If Jesus Had Been Eugene Peterson

Members of the Sanhedrin,

I understand that the charges against me are quite serious. So I wanted to offer some clarifications and apologies for any confusion I may have caused. First, I want to remind you that I am absolutely 100% committed to every jot and tittle of the Law and the Prophets which I said very clearly in my Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:18). I realize that I also said a lot of hyperbolic things that might have been ill-advised. But I get so passionate sometimes. And most of my audience knew not to take them literally. Like who is actually going to rip out their eyeball if it causes them to sin?

So about those Sabbath healings… What the ruler of the synagogue in Capernaum said was absolutely valid. There are six days for healing and the Sabbath is for focusing on God’s glory. I understand now it’s very distracting and disruptive to the liturgy when I stop in the middle of my sermons and heal people. It’s because I’m a pastor and I forget the importance of our worship’s propriety sometimes. The way I rationalized it to myself was to say that God was being glorified all the more fully. It sure did seem to make the people praise God. But I put you in a very awkward position as the leaders who have to uphold the law; it made some of the people think that they had to choose between us. So for that I apologize. I shouldn’t have embarrassed you publicly every time you challenged me. You’re Israel’s leaders and you sit in Moses’ seat; you’ll notice that I am always careful to remind the people of these facts and to exhort them to do everything you tell them (Matthew 23:3).

Yes, I did go on a long rant one time that some of you may have interpreted as being directed at all of you. It was not my best moment. I was just really frustrated with the hypocrisy that a very small portion of our leadership exhibits (literally only a handful of people). I spoke in very general terms because I didn’t want to single anybody out. No, you’re not sons of hell or children of the devil. You’re not whitewashed tombs or broods of vipers. And it was ugly for me to say that you shut the door of heaven in people’s faces because you can’t get inside yourself. And yes, I realize it was immature potty humor for me to say that you swallow a camel and strain out a gnat, although I did giggle a little bit when I wrote that one.

I really do have good relationships with so many of you. I’ve eaten in your homes. And yes, I also regret that time that I ruined the reputation of Simon the Pharisee by letting a local prostitute give me an erotic foot massage and telling Simon that she was being a better host than he was at his own dinner party. I’d had a little bit too much wine that night. It was just that she had tears in her eyes when the whole room was glaring at her, so I didn’t have the heart to scold her for doing something that was of course completely socially inappropriate.

See, the problem is that I’m a pastor which means that I’m usually thinking about the people I’m serving and how I can inspire and encourage them so much that I forget to double-check everything I say and do with all the litmus tests you’ve set for us. It’s absolutely important that we have litmus tests for our orthodoxy. Otherwise we would be confused and lost like those worthless Samaritans. Oh and I shouldn’t have made the hero of my one parable a Samaritan. That was inexcusable. If I could tell it again, it would be about the overworked, misunderstood priest, the wise, boundary-setting Levite, and the generous, noble Sadducee who had time in his schedule (not because he wasn’t working hard) to help a man in need.

So please accept my retraction of anything I’ve said or done that has offended you personally or fallen outside of your understanding of orthodoxy. And now let me clarify the most controversial issue that has resulted in the most serious charge of blasphemy. I was asked a hypothetical question and I answered it a little bit too quickly without thinking because I’m not used to getting these kinds of questions. The next time someone asks me if I’m the son of God, I won’t say yes. I’ll say we are all God’s children. That’s not blasphemous, right? Please tell me that’s an acceptable way of saying it and if there’s a better way, then just give the wording I need to use. Thanks for hearing me out and if there’s any kind of sacrifice I can make at the temple or any other task I can do to fully appease your consciences, I will be happy to do whatever it is.

Your faithful servant,

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