Last night I had a wonderful opportunity to speak to a church in Little Rock. It’s a new home-style church, filled with a young, diverse, and forward-thinking individuals and families bent on making a difference in central Arkansas. The pastor is a friend and former employee of mine who has been around me long enough to know that understanding the Jewish Jesus is not just a hobby of mine, but a passion.
About a month ago, they started a three-month study on Jesus. They began the first week looking at the incarnation. The second week they discussed the social and political climate around the first century, setting the stage for the coming of Jesus. The third week they looked at God’s interaction with man throughout the Hebrew Scriptures (the Garden, Abraham, Sinai, etc.). They asked me to speak on week #4 regarding the Jewishness of Jesus, and how that should affect the life of every Believer. I think it took me 0.02 seconds to agree. :-)
So… last night was the big night and I thoroughly enjoyed it. They gave me total freedom and I held no punches. There was good interaction and there seemed to be positive response. In a nutshell this is what I shared:
When asked who Jesus was, people mostly speak in terms of his divinity. However, this misses the mark completely to be able to look at his earthly mission, and blinds us as to our relationship of discipleship with our rabbi.
I spoke of his Jewish genealogy and his parents’ Torah observance as evidenced through the Gospels. I also brought up his speaking Hebrew (and Aramaic & possibly Greek) to illustrate why we often miss his Hebraic message when it is disguised in Greek.
I related how his original Hebrew name (& Aramaic counterpart) actually had meaning (unlike the transliterated “Jesus”) and pointed to his mission.
I spoke about how the Gospels really don’t give us much information as to his education, but yet it does give us a clue. When Jesus was in discussion with the sages at the ripe old age of 12, we can know within a reasonable amount of certainty that his educational path was somewhat similar to that laid down in the Mishnah (Avot 5:25) for Jewish boys. I emphasized that his Bible was the Tanach, and that his worldview was through the lens of Torah.
I emphasized that his life was a life of prayer and study, and it included spending Sabbaths in the synagogues and the Holy Days in the Temple. His worship included obedience to the Torah, and it was evident in every area of his life, including the way he dressed.
I focused on his Kingdom message (and breaking it down) and why it was so important for us to understand this as believers. I also spoke on how he was constantly upholding the Torah, pointing people back to the Torah, properly interpreting Torah and returning the foundation of the commandments to love.
My summary statement was as follows:
Jesus was not a token Jew, or a Jew by default. He was THE Jew who loved the Torah of his Father and lived it out perfectly through the power of the Holy Spirit (rather than his divinity), modeling a life of righteous for his people.
Thanks, Eikon, for the opportunity.
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