Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jesus the Letdown: Revisiting Matthew, Chapters 19 - 21

Part 12 of my "Jesus the Letdown" series.

Chapter 19
  • Verses 7 - 8: The Pharisees challenge Jesus' anti-divorce sentiment by pointing out that the Mosaic law allows for divorce. Jesus then decrees, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard." Isn't Jesus saying here that Moses was fallible and was the source of at least some of the Mosaic law? Whatever happened to the bible being the inerrant word of God? If the hard-heartedness of the Israelis resulted in an erroneous law concerning divorce, then what other erroneous laws might have come through fallible Moses? Like maybe owning slaves is not really ok, but since the Jews were hard of heart Moses allowed slavery against God's will? Why didn't Jesus criticize Moses on that score? Because Jesus was ok with slavery, that's why.
  • Verse 14: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." This must be the verse where modern-day Christians get all of their family values. That's some pretty amazing exegesis, guys.
  • Verses 16 - 17: A man asks Jesus what he must do to get eternal life. Jesus' inexplicable response is, "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Who the hell else should we ask about what is good, if we can't ask God himself?
  • Verses 17 - 21: "If you want to enter life, obey the commandments: " don't murder, torture, rape, steal, exploit, enslave, trash the, just kidding. He had much lower standards for us and assumed that torture, rape, exploitation, enslavement, and trashing the environment were just too inviting for us to pass up. He has some further instruction for the man: "...sell your possessions, give to the poor, and come, follow me." Hmm, obey six commandments, give everything to the poor, and follow Jesus. That's how to be saved? That's not what the Apostle Paul has to say on the matter. Paul says that all we have to do is believe that Jesus is lord and be sure to "confess" that to others. I wonder whose plan of salvation is the correct one.
  • Verse 29: "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." Didn't he just tell the other guy a completely different story about how to live forever? And we can be saved if we leave our children for the sake of Jesus? Some impressive family values, there.
Chapter 20
  • Verse 15: "Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money?" Most Christians seem to buy into this deplorable attitude. Sure, if God has some money, it's his right to do with it what he wants. But we aren't money. We aren't property. We are living creatures with a huge capacity for suffering. The rules that apply to money don't apply to us. Being creator of the universe does not give God the right to torture us eternally.
  • Verse 23: " sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father." How can this be, if Jesus is God? It is very much for him to grant, and he could even have told the two disciples who will get to sit at his right and left, if he's God.
  • Verses 30 - 34: Suspicious repetition of Chapter 9 Verses 27 - 30: two blind men call out, calling him "Son of David" and asking him to have mercy on them. He touches their eyes, and in doing so gives them sight. At least in this version he doesn't burden them by insisting that they keep their new-found sight a secret.
Chapter 21
  • Verse 3: "If anyone says anything to you..." Thunderf00t has already addressed this if (on YouTube), which is a ridiculous word for an omniscient being.
  • Verse 12: Jesus makes a big scene in the temple, objecting to the crass capitalism going on there. But is this really the best thing he can think of to pick on? Why didn't he make a big scene about the way women and children were treated?
  • Verse 22: "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." So, in two thousand years, not one single Christian amputee in the entire world has ever believed enough to have a whole limb restored, is that it?
  • Verse 38: "This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance." So Jesus thought that the Pharisees hoped to take his inheritance, whatever that is supposed to mean? Some Christians might object that this is a parable, not to be taken literally. But I claim that if he's the Supreme Being, every word he says should have some meaning; he himself explicitly condemns the speaking of careless words back in Chapter 12, Verse 36. What exactly would Jesus' opponents inherit if they killed him?

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