I was reading today’s verses – Matthew 17:22-27 – and thought that if Jesus had NOT risen from the dead, had NOT been the Son of God, had NOT had all that “baggage” for us to work through… he would be a major player in the “famous quote” websites. And instead of mostly memes on Facebook, he would be big in the birthday cards and management training/consultancy fields. All those quotable quotes!!
(if only he didn’t come with all the God stuff!)
“As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.’ And they were greatly distressed. When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, ‘Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?’ He said, ‘Yes, he does.’ And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?’ When Peter said, ‘From others’, Jesus said to him, ‘Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offence to them, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.'”
How often has the perfect riposte to “a tense situation” only come to me 30 minutes after the event? How often in the middle of a tense situation do I bluster and go brain-freeze? How often do I afterwards play and play again the alternative responses I could have given? All of which would have bigged-me-up and been the prefect put-down for them?
And here is Jesus (less God stuff if you will) with the perfect big-me-up and put-down-them! The perfect quotable quote: “Then the children are free.”
I can imagine sitting in a training course and some scenario of unfairness in the workplace being acted out – and the trainer coming to a conclusion with: “… as Jesus once said … “Then the children are free.” So let’s look at …”
But I have never – in many years of corporate training – heard that phrase: “As Jesus once said … ” We save Jesus for church and God stuff. So here is the God stuff.
“’The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.”
Today I see and hear the daily news. War. Death. Killing. Ideology. Belief. Counter-belief. Terrorism. Counter-terrorism. Backlash. Counter-backlash. I hear lots of wailing and gnashing from Christians when they observe world events … retreat into churches with liturgies of comfort and reassurance …
And I see Jesus slap bang in the middle of all “that” and more. I see Jesus walking forwards not retreating. I see Jesus uttering quotable quotes of compassion and love. I see Jesus being the shepherd of shepherds. The oasis of calm and love and compassion and quotable quotes. Fearless. Always. I read the bible and see “human hands” then as there are now. I see religion and faith in “human hands” as there is now. I see death and killing and all we fear today. I see it has always been so in human hands. I think it always will.
Yet in the middle of what we fear – Jesus utters yet another quotable quote of perfect love and compassion – of wisdom without fear – of compassion beyond self – of love beyond condition. Of love for “human hands”. Always.
(“God-stuff” – take it out again)
It is one of the reasons that I have no fear. That being a follower is kind of cool for me. That “what if” all this “God stuff” is just one gigantic conspiracy-theory has no fear for me. Today, right now, my “personal journey” in finding our (secular “human hands”) definition of “purpose and contentment” costs me nothing. Nor do I sacrifice anything. Nor must I carry any burden. Love without condition is liberating. I can allow me to be who I am, and you as well. I can see love in you as I see in me. I can choose to see loving human hands.
So, if beyond my death there is “nothing” … tell me what I have “lost”?
Because for me, if all “this God stuff” is ONLY good for beyond the grave … if you ONLY believe because of what is to come … and if being a follower is for then and not now … that IS sacrifice and burden … that IS religion in human hands … that is not “I Am” right now. Always.
Human hands hold so much love, human hands can embrace so many, human hands overflowing of love is what I want my human hands to be. Always. I know why Jesus loves human hands. I know why I love human hands. Yours and mine.