Friday, April 14, 2006

Session #7: Here Comes the Son

This image of an Israeli peace activist to me is quite startling. I cannot help to think of the unnerving quality of her empathy...and her look to Heaven perhaps says it all. More than that, her protest has something of a touch of Christ's Messianic vision of his protest in Jerusalem.

For those of you who missed our talk last week, a quick recap: We spoke about the true motivation of the high priesthood in getting Jesus done away with and nature of Christ's problem with them. Jesus sealed his fate with his relentless provocation of the corrupt practices of temple authorities. He opened up his passion week by turning over tables literally. But the final straw came when Jesus made it clear that he was truly coming to recover the fruit of His Father's "vineyard". In the midst of the crowds gathering for Passover, he told the "Parable of the Vineyard, the Tenants and the Son" (Luke 20:1-19). In it, Jesus makes it clear that the "Son" (the Messiah, see Psalm 2) was coming to collect a debt...the fruit owed to the Father. In other words, he was coming to collect the tithes of the temple (the "vineyard" of Isaiah 5, which was a metaphor for the temple among the Jews of the day) that never seemed to leave the pockets of a lavishly wealthy and corrupt high priestly clan (the House of Caiphas/Hanan) who are the "tenants" in the parable, and hardly ever seemed to trickle its way down to the landless Levite, the alien (hmm...shall we say "guest worker"), the orphan and the widow...which Deut 14:29 makes clear the tithes should go to. In fact, Jesus blasts the Saduccean priestly hierarchy for "devouring widows' houses" (Luke 20:47). Why were the early Christians in Acts feeding the widows of Jerusalem one must wonder, when this was the responsibility of the temple authorities? It is not for nothing that Jesus labelled the widow's two mites "more than all" (Luke 21:1-4)...for the incident provokes his disciples to comment on the architecture (v. 5), which those two mites were going sustain. Thereupon, Jesus begins to prophesy the temple's demise. Looked at another way, God sold his house for two mites. For he too was not going to rob widows' purses. A new temple was going to be founded, Jesus foretold, the "stone" that the builders rejected was to become the "chief cornerstone" (Luke 20:17, see Psalm 118). The Jewish church was founded on that cornerstone, and not at all incidentally, its first martyr, Stephen, was one of its chief widow feeders.

What is probably driving the empathy of the woman above:

(A Palestinian woman grieves the loss of her house).

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