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My brother was notoriously untidy. He would clean his room only under threat. He had comic books knee deep in his room and distinguishing between clean clothes that mom had left on his bed and his dirty clothes was impossible, for in the end, everything was mixed together. It was not uncommon to hear mom calling out to him, “Peter, get in here right this second! This room looks like a pig sty. Clean it up right this second. If it’s not clean by lunch time, I’m telling your father.”
As a young boy, I never gave mom’s complaints much of a second thought. She was right. His room was gross. I didn’t like having to go in there. It was consistently a terrible mess. But then on our annual summer visit to the farm, and having been given the responsibility to feed the animals, I got to see the pig sty, up close and personal. It was so disgusting as to make one gag. Clearly, as much as she was right was Peter’s room being a mess, it was not a “pig sty.”
This week, we explore Jesus use of hyperbole, (which theologian Karoline Lewis describes as intentional overstatement “whose function is to magnify what’s at stake,”) and particularly what that means for us today.