Friday, August 22, 2008

Bloodfest: light v dark

"You are the light of the world."
+ + Matthew 5:14a + +

Light has no opposite.

When light and dark are in contrast to each other, dark loses. It's really weird when you think about it. If you go into a dark room, it is dark because the light has been blocked out, maybe with walls, doors, or blinds and curtains. Night is really just the earth blocking the sun. Shadows are merely an object eclipsing a light source.

So what is darkness?  Simply it's the absence of light. 

In thinking about it there are a few things I can think of that follow this pattern. Cold is not the opposite of hot, it is absence of it. Science teaches us that when energy is introduced to an object it's particles move faster thus it heats up. So cold is just a lack of heat. The principle is that there are some things that do not have opposites, instead what we think of as opposite is really just one thing in greater or lesser levels. (FYI: I think this conversation is at some level relevant with good and evil.)

Have you ever played hide and go seek in a dark barnyard or the woods? If you have I'm sure you've sat in a shadow and watched barely breathing as a person walks inches from where you're hiding. They couldn't see you because you were not in the light, they were. I've hid in places at night where during the day, I'd be be easily seen. 

There are some interesting parallels between this and what Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount when he says we are the light of the world.

  • first it means that the darkness cannot stand up to the light. 
  • second, it means that darkness is really just an absence of the light. 
  • it also means that the issue with defeating darkness is an issue of shining the light into the darkness.
  • we like it in the darkness because we can hide there.

Monday, August 11, 2008

get behind me satan!

“If anybody wants to follow me and be my disciples,
he must take up his cross and follow me as a
-Matt 16:24

Matthew 16 finds Jesus in a very lonely place. He is in Caesarea Philippi (not Israel). He is only being followed by the twelve (not the huge crowds from earlier). Only his disciples are still interested in what he has to say (everybody else has written him off as a heretic). The Jewish establishment wants him dead (as opposed to liberator from Rome). At every level Jesus has been rejected by Israel.

Yet it is here that he finally proclaims to his disciples that he is indeed the Messiah. Why here? I mean, why not in the synagogues of Galilee? Why not in the Temple, or in the Holy City of Jerusalem? Why Caesarea Philippi? Caesarea Philippi is where pagans worship their gods. This is not the place to be announcing that you’re going to be the Messiah, the chosen one.

Then Jesus goes on to say the he is going go to Jerusalem and be killed. One must wonder if the disciples think he’s completely lost his mind. The Messiah will enter the city and reclaim the glory of Israel, not go to be killed. That’s what happened to failed messiahs. Maybe he’s just a little depressed because he’s been rejected by everybody.

Perhaps that’s what Peter was thinking when he pulled Jesus aside. Perhaps his rebuke was something like, “Come on Jesus! Stop walking around like you’re defeated. You’ve got to believe in yourself!” Maybe he thought he would infuse his rabbi with energy and new found hope.

Jesus responds by calling Peter “satan.” Now in the original language the word “satan” is written in a way to suggest that this is not a proper name. Maybe instead of meaning Satan: the devil, Jesus is calling Peter satan: advisory or tempter. Implying that Peter’s position is against what Jesus is talking about. Also, Jesus’ phraseology suggests this as he tells Peter to “get behind me” the same word in the original language he uses in the next paragraph when he says, “follow me.”

What are we to make of this?

It is at this point that the disciples who have been very well behaved. They have followed Jesus and have not questioned his teaching or his plans, suddenly are shown for what they really are: completely confused. Everything Jesus has been teaching them has gone in one ear and right out the other.

The rest of the book of Matthew, the disciples time and time again misunderstand and “misremember” everything that Jesus says and has said. Sadly, this goes on right up to and through the death of their rabbi. What’s even worse is that even today, many of the followers of Jesus do not understand what Jesus is saying.