I remember once finding a track of a live version of a song that I really like by one of my favorite bands. Live versions of songs aren’t always that enjoyable to me, but they do carry an intensity that is never fully captured in a recording session. Anyway, as I played the recording I found myself immediately disoriented. Instead of the opening I was accustomed to, the drum started hammering out a strange and unfamiliar syncopation. I assumed this was the end of another song and the one I expected would start soon, but to my great surprise, I realized that it was in fact the song I was looking for. The band had simply changed the rhythm which had the effect of reforming the melody. The lyrics, instead of being their normal staccato were drawn out in harmonies. It was the same song but it was presented completely differently that what I anticipated and had come to expect. The band had turned the song upside down for me and it was like hearing it all with fresh ears.
One thing that has characterized Jesus’ ministry as we’ve read about it in the gospel of Matthew is the unexpected way in which he takes the world and turns it upside down. Or, we really should say, right side up. Where all of the expectations and norms have pointed in one direction, Jesus comes along and turns the signs completely around. Like the band I mentioned – he played the right song, but in ways that nobody could have anticipated.