bible blog 1326

This blog offers a  meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:


learning to care

learning to care

Luke 8:16-25

J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

Truth is not a secret to be hidden but a gift to be used

16-17 “Nobody lights a lamp and covers it with a basin or puts it under the bed. No, a man puts his lamp on a lamp-stand so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden now which will not become perfectly plain and there are no secrets now which will not become as clear as daylight.”

18 “So take care how you listen—more will be given to the man who has something already, but the man who has nothing will lose even what he thinks he has.”

19-20 Then his mother and his brothers arrived to see him, but could not get near him because of the crowd. So a message was passed to him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside wanting to see you.”

21 To which he replied, “My mother and my brothers? That means those who listen to God’s message and obey it.”

Jesus’ mastery of wind and water

22 It happened on one of these days that he embarked on a boat with his disciples and said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.”

23-25 So they set sail, and when they were under way he dropped off to sleep. Then a squall of wind swept down upon the lake and they were in grave danger of being swamped. Coming forward, they woke him up, saying. “Master, master, we’re drowning!” Then he got up and reprimanded the wind and the stormy waters, and they died down, and everything was still. Then he said to them, “What has happened to your faith?” But they were frightened and bewildered and kept saying to each other, “Who ever can this be? He gives orders even to the winds and waters and they obey him.”

stormrWhen dealing with this sort of story we have to be clear what we think the author is doing: did he believe in this sort of miracle? And if he did, do we?

My answer is that I think Luke may have believed Jesus could order the winds and waves; but I don’t. Fortunately, Luke also saw this incident as a symbolic event. The disciples’ ship of faith is going through storms; they cry out in fear to Jesus; he calms them and the storm. Luke may also have seen in it  a symbol of Jesus’ death (he’s sleeping) and resurrection (he awakes and asserts his power over violence and death). So although I don’t share Luke’s faith in miracle, I can see the power and meaning of Luke’s story. When I’m in the storms of life I can turn to the one who’s been through these storms, and find my courage.

It’s important that bible teachers state their own view clearly. The notion of Jesus as an unreal superman who could walk on water and other fancy tricks is destructive of people’s faith. Such a person is so different from humanity that we couldn’t take his teachings seriously. Whereas if he was truly human we can for example listen to his very challenging attitude to family. The family of those who are committed to God’s goodness is more important than one’s own. How’s that for Christian family values? There are signs that Jesus and his family were reconciled before his death, but we shouldn’t let that detract from this radical and offensive  teaching. We can disagree with Jesus but at least we should understand what he was teaching and not excuse it because he was a miracle-man, different from us.

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