More like Jesus: Faithfulness

Our associate vicar, Jenny Dawkins, looks into God’s faithfulness and how we can reflect it.

6 comments

  1. Mark Downham says:

    If they knew why there was a wailing and gnashing of teeth in Marthew 24:51- because even their humanity has been stripped away and they have become brutes – they would immediately let go of that Liberal Progressive agenda and become very Gospel focused….it is amazing the things people will trade their humanity for….

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Mark – thanks for commenting. In Matthew 24.51, we see how an unfaithful servant is condemned (the “wailing and gnashing of teeth”) because he has failed to look after the needs of his fellow servants – “to give them their food at the proper time” (v45). The way I read this, it is the unfaithful servant who has ceased to see the humanity of his fellow servants, and instead begun to abuse his power over them. As I mentioned in the sermon, this is not the only time Jesus brings this to light! It echoes very strongly with what he says elsewhere – that those with power must use it in a Christ-like way, becoming the servant of all. The gospel turns power on its head, as we follow Christ who, being in very nature God, didn’t consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant. Perhaps Jesus is showing us that the more we cling to power and abuse it, the more we ‘trade our humanity’ for something else – if we follow his ways of sacrificial love, this is how we become more and more human.

  2. Mark Downham says:

    Jenny I am aware of a hermeneutical treatment predicated on Servant Leadership but you will find through an intensive exegetical reading on “wailing and gnashing of teeth” in the Gospels that it includes all those “outside the gates” listed in
    Revelation 22:15 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

    15 [But] without are the dogs and those who practice sorceries (magic arts) and impurity [the lewd, adulterers] and the murderers and idolaters and everyone who loves and deals in falsehood (untruth, error, deception, cheating).

    If it was merely a case of abuse of power and a social gospel based on the subversion of the abuse of power then naturally it would be welcomed by liberal progressive tendencies – however that reading is insufficient.

    • Jenny says:

      This is interesting. I wonder if those of us who are privileged to live in a time and situation when we are not often abused can see ‘the abuse of power’ and Christ’s giving up of/subversion of his power as something peripheral (if I am interpreting your ‘merely’ fairly?) to the gospel rather than central to it. The early church hymn that I quoted above, in Philippians 2, suggests that the early church, whose experience of receiving oppression and abuse by powerful people was much more real and immediate than mine, saw this as a key part of understanding who Christ was and what he did.

      As I said in my comment below, unfortunately I can’t really engage online again until later in the week, although I do think it is good to chew over texts as a community. But I am really open to taking this conversation further in person when there’s a good opportunity.

      Hoping that your week has started well.
      jenny

  3. Mark Downham says:

    The stafement the servant is reduced simpy to a ‘gnashing and wailing of teeth” because of an abuse of power is incorrect. Matthew 24;51 states He will cut him to pieces and then assign him a place with the hypocrites (cf. Revelation 22:15), where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    You have to understand the difference between an erhical discourse and an eschatological discourse in rhe parabolic structure of the narrative in Matthew 24:45 – 51.

    • Jenny says:

      Hi there – ah, please forgive the shorthand – I was just quoting ‘wailing and gnashing of teeth’ to allude to the whole verse.

      You’re right, this is absolutely part of Jesus’ eschatological teaching. Within these two chapters in Matthew, he is giving his hearers a way of seeing the whole of history – when will the master, or the king, or the son of man return?

      If I understand your last sentence correctly, I think where I see things differently from you is that there isn’t a division between eschatology and ethics in this parable, nor in the context in which they sit. Rather, in these parables, one after the other, Jesus brings together eschatology and ethics – the master, or the king, or the son of man is returning – and – the key question – what will he find when he returns? This section of teaching concludes with the sheep and the goats – an eschatological vision Jesus gives, when the returning king or son of man makes a clear separation based on the behaviour, or ethics, of his followers. I was hungry – did you feed me? etc.

      And in this is our great hope! Jesus, the just and peaceful king and master, is returning – he is faithful to his promises.

      I do enjoy a good discussion about the bible but I’m aware that online isn’t always the best way of having a conversation of this kind – and unfortunately I won’t have proper time to engage online about this until later in the week. I’m really happy to follow up in person when I see you at church!

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