Breaking The Barrier

N. T. Wright provides a helpful illustration about the upside-down kingdom ethics, describing a dramatized movie about the test pilots who first broke the sound barrier, after many had failed before, their planes disintegrating in flight or crashing. He writes, “The controls, it seemed, refused to work properly once the plane came to the sound barrier. Finally, at the climax of the movie, another test pilot figured out what to do. It seemed that when the plane broke the sound barrier the controls began to work backwards. Pulling the stick to make the plane bring its nose up sent it downwards instead. Greatly daring, he flew to the same speed. At the critical moment, instead of pulling the stick back, he pushed it forwards. That would normally send the plane into a dive, but his hunch had been correct. The nose came up, and the plane flew on, fast and free, faster than anyone had travelled before.” While not historically accurate, “the story gives a graphic illustration of what Jesus is doing in these apparently simple words. He is taking the controls and making them work backwards” (Wright, Matthew for Everyone, Part 1, 35).