Monday, March 13, 2006

Rediscovering Jesus

This lectio divina thing has been working out really well.

I'm in the middle of chapter 10 of the Gospel of Luke, and am meeting Jesus again for the...5th or 6th time. I thought about whether to use that cheap allusion to Borg and figured what the hell.

It's been refreshing to get my nose out of books about the Gospels and actually into the Gospels, books about the Bible and actually into the Bible, blogs about stories about Jesus and into the stories about Jesus.

I'm coming away with a different picture...again. It seems that every time I pick up the Gospels, I do.

But this has been building for a while, and what is building up is starting to be affirmed, to solidify, to take shape.

I'm letting the pre-Easter Jesus inform what the post-Easter Christ really wants.

I'm letting him say for himself what salvation requires (except his references to salvation are few...he likes talking about forgiveness). I'm letting him say for himself what things like faith and love are. I'm letting him say for himself who he is.

Yeah, these aren't pure accounts of what he did and said. Around Luke chapter 5, Herod 'tries' to see Jesus after hearing about him. A freaking king TRIES to get an audience with a nobody healer? Then there's the mess of Luke's geneology vs. Matthew, how stories change from Gosel to Gospel, what sort of bias was edited into the stories and all that. I recognize that, but to read these accounts is to have what we ourselves have edited in or out put into question. Why this but not this? Why that but not that other thing?

Try matching up Luke's Jesus vs. Paul's. There are some similarities, but would Jesus agree with Paul on his proposal that belief in the resurrection is your key to heaven? Jesus says in Luke 6:46 (quickly becoming a favorite): 'Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' but do not do what I tell you?' There's this whole thing about love of God and neighbor that gets you eternal life.

Jesus isn't much for sentimental Hallmark sayings either. 'Let the dead bury their dead.' 'Take up your cross.' 'Get behind me, Satan!'

There's no radical grace, although there is invitation to follow and a welcome of sinners that scandalized the high-and-mighty types.

There's no creedal litmus test, although there is that call to love and a word about welcoming Jesus and his disciples being equivalent to welcoming God. At one point he even says, 'whoever is not against you is for you.'

There's no prudish behavior on Jesus' part. He goes to parties, drinks wine, allows a 'sinful' woman to wash his feet with her tears.

This Lenten journey has been liberating so far. Put away the scholarship, the Pauline interpretation, statements of faith, and just read what the Gospel communities experienced and passed on.

It's also been scary, because the true weight of what Jesus wants is sinking in. There's only so much rationalization one can do in the face of some of the stuff he says.

I'll be moving to Mark next if I run out before Easter. I'll see what else he has to say.