Holy Week: Fuzzy Wuzzy

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Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear.

Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair!

Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy, was he?

One of my favorite childhood memories is of my Grandpa singing this silly rhyme to us. Of course, what makes the poem funny is that Fuzzy Wuzzy was ironically misnamed. Perhaps “Baldy Waldy” would have been more appropriate, given his hair situation.

In Luke 20:1-8, Jesus is once again challenged by the religious leaders of his day, accused of practicing his ministry without authority from God. In their eyes, his name should not be “Messiah,” “Son of God,” or even “prophet” or “teacher” – for them, none of those names accurately describe Jesus.

Take a look at Jesus’ reply in Luke 20:9-18. He tells a story of some tenants who have leased a vineyard. When the owner sends a representative back to check on their progress, they beat him and cast him out. This happens several times. Finally, the owner sends his own son, thinking that they will recognize his authority as the heir. Instead, they decide to kill their only remaining rival. As one might expect, the vineyard owner responds by punishing the tenants severely, removing them from their position, and giving the care of the vineyard over to someone else.

Jesus’ parable is so shocking that even his enemies get caught up in the story. “Heaven forbid!” they exclaim – horrified at the behavior of these hypothetical tenants. Here Jesus has once again outfoxed his opposition. He delivers the final blow with the next sentence, quoting Psalm 118, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Immediately they realize what he has done. In marvelous story-telling fashion, he has drawn them into the story only to turn it back on them. They are the tenants that God has entrusted with his House. Yet their own history has shown a consistent rejection of God’s prophets. When he finally sends his own Son, one can expect that they will act as they have always done – they will have him killed. The motive: a desire to hold on to the temporary authority they’ve been given by Yahweh. When Jesus comes, their reaction is to first attack his credentials (his authority), and ultimately to seek his death. They will reject the most important part of the building – the Cornerstone.

Taken together, then, these passages are about a proper response to Jesus. He is God’s prophet, his Beloved Son, the Cornerstone. His rejection by his enemies continues the unexpected story of salvation – it doesn’t happen despite Jesus’ death, but because of it. As believers, we have a place in God’s household because Jesus is the (rejected) Cornerstone (Eph 2:19-21). And we are challenged to model Jesus, the one who has been given “the Name that is above every name” (Phil 2:9-10).

Dr. Holly Carey, Professor of Biblical Studies

God, thank you for your Son, who is the Cornerstone of our faith. Help us to be good stewards of the work that you’ve placed in our care. May we never become so consumed by our own achievements, abilities, or accolades that we lose sight of the centrality of His Name in our lives.