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Monday, January 30, 2017

Tough Guy Jesus (Gospel of Matthew, 21:12)

I love many of the stories in the Bible, especially those contained in the gospels.  Now I'm not trained in theology, I do like to ponder such things.  One of the stories that I find the most intriguing...and I think in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 21, verse 12.  It goes like this (from the King James version of the Bible):

"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves."

I've heard many religiously knowledgeable folks (okay, I confess, mainly television preachers) talk about how this made Jesus a kind of tough guy.  I've even heard it used to justify violence, along the lines of "Jesus did it, so therefore...", "It's okay to be angry because Jesus was...", and the like, as if God were somehow capable of being as upset as we get when the neighbor's dog leaves a present in our front sidewalk (which actually happens...quite a West Pittston, Pennsylvania).

Me?  In my theologically novice kind of way, well, I think the whole "tough guy Jesus" thing is a load of crap.  

In fact, the truth behind this whole story is actually the opposite of the whole "tough guy Jesus" narrative.  I don't think it's telling us to be violent.  I think, instead, it's telling us that in order to be more "Christ-like" we are obligated to not be apathetic, especially in the face of something that's clearly wrong.  We need to act.  Sitting on the sidelines in the face of perceived evil doesn't seem to be what's expected of us.  That's the example Jesus was setting, at least in this layperson's opinion.

All of this comes to my mind, in a very timely sort of way, as I think about the actions of the Trump administration.  It's time to not sit on the sidelines.

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