Saying 98 / C

(98) Jesus said: The kingdom of the Father is like a man who wanted to kill a great man. He drew the sword in his house and drove it into the wall, that he might know that his hand would be strong. Then he slew the great man.

I picked this one because it’s so odd – I don’t understand what it’s supposed to mean, but here are some thoughrts …

* this reminds me of places in the canonical gospels where Jesus discusses the cost of discipleship … a dangerous and difficult undertaking must be seen for what it is and adequately prepared for … Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? – Luke 14:31

* Some commentators suggest that this is a story of an underdog who wishes to kill a bully, or a zealot who wishes to overturn Roman rule.

* Whatever the implied meaning, the fact that Jesus chose an example of a murder seems totally against the grain for one who asked people to forgive their enemies and turn the other cheek. It’s possible he did this for shock value … as in Luke 14:26 – “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. …. But my personal opinion is that the saying is likely not authentic.

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4 responses

  1. I feel pretty uncertain about this logion, too, Crystel. The first thing I noted about Thomas was the paucity of love in his gospel. The closest he got was to “love your brother”, which is not quite the same thing as loving your neighbor. The least we could say about Thomas is that he wouldn’t have made a good Quaker. Re authenticity my primary criterion has always been how consonant it is to the Great Commandment, described for us by Jesus.If we look at this logion like we do Jack and the Beanstalk, it becomes more meaningful:Leloup: the ‘man of power’ is the miserable old ego that we all carry around like Pilgrim’s burden. The wall is “the division that separates us from God and from each other. Piercing a hole in the wall, we can begin to open up a passage to the other side”.

  2. Hi Crystal,I posted on this same logion on 11/8/05 “Kill the Buddha”. I agree with Larry and Leloup: “the ‘man of power’ is the miserable old ego that we all carry around.” In this passage “his house” is likely the man’s very own body, where he must tear down his walls and tear out his false self in order to be free to enter the kingdom. So you see, it could be that the phrase “to kill” in this passage is not exactly murder that Jesus is recommending, at least not murder of another individual.I also agree with your attribution here of the cost of this sort of discipleship, that it is a dangerous and difficult undertaking.

  3. There is a canonical parallel to this one BTW:Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him.In other words — before you set out on the spiritual life — amke sure you’re committed to see it through — otherwise you’ll be in worse off shape than before you started.

  4. Larry – Jack and the Beanstalk :-). I don’t have trouble finding meaning in Thomas, but the meaning just doesn’t seem very “christian” to me.Meredith – I hate metaphors … in something as important as religion, I’d like people to say what they mean.David – yes, that’s the meaning I mainly got from this too.

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