It was way back in the very early 60’s when I first heard the story of the friends of a very ill man who was bedridden, tearing through a roof to lower the bedridden man down into the room below and at the feet of Jesus. This was a wanton act of vandalism that allowed these friends to get past the pressing crowds below place their bedridden friend at Christ’s feet and successfully ‘jump the queue’.
There are a few contradictions for the grown up to puzzle over in this account, and two of them I have already alluded to.
Should these friends be allowed to get away with destroying other people’s property? Is it the ‘done thing’ to deliberately gain an advantage over others by ‘jumping the queue’?
Whatever you might think about these questions, as a child I was filled with awe and indeed impressed by the friends determination and love for their friend.
But hidden in this story was a seed, a powerful force that has developed and grown. It has become both a thing of beauty and something that has got me into lots of trouble. It was that Jesus thinks it is okay to break the law in particular situations.
Whether that law is a social prohibition or a state law, be it an historic tradition or a paternal command, in some situations it appeared that it was okay with Jesus to be different.
This is a blog, and long blogs don’t get read by many today, so I need to keep this short so I am not going into the workings of my thinking here, and some of it may be flawed, but the general gist, the outline is clear I hope. My reading of ‘Situation Ethics by Joseph Fletcher, in my teens, helped a lot. Indeed the ‘conservative’ William Barclay’s complete inability to understand Fletcher also helped to focus my understanding too.
I found a lot of things about the stories we heard in Church and at ‘Sunday School’ about Jesus and Prophets and Kings very interesting, and a lot more interesting than the Janet and John stories at School, or the stories about Roderick the red pirate and Gregory the green pirate….