Psalm 119:145-167; II Samuel 18:19-33; Acts 23:23-35; Mark 12:13-27
Tests, tests, tests. They keep throwing hypotheticals at Him…”now, what if THIS were the case?…yes, but have You thought about…” There are two good reasons to test people. One is to make sure they are who they say they are–when someone says she’s an expert in crochet, you have every right to ask to see some examples before plunking down $2 million for a custom-crocheted all-alpaca luxury glamping tent compound. The other reason is to make sure they aren’t who you’re afraid they might be–which is what’s going on here. There’s a nagging little voice at the back of their minds that this unexpected Rabbi with His unexpected and fresh perspective on the Law and the Prophets might just be exactly Who He claims to be. And because He’s unexpected, and colors outside the lines, that’s a dangerous possibility for those who’ve spent their lives winning at a rigged game. So test, test, test–and maybe He’ll be tripped up in public, and we can all breathe easy again.
Ever find yourself in a situation where you had that nagging feeling at the back of your mind that things were exactly what they appear, but they aren’t in your favor? So you poke and prod and try every which way to persuade yourself, and everyone else, that the evidence in front of your eyes is not at all what it seems. The entire country seems to be trying this strategy out just now. If I just throw some theoreticals at the images on the morning news, perhaps they’ll melt into something other than what they manifestly are, which isn’t in my favor. So test, test, test.
It’s okay to make sure that people are who they say they are, that the facts are in fact what are claimed. But it’s quite a different thing indeed to keep questioning what’s inconvenient in order to call its credentials into doubt. So, if you find yourself lobbing ever more theoretical “yes, but what if…” questions at the reality in front of your face, ask yourself which side of this morning’s Gospel story you’re a part of.