Mar 03

Heavenly Reverie – Cultivating the Mind of Christ Jesus

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Part Two – Sacred Worth  (Read Jim’s first “Heavenly Reverie” blog here) Heavenly Reverie A State of Being Pleasantly Lost in the Noetic Environment of Jesus “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). I want to see reality the way Jesus

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Part Two – Sacred Worth  (Read Jim’s first “Heavenly Reverie” blog here)

Heavenly Reverie

A State of Being Pleasantly Lost in

the Noetic Environment of Jesus

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).

I want to see reality the way Jesus did.  I want to have the mind of Christ, as Paul urges us in the verse above. These blogs are my reflections on what I am coming to understand about the noetic environment of Jesus.  Noetic environment means reality as Jesus understood it, or, what was going on in his mind. In this installment I want to talk about how Jesus understood the human person and their sacred worth.

We live in a world where people are identified and labeled by externals.  We lump people into ethnic, religious and national groups.  Or we see people as a part of a consumer group, and we label people by economic status.  Finally, we are trained to see people as either good or bad, holy or sinful, based on their behavior:  “Stay away from her, she is a bad person.” In doing so we reduce people to commodities and consumers.  As a result, it becomes difficult to see people as persons of sacred worth.

However, Jesus refused to treat people as their external labels, box them in, and treat them according to their ethnic or religious group, social status or class, or their piety or sinfulness.  One provocative moment in the life of Jesus concerns his interaction with a woman in Matthew 15:21-28.  It is a passage that troubled me for years, but now brings me joy.[i]

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.  Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.”  But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Without knowing the background—and the foreground—to this story, it appears that Jesus is not only unkind, he is an elitist, perhaps even a racist.  We are going to have to take a closer look to understand this odd story.

Matthew describes the woman as a “Canaanite.”  This was a word that no one in Jesus’ day used to describe the Gentiles.  It was the name used in the Old Testament to describe the people who occupied the promised land of Canaan, the people that Joshua was charged with totally annihilating.  Calling someone a Canaanite in Jesus’ day would be like calling a British person a Saxon, or a Swedish person a Viking.  So we know something is up when Matthew uses this name (the one and only time it occurs in the New Testament).

The woman is following Jesus and his disciples, shouting at him to heal her daughter.  His disciples tell Jesus to tell the woman to bug off.  Jesus instead says to the woman, “I was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  This may sound rude, but in fact, in light of the recent events this was more of a sigh of despair.  John the Baptist has recently been murdered, Jesus’ ministry is failing, and the Pharisees are plotting his murder at that very moment.  Jesus’ reply was essentially, “I am on a difficult mission.  My own people are lost, and I must attend to them.”

The mother then kneels before Jesus, an act of complete submission, and says, “Lord, help me.”  One would expect a little compassion, but his next line sounds worse than the first:  “It is not fair to throw the children’s food to the dogs.”  Ouch.  She persists with a clever reply: “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Jesus seems delighted in this response, praises her faith, and tells her that her request has been granted, and her daughter is healed.  What just happened?

Perhaps she awakened Jesus’ memory of the original call of Abraham that “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him” (Gen. 18:18), because in essence she is saying, “I know your mission is to save your people first, but your ultimate mission is also for the rest of us.  Go ahead and feed your kids, but could you let my daughter have a scrap?”  Jesus says. “Great is your faith.” I believe he intentionally went into this region (Tyre and Sidon, Gentile territory) to have this kind of interaction, so that he could proclaim that his mission now included the Gentiles.  Her persistent pleading demonstrated her faith that Jesus could, in fact, heal her daughter—even though she had no rights to it—gave Jesus the chance to show how he is making all things new.  By granting her request, Jesus’ mission to the Gentiles has now begun.  He had healed Gentiles before, but never in Gentile territory.  Something radical has just happened.  But it gets even better.

