Thursday, November 17, 2011

Matthew, Chapter 8: Devil pigs

Jesus finally finishes the Sermon on the Mount and comes down, where millions of new converts are waiting to greet him. And here's the part where being famous starts to become a pain in the ass. The first person to approach him is a leper, who asks him to heal his illness. Jesus touches him, and he's cured. Next, a Roman centurion has a story about a sick slave. Jesus amiably agrees to go home with him, but the centurion is too embarrassed to admit that his house is a mess and he has no idea where the slave keeps the coffee, so he insists it's enough for Jesus to say the slave is healed.

Now, Jesus, the guy who was supposedly all about brotherhood and equality, doesn't pause here to tell the guy to set his slave free. Oh no, he's got plenty of time to tell us about how Jews are going to hell, but no space to condemn slavery.

Next up is Peter's mother-in-law. According to his Wikipedia page, Peter was the first pope, so I don't know how they reconcile that one. Anyway, she has a fever, and Jesus heals her. Then he sets about exorcising a number of anonymous demons.

All the while, he's collecting more and more followers. Some of them have personal difficulties, like one who says he needs to go home for a bit to tend to his sick father. Jesus is less sympathetic than you might expect: Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead (v. 22).

Somewhat later, Jesus and his disciples go on a cruise. One night, either due to bad weather or bad seafood, the ship starts pitching back and forth. The disciples get scared, so they go to Jesus, who is grouchy at them for waking him up, then calms the sea down.

They were on their way to a place called Gergesenes, where two men have been possessed by devils. They taunt him, and tell him to cast them into a nearby herd of swine. So Jesus does, then he makes the whole herd jump off a cliff into the sea. The swineherds flee to the city to tell their story, then the residents ask Jesus & co. to leave and really, who can blame them? No bacon for them all winter now.

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