Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jesus' conversion experience?

There's an interesting post at Thinking Anglicans by Joe Cassidy, Principal, St Chad’s College - Was Jesus faking it?. Some of the comments to the post are pretty interesting too. Here's just the beginning of it ....

Was Jesus faking it?

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’s baptism is almost the start of the whole story. Brief, to the point, Jesus is baptised and he is the (only) one who sees the heavens open; he’s the one who hears the voice, ‘You are my son, the beloved’. Matthew, having done Theology 101, isn’t all that crazy about Jesus being baptised, and he depicts Jesus as virtually going through the motions ‘to fulfil all righteousness’. In Luke, again it is Jesus who hears the words addressed to him — though this time it is after his baptism, while he was praying: a sort of prayer experience. In John, it is the Baptist who attests to Jesus’s baptism.

All those differences aside, I’ve long wondered why Jesus queued up that day to be baptised. If Matthew is correct, how did he feel being the only one not repenting of anything? Or do we take the other accounts at face value? He got baptised: live with it.

Thirty years ago I wrote a brief article suggesting that Jesus could well have felt guilt for social sin, as anachronistic as it was to use that term in that context. But if he is as incarnate as we believe him to be, he would have been the product of a particular culture with all its insights and biases, some of which hurt people (Mark 7.27). He would have had to participate in an unjust socio-economic system - what other option did he have? And, without wishing to psychoanalyse him, he might naturally have felt, as a good Jew, a collective responsibility for the sin of his people. There were reasons to be in that queue .....


Blogger Deacon Denny said...

The Jews did have a greater awareness of social sin. One of the best examples was after the Resurrection, when Peter accosted the crowds, and accused them of crucifying Jesus. Well... the Romans crucified Jesus, or maybe the high priest and his cohorts... maybe a few of those in the crowd that day were also in the crowd that yelled for Jesus' blood, but mostly these folks would not have been guilty... and yet, they ACCEPTED their guilt, and sought baptism... 3000 that day. They felt partially to blame for his death, probably because their leaders acted "in their name."

Do we feel guilty about Iraq, Afghanistan? Hiroshima? Slavery? Stealing the land from the Native Americans? Hmmm...

I do like the idea the Jesus felt that it was important for him to seek Baptism.

8:54 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

I guess I do feel some social sin about the things you mention, I guess. A sort of inward cringe. My sister really felt that way about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki when she lived in Japan, she said.

10:55 PM  

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