I like reading varied translations of Scripture, just to get different takes on how a passage can be understood. Until recently, I’d never looked at The Message version. I’m sure there are some who shrink in horror from something so colloquial, but I stop and think: how might Jesus have come across to the people of His day? Could it be more like this?
For instance, here’s The Message from the gospel of Matthew, the 16th chapter—a quite familiar passage that’s one of my favorites no matter the translation. I found this rather refreshing:
Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat: I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is to to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?”
And then in chapter 18 of the same gospel, we get this:
Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.
But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time. Hard times are inevitable, but you don’t have to make it worse—and it’s doomsday to you if you do.
Sometimes I do smile at some of the colloquialisms used, but I am reading the Scripture with new eyes lately as I peruse this particular version. The goal is to communicate in language that modern-day Americans can grasp. I think this accomplishes that quite effectively.