People Will Talk

This upcoming Sabbath, I have Sabbath school class [1], and the theme relates to the birth of Jesus Christ. There is a lot that can be said about this event [2], but today I would like to talk about one often underestimated aspect of the way Jesus Christ planned His birth, and that was the way in which He ensured that His life would be the subject of a great deal of gossip, as a way of allowing the gulf between appearance and reality to allow people to show their own true nature even as they often entirely misunderstood His. Jesus Christ could have planned a poster-perfect beginning that would not have lacked any sort of honor and respectability, but it would appear that He went out of His way to court the appearance of dishonor, and to bring honor to those thought dishonorable, as a way of showing an unexpected side to God’s workings with humanity.

One of the most striking aspects of the conception of Jesus Christ is the behavior of His mother upon finding out that she was pregnant, told in Luke 1:39-45: “Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.””

Here we see that as soon as she found out that she was pregnant, Mary went off to visit her cousin quite a bit far from her home in Galilee. There were at least a couple of reasons for her haste. For one, it was probably winter, and travel in the hill country of Judea is not easy. So, if she had by some chance some clear weather to make her trip, it would make sense for her to do it as quickly as possible so as not to be stranded along the way somewhere in either Samaria or Perea. There was, however, another reason that deserves mention, and that is the desire to avoid, at least for a time, the gossip of neighbors. We do not often think of the perfect Son of God and Lord of Lords as being the subject of nasty gossip, but with an unmarried (but engaged) mother who was probably somewhat young (given the custom of the time and place) and a legal father who was definitely not the actual father (even if he was a just man and not wishing to make a scene), some gossip was sadly pretty much inevitable.

We know this not merely from being somewhat cynical about human nature and the nature of gossiping busybodies, but because gossip about Jesus’ birth were still floating around thirty years or more after his birth, which meant that there was plenty of gossip around his hometown about his family situation. In John 8:37-41, in the midst of a serious argument, we see the following exchange: ““I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.””

Almost universally, the comment by the Jewish opponents that they had one Father, God (ironic, because that was Jesus’ Father) and that they were not born of fornication has been taken as a slur on Jesus’ parentage, the awareness that his birth was the subject of disrepute and social awkwardness for decades must have been quite a burden for Jesus Christ to bear. It is never easy, after all, to bear slander, especially when people use rumors and innuendo to cut someone down and show no interest in either correcting their false impressions or in gaining enough familiarity with the subject of their abuse to know when to shut their mouths and stop their biting tongues. It is little wonder that the Bible condemns backbiting and gossiping so often and so fiercely. Jesus Christ knows what it’s like to be the subject of the talk of the town, and seems at least somewhat consciously to have made it an option with the way He chose His life and family. And if Jesus, a being without sin or fault, can be the subject of decades of harsh and malicious rumormongering, than none of us is safe from that fate, try as we might.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/05/25/in-the-lions-den/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/the-handwritings-on-the-wall/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/built-to-last/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/i-love-to-be-the-underdog/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/young-samuel/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/a-virgin-shall-conceive/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/putting-the-saturn-back-in-saturnalia/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/you-cant-put-christ-back-where-he-never-was/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Christianity, Church of God, History, Love & Marriage, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to People Will Talk

  1. Pingback: Starting Off On The Right Foot | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Your Word Is A Lamp To My Feet And A Light To My Path | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Book Review: An Authentic Account of the Massacre of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, and Hyrum Smith, His Brother: Together with a Brief History of the Rise and Progress of Mormonism, and All the Circumstances Which Led to Their Death | Edge Induced Coh

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