Friday 10 November 2017

Why is Jesus inexplicable? Even/ especially to Christians? Because he is, like all persons, unsystematic...

Christians, from the Apostle Paul onwards, have always had the problem of trying to explain Jesus - especially what he did and why.

In other words the problem of trying to fit Jesus into a system.

We do this for not better reason than this is what we do; or for a host of 'bad' (or at least temporary, expedient) reasons to do with 'running society' - all of which seem to conflict with Jesus in some very fundamental, deeply-worrying sense.

But Jesus was a person, and when it comes to people (or at least, refers to any actual person whom we love) we don't try to fit them into a system that explains what they are 'really' doing, or what they are really 'for'. Rather, we recognise that persons come before systems; and systems are merely fitted-around people for secondary, temporary and expedient reasons - and these reasons are indeed often bad reasons; reasons that end-up with us regarding persons as mere cogs, subordinate-to and in-service-of the system.

The decision is stark - either we see Jesus as primary, or the systematic explanation of  'what Jesus did' as primary. And the proper answer ought to be obvious, once the matter has been lucidly stated.

The Gospel of John (my core source) gives us a Jesus who is a man, deep, utterly consistent yet absolutely unpredictable - judging each 'case' correctly, yet not according to system. A Jesus so unsystematic that he will not even reject the totality of a system (such as the Hebrew Law) because that would be merely to fall-into yet another system.

Jesus is fully divine, as well as a Man, hence he discerns, evaluates, judges from that divine self; above which nothing stands, because that divine self knows more than any system.

This is the nature of true judgement. It is not a means to an already-known end, neither is it subjective nor arbitrary - true judgement is a knowing of the reality of the situation, hence knowing what - specifically and exactly - should be done in this exact instance. And this true judgement is true morality.

Jesus is presented as exemplifying this - the example of Jesus is to show us the nature of correct discernment, true judgement, true morality (and not to provide us with yet-another-system to shackle, distort and usurp knowledge of the truth).

Jesus - across the gospel - is asking us to accept him, personally (not some system), as the primary reality, and the bottom line.

And knowing Jesus is not, never has been, an abstraction, because as well as God he is a person, an eternal person, who (since his resurrection and ascension) remains always in-this-world as well as 'not of this world'. 

And we can know a person. A person is something we can know.


Chiu ChunLing said...

While I think there is an important message here, I will criticize the video. "And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery;" in other words, this was not some angry rabble, but a group of learned and influential men grandstanding. They would have dressed and spoken so as to emphasize their status.

"This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not." The scriptures do not record what Jesus wrote, but I have my own guess.

"If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you. But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her."

This is the entirety of the Law of Moses as concerns the death penalty for women "taken in the very act" of adultery. There are some other cases of adultery or fornication mentioned, but they are not pertinent. Astute readers will note that the scribes and Pharisees were so unfamiliar with the Law that they made a crucial error...there is not a single case in which it is recommended that the woman should be the only one to be killed, only cases in which the man alone should die.

Is it that simple? Did Jesus merely write again the law that He had given to Moses anciently?

I don't know. But if so, it illustrates the real danger of System, which is more often that people pervert it to their own ends than that the original rule given by God is inadequate to the situation. As the scriptures do record, Jesus' dispersed them by pointing out their hypocrisy in seeking to enforce the law unequally, even if He did not point out that they were failing to enforce the law at all in this specific instance.

We must never forget that rules are only given because of our inadequacy to perfectly understand each situation, that our purpose is to "shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness," rather than outward compliance. But we also must not forget that it is more often our inadequacy to perfectly understand a situation (or the law) which makes conflicts appear.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

CCL, I must confess I never imagined Jesus writing a 200-word paragraph on the ground with his finger!

Chiu ChunLing said...

I think perhaps He didn't need to write it all out in English.

But I do think that he spent more than a little time writing. Long enough for it to be mentioned, long enough for it to weary the patience of some there. But perhaps not at enough length for everyone to realize He was answering the question...or rather had already answered it.

I also find an echo of the story of Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah, who was justified by the law (sorta?).

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - Good comment; CCL - Good response.