I noticed something in our readings this week that was small, but mattered to me. For years I've wondered how in John 13 none of the disciples knew that Judas was the one who would betray Jesus. It seemed so obvious to me. Jesus literally says:
"He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.
Um, if this were a normal dinner table, literally every guest would have seen and heard that! What's the point of including that in the story, John? How on earth did "no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him?"
Well, after Brother Griffin explained the "U" shape of the dinner tables and seating arrangements of the guests, it all made sense to me. John knew, and Peter knew too, probably. Nobody knew why Judas was leaving because when Jesus said the bit about the sop, it was directed to John only. Anyway. Small detail, big revelation.
This week, we covered one of my favorite stories from the New Testament in class: Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
I hope this doesn't seem irreverent, but I have always visualized this scene kind of like a WWE wrestler approaching the ring. The crowd is going wild. Flames are shooting up behind the wrestler. Their walk-on music is LOUD, and the speakers are shaking the room.
Every moment of Jesus' final approach into the holy city was deliberate. He knew exactly what he was doing. The timing, the donkey he was riding on, the direction he approached from, all of it pointed towards a fulfillment of ancient prophecy -- the Messiah had come. As a storyteller, I love this part of Christ's story arc. As he grows closer to his great and final sacrifice, he becomes more confident using his power. As a contrast to John chapter 2 when Christ says, "My hour is not yet come," His hour has now come. Jesus is no longer holding anything back. He is telling everyone who he is and reminding everyone that he is in fact God's only begotten.
These stories near the end of His life more wonderfully round out the character of Jesus Christ. Earlier in the gospels, we have many opportunities to see examples of Jesus' mercy, love, kindness, attention to detail, respect for others, intelligence, leadership and counseling skills, and sense of morality and righteousness. Stories like the triumphal entry allow us to see Jesus in royal majesty, descending upon Jerusalem like the king He is.
"And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out."
The lawyer in Luke 10 is like a biblical Vizzini from "The Princess Bride." Christ's reaction to the lawyer's attempts at entrapping Him, although not as sarcastic, reminds one of Wesley's classic line from the duel of wits scene, "Truly, you have a dizzying intellect."
In verse 26, Jesus says "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" and turns the conversation around on the lawyer. Jesus then delivers the parable of the good samaritan.
Our professor had a really wonderful explanation of the parable. He unpacked every piece, and drew parallels to the Plan of Salvation, the temple, and Christ's mission. Although I really enjoyed hearing the professor's explanation, what hit me the hardest was realizing that my own interpretation of the parable had been very shallow.
Professor Griffin is a master at expounding on the scriptures. He'll take a well-known scripture story and fill it with meaning that goes way beyond the surface layer. My reading of the scriptures rarely ventures deeper than the surface. Maybe I don't spend enough time pondering, or likening the stories to myself. But I definitely need to change something about the way I study so that I, too, can find hidden treasures in the scriptures.
This week, my eyes were opened to one of my new favorite stories in the New Testament. It starts in Mark 5:22.
Christ is headed into town when a man, desperate for help, stops Jesus and tells him of his plight. This man is a local leader in the synagogues, and had no doubt heard the stories of Jesus' miraculous healings. Mark's account is special because he says that his daughter "My little daughter lieth at the point of death." What I hear in this is, "Please come before it's too late. Hurry. My daughter is dying, but I know you can save her."
When Jesus is on the way, he's crowded by the huge masses of people, and there's even a woman who stops him to touch His robe. The woman is immediately healed. But Jesus takes a minute to stop, teach the woman, make her feel important, then send her on her way. In the meantime, the ruler's daughter has died. Can you imagine how you'd feel? I'd be tempted to blame Jesus for stopping. "If you hadn't stopped, maybe you could have made it to save my daughter in time."
But Jesus said to the man, "Be not afraid, only believe." They eventually made it to the man's house, and his daughter was healed.
As a 21st century man who often finds himself "too busy," this story was a helpful reminder to me that when we're on the Lord's errand, he'll take care of the timing. It doesn't do anyone well to be hurried and worried, and Jesus shows here that even when he was in a rush he was still able to take time out of his day to minister to one person.
I will keep working on becoming the type of person that devotes care and energy to people in need, even when I'm in a hurry.