As I mentioned, what happens immediately after this story is also important in understanding what Jesus is ultimately doing.  The next thing Jesus does is heal hundreds of people—all Gentiles (nee Canaanites).  We can infer they are Gentiles because it says they all “praised the God of Israel” (code for:  “they were Gentiles”).  Then something even more profound follows.  The crowd of Gentiles grows to 4,000 (second only to the 5,000 he fed with the loaves and fishes, in the previous chapter).  As in that story, Jesus has compassion on this crowd, and performs the same miracle of feeding this huge crowd with only a small amount of food (the abundance narrative I wrote about in the previous blog).  But the end of the story is where it gets good.

In the feeding of the 5,000 (Jews) there were twelve baskets of leftovers.  This signified the twelve tribes of Israel.  When he feeds the 4,000 (Gentiles) there are seven baskets left over.   As I always tell my students, pay attention to the details in the Bible because there are no wasted words.  Seven signifies the seven tribes of the Canaanites, the very ones that Moses told Joshua to destroy totally (Deut. 7:1-5), ordering them to show no mercy, because any mingling with these godless people might lead the Israelites astray.

Let me re-cap what has happened.  Jesus has shown mercy and compassion on the very people that Moses said were godless.  Brian McLaren writes, “Jesus seizes the old narrative, shakes it, turns it inside out, and offers a new story that reframes a future radically different from the past.”[ii]

At the Apprentice Institute we talk, and speak, and write a lot about narratives.  Our narratives shape who we are and inform what we do.  Our narratives are crucial.  If they are false, limited, or toxic, they can damage our souls, and lead to apathy and even violence.  Jesus is, in this story, isolating an ancient narrative, showing that it is false, and offering us a new one, one that is true, namely, all people are of sacred worth.  He demonstrated this constantly in his actions, speaking to and blessing an adulterous Samaritan woman, dining with tax collectors and prostitutes, healing the loved ones of the hated Roman soldiers.

Some may react to this story by saying, “Jesus is fickle.  He didn’t want to help the Gentile lady, then he caved, then he went crazy and started healing—and feeding—a ton of Gentiles.  He seems unstable.”  I do not read the story this way.  I believe that Jesus knew what he was doing all along.  He knew how deeply entrenched the narrative was in Israel—and among the Romans who occupied Israel.  It goes like this:  “Destroy your enemies, for blessed are the violent victors.”  That is what the Israelites lived with every day under Roman occupation.  Each day they saw their own people pinned up like bugs to die on crosses, a sign of Roman domination.  Jesus reverses the violence narrative, a narrative held by his own people.  It was in the air they breathed.  Jesus was calling it out.

In Jesus’ noetic environment, all people are sacred.  Therefore, we do not kill our enemies, we love them.  We do not curse our enemies, we pray for and bless them.  The violence narrative—one that is upheld only when we see people as things—is alive and well today.  It is in the newspapers every morning.  But I am called by Jesus not to judge others.  However, I see the narrative in my own heart when I judge the person who smokes, or is obese.  I see it in my own heart when I feel greater sadness for the American soldiers who die than the Iraqi soldiers who share the same fate.  I see it in my own heart when I see a homeless person holding a sign at the stoplight and my first response is to wonder if his plight is legitimate.  I am longing for the day when my first thought is, “How sacred that person is . . . wow.”

Transformation into Christlikeness is not easy.  But it is freeing.  I find my own false narratives—while comfortable and safe—are not conducive to joy.  I want to continue to get lost in the reverie of Jesus’ noetic environment.  It hurts at first, but abiding in his mind is healing to my soul.  I love the line from the Christmas hymn, O Holy Night:  “and He appeared, and the soul felt its worth.”  Wouldn’t it be great if that was said of each of us:  “Wherever we go, people feel their sacred worth.”  For that to happen, we are going to have to see them as Jesus did.

 

 

[i]   This understanding of the passage comes from Grant LeMarquand, and stated in Brian McLaren’s book, Everything Must Change, pp. 154 ff.

