Jesus as the great iconoclast seems to be a recurring theme recently in passages I have read. I’ve always been perplexed by the story in Luke’s gospel where Jesus reads from the Isaiah scroll and the members of the synagogue then attempt to throw him off a cliff for it. Interestingly, as I was reading through Luke and stopping to focus on this story, I concurrently came to a chapter in Kenneth Bailey’s brilliant book, ‘Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes’, that deals with this confusing portion of text.
In his spiritual and ethnographic account of being a missionary to African Masai tribes in the 1960’s, Vincent Donovan writes of a surprising encounter with a Masai leader (Christianity Rediscovered, ch 4). Vincent begins his outreach to the Masai quite sincerely, by bringing up various spiritual themes and asking the people their opinion. During his first week with the Masai, he asks what they think about God (God was not a foreign concept to the Masai, they already believed in a supreme deity). “If I ever run into God, I will put a spear through him,” says one elder. As different as the Masai are from Westerners today, this sentiment toward God is surprisingly similar to our own reaction toward God when faced with mounting suffering.