Friday, June 18, 2010

Jesus the Letdown: Revisiting Matthew, Chapters 14 - 15

Part 9 of my "Jesus the Letdown" series.

Chapter 14
  • Verse 14: Jesus "had compassion on them and healed their sick." So he was in a good mood this time? No deliberately confusing parables? Also, if he's God, then doesn't he know about the millions of other sick people in the world, even when they're not right there in his face? Why didn't he have compassion on them and heal their sick too?
  • Verses 27 - 29: The disciples are out on the lake. Jesus has taken a stroll out to the boat, walking on the surface of the water. This scares the shit out of his disciples, who think that he's a ghost. He calms them, rather kindly, to his credit. Peter says, "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water." Why didn't Jesus condemn him for "testing" God? Why didn't Jesus tell Peter to shut up until Jesus can get onto the boat so they all can put their hands on him and see that he's not a ghost? It's not necessary for Peter to walk on the water in order to know that it's Jesus, so I have to assume that Peter thought it was a really cool trick, and just wanted to see what it was like to stand on water. Why is Jesus so indulgent with this sinful attitude?
  • Verse 31: Oh, I get it now. Peter gets out there on the water and then gets scared. Jesus was starting to get pissed off at Peter, but was keeping his temper under control, until Peter had a moment of weakness and Jesus couldn't hold his cool any longer. He really hates it when people don't trust him. Sounds like a strange insecurity for a god. Jesus goes back to his usual berating: "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"
Chapter 15
  • Verse 2: The Pharisees criticize Jesus for allowing his disciples to eat without first washing their hands. Jesus tries to make a point about ritual purity, but you know, if he knew about pathogenic microbes then why didn't he tell his disciples (and everyone else, for that matter) that they should always wash their hands, not for the sake of righteousness, but for the sake of their health? He's going around healing people, but he's not telling them how to avoid getting sick. This seems like an egregious omission on the part of Jesus.
  • Verses 15 - 16: Peter asks Jesus to explain a parable to him. Gentle Jesus replies, "Are you still so dull?" What happened to the special deal he made with his disciples back in Chapter 13, Verse 11: "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you." Seems like Jesus has a short memory to go along with his short temper.
  • Verse 19: "For out of the heart come evil thoughts: murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander, racism, slavery, rape, environmental irresponsibility, torture, war, female genital mutilation, oppression, cruelty, domestic violence..." Oh, wait, he stopped way back there at slander. Guess all these other things didn't show up on his evil detector. Somehow slander is more evil than torture and war. Somehow sexual immorality is worse than racism.
  • Verses 21 - 28: A non-Jewish woman comes to Jesus, begging him to help her demon-possessed daughter, who is suffering terribly. Mr. Compassion ignores her. The disciples follow his example and try to get away from her and finally ask Jesus to send her away. He responds, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." Racism alert. Also, why would he respond that way to the disciples when they asked him to send her away? Why wouldn't his response be something like, "Woman, go away!" or "You guys get rid of her yourselves?" Not only is his response racist, it's also a total non-sequitur. He rubs her nose in his racist views some more, and she comes up with a line that impresses him enough to overlook his bigotry. This is disgusting. It reminds me of all those 20th-century dictators who held the power of life and death over their subjects, flippantly and capriciously doling out both.
  • Verse 32: Jesus is moved to compassion again, for who knows what reason. Now he's concerned that this crowd of over 4000 people are hungry. And why isn't he moved by all the other people in the world who haven't eaten in three days? He knows about them all, right? They don't have to be right in his face for him to know about them, do they?
  • Verses 35 - 38: Jesus feeds yet another gigantic crowd of people, using very little food. I want to point out that this is the beginning of a suspicious pattern of repetition, almost as though the book of Matthew somehow got partially duplicated, when all of those thousands and thousands of copies were being made by barely literate people back in the first and second centuries. This is just the first of several suspicious repetitions. I'll continue to point them out as I go along.

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