Next week we begin a study of Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg's book, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith. We will take a chapter at a time each week, but may remain in a chapter more than one week, as I want to keep these posts as short as possible. We certainly can't cover every detail of the entire book.
What I like about this book is that it opens up for us a world that we little know and understand. At least a few of us have heard somewhere that there is now a scholarly consensus that the New Testament in our Bibles, including the gospels (Matthew through John), and Paul's writings along with the rest are basically and essentially Jewish to the core. The way we can best understand them is through the Jewish world they lived in, including the Jewish Scriptures (our Old Testament) that they were steeped in.
What I also like about the book is its emphasis on putting the truth we learn from this and from Jesus from our minds to our hearts and feet (lives). This can help us not only appreciate the Old Testament anew and afresh, but better enter into the world of the New Testament and see it more clearly.
In going through 1 John recently (and this is evident in James as well, which I'm in now) one of the things that struck me (and is also evident in the gospel of John) is the emphasis on God's commands, and in the importance of keeping them. In our Christian heritage I have frankly found and still find that grace means to many that we're always going to fall short of keeping God's commands. Or at least that this should not be the focus of our lives, but rather of God's forgiveness to us in Christ and our hope of complete change in the life to come. Good, but Scripture holds up more for us in this life.
This thought to me is surely at least in part a byproduct of having read and reread this book about the Jewishness of our faith. Keeping/obeying God's commands is central to our existence as God's people in this world. It's not that we're going to do so perfectly, or that we will be sinless, but by God's Spirit we will be working out this salvation we have in Jesus with fear and trembling, from God's work in us.
Certainly command keeping as part of what is important for us in the life in Jesus will keep us humble, yet pursuing and pressing on to God's highest for us individually and together in Jesus and for our witness to the world.
Do you have a copy of this book? Even if you can't get access to one, please follow along in our study. I think it will be fun as well as challenging in a way that won't leave us the same afterwards as we encounter God through his word to us in Jesus.
What thoughts would you like to add here?