Whatever else He was, Jesus was not a tax-evader. But while not actually cheating, He did find a dubious way of coming up with the necessary. As we saw in the previous post, he got Peter to find, in the mouth of a fish, a coin to cover both their tax-bills (Mt.17:27). OK, it’s a fish story. But it was meant to be taken seriously as proof of Jesus’ miraculous powers and His claims to be both the Messiah and the Son of God. The evangelist is affirming that it actually happened. Today’s believers cannot be let off the hook (!) by saying it was somehow allegorical, symbolic or whatever. But if it was meant to prove that Jesus was who He said He was, why the choreography, why the elaborate, surprising staging of an “event” to impress Peter and the rest of us ? It would have been equally effective had Jesus pulled the coin out from behind Peter’s ear . . .
In the same vein, I thought you might appreciate the ten following fish-stories (albeit fish-less) all from the first ten chapters of the Gospel of Mark. Pick the three you think are the hardest to believe and put their identifying numbers in a comment. If you pick the right ones (i.e. my choice) you win a plenary indulgence. (Protestants are forbidden to participate) :
1. Heaven opens up and a dove flies down and flutters over Jesus after His baptism by John (Mk.1:10).
2. Angels provide cave-service and take care of Jesus for forty days in the desert (Mk.1:13).
3. Demons are transferred from a possessed man into 2000 pigs which then plunge over a cliff and drown in the lake (Mk.5:13). (While one may wonder about the market for pork in Israel, now and then, there is no mention of reimbursement to the pig-farmer although we are told that he and his neighbors were not too happy and Jesus was “asked”, no doubt in no uncertain terms (“Hit the road, Jack” ?), to leave the area.
4. Jesus feels a force being drained from His body when a hemorrhaging woman was cured just by sneakingly touching His cloak (Mk.5:30).
5. Jesus walks on the lake, scaring the daylights out of His disciples out boating who thought He was a ghost (Mk.6:48-49).
6. Jesus pokes His finger into the ears of a deaf-mute and then puts a dob of His own saliva on the poor guy’s tongue – and bingo ! (Mk.7:33).
7. A blind man gets the same disgusting treatment on his eyes. Re-bingo ! (Mk.8:23).
8. Jesus is “transfigured”, His clothes become “whiter than white” (as later ads for detergent will say), and shoots the breeze with two dead biblical characters, Elias and Moses, all three covered by a talking cloud which says : “This is my beloved Son : listen to Him” (Mk.9:2-7).
9. Jesus, who had a soft spot for kids, cures a deaf and dumb child who since birth has been frothing at the mouth, rolling on the ground and throwing himself into fires and ponds, trying to kill himself (Mk.9:17-29).
10. At Jericho, famous for an earlier, noisier miracle (“when the walls came tumbling down”), Jesus restores sight to a blind beggar, who then becomes one of his followers (this Blog, did I tell you ?, now has forty-eight !) (Mk.10:46-52).
Find the right three (fish-stories not followers) and you not only win the plenary but get your name published world-wide in the best blog there is.