Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For those who ask, receive; and those who seek, find; and for those who knock, the door will be opened. For is there anyone amongst you, who, if his if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? So if you, wicked as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Whatever you want people to do for you, do so for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

The commentators I have read say that this section stands on its own without any connection to what goes before it. I cannot understand this view, for what goes before is about trust in God the provider, and this section is about how we access God’s provision; we ask, seek and find rather than assuming we are entitled to the world we inhabit. As Jesus has taught, we ask for our daily bread, we seek to be released from our debts, we knock to enter his Rule. We take nothing for granted.

Jesus’ realist humour is here in his “wicked as you are” – he knows we are not all good, but nevertheless we are pleased to give to our children. Then follows an occurrence of one of Jesus’ favourite theologies “If you can do x…. HOW MUCH MORE will your father in heaven be able to do!” This is an insistence that God is at least as good as we are, but in fact, infinitely better. Theologians who insist that God burns people in hell forever, should take note.

The translation of the so-called ‘golden rule’ is not obvious; I have done my best and am not satisfied. It indicates a fundamental relatedness and reciprocity with others; we must love them as we love ourselves. Scholars have noted versions of this rule in Confucius, Buddha, Zoroaster amongst others, it belongs to all humanity, but also to God; indeed the perfect living of this rule is God.

A footnote might add that here Jesus sets out a principle of scriptural interpretation: the Bible must mean the golden rule; anything that cannot be so interpreted is human error.

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