Mt 14:22-33

The Gospel reading from last Sunday in the Revised Common Lectionary Cycle (emphasis mine):

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Classic historical critical method points out that gospel stories that contain miraculous control over the forces of nature are retro-readings of the Risen Christ back into the life of (what we call) the historical Jesus.  While true, it somewhat misses the point (when read from a different perspective that is). 

As Ricoeur says, the world to be interested in in the Bible is front of the text not behind it (a la historical critical method).  So what is in front of this text–what world does it open up, what horizons appear and perhaps fuse or collide with our own previous horizons/prejudices?  That they worshipped him. 

The character of jesus in the Gospels is already a god.  The Son of God.  Again historically this is reconstructed as the later faith of the Christian Church read back into the life of Jesus.  [i.e. The assumption being they didn’t worship him as Lord during his life–an assumption that is not without critique if to use modern examples look at the way in which Sadhus, Swamis, and Gurus are treated as Lords on earth by their disciples]. 

But whatever the history (i.e. the look through the text with the ansewr assumed to be somewhere bakc behind it) the literature and the meditation (the world of the text in front of us) is one of adoration. 

The pages, the words that point to The Word, illuminate from within.  They reveal in front of us a world in which Jesus is worshipped as God.  The traditional mistake of Christian theology is to assume that is the only and/or the only religiously correct world (which need not be assumed in our cotnext) for the truth of the passage to hold. 

The world then that is opened in front of the text and before our eyes and souls is the question of what would happen to a life lived worshipping Jesus as Son of God?  i.e. Jesus as the Second God, i.e. as according to the logic of the story the final redemptive coming of YHWH, the Holy One of Israel.

To understand this logic, consider Psalm 102:

The nations will respect the reputation of the Lord,26

and all the kings of the earth will respect27 his splendor,

102:16 when the Lord rebuilds Zion,

and reveals his splendor,

102:17 when he responds to the prayer of the destitute,28

and does not reject29 their request.30

102:18 The account of his intervention31 will be recorded for future generations;

people yet to be born will praise the Lord.

102:19 For he will look down from his sanctuary above;32

from heaven the Lord will look toward earth,33

102:20 in order to hear the painful cries of the prisoners,

and to set free those condemned to die,34

The story in the Gospel of Luke of Jesus forgiving the criminal condemned to die and assuring him that he (the unnamed criminal) with enter life with Jesus after death is for the Gospels the fulfillment of this passage.  Looking thruogh the text to find the “truth” beyond the text (i.e. did this really happen) is to miss the reality of letting the text open up the world before you and walking in it. 

If you want to understand the Gospels, read the Psalms.  The Orthodox Tradition seems to understand this connection because of its tradition of singing the Gospel–the Gospel stories are more Psalmody (hymns of praise and lamentation) then anything else.

It is an invitation to another world (one of transcendence–expressed mythically as control over nature–in this world) rather than a problem that needs to be assessed and solved.

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