Saturday, June 28, 2008


I'll be preaching on Matthew a week from Sunday, and in preparation I've been reading some commentaries. One of the commentaries I've been reading is Stanley Hauerwas' commentary on Matthew, which has been a treat. As expected, Hauerwas has a way of telling the story "with" Matthew (as he puts is) that brings greater clarity to what Matthew writes. Particularly poignant was a quotation from Warren Carter, in which Carter says, "[The] divine presence is manifested in Jesus (Mt. 1:23; 28:20) and in the community committed to him (18:20). The revelation of God's presence in Jesus' conception and birth (Mt. 1:18-25) brings a violent response from one of the empire's vassal kings (Mt. 2). The scene's theme and vocabulary are reminiscent both of Pharaoh's opposition to Moses' freeing God's people from slavery in Egypt and of Jesus' crucifixion by the religion and political elite...The gospel tells a story of a prophetic figure who suffers the worst that the empire can do to him, execution by crucifixion. But his resurrection and subsequent coming in power expose the limits of Roman power. The gospel constructs an alternative world. It resists imperial claims. It refuses to recognize that the world has been ordered on these lines. It offers an alternative understanding of the world and human existence centered on God manifested in Jesus. It creates an alternative community and shapes an anti-imperial praxis." (38)

And additionally, one of my favorite quotations from Yoder, and one of the most radical things I have every read: "'Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?' 'Glory' here cannot mean the ascension, which has not been recounted yet, and in fact is not clearly described in Luke's Gospel at all, although we know from Acts that Luke knew the tradition. Might it not then mean (as with the concept of 'exaltation' in John's Gospel) that the cross itself is seen as fulfilling the kingdom promise? Here at the cross is the man who loves enemies, the man whose righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees, who being rich became poor, who gives his robe to those who took his cloak, who prays for those who despitefully use him. The cross is not a detour or a hurdle on the way to the kingdom, nor is it even the way to the kingdom; it is the kingdom come." (51)

O' what unfathomable mystery has been made manifest...

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