Thought for the week, 23 July 2017

by John Gray
Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it. (Matthew 13:17)

The casting of Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who was one of the big media excitements of last weekend. The announcement has—as far as my social media “bubble” allows me to tell—been largely received positively, but for a minority it appears to be an unwelcome change. It may be the end of a long legacy. It may be turning a world upside down or a journey into unknown territory—“it will never work”. It is common for people to have reservations about change in all spheres of life and to prefer continuity and though it's easy to be critical of the “stick-in-the-muds”, a belief in the tried-and-tested is pragmatic and logical. We know where we stand.

In his ministry Jesus upends legalistic thinking. Understanding the Kingdom of God takes priority over the books of law, however familiar that law may be to the hearers. The verses immediately before today's reading are a lament from Isaiah that the people's hearts are dull and that they have turned away from the healing truth of God. By contrast Jesus’s listeners have been presented with a great opportunity to hear the truth. In parables (and perhaps even in TV drama) what is more important than the form of the words is the deeper meaning of the message—we just need to have minds which are open to embracing it.