Some people think the Bible isn’t a funny book. They’re right. We’re not reading The Big Christian Joke Book here. The Bible is, however, a book with funny parts. Perhaps none of it strikes you as particularly amusing, and I certainly can’t fault you for such a reading of it, but there are certain passages that can be humorous when viewed in a certain light. Take, for example, a scene from today’s chapter.
Welcome to the Sheep Chapter. Here, Jesus famously declares himself to be the good shepherd and develops the sheep-herding metaphor at length. I had forgotten that it continues directly from the previous chapter. I’d thought chapter 9 was the Man Blind from Birth Chapter, then the last verse of chapter 9, and scene, and then the curtain opens on a new section where Jesus teaches about his relationship to his sheep. But no! All this sheep talk comes hot on the heels of a handful of Pharisees asking Jesus if they are blind, and Jesus responding: yes. Yes, you are.
We all know we’re going to die someday, but life goes on. And in today’s chapter, although Jesus is well aware that he’ll meet an untimely end at the hands of his enemies and has said as much to the disciples, he goes on teaching and telling parables. Facing our limited lifespans has a way of making us prioritize what we do here on earth, but Jesus…kind of takes an interlude here to tell his disciples stuff about sheep and debts and stuff.
If you read through the Bible, there are at least three major themes that you’re likely to pick up on: 1) God loves human beings. 2) God hates it when human beings are cruel to each other. 3) The Biblical region of Lebanon was well-known for its cedars, whose wood was considered among the highest quality in the ancient world.
Today we’re back at it again at the Zechariah 10. You may recall Zechariah 9’s prophecy of the Messiah approaching Jerusalem while riding on a donkey. Zechariah 10 isn’t quite so overt, and I’m not sure if you could technically say it contains any Messianic prophecies, but it does seem to be relevant to Jesus’ ministry in how it discusses sheep and shepherds.
Psalm 23: a mainstay of everyone’s “favorite psalm” lists. Sometimes I have trouble going to sleep. My mind keeps thinking about everything under the sun, and it refuses to shut off. But when this happens, I often recite portions of Psalm 23 to calm myself down, notably the first three verses–which explains why I get rusty toward the end. But it works! The repetition helps keep my mind from running with no direction from problem to problem, anxiety to anxiety. It focuses my mind and calms it down so I can sleep.
You’ve probably already noticed: the Bible isn’t all ice cream and roller skates. To be honest, sometimes as I read and write for this blog, the chocolate I eat with it is the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. But this passage? This passage reads like a chocolate slab.