Thursday, December 15, 2011

Matthew, Chapter 22: God is a Bridezilla

Here's how Jesus describes heaven:

A prince gets married and the king sends his messengers around to all the nobles to invite them to the wedding feast. But the nobles aren't that interested, because let's face it, weddings suck for all involved, and they'd rather spend the weekend chilling at their farms or managing their businesses. One even kills the messengers, he's so unenthused at the idea of toasting the happy couple and watching yet another lame entrance dance set to Chris Brown.

The king, feeling a need to keep up appearances that continues to serve the wedding-industrial complex to this day, instructs his servants to go out into the streets and round up anybody they can find for a free meal and booze. But! One of them is not in a wedding garment! Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but I keep getting these wedding invitations from brides who have clearly thought waaaay to long and hard about their 'special days' and have somehow come to the conclusion that their guests are equally committed to making their fantasies come true, so we're all told to 'dress in black & white' or 'ladies, please wear a long dress' because we're just accessoriess in a demented, living tableau. I'm actually surprised that none of them has done what the king does next, which is have the guy bound up and thrown outside, possibly for torture. At least, no bride has done it that I know of. The moral of the story? For many are called, but few are chosen. (v. 14) I don't get it, either.

Anyway, the Pharisees just pass over this particular bit of crazy talk and ask Jesus whether it's lawful to pay tribute to Caesar. Jesus smells the rat and tells them to bring him some tribute money, which happens to be a penny with Caesar's face stamped on it. This prompts one of his other famous sayings Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. (v. 21) Yay, separation of church and state! Why don't Republican politicians ever quote that one? Anyway, that one stumps the Pharisees, so they go away for a bit.

Of course that isn't the end of annoying skeptics coming along to challenge Jesus' teachings, but at least the next ones, the Sadducees, have an interesting question: Moses said that if a married man dies before he has kids, his brother has to marry his wife and raise the kids as if they belonged to the original husband. But now they have the case of a woman who got married to seven brothers and never managed to get pregnant. Then she died. Which one will she be married to in heaven? Jesus then informs us that there is no sex or marriage in heaven, we all become eunuch angels. Then he tells us God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, (v. 32) which makes all this stuff he's been spouting about getting your reward in the afterlife seem... less rewarding.

The Sadducees are likewise stumped and go to confer with the Pharisees. Then they send forth their next parry: What are the principal commandments? As always, Jesus is ready with an answer: God is not the God of the dead, but of the living (v. 37) and Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (v. 39). Now Jesus has a question for the Pharisees: whose son do they think he is? Well, David's. Well, then why does David call him Lord? That shuts them and all the other critics up for good.

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