What if Bible stories were titled like those Facebook posts everyone shares?
“Boy gives bag lunch to religious vagabond. You’d be amazed at the response.”
“Widow gives last two pennies. You’ll never guess what happens next.”
“So-called healer abandons village of sick people, just to preach. Watch what happens three years later.”
“Prophet promises woman a son. Then son dies.”
They’d be great stories, right? Except the “what happens next” wouldn’t be up to Facebook sharing standards.
The kid’s lunch feeds thousands. Who then abandon Jesus when he quits feeding them. It feels like a big letdown.
The widow gives her money, and then what happens? Jesus noticed. That’s all. Nothing about the woman. Crickets. We have no clue what happened next. Did someone have mercy on her? Was she among the widows one story earlier that the teachers of the law were defrauding in court?
Jesus doesn’t go back to the village where he healed people. He keeps preaching. And eventually is killed.
Elisha heals the woman’s son. But then the family loses their land.
Bible stories are complicated. They don’t turn out the way we think they should. We’d rather watch the happen ending of the online video and wipe our tears away, than wrestle through the complexity of a God that doesn’t answer in the ways that make the most sense for good public relations.
In other words, the stories in the Bible are like life. In our lives the puppy isn’t always found, the job doesn’t fulfill, the marriage isn’t always Hallmark quality.
Kind of like Jonah’s story, ending with a question, not a simple answer.
“Visiting prophet complains about heat, huge vine appears. You have to see what happens next.”
Grieving mother pursues prophet.
Small village abandoned by Jesus.
Day after boring obedient day.