Dave Brisbin 8.8.21
Have you ever thought of Jesus of Nazareth as a poet? I just asked a roomful of attendees on Sunday morning and got no takers. Truth is, we were not taught and don’t think of Jesus as poet. Jesus remains more or less an extension of ourselves: sharing enough of our values, attributes, and worldview to be comfortable. Truth is, Jesus was outrageously uncomfortable to his own people; how much more should he be to us?
The Sermon on the Mount, probably used as a catechism for the early church, reads almost as if in code to our ears. Illogical nonsense. Why? Because the Sermon is poetry and doesn’t play by literal, logical rules. And even if it’s not technically poetry, it functions as poetry just the same. Metaphor, symbolism, hyperbole, imagery, story, parable, unresolved paradox… Jesus is speaking as poet with the same mission as a poet: to point toward truth that can’t be directly uttered, to recreate sensations, evoke responses, and elicit the desire to engage our own experience, build our own conviction.