What Would a Woke Christian Do (WWWCD)?

Is it just I, or do the times when Jesus ministered seem very different from ours?

5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

7Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

Jesus Heals Many

14 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. (Matthew 8)

First, we have a centurion with a servant who boasts that he has authority to boss people around. Does that put Jesus off? No. Instead, he marvels at the centurion’s faith.

Would a social justice warrior be so insensitive to the power relationships, the intersectionality, that pervaded Roman society and that assumed a high ranking military official should have servants and bark orders at them?

Or how about Peter’s mother-in-law (leaving aside that the first pope was married)? Yes, it’s a genuine act of kindness for Jesus to heal the woman without being asked. But what’s up with Peter’s mother-in-law feeling the need to wait on Jesus as soon as she recovered? Why not tell Peter, who later had to learn to feed sheep, to feed his Lord?

Or maybe our standards of equality, justice, politeness, and social rank are not the Lord’s.

Two-Kingdom Tuesday: Making Luther Safe for the Baylys

One of the advantages of the holiday season is the excuse it gives for reading Protestants who follow the church calendar – in this case, Martin Luther. The Martin Luther Christmas Book is a wonderfully good read any time of the year, but since sermons, songs, and church events keep reminding us of the nativity passages in Scripture, curiosity should send us to older Protestant divines to compare their exposition to our Protestant ministers. This little book, based on Luther’s sermons from Luke, provides reminders of the original Protestant’s great sensitivity in reading Scripture. (Don’t let the title put you off even if it sounds like a promotion for the Dean Martin Little Book of Christmas Carols.)

An added bonus for culture warriors is the lessons that Luther drew from the example of Mary for contemporary Christian women. Keeping them bare-foot and pregnant may not be the best way of putting it. But if anti-feminazi Presbyterians would only spend time with real two-kingdom theology, rather than its mythological implications, they might recognize kindred spirits.

The following comes from “Visitation”:

We observe that [Mary] went by the hill country, not by the plain. The journey would take her all of three days. We do not know the precise destination, for although Zacharias was a priest, he was not under the necessity of residing in Jerusalem. He was a poor priest, and we are not to think of Elisabeth as in much more exalted station than Mary.

The Evangelist Luke advisedly inserted those words “with haste.” He meant that she did not stop every five paces to strike up a conversation, as do so many of our maids and matrons. He knew the ways of women and did not wish to give them any handle for justification from the example of Mary.

He meant to say that Mary was like a maid who sees and hears nothing save the commands of her mistress, or like a housewife who does not loiter here and there to chat. The mother of our Lord was no gossip. She went with haste. And that means, too, that she did not act like a pilgrim but circumspectly. The women, therefore, have no warrant for saying, “why should not we go hiking, seeing that Mary went over the hill country and she a virgin?” Yes, but Mary had the command of an angel and she went with haste. You have no command to do as you please. Mary was full of faith, love, and modesty. . . (p. 27)