Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jesus the Letdown: Revisiting Matthew, Chapters 16 - 17

Part 10 of my "Jesus the Letdown" series.

Chapter 16
  • Verses 1 - 4: Another suspicious repetition, this time from Chapter 12, Verses 38 - 41: the Pharisees ask for a miraculous sign, and Jesus yet again calls them wicked and adulterous and says that the only sign they'll receive is the sign of Jonah. Uh-huh.
  • Verses 5 - 12: Jesus makes another cryptic comment to his disciples, then blasts them (of course) with the old "You of little faith" chestnut. Why doesn't he just speak plainly, especially after just a couple of chapters back he told them that they are privy to his twisted delusions?
  • Verse 19: Jesus gives Peter a kind of political power, which seems to be the root of Papal authority: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Too bad there's no fucking way to understand what he's talking about.
  • Verse 20: Again, Jesus seems to have something to hide; he tells his disciples not to tell anyone of his real identity. What was it that they were supposed to be preaching to all the towns and villages back in chapter 10, if not that Jesus is the Messiah? He told them to say, "The kingdom of heaven is near," but if anyone had thought about it for two seconds, they would have realized that this is a totally meaningless statement. They would have asked for clarification. Wouldn't the clarification be something like, "The Messiah is here in Israel, his name is Jesus, and you have to believe in him or go to hell"?
  • Verse 24: More reneging on his claims of being gentle and imposing only a light burden. Plus this is another suspicious repetition: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Sounds pretty heavy to me.
  • Verse 25: Suspicious repetition and Islam alert: "...whoever loses his life for me will find it."
  • Verse 27: "For the Son of Man...will reward each person according to what he has done." This doesn't sound like Christianity to me. The so-called reward for the vast majority of people will be eternal torment, regardless of how they've behaved in life, simply because they chose to reject this bozo.
  • Verse 28: "...some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." A lot of Christians want to apply some sort of symbolic, metaphorical meaning to this claim. Why? Especially considering that they take the creation story in Genesis to be the literal truth. Jesus obviously believed that he was going to return to the earth in "glory with his angels" before all of his followers died.
Chapter 17
  • Verse 1: "After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John..." Huh? After six days? What the hell is that qualifier doing there? What could it possibly mean? Why all of a sudden are we getting chronological information?
  • Verses 2 - 3: Jesus is "transfigured", whatever that means. While he's there shining, Moses and Elijah appear and have a pow-wow with Jesus. What the hell? Moses and Elijah? Why not Abraham and Ezekiel? Why not Akhenaten and Hammurabi? Why would Jesus be talking to the departed souls of any humans at all? What would they have to say to each other? Would Jesus ask them questions? Would they be providing him information? Doubtful, if he's omnipotent. Would he be giving them a message to take back to God? No, because Jesus is God, remember? And why would they have to be bodily (or at least illusorily) present in order to chat with Jesus? If he did want to have a conversation with them, he could have just put his own thoughts into their minds, and then read their responses right back out. They wouldn't even have to know that he was talking to them. This whole scene is quite silly if you think about it realistically.
  • Verses 14 - 17: A man begs Jesus to heal his son, who is prone to seizures. Captain Compassion's response? "O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?" Dude, lighten up! Try decaf or something! Why is he all of a sudden huffy about being asked to heal a kid who is suffering? The poor father just wants to see his son suffer no longer. What's perverse about that? And how is it unbelieving for the man to ask Jesus for help? Sounds very much like the man believed that Jesus could help. Some might say that Jesus was complaining about his disciples' inability due to their lack of faith, but no, he chastises the entire generation, not just his disciples, so apparently he's just tired of being asked to heal people.
  • Verses 24 - 27: Jesus orders Peter to go fishing, then look inside the mouth of the first fish he catches. Inside he'll find Elijah, gasping for air. Wait, no, he'll find a four-drachma coin, with which Peter is to pay the temple tax for himself and for Jesus. That's hardly fair. Why didn't he have Peter catch a really big fish full of enough money to pay the temple tax for everyone?

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