Sunday, January 4, 2015

Woe (part 2 of 2)

It is with such thoughts reverberating one’s mind that now allows an observer to go on to hear Jesus saying, “For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that this generation may be held accountable for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary.  Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation” (Luke 11:49-51). 

This is not to be taken lightly.  Without delving into the “wisdom” traditions of Israel, not only should this be seen as a stinging rebuke, but one must imagine the shock that would be felt as Jesus uttered these words.  Whereas the experts in religious law and Temple leaders believed that they were doing what was necessary to cause their God to embody the messiah and resoundingly act within history to defeat their enemies, rescue them from foreign subjugation, and install blessed Israel as the exalted nation of the world, Jesus informs them of His opinion that their isolating and excluding actions are productive of a mindset (revolution and rebellion?) that is going to bring yet another reckoning of judgment upon the nation. 

He concludes by saying “Woe to you experts in religious law!  You have taken away the key to knowledge!  You did not go in yourselves, and you hindered those who were going in” (11:52).  Talk of “going in” would have to be related to the coming kingdom of heaven that was going to be manifest on earth through their God acting through His messiah.  So with all of this, Jesus has effectively challenged the basis of their power structure amongst the people, which was the idea that they held the keys for the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven. 

If the masses were to continue listening to Jesus, and if they were to take up His way of neighborly and selfless acts done to and for all without limitation as the means of representing, ushering in, and making manifest the kingdom of God, then it would seem to be impossible to foster any type of movement to drive out the Romans so as to reclaim the covenantal land and enjoy the related promises.  So one do not wonder at the fact that “When He went out from there, the experts in the law and the Pharisees began to oppose Him bitterly, and to ask Him hostile questions about many things, plotting against Him, to catch Him in something He might say” (11:53-54).  Their desire to discredit Jesus would have been palpable and understandable.  

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