So many of our usual assumptions are challenged or even destroyed in this half of chapter of Matthew’s gospel. Having heard the story so often, it’s hard to understand just how unexpected this story is.
Heroes aren’t tortured and killed (v2)
Religious leaders are not villains (v4)
Money is to be spent to better the world, not for frivolous ceremony (v.9)
Poverty is fixable (v11)
Disciples are not betrayers (v15)
Free will and predestination are opposites and mutually exclusive (v24)
The story of Jesus regularly challenges our assumptions. Which should lead us to ask not about the veracity of the story but of the reality of those assumptions. Because too often we let our assumptions about the world override Jesus’ story, His Word, and even His commands to us. We justify the bible, we explain away elements of the gospel story, and we ignore His commands because, well, things just don’t work that way. A loving God would never tell me to endanger my family by giving away all I have to the poor. If enough people say something, it must be true, especially if it’s said on Facebook! Jesus must want me to be happy and comfortable or He wouldn’t have given me all I have.
But when God’s commands to us conflict with “what we’ve always known”, we need to side with God’s commands. Seldom does He call us to something expected or easy.