Monday, February 20, 2017

Day 20: Job and Jesus Mocked

Job 30, 31 and Matthew 13:31-58

Job 30:

Job recounts begin mocked by people in his community for his recent trials. This is a classic case of “kick a man while he’s down.” Specifically, Job mentions people younger than him, upstarts on translation calls them.
Why is it so easy for us as humans to attack others who are vulnerable?
Job is in pain day and night and cannot imagine any relief other than death. No one around him seems to be able or willing to help alleviate his suffering. While he has friends who have sat with him for 7 days in silence, these friends have not been able to offer comfort or peace.

Job 31:

In this section, Job begins to recount the ways in which he is innocent. Once more the claim of innocence echoes into the community. Job says he is not lustful, is not deceitful, in fact never kept deceitful company. He has not committed adultery, and he has treated his slaves as human “for God created them and me.”
Job claims to have cared for the defenseless, taking care of widows and orphans from a very young age. And he tells his friends, God, and anyone else listening, that he did not put his trust in money or treasure. This seems to be evidenced earlier in Job when he still praises God after losing everything he had.
An interesting claim is that Job has not mocked as he has been mocked. He has treated others with respect and not gossiped or maligned their names.

Matthew 13:31-58

In these passages Jesus continues speaking in parables to the crowds, his disciples, and us. Many of the parables make it into the lectionary and are familiar to those whose churches use the lectionary to help plan worship. Jesus uses agricultural references and fishing references because they would be familiar to the people he was speaking to at the time. I am not an agricultural person. I have a black thumb and have only cared for large animals on weekends at my Aunts cattle ranch, more of a novelty than actual practice. I have found it helpful to reimagine some of these parables for modern day hearers.
The kingdom of God is like Kudzu. It begins as a small plant and quickly covers everything in sight.
The kingdom of God is like glitter. Once you open it, you will never ever get it all cleaned up.
Both of these examples are about something that spreads without effort, without containment. The kingdom of God gets into everything! It will continue no matter what might attempt to choke it out.
At the end of this reading Jesus goes back to his hometown. Here he is mocked by those who knew him well. Two things stand out to me in this section. One, Jesus is unable to do miracles there because of their unbelief. I wonder how often we keep God from acting because we don’t believe God really can change anything. Two, this passage mentions four brothers of Jesus by name and also says he had sisters. Church history claims that he had 2 sisters, Salome, Josephs daughter from a previous marriage, and Mary (yes, another one) the importance of this is that it changes the way I think of Jesus’ family of origin. He was not an only child, doted on and spoiled. He was one of at least 7 children. There was always a community around him. Jesus was raised in the struggles and joys of a large family. Perhaps that helps explain some of his conflict resolution style.

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