To the extent that the Old Testament repeatedly hammers the worship of idols, it’s understandable why so many are quick to dismiss its relevance. These days, most people understand that the many statues of the ancient gods are just statues, hunks of stone fashioned and shaped to reflect the human imagination. In Paul’s own words, “We all know that there is no such thing as an idol.” (1 Corinthians 8:4) But if we all know that this is true, Paul continues, why do the Corinthians persist in the worship of idols?
In the Bible, idolatry pertains not just to power, but to the power we give ourselves through our loyalties. We choose to follow people and ideas that we believe will benefit us. When someone looks at the person or object they choose to follow, they see their needs and wants fulfilled. Likewise, when someone looks at an idol, in the absence of a written text, all they can hear is the faint echo of their own ego. For the biblical writers, to gaze affectionately at a statue is to join Narcissus by the pool, staring into the abyss of our own reflection.
So powerful and attractive is this hoax, that we eagerly give authority to people and things that are ultimately harmful. We look to a strongman and feel strong, because we trust that he will smash our enemies. We look to our captor and feel safe, because we decide that following him is our safest bet. We even delude ourselves that such a person is our friend. That’s why, in the Old Testament, the people of Israel repeatedly chase after other kings and other gods. It’s also why, when confronted with Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, “the chief priests with the elders and scribes and the whole Council,” look not to Scripture, but to Caesar for justice.
Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 15:1-5.
Episode 204 Mark 15:1-5; Subscribe: http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature; “Immersed” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com (http://incompetech.com/)) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/