The Curmudgeon


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Bad Theology

Text for today: Luke 19 xxxvi-xlviii

As Jesus approaches Jerusalem, His disciples loudly advertise His claim to kingship. When the Pharisees ask Him to quiet them, Jesus replies that if the disciples were silenced the stones would cry out instead. Nearing the city, He prophesies that Jerusalem will be surrounded and destroyed by its enemies who, acting presumably as agents of the divine wrath, will not leave one stone on another because the city failed to recognise the time of its visitation. On entering Jerusalem, Jesus attacks those who buy and sell in the temple precincts, but is nevertheless allowed to preach every day in the temple, where the people are eager to hear Him.

The triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the climax of His career as a prophet, predictably shows the Saviour at His most hypocritical, cocksure and cruel. His boast that the stones would recognise Him with hosannas if the disciples were silenced is quickly followed by His prediction that not a stone will be left standing in Jerusalem because of its failure to accord Him a similar reception. It is noteworthy that, having entered the city, Jesus is permitted to preach in the temple even after His outburst of fundamentalist rage against the money-changers, and that the people of Jerusalem are in fact very attentive to His preaching. As the Son of God, Jesus must of course have been aware, even as He called down destruction on the city and its children for their failure to listen to Him, that they would, in fact, listen to Him.

Similarly, He must have been perfectly well aware that His noisy triumphal entry, His disciples' proclamation of His claim to kingship and His driving-out of the money-changers would make the Jewish authorities nervous, because any possibility of unrest might provoke reprisals from the Romans. His infinite goodness and mercy were insufficient to take these facts into account: Jerusalem and its children will be destroyed because, with all the power that was granted Him, all the allowances that were made for Him and all the chances that were given Him, Jesus did not see fit to ensure that the city knew the time of its visitation.


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