Even if you’re not a follower of Jesus, you may have heard some familiar Bible stories – Daniel in the lion’s den…David and Goliath…Jonah…and, during this season, stories of Mary and Joseph and their baby Jesus, the shepherds, and the wisemen.
We know the outlines of the stories; we may even know how the Bible tells them. But I think the Bible does us a disservice in how it tells them sometimes.
Because most of the time, once God (or an angelic messenger) gives someone a message, they tend to respond positively without any questioning. Really?
I don’t know about you, but I think if I were the person involved in some of these stories, my reactions might have been quite different! How, you ask?
Daniel: Okay, God, I know I said I would worship only you–and I still mean it. But I wasn’t counting on it involving lions! Yes, I know you promise to protect those who follow you; I sure hope that promise is still true!
David: What did I get myself into, God? Was I just boasting? or did you really call me to say what I did? Am I crazy to think that I can take care of this guy Goliath with just my slingshot? Saul offered me his armor, but it was way too big. So I’m on my way–and I’m counting on you to make my slingshot fly true like it does with the lions in the field.
Mary: Who did you say you were? Gabriel? and you came from God? You’re telling me what?!? That I’m going to have a baby? You’ve got to be nuts! Yes, I’m engaged to Joseph, but we haven’t slept together, so how can I be pregnant? And if he decides to break our engagement, then what am I supposed to do? You do know what I’d be facing, don’t you? Shame at the best…stoning at the worst.
Joseph: What am I going to do now? You’re telling me that Mary’s pregnant? It’s sure not my baby! Huh, she’s carrying God’s son? Are you kidding? How is that even possible? Maybe I can break our engagement quietly so that I don’t have to be laughed at…and she can may quietly just leave town to go visit some relatives. She is a sweet girl. I just don’t know if I can go through with our marriage after this.
Jonah is the only one I can think of who responded in what I would consider a “normal” way. When God told him to go preach to Nineveh, he didn’t want to–and ran as far as he could in the opposite direction!
What if we did know “the rest of the story” (as Paul Harvey used to say)? Would we be more likely to feel like the biblical characters were real people? Could we relate to them better?
I think so. But the biblical writers didn’t give us that information…so we just have to imagine it ourselves!