Sunday, September 10, 2006

the subversive gospel of Matthew

Started a series on the book of Matthew tonight at the Cave. I focused my attention on this gospel while I wa away and was really excited about what I perceived. This gospel is very subversive, and I think we might miss it if we aren't careful.

First off we must understand Matt. was written to the Jewish people. The fact that a tax gatherer (read traitor to his people), would write telling them the good news, is a bit subversive, even before we get to the text. But it is apparent in his writing that this is his primary target. He does not use the word God, or THE NAME vey often. In fact he uses the expession kingdom of heaven rather than kingdom of God. He also uses the phrase, "as was spoken of through the prophets" way way more than the other writers. He is mainly trying to witness to a Jewish audience.

Which makes the geneology so much more subversive. Matt starts with Abraham as a good Jewish boy would, being that the Hebrews counted being sons of Abraham as their ticket into God's good graces. But then he goes a bit crazy. Now, there was no need to mention any women in the geneology. Luke doesn't at all. But in this geneology Matty lists four women in Christ's lineage. And just who are these women? I might add all but one are part of Mary's lineage as well.

The first is Tamar, who has the dubious distinction of having her father in laws child. This woman after having her first two husbands die, then tricks her father in law into getting her pregnant. And I thought I had some strange rumours in my family tree.

The second is Rahab. Now most people know Rahab usually has a second name: the harlot. Rahab the second woman Matt decides to highlight was not only a harlot in Jericho, but was not Jewish. I don't know if you understand how scandalous that is to a Jewish reader, but to think Gods Son comes from the line of a non jewish harlot is quite the radical idea.

The third is an amazing woman, one of the heros of the old testement: Ruth. She is a truly righteous and Godly woman. But... not Jewish again.

and the last...

The last woman isn't actually named, but called "the wife of Uriah" In other words Bathsheeba, the woman who's beauty brought king David to his knees. This woman not only was impregnated by a man she was not married to, but then conspired to trick her husband into thinking he was the father. And when that didn't work married the father of her baby after he had her husband killed!

Now what is the moral of this story? I think it is this: Jesus does not come from a nice safe pedigree, the path God chose to enter the world is a wayward, sinful, scandalous path. And He does the same today, but through you and me. Jesus is not a safe, easy, pious Godman, but rather a subversive, dangerous, revolutionary Godman, who came to not only save us, but inspire us to take up His dangerous call. And I intend to do just that.



David said...

If it's subversive, I don't think you should be encouraging people to read the gospel of Matthew.

Do the right thing, Rev, and report this gospel to the Australian counter-terrorism task force.

John Smulo said...

And to think some people say genealogies are boring! I get the feeling Matthew had a cheeky look on his face when he was writing this one.

I love that the gospel pushes past "acceptable" barriers here.

Helen said...

Jesus is not a safe, easy, pious Godman, but rather a subversive, dangerous, revolutionary Godman, who came to not only save us, but inspire us to take up His dangerous call.

He sure is.

The Australian counter-terrorism force might be more likely to believe something subversive is being plotted down the pub Tuesday evening than in church Sunday morning.

Maybe they'd be right.