[ii]  Ibid., p. 158


 

Dr. JaView More: http://jillnicole.pass.us/apprentice-teammes Bryan Smith (M.Div., Yale University Divinity School; DMin Fuller Seminary) is the Executive Director of the Apprentice Institute. Dr. Smith is currently a theology professor at Friends University, in Wichita, Kansas, and an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. He is the author of eight books, most notably The Apprentice Series (InterVarsity Press), which continue to shape the work of the Apprentice Institute. Dr. Smith’s other titles include Devotional Classics (with Richard J. Foster), Embracing the Love of God, Room of Marvels, and Hidden in Christ.

Posted in A Good and Beautiful Life, Apprenticeship, Blog, Heavenly Reverie, Love, Love, Narrative | Tags: / / / / / / / /

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Feb 13

Is Studying the Old Testament Worth the Time and Effort?

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(Part one of a three part series on the Old Testament and Christian Spiritual Formation) I had a conversation recently with an individual reading a 20th century foreign author. In essence he said, this guy’s writing is really dense. The voice inflections were those of

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(Part one of a three part series on the Old Testament and Christian Spiritual Formation)

I had a conversation recently with an individual reading a 20th century foreign author. In essence he said, this guy’s writing is really dense. The voice inflections were those of one exasperated by the inability to easily master the thoughts of this writer placed on the printed page. Yet, behind the exasperation was steely determination to keep at it until those thoughts had been mastered. Both the exasperation and determination are common for those who attempt to understand the Old Testament. Is it really worth the time and effort?

Some writings tell us stories; some of those stories cause us to think differently. Other writings seek to instruct us and improve us in some particular area; cookbooks immediately come to mind. From these writings we tend to pick and choose, we grab what we can immediately and then place it on the shelf. Are instructional writings worth the time and effort?

The answer to this question is found in our motivation for picking them up and reading them. If I just want to add trivia to a collection kept in my brain, then they are probably not. If I want to become better at something, then definitely!

The question for this blog, “Is studying the Old Testament worth the time and effort?,” likewise depends on our motivation. As followers of Jesus, hopefully the answer would be a strong and solid, “YES!” One of the first attributes for any apprentice is to study what the skilled craftsman does. The relationship between doing and thinking is much like that of the chicken and the egg.

In his letter to the believers in Rome Paul provides many instructions on what his listeners should do.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. (Romans 12:9-13, NAS95)

Yet, before telling them to do anything, he encourages them to submit to God and have their mind changed.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2, NAS95)

The word translated as “prove” is identified in classical Greek as meaning “to think fit to do.” Paul thus links the transformation of our thinking as a step toward understanding God’s will directs us to actions that are actually good for us to do. In other words, as our thinking changes so too do our actions. Paul uses this same word for thinking/understanding in 26 different verses throughout his letters. Although this word appears five times in Romans 12, perhaps Paul’s most famous use of the concept is developed in Philippians 2 where he introduces his grand statement about Jesus’ humanity with “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,” (NAS95) or more literally, “You (all) are to think just like Jesus thought.” (Philippians 2:5)

For those who wish to follow Jesus as an apprentice these words provide excellent guidance. At the Apprentice Institute we refer to the way we think in life about the various situations in our lives as our narratives. Our goal as apprentices of Jesus is to replace a False Narrative with a True Narrative based on the truth of God. Where then do we get these true narratives? How do we come to understand the false narratives in our life?

Fortunately, these answers need not go unanswered. Paul provides us the answer; we are to take on the narratives of Jesus himself! It is such a simple answer, but the question remains for many who would wish to be apprentices of Jesus, how is that even possible since Jesus is God?

