Sunday, October 07, 2007

Jesus’ Lethal Love for the Lame

"Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame" (Luke 14:21). With these words Jesus reached the apex of his parable on the Kingdom of God as a banquet. He was responding specifically to a Pharisee who asked about the Messianic banquet in the Last Days. Apparently Jesus' parable expressed itself in his praxis so that the literal blind and lame sought his healing at the very gates of the Temple from which they were excluded (Matt 21:14–15). Now most of us will say, "Now isn't that nice—Jesus incorporated the marginalized and offered them a seat at the table." In actuality, it was not nice, it was socially subversive. You see, Jesus is not merely offering them a seat; he is offering them somebody else's seat: "I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet" (Luke 14:24). To make matters worse, this offer was against every Jewish expectation for the lame and the blind. Leviticus rejects the blind and lame from the Priesthood (21:18) and Kind David used the epitaph 'lame and blind' to describe his enemies (2 Sam 5:8). In Qumran the blind and lame were excluded from fighting in the eschatological battle because they were unclean (1QM 7:4). For the same reason they were excluded from the Messianic banquet: "Every person smitten…in his feet or hands, lame or blind or deaf…let these persons not enter…" (1 QSa 2:3–7).

The Jewish view of the lame could not be clearer than in the Targumim (Aramaic interpretive paraphrases of the OT). Three times the OT prophets promised healing and inclusion to the lame: "I will save the lame and gather the outcast" (Zeph 3:19); "Then shall the lame man leap like a dear" (Isa 35:6); and "I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away, and those whom I have afflicted; and the lame I will make a remnant" (Micah 4:6–8). The Targumim, however, replace the word 'lame' with the word 'exile' so as to apply the promise to the Diaspora Jews rather than to the literal lame who remained marginalized under the cloud of uncleanness and God's curse. Jesus, in the most striking contrast, not only included the lame, but seated them at the head of the parabolic banquet. Is it any wonder, with such social subversion, that his life was in jeopardy long before his 'triumphal' entrance into the capital city?

3 Comments:

Blogger Tyler Stewart said...

Mark,
Your observation that Jesus not only offered the blind a lame a seat but offered them someone else's seat seems key to the story Jesus is telling, but I never picked up on it. Thanks for "opening my eyes."

October 30, 2007 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger Amy Storms said...

Mark Moore! I've waited 13 years to say this back to you: BLAH BLAH BLAH. :)

November 4, 2007 at 10:02 PM  
Blogger Mark Moore said...

Amy, I love you more than ever ... or whatever.

November 6, 2007 at 6:49 AM  

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