Monday, February 20, 2012

Luke, Chapter 13: Dammit, what happens to the tree?

The people tell Jesus that Pilate killed some Galilaeans who were innocently making sacrifices at the temple. Jesus is not particularly sympathetic, and asks if these particular Galilaeans maybe suffered because they deserved it. It turns out no, but he threatens those gathered with the same fate unless they repent. He tells them an equally lurid story about some people killed by a falling piano falling tower.

Now he has a parable about a gentleman farmer with a fig tree that never bears fruit. He asks his tree guy why he doesn't cut down the tree. The tree guy wants him to give the tree one more year and promises to give it special fertilizer. If it doesn't bear fruit next year, he'll cut it down. We never find out what happens to the tree.

Another day, Jesus is preaching in the temple when a possessed woman shows up. He lays his hands on her and commands the spirit to leave. She immediately converts to Christianity.

The chief priest sees this and is immediately in high dudgeon because this happens to be a sabbath day, and why can't people get healed the other six days of the week. See, that's what a real 'remember the sabbath and keep it holy' society would look like. Jesus rightly calls the guy a hypocrite because he leads his oxen and donkeys outside to water them. The poor guy hasn't come up with an eruv yet. And anyway, why shouldn't this woman finally have some peace from her demons on the sabbath? The others agree and the priest is embarrassed.

Jesus starts waxing poetic about what heaven is like: a mustard seed that grows into a mighty tree that birds shit all over, and a little bit of yeast that mixes with a large amount of flour to make dough. Can't wait to check it out for myself!

That same day? A week later? Jesus continues on his way to Jerusalem. Someone asks him if it's true that only a few people will make it into heaven. He advises him to aim for the narrow gate, because god is going to lock most of them out. Who will get into heaven? Poor people. Those not going? The one percent. Including Rich Santorum.

A couple of Pharisees approach next to warn Jesus that Herod is looking for him. Jesus replies that his schedule is full: faith healing for the next couple of days, but on the third day he'll be perfected (v. 32), whatever that means. He also needs to keep walking, for it would be undignified to die outside Jerusalem. He laments the number of prophets who get stoned to death in Jerusalem, and how they'll do the same to him.

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