Daily Reading for August 21
This is one of the Scripture passages that fall under the category of “The Hard Sayings of Jesus,” those recorded moments when he doesn’t behave as we think he should. Who wants a Savior who acts like a New York waiter? Earnest church people have gone to great lengths to excuse such hard sayings or find a way around them—that Jesus didn’t really mean it, that there was an obscure slang linkage between gentiles and dogs, so that this is really a commentary about first-century Judaism. We have a pretty rigid idea of what Jesus should and shouldn’t do, and we’ll do just about anything to protect it. . . . We talk about a Jesus who “was in every way tempted as we are, yet did not sin.” And we think this means he was without error.
But being without sin doesn’t mean he never did anything incorrect. “Without sin” means that there was no separation from God. Jesus was truly human and truly divine, we say. If so, surely part of being human is learning from your errors. You grow from your mistakes, and deepen from repentance. These things are our primary means of moral and spiritual learning, and Jesus—as both the Son of God and a human being—is meaningless if we strip him of them. . . . Who would Jesus be if his temptations were somehow less real than ours? His temptations were terrible—and they would get a lot worse than having a bad day and snapping at somebody.
It is never too late to do things differently. Correction can come from some pretty unexpected places, and we’d better be ready for it—if we want to become everything we can become. We should not be ashamed of error when it appears: shame cannot correct itself. It can only hide in silence, or stammer out a self-justification that doesn’t hold water. Better to hear ourselves, and hear others, and have the guts to change.
From “Was Jesus Always Right?” in From the Geranium Farm: A Second Crop of Daily eMails from Barbara Cawthorne Crafton. Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY. www.churchpublishing.org