Friday, March 29, 2013

Know Not

"Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

He could have been talking about the disciples.  How often, in the gospel narratives, are the disciples depicted as numbskulls who can’t seem to get anything right?  Jesus tells them to keep awake; they fall asleep.  Jesus tells Peter that he will deny him three times before the cock crows, and somehow Peter is shocked when the cock crows and, sure enough, he has denied Jesus three times.  It is a stark juxtaposition, just one chapter earlier in Luke’s gospel, when after arbitrating a dispute about greatness, Jesus confers on the disciples a kingdom and the right of judgment, only then to turn around and predict that Peter will deny him.

Jesus could also have been talking about me.  I would be the first to confess that I rarely ever have any clue as to what I am doing.  On my best days, I’m halfway decent at faking it.  This is because no two situations I may face in my life are ever identical, and there is always some level of experimentation in responding to the novelty of life.  Sometimes these experiments are successful; other times, not so much.  The only reason my life is not a complete disaster is that I try, as much as I can, to root my next decision in the best practices of the past, the successful experiments and not the failures. 

The Gospel of Luke is much more ambiguous about who Jesus is talking about.  Who are “they”?  Going back earlier in the gospel, “they” refers to a rather large and diverse cohort of subgroups: the disciples, the crowd who came to arrest Jesus, the council, Pilate and his court, Herod and his court, some soldiers, (presumably Roman), and a whole bunch of locals.  That’s a lot of clueless people, which makes me wonder if this particular word from the cross is not more a statement about humanity in general, than about the people who crucified Jesus in particular.

This word from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing,” is the most hopeful.  Yes, the next word is “Today you will be with me in paradise,” but that word is clearly directed to the penitent criminal.  This word is for all of us.  We are forgiven, despite the fact that we do not know what we are doing.  Forgiveness and salvation are not functions of knowledge, but rather free gifts in spite of a dearth of knowledge.

This is probably a frightening prospect for many of us in higher education, whose life work is the pursuit of knowledge.  Note that Jesus does not say that knowledge is a bad thing.  In fact, his word from the cross seems to presuppose that if we did know what we were doing, his own suffering could be avoided; there would be nothing to forgive.  But forgiveness is not doled out on the basis of knowledge.  Salvation does not come through gnosis.

Today, on Good Friday, the good news is that we are forgiven in spite of what we do and do not know.  Amen.
Good Friday 2013


oakleyses said...

gucci handbags, polo ralph lauren, louis vuitton outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet online, longchamp outlet, oakley sunglasses, polo outlet, nike free, louis vuitton outlet, prada handbags, kate spade outlet, prada outlet, ugg boots, christian louboutin, air max, tiffany and co, louboutin pas cher, louis vuitton, cheap oakley sunglasses, christian louboutin shoes, replica watches, replica watches, louis vuitton outlet, ray ban sunglasses, longchamp outlet, ugg boots, nike outlet, nike roshe, christian louboutin outlet, nike air max, tiffany jewelry, jordan pas cher, longchamp outlet, ray ban sunglasses, louis vuitton, longchamp pas cher, nike free run, jordan shoes, chanel handbags, michael kors pas cher, nike air max, ray ban sunglasses, uggs on sale, christian louboutin uk, oakley sunglasses, sac longchamp pas cher, oakley sunglasses, tory burch outlet, oakley sunglasses wholesale

oakleyses said...

uggs outlet, michael kors outlet online, vans pas cher, converse pas cher, mulberry uk, ray ban uk, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet online, nike free uk, sac vanessa bruno, coach outlet store online, replica handbags, michael kors, hollister pas cher, nike roshe run uk, polo lacoste, ray ban pas cher, michael kors outlet online, north face uk, oakley pas cher, nike air max, burberry outlet, true religion outlet, michael kors, north face, nike tn, lululemon canada, nike air max uk, nike air max uk, coach outlet, timberland pas cher, uggs outlet, michael kors outlet online, burberry handbags, hogan outlet, true religion outlet, true religion outlet, true religion jeans, ralph lauren uk, new balance, sac hermes, nike air force, michael kors outlet, guess pas cher, kate spade, nike blazer pas cher, hollister uk, abercrombie and fitch uk, michael kors outlet

oakleyses said...

ray ban, louboutin, nike roshe run, abercrombie and fitch, lancel, valentino shoes, reebok outlet, mont blanc pens, ralph lauren, nike trainers uk, bottega veneta, new balance shoes, nike air max, soccer shoes, beats by dre, mcm handbags, celine handbags, vans outlet, nike air max, p90x workout, chi flat iron, oakley, hollister, north face outlet, herve leger, longchamp uk, north face outlet, hollister, vans, instyler, timberland boots, hollister clothing, jimmy choo outlet, soccer jerseys, iphone cases, hermes belt, insanity workout, gucci, mac cosmetics, baseball bats, babyliss, nike huaraches, ghd hair, nfl jerseys, converse, wedding dresses, asics running shoes, converse outlet, lululemon, ferragamo shoes

oakleyses said...

moncler, links of london, juicy couture outlet, louis vuitton, montre pas cher, karen millen uk, ugg uk, moncler, supra shoes, canada goose, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, canada goose outlet, ugg pas cher, louis vuitton, canada goose, thomas sabo, moncler, canada goose outlet, pandora charms, coach outlet, canada goose uk, ugg, replica watches, pandora jewelry, hollister, canada goose outlet, swarovski crystal, canada goose jackets, moncler, pandora uk, moncler uk, moncler outlet, canada goose, juicy couture outlet, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, louis vuitton, doudoune moncler, marc jacobs, pandora jewelry, wedding dresses, louis vuitton, louis vuitton, swarovski, toms shoes, moncler outlet