Tuesday, July 14, 2020


When Mary became pregnant, there were whispers in Nazareth. But of course, everyone knew what they were whispering about, so it doesn't take long before those whispers just become talk. How could Mary do this to Joseph? How could Joseph stand by Mary? And what about this baby?

Just who is little Jesus's father? 

It's the question everyone wanted an answer to. It was the juicy gossip that everyone wanted to know. Certainly, they tried to get it out of the couple. Certainly, they tried to trick Mary into giving up the name of the unnamed man. Certainly, they suggested to Joseph any number of other young men of Nazareth that Mary might have been seen around and why she fell for that man instead of him. 

We can only imagine that young Jesus faced a difficult childhood. The adults around would consider Him illegitimate, never giving Him a standing in the community because they couldn't really know whose son He was. Even though they called Him Joseph's son, they all knew that wasn't true. Not in the biological sense. The other kids probably teased him for the same reasons - He was not His father's son. Or maybe they all just came to the conclusion that He was Joseph's, that the young couple just got into thing a little too early before the wedding and didn't want to confess their sin. 

Whatever the answer, whatever the prevailing gossip, the one question that would linger around Jesus for most, if not all, of His life was: who is His father? 

Not surprising, then, that Jesus spent so much of His ministry talking about Him. 

Every time you turn around, Jesus is preaching something about His Father. Something about the love between them. Something about the intimate knowledge they share. Something about the grand plan for all of this. Something about the Kingdom. Even something about His Father's house, where He goes to prepare a place for us. Jesus kept pounding on this one issue - My Father, My Father, My Father; it is not until He prays that we even think to pray "Father God...." 

We read right past this quite a bit. Or we take it for simple theology. We emphasize what Jesus says when He points to a Kingdom, or we think that He's trying to teach us something about God. But narrowing Jesus's discourse in this way misses so much of His narrative. It misses so much of the context in which He lives. We have to understand the way that this question hangs over His head in order to understand what it means when He keeps talking about it. Kid, we don't even know who your father is.

And then Jesus says, "Let me tell you about my Father." 

That's why when Jesus is talking, the Pharisees get so upset about the claims He's making. They don't disagree that God is who He says God is; their beef is that Jesus is claiming to be God's kid. He's claiming God as Father. He's answering this one pressing question about His life that won't go away by making an absurd claim that makes Him - an illegitimate child - the Son of God. It's blasphemous. Unless, of course, it's true. 

Which, of course, is the final statement on His pre-resurrected life - that it is true. The Roman soldier, of all men, proclaims it to be. Truly, this was the son of God.

What a way to frame the Jesus narrative. And what a way to read it. Next time you're going through the Gospels, pick up this thread and follow it. See what you find. 

No comments:

Post a Comment