instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The hardy-har-har sayings of Jesus

Every time I come across Mt 11:30 -- "For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." -- I think of trying to compile a list of the words of Jesus in the Gospels that He couldn't have seriously meant.

Easy? Light? Have you ever really tried just to get through one day doing more than the pagans do? And forget about actually dying to self!

The idea of the list, of course, is to show that Jesus really does mean all these things, however unlikely they may sound on first hearing.

Whenever I go through the Gospels to find examples, though, my idea falls apart. Even the things I remember as sounding unlikely -- Mt 10:37, for example -- are perfectly reasonable on first hearing, if you're hearing them from the Son of God.

It's not so much that we need to wrestle with the underlying meanings of Jesus' sayings. His yes is pretty much yes, and His no, no. The wrestling we need to do is mostly with ourselves. If anything, what Jesus tells us is too serious for us to take too seriously, too straightforward for us to take too straightforwardly.

My guess is that, when we say, "Jesus didn't really mean this," we don't really mean this. We really mean, "I'm going to ignore the fact that Jesus said this, and I dare Him to do something about it."

And once we've balked at one of His commandments, the others begin to fall as well, until we're indistinguishable from pagans who admit to worshipping one god, a god no more real than any of the others.