Friday, August 5, 2011

WDJT? (What Did Jesus Teach?) Introduction

My buddy, Marc, said something to me recently that has resounded in my soul... Then he said it again. It has caused me to really ponder this topic. To paraphrase, Marc said that, while he doesn't know whether or not Jesus was the Son of God, he believes that Jesus got it right; He understood being human and He lived the way a human should. I agree.

I think that Marc's observation is incredibly poignant. Putting aside the question of His deity (which I fully believe to be true) if Marc is right then each one of us should be paying close attention, not only to what Jesus did, but what He said; what He taught even when He wasn't "teaching".

If the Biblical narrative is to be trusted as pertains to Jesus' life then following are some of His chosen endeavors: He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the lame to walk, fed the hungry, and advocated for the children. These are indeed commendable causes, and activities we should emulate to the best of our ability (I haven't been able to feed thousands out of a Darth Vader lunch box yet...) But what I would like to do in this series of short blogs is to focus on what He said, rather than what He did.

Before I start, in post 1 (this is only the intro), talking about His teachings during His 3.5 years of ministry, I'll just include here His only previously recorded words.

At age 12 Jesus took a trip to Jerusalem with His parents for the Passover and decided to hang back at the temple - you know, blowing the minds of the priests and wot not... totally normal - but His parents hadn't realized and had left without Him. Long story short, when they discovered He was not among their caravan (which was not a 1st century minivan) they went back to Jerusalem and found Him at the temple.

Astonished to find Him mingling with the religious elite, Mary questions Jesus as to why He stayed back. His answer was, in modern terms, "Why are you looking so hard for me? Didn't you realize that I would be in my Father's house?"

Could Jesus have meant that He didn't leave them, but they had left Him, as some commentators suggest? Sure. This would answer the question of whether He was being disobedient or not, and I think it's a great observation. But I believe that the most amazing aspect of this, His first recorded utterance, is found in His description of whose house He was in.

You see, in the Old Testament it wasn't common at all to speak of Yahweh in such intimate terms as "Father". There wasn't this notion, as we see today, of everyone being God's children. God was seen as King of the universe; the transcendent, eternal, omnipotent Creator. Jesus wasn't using a 21st century cozy colloquialism in this scenario. He was identifying Himself as the Son of the One whose house He was in. No Hebrew in the 1st century world would have questioned what He meant when He claimed to be God's Son, and that is confirmed when He is crucified for making the same claim 21 years later.

Thanks for reading the intro, and please wait with great anticipation for part 1! I promise to try and keep the subsequent entries much shorter.
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