Jesus went to the district of Tyre. He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it, but he could not escape notice. Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him. She came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter.
“Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”
She replied and said to him,“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”
Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.”
Thrice lately, we've stumbled into passages where Jesus is no Boy Scout, where he utters things we might consider downright mean if he weren't who he was. Here's one. When the Greek woman begs his attention for her demon-possessed daughter, he tells her he's got only so much love, so little Greek dogs like her and her daughter aren't about to get served.
She won't take no for an answer, so he relents, commends her faith, and moves on, having dispatched another miracle.
Okay, he delivered the goods, but did he have to be so mean?
Or how about this moment? Here, his boosters get ripped.
Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.”Render his response in the vernacular, and the smack down would be greatly more graphic. Is it just me, or does this Jesus seem a goodly distance from the "Sermon on the Mount"? This Jesus simply doesn't fit.
When he got home away from the crowd, his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?”
Or this, from earlier in the gospel of Mark:
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!"Come now, Jesus doesn't like crowds? Then why does he gather them? "The people are wondering where you are, Jesus--let's have at 'em."
Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
"How about this instead?" he says. "Let's not and say we did."
Such passages jump off the page, creating an image of the Light of the World who's almost owly. Is he uncomfortable with his appointment? Is he something of a germaphobe? Does he a bit bi-polar? Did he just plain get sick of it? Who is this guy anyway?
We're human. We honestly believe mysteries have to be solved, passages have to be interpreted with clear and abiding logic. If we're believers, all of this has to make better sense because we like our savior to be beautifully groomed and haloed, and in prayer. We don't like him sick or tired or disagreeable, certainly not mouthing off.
I get that. Count me among them--I always want to know what Matthew Henry says.
But sometimes I rather like this very mysterious Jesus, someone who doesn't fit my profiling, a divine eccentric, a savior who is, at once, half-divine and, every once in a while, half-not.
I won't speak for anyone else here, but sometimes I think it's good for me to shake in sheer bewonderment.