Jesus’ Kingdom is not from this world (John 18:36) but at the same time, it is already present (Matt 3:2, 4:17). We must keep these two truths in front of us, both this week, and always.
The semi-continuous lectionary continues with the message about how the Kingdom of God continually overthrows the strong, mighty and impressive in favor of the weak, downcast and embarrassing. Hannah’s song and Jesus’ brief reflection on the temple’s impermanence show that earthly greatness counts for very little in God’s sight.
Not only do loud, showy bragging and demands for respect not impress God, but these words and actions lead directly to great condemnation (Mark 12:40). If one is rich, the right path is to emulate Boaz, who associated with the lowly, gave up the right to live in a bubble of wealth, and welcomed the poor, Israelite and foreigner alike. He celebrated when others made claims of his responsibility to provide for them.
If we lack the ability to do what Jesus told us to do, we need only pray for strength and guidance. God will surely bless our desire to be obedient in love.
The bottom line is that when someone calls other people unclean, dirty or disgusting, they are working counter to the program of Jesus
This week’s passage on “the rich man who walks away” has been troublesome for Christians since its earliest tellings. Can the rich not be saved? Does Jesus disassociate himself from God? What’s all that business about camels and needles? There is so much that is confusing here.
Scholars of Second Temple – and early Rabbinic – Judaism know that Jesus’ teachings on divorce were wildly out of step with mainstream opinion. This is one of the times in scripture that Jesus is much more stringent than even the most fastidious of his interlocutors. But as is always the case, Jesus’ teaching is not given merely to condemn, but to point to what full life in the Kingdom of Heaven looks like.
Real wisdom is displayed not in being coldly intelligent, but in acting out loving righteousness. This week the revised common lectionary strings together passages that help us contextualize the performance of true wisdom in the Kingdom of Heaven. All the passages point to the necessity for us to move beyond merely accumulating wisdom, and for us to act with wise, sacrificial love on behalf of the weak, with whom Jesus stands in solidarity.