I was watching the news this morning and heard attorney Alan Dershowitz refer to an investigation as a “legal colonoscopy.” If you’re like me, much of what I see and hear on any given news program easily rolls off my back. That phrase, however, caught my attention.
This was spoken on a day when there was a suspicious package (thought to be a bomb) was found in Texas, and a school shooting occurred in Maryland (no fatalities, fortunately). Dershowitz’s little quip could have slipped by without a thought, but these cleverly phrased remarks usually grab my ear, regardless of what else is going on.
The idea of a legal colonoscopy is an ear opener. Having had a literal colonoscopy a few years ago, the graphic nature of this jibe presented me with a mental picture I had a difficult time shaking. He was referring to an investigation of microbial proportions, and I immediately felt bad for the guy on the other end of the exploratory colonoscope. Apparently, in this case, jurisprudence was being a tad intrusive—overly so, in fact.
The Barristers of the Bible
Being a student of Scripture, this imagery immediately brought the Scribes and Pharisees to mind. These barristers of the Bible seemed to be about the business of legal colonoscopies themselves. This was particularly true when it came to their dealings with Jesus. They were constantly on his case, in his face, and up his…(well, you get the picture).
Their motives were rather clear. They didn’t like him. Not that they knew him, or anything. They just didn’t like what he stood for nor the threat that he posed to them. If his teachings were true, they would be out of a job—or at least undergo a tremendous loss of power and prestige. They were legalists, and he was… Well, let’s just say he was a free-Spirit. This was something that was certainly not to their liking.
If they were into anything, they were into having all their beliefs wrapped up into a tidy, little system of laws. They had a law for everything. Unfortunately, they also had a convenient way of getting around any law they didn’t want to follow at the time (usually by citing a different law). This is why Jesus often ranted at them and called them hypocrites.
Control as Much as You Can
They couldn’t abide by a guy who wanted to simply follow God’s Spirit and live by the law of love. That was way too messy for their thought processes. Too much of that was out of their control.
That, of course, might have been their biggest problem. Their prestige, power, and status were based on the fact that they had great knowledge concerning the laws of Moses. Consequently, the common folks felt inferior to them. Jesus had no such inferiority complex. Even worse, the common folks loved Jesus. This caused the Scribes and Pharisees to view him as a menace. Thus, legal colonoscopies were in order as far as they were concerned.
Apparently, things haven’t changed very much.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]