Remember yesterday, when I said today I might take a further look at the Holy Spirit in today’s post? Well, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and bears witness of the Son. That’s verse 26. It’s the only verse in this chapter about the Holy Spirit. There! Now that we’ve taken a further look at the Holy Spirit’s role in this chapter, we can move on to consider the other 96% of the text.
In John 13, we get into Jesus’ last Passover, and as you might expect, there’s a cloud hanging over it. Last things have a tendency to be sad. (And of course a song comes to mind; here I’m thinking of “The Last Unicorn.”) But in spite of the path before him, Jesus doesn’t focus on his own suffering, present or future. Instead, he begins the Passover by washing his disciples’ feet.
If yesterday’s chapter had two parts that could each be the subject of an entire blog post, then today’s chapter has…several. Jesus returns to his hometown, leaves, sends out the twelve apostles to preach and perform miracles, causes Herod to think Jesus is John the Baptist back from the dead, feeds a crowd with just five loaves and two fish, and walks on water. What ties the chapter together? It’s not some mere philosophical idea or a particular point of doctrine. It’s the same thing that ties all of Mark together: the person and ministry of Jesus Christ.
And what does the chapter tell us about Jesus Christ? Well, among other things, I wonder if it doesn’t tell us that he’s an introvert.
Today’s chapter, like the one before it, contains Paul stories, but the very first story would be “Paul went through Macedonia and Greece, and when he headed back through Macedonia he went from Philippi to Troas, and he was joined by seven guys.” In Troas, we see another story where a young man falls out a third-story window, but the bulk of the chapter consists of Paul’s address at Miletus. In these latter stories, Luke appears to suggest some parallels between Paul and Jesus, so let’s dig into that, shall we?
Judas doesn’t show up much in the synoptic gospels. He gets mentioned in the roll call of the disciples in Matthew 10:2-4 and Luke 6:13-16 as “the one who betrayed Him,” and that’s pretty much it until today’s portion of the narrative, Matthew 26. But when it comes to Jesus’ last hours, that’s Judas’ time to shine.
I’ve been noticing something about Jesus’ miracles as we read through Matthew. They tend not to be flashy, like silver-screen superpowers or the special effects for magic in my console RPGs. They lack theatricality and ostentation. They’re subtle, and Jesus often tells the witnesses to keep it quiet about the miracle. (Sometimes the witnesses even comply with his request.) And the only times he pulls out all the stops, like the transfiguration, the only people present are a few of the apostles. But today’s chapter starts off with just such a miracle: Jesus tells his disciples where to find a donkey, they go, and lo and behold, there’s a donkey precisely there.
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’ve never seen more than ten minutes of Home Alone. In 1990, my parents took my brother and me to see it at the theater, but the first ten minutes were so full of family dysfunction and bad child behavior that Mom and Dad decided to walk us out of it. In particular, my mom took issue on many levels with Macaulay Culkin’s declaration “Families suck.” At the time, Home Alone was the latest hot ticket, and I was profoundly disappointed that my parents had dropped the hammer on it. But to this day, I still haven’t seen the full movie, and I honestly think I’m none the worse for it.
Okay, so last week ended kind of catastrophically. Let’s see if we can get back on our feet. This week we return to the Triad study with Matthew 12:46-50, which the study authors chose to illustrate the theme of “family.” What do you think? Can I go the whole week in this passage without actually addressing the theme of “family?” I kid, but all good jokes have a grain of truth to them.
Let’s talk about love today. This passage from Romans 5 is about a lot of things, and if I had to say it’s about one single thing, I’m not sure what I’d say. Is it all about reconciliation? Rejoicing in tribulation? Jesus Christ? Yes, it’s about all those things, and probably others besides. But it’s also all about love.