A scribe is working on the letter to the Romans. The scribe is sitting at a table, muttering while looking over a scroll, pen in hand:
Riddles, riddles, riddles…
‘Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…’
What on earth did he mean, that fall – oops – Paul guy? Freudian!! Sorry!
I mean, what did he mean? That’s the problem with this Greek, no punctuation. I mean you have commas and full stops and what-not. We haven’t. So what did he mean? You don’t get it?
Well let me read it to you. ‘Therefore since we are justified by faith (exaggerated pause) we have peace with God’. Did he mean that, or did he mean, ‘‘Therefore since we are justified (exaggerated pause) by faith we have peace with God’. See what I mean?
No? Ok, let me spell it out to you. You all seem to think that Paul meant to say that we are justified, made right with God if you like, by faith. No problem with that. Consequence, ‘we have peace with God’.
But I just got to wondering. What if Paul reckoned that we are justified. Accept it! Just trust it is so and that’s the way to peace with God? See what I mean? No?
Riddles, riddles, riddles…that old scribe playing with words again? I know what you’re thinking. But words are my stock in trade. I do think about them, not just write parrot fashion – if you’ll pardon me mixing my metaphors?
But perhaps you’re right. I make too much of these details sometimes. I’m a right pedant!
Ok. I’ll get to the point, whatever Paul thinks.
At the end of the day, We have peace with God – don’t we? No beating about the burning bush then?
Wonder what’s next? Think I’ll just make a cuppa (gets up and strolls off).
When I opened my social media one morning I caught the comment, in relation to nothing in particular, ‘that’ll wait till after Easter’. Some things won’t. And in another sense some things can’t, shouldn’t be hidden or avoided. I don’t want to be a spoil sport, nor to confront us with things that are just too painful in a world which has pain enough of itself.
Come Easter day it will all be daffodils and Easter eggs, children and fun. Well not quite all. But that is jumping the gun. Let me take you back to the beginning of this, so called ‘Holy Week’.
Some people like to look at the whole drama of this week from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday as ‘part of God’s plan’. I think that diminishes God. It doesn’t speak of the God I see in Jesus, or even the pages of the Hebrew scriptures. The events of this week are less planned, more inevitable; earthly as much as heavenly.
Remember that Jesus is a man, God become human, but a man. God does not put his ‘son’, through unimaginable cruelty. Charles Wesley had it right speaking of God ‘contracted to a span, incomprehensibly man’, a God who ‘emptied himself of all but love.’ So this Jesus is God. But he is human, like you and me. Very special, yet nothing special at all. Growing up he had witnessed religious corruption. That is not an anti-semitic comment. The church is just as riddled with corruption today. Occasionally people rise above it, but it is a human characteristic, built into our DNA. We are hard-wired for self-preservation and that makes us want to clamber to the top of the pile. Now and again we managed to repress our natural instincts and become a little more kind, a mite more gracious. Anyway, I digress.
Jesus rode a donkey into an occupied city at the time of a religious festival. Stirred up a crowd. If anything could be calculated to raise the temperature, rather than calm the conflict, that was its precursor. He challenged the religious people, over-turned the tables of the money changers, caused chaos. Then just walked away. Deals are done, silver changes hands, plots are elaborated. In the midst of all of this he shares a meal with his friends. Then an arrest is executed. Now this becomes political. Pilate is confronted rather than ignored. A charge is brought, a thief is dismissed. The dice is thrown, the deed is done. And this Jesus is brutally murdered.
Tortured, beaten, scarred and tainted,
Not a picture deftly painted,
More a tattered, battered being,
Torn, disfigured, stark, unseeing.
Muscles twisted, strained, contorted,
Body dangling, bruised, distorted.
Life blood drying, sun-baked, stinging,
Hatred, bitter hatred, flinging.
Crowds insensate, tempers vented,
Full of anger, discontented.
Curses scattered, insults flying,
Spurned, derided, God is dying.