The Way Jesus Talks

“A reed shaken in the wind” — this image is something I think of often. In Matthew 11 and Luke 7, Jesus turns to the crowds and questions them about their expectation of John the Baptist.

It’s a rhetorical question that seems to be asked with some fervor and a little push: “What did you go to see?! Huh? Tell me! Did you go to see a stick shaking in the wind?”

Scholars are all over the place on exactly what context makes the most sense of that imagery. I often think of it when I see those flapping, Gumby-like, plastic blow-up creatures outside cell phone stores and used car lots.

It is significant to me that Jesus used imagery like this. It says something about Jesus that I love. He could have spoken more concretely and directly, but he didn’t. The scene has always seemed to me sort of tense and emotion filled. Jesus could have been that boring, emotionless, eternally calm person that we so frequently see in Jesus films. But he wasn’t, thank God.

I don’t know how to propery speak of the “reed shaken in the wind” imagery, but it strikes me as sarcastic and something of an overstatement. It’s yet another comforting reminder that Jesus is human through and through. Even his figures of speech remind us that he can relate.