Matthew 7 & 8
One of the classic comedy sketches of the eighties was one involving two removal men and a long plank of wood. The Chuckle Brothers also had a crack at the gag. But Jesus’ joke was the original plank prank! Yes – it’s true, Jesus was funny, entertaining, colourful – crowds wouldn’t flock for a boring lecture. Jesus cracks a joke about planks in eyes. It’s a visual joke. People would have laughed. Partly because it is visually funny but also because it packs a punch. There is a sting in the tail of this gag – it’s pointed at people, especially any judgmental religious type figures. Those people unaware or unwilling to be aware of their own failings and yet somehow feel obliged and able to decisively judge and ‘help’ others. It is relevant challenge to all of us as we can easily miss the obvious blockage in our sight while examining in detail the minute discrepancy or failing in someone else. Remember Paul in Romans 3:23? ALL have sinned! But Jesus encourages everyone – those with planks and specks to call out to a loving Father God who is willing to hear our cries of need and to answer us.
There are a couple of places in these chapters that we don’t often talk about or focus on, Ch 7 : 13 and 8 : 18 onwards. The fact that Jesus said, in fact pretty much guaranteed that following Him would be tough, unpopular, divisive, costly, uncomfortable and that you’d be in the minority. We tend not to use this as a marketing message, understandably. We will be surrounded by a majority who disagree with Jesus, sometimes violently. Just look at Open Doors for a reality check in this day and age. Apart from heaven (and I suppose church too) be wary of situations when Christians are in the controlling majority. It has never sat right with the church to be in power and in control. A glance at church history and modern western history shows this. According to Jesus, we’re not intended to be in the majority. Because this Jesus way – really is very hard and as we have seen before, goes against so much which is inherent in our human nature.
And yet many people then and now and across the centuries have faithfully followed the difficult Jesus way. Why? Chapter 7 and verse 29 helps us understand as does a lot of what happens in chapter 8 and its accounts of healing, deliverance and command over the elements.
Jesus has authority.
What he says matches up with what he does. He makes sense. He is consistent. He has integrity. His message is wrapped up in his manner. Compared to others whose teachings and ways are sand-like and shift around, Jesus is the rock. A secure and solid and reliable authority. But like rock… following Jesus is hard. He said it would be. But it’s worth it.
Have a think…
- What do you think of the fact Jesus was entertaining and told jokes?
- Why is it so easy to judge and criticize others whilst completely missing our own faults?
- What can we do about this?
- Do you find it tough following Jesus? Explain your answer.
- Should being a Christian be difficult?
- In what ways did Jesus have AUTHORITY? In what ways does He have authority today?