Okay, so I was reading late last night and came across three passages that I found some humor in:
Matthew 17:22-23 has Jesus and the disciples together. Jesus has just finished talking about why they couldn’t help out a demon possessed man and now they are in Galilee for this brief interchange. Jesus says, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.” Okay, go with me here. So if you are head-over-heels about someone that you think is going to lead your people into their rightful place in the world says this to you, and you don’t have a clue what it means, what is your response? Lots of questions, right? Not so with these disciples. Matthew, the writer of this gospel, simply says this: “And they were deeply distressed.” The next verse reads, “When they came to Capernaum…”. I mean, seriously, was Matthew that hard pressed to make sure his audience knew that Jesus was aware of what was going to happen to Him? That is not the only time Matthew throws this foreknowledge in, but it is the only time where he leaves the disciples’ response to “and they were deeply distressed.” That is funny, people… well, to me it was late last night.
Second, the passage right after this is where Jesus has Peter go to get the drachma tax out of a fish that he catches. But it is not so simple as we have been lead to understand. So here is the story, Peter is headed to where Jesus is hanging out. On his way there the tax collectors ask him if his teacher pays the double drachma tax? Peter says, “Yes”. Once Jesus hooks up with Peter at the house he asks him a little about the encounter and then tells Peter, “But, so we won’t offend them, go to the sea, cast in a fishhook, and catch the first fish that comes up. When you open its mouth you’ll find a coin. Take it and give it to them for Me and you.”
Did you see the humor in this story? Let me show it to you. So Peter is not just supposed to catch any fish, nor is he to open the mouth of whatever fish he first CATCHES, but the instructions he has been given are to open the mouth of the first fish he sees (that comes up) using a line and hook. It still doesn’t sound funny, does it? Picture Peter going to the shore line and casting in his hook. A fish comes over that he sees (the fish with the supposed coin in it) and Peter is thinking, “Wow, this was easy.” But then another fish comes over to check out the hook. Now Peter is keeping track of two fish and trying to make sure he catches the right one. Hold your horses though, now a third fish comes over to see what the fuss is about. “Hey Bill, what you guys looking at?”, says Ted the third fish. Steve, the second fish replies, “some guy just threw a hook in to catch one of us, what an idiot, like we can’t see him standing up there.” Ted the third fish says, “What’s up with Bill?”. Steve the second fish replies, “He has something in his mouth that he can’t get out and he is thinking about getting hooked to see if this idiot human can help him out.” Now you see the humor, right?
Okay, now for story number three, and this one is more serious, and never focused on by any preacher that I know of because we always think of the disciples as fairly upstanding men who had their faults, but not so severely as this.
Let’s go to Matthew 19 where Jesus is being questioned about divorce legality and God’s commands surrounding it. Jesus sums up his argument this way: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, man must not separate.”
Well, the Pharisees (the legal religious guys of the day) pull out the Moses card and says something to the effect of, “Well, why did Moses permit us to do so?” To which Jesus replies, “Because of the hardness of your hearts.” Furthermore, Jesus states, “Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Here come those witty disciples again. They say, “If the relationship of a man with is wife is like this, it’s better not to marry!” (and I didn’t add the exclamation point) Never mind what Jesus says in response to this, which is a very hard and callous teaching indeed. Consider for a moment what the disciples are actually saying. Let me interpret for you so we aren’t here all day. “If we can’t divorce our wives as we see fit then it is better not to marry at all.” Another interpretation might read, “I am going to divorce my wife and be in sin anyway so I might as well not marry and fornicate with whoever I want and be in sin without all the hassle of marriage.” Wow, this is coming from Jesus’ disciples. I am not finished with the humor though.
Look at the start of Jesus’ response in verse 11. But He told them, “Not everyone can accept this saying, but only those it has been given to…” When I read this in light of the humor above I thought about Western civilization. Look at history and you will see that most societies permitted either divorce and/or multiple marriages up until Western civilization took off. So I guess we are the ones Jesus is referring to with regards to who can accept this saying, even though our society today is struggling with the covenant of marriage and divorce is rampant even within the church. Maybe we all should become eunuchs (Matt. 19:12).