instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What wouldn't Jesus do?

In the Gospels, Jesus is shown to be an accommodating fellow. When people ask Him to heal them, He does. When people tell him someone is too sick to come to Him to be healed, He goes to where the sick person is. When crowds gather around Him, He feels pity for them and preaches the Good News to them. Once or twice He slips away when no one is looking, but when He's discovered and surrounded once more, He's a good sport about it. He allows people to sing "Hosanna" as He enters Jerusalem.

Jesus even lets the demons enter the swine, and if it had been anyone else I'd say that was too accommodating.

What doesn't He do that people ask Him to do?

For one thing, He won't perform, not even for the devil or King Herod. People who asked for a sign or miracle out of curiosity rather than faith go home disappointed. Bad-faith questioners don't get the answers they claim to want.

Nor will Jesus cooperate in His judicial trials, beyond a few brief statements to point out, for those who have ears, just what is going on.

The only crown He accepts is made of thorns. The only death He accepts is the cup His Father would have Him drink.

For me, perhaps the oddest example of Jesus not doing what someone asked of Him is recorded in Luke 12:13-14:
Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me."

He replied to him, "Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?"
The man in the crowd must have expected a different answer from this teacher who spoke with authority of justice and charity. Unfortunately for him, this Teacher's authority is divine, and divine authority is not invoked on behalf of greed.

(This exchange also stands in amusing contrast with the previous verses, in which Jesus tells His disciples not to plan their defense "before synagogues and before rulers and authorities... For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say." At that moment, "Tell my brother to share," was evidently not what he should say.)