A great quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship:
Discipleship means adherence to Christ, and, because Christ is the object of that adherence, it must take the form of discipleship. An abstract Christology, a doctrinal system, a general religious knowledge on the subject of grace or on the forgiveness of sins, render discipleship superfluous, and in fact they positively exclude any idea of discipleship whatever, and are essentially inimical to the whole conception of following Christ. With an abstract idea it is possible to enter into a relation of formal knowledge, to become enthusiastic about it, and perhaps even to put it into practice; but it can never be followed in personal obedience. Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, 1937, (New York: Touchstone, 1995), p. 59.
I think sometimes preachers, commentators, and theologians give in too easily to the temptation to get behind the story of Jesus rather than reading it for what it is . The way the story is told cues us to the meaning the gospel writers saw in the story. It is story-telling that we encounter in the Gospels, not some kind of scientific history writing. The story has a point. That’s why the gospel writers tell it.
In addition, people often too quickly attempt to harmonize and explain. And, I think the temptation is strong in this passage. (more…)