Wednesday, October 28, 2009

better understanding Scripture and Jesus

From chapter 3, "Stringing Pearls" in Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg.

Stringing pearls is a metaphor for the practice of Jewish rabbis bringing Scripture passages together which had common words. The passages were considered in their own context and then how they shed light on each other. Jesus used this and for us to begin to better study and understand Scripture, we need to learn to recognize it, and study accordingly.

I remember when I was a relatively young Christian engaged with an intelligent young man my age, over whether Jesus is Deity or not. He believed not, and I was trying to persuade him that Jesus is indeed God as well as human. I was probably using some conventional, popular evangelical ways of doing so, but did not get through to him. I wish I would have understood the truth which this chapter unfolds for us.

When it is realized all that "good shepherd" and "Son of Man" meant from the Hebrew/Aramaic Scripture, our Old Testament and Jesus' Bible, then we understand why Jesus' words were so powerful and scandalous to those who did not accept his message and mission. "Good shepherd" was an allusion to Ezekiel 34 where God says he will send a good shepherd to care for and lead his people, and judge the bad shepherds, or leaders of his people, in the process. And indeed will shepherd them himself. And "Son of Man" refers to Daniel 7 which Jesus quotes from during the trial to the Jewish religious leaders before his crucifixion. He is one like a son of man, which suggests this figure is more than human, and all peoples on earth worship him. And in Matthew 25, as the son of man, he separates the sheep from the goats, something ascribed to God, again in Ezekiel 34.

At Jesus' baptism we see passages from the Torah (Law or Teaching), Writings and the Prophets alluded to by the voice from heaven. So that Jesus is in effect called Messiah, Sacrificial Lamb, and Servant on whom the Spirit is so that he will bring God's good justice and reign to humankind and the earth.

This is a rich chapter. As true throughout this book, there is always something good for any serious Bible student, but one does not get bogged down or overwhelmed with too much. And good end notes for those who want to pursue further study. Along with good questions at the end of each chapter to stimulate further thinking or discussion in groups.

This chapter can help us better ponder and understand Scripture and Jesus' fulfillment of it as we learn more and more to read and see it as Jesus did. We then understand more clearly his claims and our place in his ongoing mission and work in the world today.

From any of you who read it, what stood out to you? And any thoughts on this from anyone?

Next week , chapter 4, "Following the Rabbi."


nAncY said...

i have to say that it really is a good book. i think that any believer can learn something from it.

glad that you are posting on it.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes. I think it helps us more than we might think, as we learn something of the way Jesus and the apostles approached their faith in their context. And then take from that for us today in our context.