Oh, thank God there’s no mention of slaves in this one.
Happy Labor Day, Chocolate Bookers. As I begin this post, it’s Friday, and I am somewhere between Chicago and Charlotte, in the sky, traveling to spend the holiday weekend with family. Fortunately, though, I am not fleeing to visit my uncle because my brother will be out for my blood as soon as my father dies. No, I am going to visit my brother: and not to make amends for the time I ripped him off by trading him a bowl of soup for his inheritance and then tricked our dad into giving me the blessing meant for the elder son. My family owns no herds: not of goats, not of camels, and decidedly not of drama llamas. Anyway, in today’s chapter, Joseph the Dream Master comes into his own, so let’s check that business out.
You know Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken?” Sometimes I open up the day’s passage and find it could not be more “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” if it tried. Here, on the one hand, is the healing at the pool in Bethesda, and on the other, there is Jesus’ lengthy exposition of the relationship between the Son and the Father, defending his ministry as backed by the authority of God. But unlike Robert Frost’s existentially-minded traveler, I’m faced with two roads that countless expositors and theologians have trod before me; there is no “road less traveled by” here. Moreover, while the traveler doubts he may ever return to that fork in the road, I may find that I have time to cover both sections of John 5 today. But I have to pick one to begin with, so travel with me down the road to the Bethesda healing, or alternately, close the tab and leave the entry unread–for you as well have two roads before you.
In 2001, I took a year off to work between high school and college. During that time, my mom introduced me to Michael Card via his “best of” album Joy in the Journey. One track, “God’s Own Fool,” begins with Card singing in an impossibly high register about Jesus’ contemporary reputation as a wise teacher, despite the fact that many who actually witnessed his ministry firsthand regarded him as certified looney tunes:
For even his family said he was mad,
And the priests said a demon’s to blame,
But God in the form of this angry young man
Could not have seemed perfectly sane.
And this is precisely what we see happen smack in the middle of today’s chapter of Mark.
This chapter marks the first time that Matthew records a resurrection. It would appear that it’s not the first time Jesus brought someone back from the dead, though; as we saw in Luke 7:11-17, he gave a widow her only son back in the middle of the guy’s funeral procession. Moreover, when Jesus resurrects the synagogue official’s daughter in today’s chapter, Matthew gives us the most cursory of the synoptics’ accounts, not even dedicating ten verses to the incident, while Mark and Luke each give us over fifteen. If you wanted to know which synagogue official, you’d have to turn to the other accounts, because Matthew doesn’t so much as give us his name (it’s Jairus).
I think it was shortly after my family moved to Ohio in the fall of 1990 that my dad got into biking. I don’t remember why he started, although I do remember that he stopped biking downtown with friends and coworkers because of my mom’s concerns about his safety. I recall his increased interest in trail riding and racing events after he stopped city biking; if memory serves, he participated more than once in the MS150, a fundraising bike ride held by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I wish I remembered more about his biking phase, because then I could catch your attention with an engaging anecdote, rather than my usual practice of writing an introductory paragraph better suited for your Introduction to Biblical Studies essay. But I do remember that he used to call his biking excursions “patrolling the earth,” and he drew the name from the first chapter of Zechariah.