Friday, November 11, 2016

Jesus, the quirky teacher

Luke 14:25ff

The crowd wasn't quiet because the teacher told them to hate their family.

They weren't really mad either because this guy told them to hate their family!

No one remembers what that person asked that made the teacher say something so absurd but they didn't forget his response:

"Whoever comes to me and DOESN'T hate father and mother..."

Wait, what? You could practically hear the crowd's brows furrow in their confusion...

"...DOESN'T hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters..."

Elbows started to nudge and eyes started to wink. Quick glances communicated jokes about nosey mother-in-laws, boozy wives, and lazy husbands who probably deserved a mention too. The teacher's eyes bugged out a little when he said "doesn't". It's always interesting when a storyteller is the teacher instead of having a lawyer give cases and aphorisms.

Clearly he was being absurd with his extremes. The lawyers started to get antsy with their throats starting to stutter an obligatory interruption. Already this idiot told these sheep to break a Commandment, at least by implication. That was one of the many problems with this "teacher": you could never quite pin him in breaking the law. Patience, they thought. All in good time.

The crowd, however, seemed to be understanding the message just fine. In the span of about 15 seconds they were all grins, laughter, and interest in how the punchline would pan out. Even the kids seemed to get it.

"Whoever DOESN'T hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own LIFE, cannot be my disciple!"

So this was it? Who wanted to be this guy's disciple? To the side of the teacher we're his disciples, a strange collection of men who were either rugged, ragged, or both. One of them had what was clearly fine clothing before he decided to sleep outdoors while wearing them. Another had a large sword and another was a short, barrel-chested pug of a man.

And yet...

These men sat with purpose, listening to the same things the rest of them but with greater eagerness. You could see some of them were really torn up about what they were hearing. The crowd had no idea that some of them had left wives and children at home. One of them choked back tears while he slowly nodded.

It was was hard not to see that they had something that was, well, attractive. Peace, resolve, purpose, and an odd, resigning strength. You know it when you see it. It has a little something you want without ever realizing you wanted it.

The teacher continued.


Silence. Then a few gasps followed by the shriek of a mother whose sons had died by crucifixion for staging an attack on Roman soldiers. Her loud, painful reminisces provided an overture to a confused, uncomfortable crowd that was starting to get mad. His disciples, who just a moment before followed the same uneasy rhythm of nodding heads as everyone else, now looked positively stoic in the tumult, quivering stones that gave the appearance of the rocks of a fortress.

As the crowd rows started to shake apart, a few people were clearly frozen in their spot and conflicted. This strange, quirky teacher had danced with them until he stopped, looked them square in the eye and laid it out...a marriage proposal paved in both pain and purpose, not a demand but a pledge.

This is it. It is what it is.

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