anxiety48 about necessities; God is trustworthy. Uncertainty in face of the fragility of human existence (Isa. 40.6-7) need not cause anxiety. The child can be confident in the face even of crisis; the father will sustain through the crisis. The King is also Father, and his kingly rule can already be experienced in the trustworthiness with which he provides for their needs.49
Such teaching should not be discounted as unrealistic in the face of the experience of famine and political crises which many of Jesus' audiences would well remember and could expect to confront again. Jesus himself would hardly have been unaware of such harsh realities, and many of those who cherished his teaching will no doubt have had all too much experience of hard times and personal distress. The teaching was valued, then, presumably, not because it inculcated a careless disregard for harsh reality, but because it encouraged trust in the providence of a caring Creator, the clarification of personal priorities (life itself [nepes, psyche] as more important than food and clothing), and the calm acceptance of what cannot be changed.51 Initially the imminence of the coming kingdom would have been the (or a) major factor in such a reordering of priorities. But the communities which cherished the teaching probably saw in it enduring encouragement to an unfretful faith for daily living (as Matt. 6.34 presumably implies), a tranquillity of trust even in the midst of stress and crisis. In neither case need (or should) an 'eschatological' (or apocalyptic) overtone be set in antithesis to a 'sapiential', as though the one excluded the other.
The Jesus Seminar were equally confident that this passage went back to Jesus (Funk, Five Gospels 172-73), whereas Ludemann ignores the close parallel with Matt. 6.26/Luke 12.24 in dismissing the whole of Matt. 10.27-33 as 'inauthentic as they derive from a later situation of the community stamped by persecution' (Jesus 169), in striking contrast to his judgment on the earlier Matthean passage (above, n. 45).
48. The key word is 'be anxious, (unduly) concerned' (used five times: Matt. 6.25, 27, 28, 31, 34). In this case Bultmann's existentialist reading captures the thrust of the passage well: a warning against the illusion that life can be somehow secured by worrying about the means of life (merimnao, TDNT4.591-93).
49. Becker, Jesus 268.
50. The thought is hardly new in Jewish tradition; e.g., Job 12.10; 38.41; Pss. 104; 147.9; Pss. Sol. 5.9-10 (Davies and Allison, Matthew 1.650). Jeremias notes the disapproval voiced in m. Ber. 5.3 of prayer which refers to God's mercies extending 'to a bird's nest' (Proclamation 182). But Davies and Allison note also m. Qidd. 4.14 (649). A similar confidence was encouraged among Cynics (Downing, Christ and the Cynics
51. 'You must see yourselves as human beings who stand in God's presence and are therefore more than the wretched needs that attack you' (Schottroff and Stegemann, Hope of the Poor 44).
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