It used to bug me big time when Jesus would ask “Why were you afraid of the storm? Do you still not have faith?” or “What do you mean you don’t understand that parable? If you don’t understand that how are you supposed to understand anything else?” And he totally blasts the Pharisees even though they think they’re just doing their best to follow the rules that God gave them.
In fact it still bugs me a bit because it just feels rude, but I got a new perspective that helped me see why maybe he responds like that.
I decided to stop asking why his responses seemed so rude, and instead just asked myself what his reality must be like to make him respond like that.
Not that he couldn’t have layered in a little bit more patience, to make people-pleasers like me feel a little bit more comfortable with it, but maybe it shows he saw reality in a different way. I can imagine me responding like that if I clearly saw how much more powerful God was than the waves. Or if the parables were just so crystal clear because God had made them clear to him. I mean if Jesus really, at his core, saw the world as a place where peace and love fully deserved to abound, I can see him totally getting peeved at the Pharisees for focusing too much on rules.
To put it in perspective, I think about what my reaction would be if let’s say I were a principal of a boarding school and I worked very hard to make it a loving, thriving, place of learning. Let’s say I made all these great word problems to help them learn math. And I had to make all these rules so they would have a good gage of what I allowed and didn’t- it would help them see my heart. And let’s even say I even spent a ton of money on an equestrian center for them to learn to love the beautiful power of animals bigger than them.
And then let’s say I had to go away for a time. I imagine what I would feel like if, when I returned, the older kids were mercilessly bossing around the younger ones, commanding them to follow the rules. I’d get seriously mad at the older kids because they totally used the rules for opposite of what I wanted! And what if in math class they had started arguing about why Mary deserved 4 apples and Jeremy deserved 5, instead of learning what 5 + 4 equals, the obvious meaning and purpose of the story. And what if no one ever went near those beautiful horses because although I could vouch they were all trained to be safe, everyone just saw them as a fleet of uncontrollable beasts that could trample you. Like, then, even though it sounds kind of rude, I could see my frustration coming out in my response to the kids.
Just like when Jesus got frustrated when the Pharisees bossed the people around with the rules. Just like when the intent of all the parables he had written were totally lost on his disciples. And when he created something as beautifully powerful (but still in his control) as weather, people just got scared of it and avoided it at all costs.
Then I could see just getting frustrated about it and sounding a little bit rude.
And maybe in fact we can learn more about the realities in Jesus’ world by his impatient-sounding responses. We can ask ourselves what must have his understanding of reality been like in order to make him respond like that? And if we can imagine that, maybe we can start to see it more like he does on a regular basis. And then, by envisioning his view of reality and why it would solicit such responses, we can act like we believe those realities more.
Raw Spoon, 12-11-18