“Someone in the crowd said to Jesus…”
Someone in the crowd. That’s our first indication that things are not off to a great start in our passage from Luke today.
Throughout the gospels, “the crowd” is often a code word that stands for “people who don’t get it.”
(I would love to teach a class that traces the experience of “the crowd” through the entire gospel narrative, right up to Palm Sunday and beyond.)
But anyway, we know from the beginning that this person who is questioning Jesus is probably going to be off track. And he is.
Following up on our sibling rivalry conversation from a couple of weeks ago, we have a person angry with his brother. “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”
But Jesus is not having it.
“Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?”
Now this is one of the most fascinating of the Questions of Jesus, another really interesting way to trace our way through the gospels. Jesus asks 307 questions and only answers 3. It’s worth wondering what he’s asking you, today.
But this question in particular, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” puts a major chunk of Christian orthodoxy in a bit of a pickle.
It is a foundation stone of orthodox theology all the way back to Nicaea and beyond that Christ is our Eternal Judge.
At the Last Day we will stand before him and be divided as sheep and goats if the Church Fathers are to be believed.
And to be fair, there is ample scriptural evidence for Christ as Judge.
But here Jesus tells us directly that he is not here to judge us.Continue reading