A Jesus who Learns?

Today's Photo: "A View from a Desk"

The Gospel lesson for this week is from the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 7, verses 24-37. I encourage you to take a moment to read it. Here’s a link: Mark 7. I’ll warn you; it’s a little odd. A woman approaches Jesus and asks for help, and because she’s from a different religious background than Jesus (she’s not Jewish), he has strange words to say. Basically, he says, “Jewish people get help first. You can have the leftovers, if there are any.”

In the end, he helps the woman and heals her daughter. But see what I mean? Weird. A Jesus who says discriminating words to people who are different? That’s not a Jesus we like or are used to. Why is Jesus being odd again?

There are a few ways to read this text. Actually, there are an infinite number of ways to read the text. But I’ll just focus on two possibilities. Possibility #1) Jesus is testing the woman. He knows all along that he will heal the daughter, but he is testing her faith. Possibility #2) Jesus learns and develops a lot through the course of his life. This encounter is a major moment of teaching for Jesus; only the woman is the teacher, and Jesus is the student. Jesus is learning here that all people deserve God’s love and grace and healing touch.

I’m not sure exactly what to make of this Gospel lesson. At first, I didn’t like it. But then, I liked it a lot. I guess I love the idea of a Jesus who gets challenged, who grows, who develops over the years. It’s not like Jesus came out of Mary’s womb a fully-developed human, potty-trained and everything. He had to learn like we have to learn; he was human.

The Jesus in this gospel lesson possibly starts off with wrong perceptions about people who are different – but then his perceptions change when he actually has a close-up encounter with a woman who is not Jewish like him.

I think it’s all the more inspiring to imagine that this Jesus – this Jesus who develops and changes and maybe doesn’t know every single right answer all the time – that THIS Jesus still ends up being killed for being so radical in his outreach and his message. His journeys and the moments he spends with people like the woman in this gospel lesson – these experiences influence him so deeply, that he was willing to proclaim God’s love in a whole new way that made most people (especially powerful people) 100% uncomfortable. And he knew that, and he did it anyway.

Jesus stretches the wiring within my cranium all the time. And for this, I am so very thankful: a Savior who never ceases to surprise.

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