A legendary shortcut

Aug 27 2020

There is a delightful legend in the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew. It comes from Jesus’ youth when he and his parents were fleeing from the land of Herod’s rule south to land of Egypt.

Now when they [Joseph, Mary, and the child Jesus] were journeying on, Joseph said to Jesus: ‘Lord, we are being roasted by this heat; if you agree, let us go alongside the sea, that we may be able to rest in the coastal towns.’ Jesus said to him: ‘Do not fear, Joseph; I will shorten your journey; what you were intending to traverse in the space of thirty days, you will complete in one day.’ And while they were speaking, behold they perceived already the mountains of Egypt and began to see its cities (Ps.-Mt. 22.1).**

Anyone who has been on a journey under adverse circumstances relates to Joseph’s plea.

Picture failed air conditioning on summer road trip or screaming child on airplane or rush hour gridlock. Oh, how nice it would be to have the relief of just thirty minutes compressed into one!

We need to pause at this point, however, and ask a question. Does Jesus break rules of time and space uniquely to bring relief? (Careful, think of Jesus’ compassion in feeding large crowds.)

Questions of authenticity surround every story about Jesus and cut to the heart of Jesus’ identity.

In the 8th or 9th century someone recorded this story about a legendary shortcut. I invite you to follow SpendaYearwithJesus and consider the questions and options for yourself.

** Wilhelm Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha, trans. R. McL. Wilson, Rev. ed., vol. 1, 2 vols. (Louisville/London: Westminster John Knox/James Clarke, 2003), 464.

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