context, there's no reason that he means anything other than calling her unclean. If you find any other explanation, I'm happy to hear it.

Jesus goes on to feed another four thousand people. This time with seven loaves of bread and two small fish. We are again left uninformed about how Jesus actually accomplishes this.

The Pharisees come to Jesus and demand a sign from heaven. This doesn't seem unreasonable, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Jesus says that the only sign he's going to give them is the sign of Jonah (aka the resurrection).

Jesus again goes across the lake. His disciples forget to bring the bread. Jesus says "be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees". His disciples, dumbfounded (as usual), discuss what Jesus said and conclude that he must be concerned about them forgetting to bring the bread.

Jesus overhears them and accuses them of having little faith again. I'm becoming convinced that he only addresses his disciples as "you of little faith". Considering misunderstanding has nothing to do with someone's level of faith (or so I thought). He again belittles his disciples saying "Do you still not understand?". Well, obviously they don't. How about you just explain it to them without belittling them first.

Jesus finally explains that the Pharisees "yeast" is really their words. How the hell were they supposed to figure that out? If you say "yeast" then why do they have little faith if they assume you're talking about bread. Forgive them, oh Lord, for having common sense.

Jesus goes on to predict his own death. He says that he will have to go suffer at the hands of the elders. Where does this leave Judas (Matthew has already mentioned that Judas will betray Jesus)? Why is Judas vilified if Jesus knew all along he had to be betrayed? In fact, where would Jesus be without Judas? Would we have even heard about him?

Six days later, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up to a high mountain. Jesus is transfigured before them into a being made of light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appear before them. No shit, the long dead Moses and Elijah are back. While Jesus is talking to Moses and Elijah, they are enveloped in a cloud and God speaks to them. The disciples are scared shitless and fall face down. Jesus comes and tells them to get back up. When they look up nobody is there but Jesus.

What the hell just happened? I again feel like I've stopped reading the bible and gone to LSD land. As they are coming down the mountain Jesus tells them not to tell anyone about this till he's is resurrected. Jesus then reveals to them that John the baptist was actually the resurrected (reborn?) Elijah. What, is this Buddhism now?

In the next section Jesus is approached by a man who begs for his son to be healed. He had apparently been to all the disciples but they could not heal him. Jesus asks how long he's going to have to put up with these people, and agrees to heal the boy. Why does Jesus now precede his good deeds with douchey statements? Notice that Jesus doesn't use his famous "you're a dog" joke with a begging Jewish man.

His disciples ask him why they were unable to cure the ailing boy (Jesus was supposed to have imbued them will all of his powers of healing). Jesus says it's because they have so little faith. In fact, he says that if they even had faith the size of a mustard seed they would be able to move entire mountains. Why did Jesus pick such shitty disciples? He complains all the time about them, but he's the one that picked them.

The last story today is about Jesus paying the temple tax. The Pharisees ask Peter if Jesus pays the temple tax, and he says yes. Peter goes back to Jesus and Jesus tells him to pay the tax so they don't offend the Pharisees (since when does Jesus care about offending them?). Jesus tells Peter to go cast his fishing line into the lake. The first fish he catches will have, in it's mouth, enough money for the taxes for the two of them. Was that the only way they could have gotten money? I'm under the impression that the disciples were relatively rich before becoming Jesus's disciples.

Jesus is really letting down my lovely preconceived notion of Jesus.

*News*
I'm a little behind on this news story (this all happened almost a month ago now). But it's too good to pass up.
Two Broward teachers have been removed from their classrooms for allegedly pouring holy water on another teacher because she is an atheist.
Reread that a couple of times and let it sink in. That's not even the worst part, this whole stunt was in front of their students.

It turns out that the "holy water" turned out to be perfume (so what?). And the teacher never got around to actually pouring it on the other teacher. From what I understand she sprayed it at her from across the room. The teachers are claiming it was all a big "joke". This is about as good as Jesus's "you're a dog" joke.

Unfortunately, the school corporation only "reassigned" them. I wonder if the sentiment would be the same if someone performed a Satanic ritual on someone in front of students. Somehow I think they would be fired, even if it was a big hilarious "joke".

One Reverend is calling foul (why, I'm not sure):
"If we are going to ban talking to students about God, then the atheists should also be banned from telling kids there is no God," said Rev. Kirby Thurston.
What gave this man any indication that this dreaded atheist teacher was in any way telling her students that they shouldn't believe in God? Not to mention that even the offending teachers weren't talking about God. They were blatantly promoting prejudice/bullying.

(via Just News)

2 comments:

  1. "Why did Jesus pick such shitty disciples? He complains all the time about them, but he's the one that picked them."

    Quote of the day, my friend.

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  2. Matt 15:1-2. I'll comment on this when we get to Mark 7:1-5. Suffice it to say, this is an anachronism reflecting the post-70 CE situation when Mark and Matthew were writing, even though Matthew tried to downplay Mark's several mistakes here, and in the process, made it sound like the Pharisees made the trip up from Jerusalem just to ask this question.

    Matt 15:24. Yet another place where Jesus tells the Gentiles to go f*ck themselves. Fortunately he changes his mind later.

    Matt 15:33: 'His disciples answered, "Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?" '
    Did they forget all about the first time this happened? (Again, to be fair, this was Mark's plot line and Matthew just dealt with it the best he could

    Matt 15:38. He needed only 5 loaves for 5,000 last time but 7 loaves for 4,000 this time. Is he losing his touch?

    Matt 16:1-4. Once again, it is admitted that Jesus offered no other miraculous signs. Matthew does, however, at least note the resurrection, which Mark failed to mention.

    Matt 16:13-14. People were saying that John the Baptist was the Son of Man? So John was rumored to be Son of Man and resurrected, too?! Doesn't sound like traditions for John and Jesus have been blended together? Were these really separate individuals? Or were these kinds of expectations applied to every would-be prophet in the 1st century?

    Matt 16:16-18: 16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
    17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven."

    Well, by God and also by all the demons who keep referring to Jesus as the Son of God. Hasn't anybody else been paying attention? And then there's all the times that Jesus called himself the Son of Man.

    "18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church"

    He's just naming him Peter now? Then how come he has been called Peter throughout the story up until now? Note also that there was no concept of the church back when Jesus was around either.

    Matt 16:28: "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."
    Which disciples witnessed this exactly? It was obviously originally intended as a prophesy of the parousia, which failed to materialize as expected. It may be that Matthew has altered Mark's wording (in Mark 9:1) slightly to make it seem as if was predicting the transfiguration (in Matt 17) or his resurrection though.

    Matt 17:5. God repeats himself quoting himself.

    Matt 17:12-13. If John the Baptist was Elijah, then who is on the mountain with Moses? Wouldn't the disciples have recognized him, "Hey, that's John! What's he doing here? I thought he was dead!"

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