Here Jesus lays a pretty solid template for when we are faced with difficult discussions. Just war? Immigration? Abortion? Juvenile justice systems? Elections? Referendums? Love God, and love your neighbour.

The religious leaders of Jesus' day were a tricksy bunch. As experts in the Law, they knew the ins and outs of the Torah but, as can so often happen with us religious people, their fascination with the minutiae led them to miss the big picture.

Two key words tie together my thoughts on this passage – absurdity and abundance. 

The story is, in essence, a little bit absurd. There is a servant, who owes an amount so great that it is only through the selling of his own life and the lives of his family that the debt can be repaid.

Sometimes it’s the simple things we can overlook in a text. I’ve never thought to myself, “Why did Jesus ask the question of His disciples here in Caesarea Philippi?”. Feel free to (carefully!) google it — it was quite the place. 

I don’t like swimming in the sea… Or at least I didn’t. It’s a cold, miserable experience filled with seaweed and the constant fear of being washed away by walls of water that seems quite apathetic to the fact that I swim like a 6-month old chihuahua.

I never looked at the passage another way.  I only ever looked at it as a miracle of Jesus which it is but actually there is something even more we can get from it.  I would read this passage and feel like it's not attainable or even not let it sink into my brain or heart. 

This week’s lectionary reading has come back to me again and again over the past couple of years and I’ve found myself asking deeper questions than I did when I first read it as a child. Having grown up with the passage, I always took it as a comfort that, as I perform my role of sharing my faith with other people, I can’t take responsibility for what happens to the seed once it is sown.

It’s a shame that the whole chapter of Matthew 11 is not read in the lectionary because we see Jesus exclaiming how wonderful John the Baptist is.  He is lifting him up and, referring back to the Jewish Scriptures, showing the faithfulness of the Father once again. 

If you are someone who is keen to know what Jesus says you should say on such an evangelistic mission, you will be disappointed by this chapter. His advice, further back in the chapter is to proclaim that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” and then to do some healing and raising of the dead. 

There are a few statements in the Bible that we either take out of context or we just forget to read the rest of the statement. Like when we read Love your neighbour as yourself, we often just stop after neighbour and that can do a lot of damage.  Likewise, this passage can do the same if we don’t read it in its fullness.

It feels like a lot of my lectionary musings are rooted in ‘othering’, or more so, how to move away from ‘othering’. It’s probably a confession of sorts. Dare I say it speaks of something Holy Spirit has been working on inside of me.