Fortunately, reading the New Testament with “ears to hear” opens the door for these narratives of Jesus. Matthew 21 reports Jesus visit to the Temple during the week before his crucifixion. It is a relative short account. And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. (21:12 NAS95) This action of Jesus seems out of character with the teacher of parables. What could have motivated Jesus to do what he did? Perhaps it was his understanding of the Old Testament!!! Matthew continues And He said to them, “It is written,‘ MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” (21:13)

Direct quotations in the New Testament are intended to call to mind a larger passage from the Old that provide context for understanding their usage. In the case of the first here, Isaiah 56 is the context.

      “Also the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,

      To minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD,

      To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath

      And holds fast My covenant;

      Even those I will bring to My holy mountain

      And make them joyful in My house of prayer.

      Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar;

      For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”

      The Lord GOD, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares,

      “Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered.” (56:6-8, NAS95)

This context tells us that behind Jesus’ action of clearing the Temple lies an understanding of the purpose of God: to bring others to his House. His action is against a practice that is preventing “others” from coming to the House of the Lord. Jesus’ action is motivated by His thinking, which is based on His understanding of the Old Testament.

The second passage from Jeremiah 7 is even more descriptive. The basis of Jeremiah 7 is a call to repentance, a call to change their behavior patterns. Jeremiah proclaims that those who come to the House of the Lord do so with unclean deeds in their past and future, yet think that this Holy location will somehow prevent them from facing punishment. This action of Jesus, which precipitates his arrest and death, is based firmly on the Old Testament teaching. A follower of Jesus should take Jesus’ Bible seriously!

 In the next two posts I will discuss two topics where the Old Testament can help us build True Narratives about God the Father.

 


harstineAn educator since 1984, Stan Harstine is convinced that his career consists of “teaching students to think.” He has engaged in this career since 2002 at Friends University using biblical studies as his medium. His greatest accomplishment for 2014 was having 3 sons graduated from college, gainfully employed and not living at home.

Posted in Apprenticeship, Blog, Narrative, Spiritural Growth, Uncategorized | Tags: / / / / / /

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Oct 20

Can I Get a Witness: Living a Life That Reveals the Truth

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If someone didn’t know you went to church, would they know you are a Christian by the way you live your life? I ask myself that question all the time. The answer never seems to come quick. I have to wrestle with it for a

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If someone didn’t know you went to church, would they know you are a Christian by the way you live your life?

I ask myself that question all the time.

The answer never seems to come quick.

I have to wrestle with it for a while. That’s not because I am weighing some massive moral dilemma that is taking place in my life. It’s just that I want to be sure that my answer is honest and without the need to spin the truth.

In his latest book, Kingdom Conspiracy, author Scot McKnight writes, “Credible living makes for credible witness to the truth of the gospel.” The weight of a statement like that cannot be overlooked, its importance cannot be underscored enough. Committed apprentices of Christ concern themselves with living a life that reveals the truth about Jesus’ teachings.

The main message of Jesus that set off an irresistible revolution was that of love, manifested in our actions. Jesus addressed this in the Sermon on the Mount. He instructed his followers to live a life according to God’s will that influences their community and brings glory to God.

We can find this message in Matthew 5:14-16,

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

What gives credibility and truth to the teachings of Jesus are the ways we live this out in our daily lives. People need to see that we live as we believe. And then we need to give credit where credit is due – to God.

The world doesn’t normally operate according to the teachings of Jesus and the will of God. This can make it difficult for us to love others with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. (John 13:34-35) It’s precisely why this message of extraordinary love seems so radical to people who don’t follow Jesus. Who else instructs followers to love their enemies? (Matt. 5:44) Who else says it is part of the mission to bless those who persecute? (Matt. 5:11-12) Only Jesus!

As people dwelling in the Kingdom of God, we are called to live with and love one another regardless of the circumstances. If people are going to surrender their lives to Christ, it’s important for them to see what God’s love in action looks like. They need to catch the vision of the joy and peace and contentment that the with-God life brings. If someone didn’t know you went to church, would they know you’re a Christian by the way you live your life?

Here’s the challenge that I’d like to issue. Take some time to give the following question some thought and then join me in conversation: What are some other markers of a credible life that makes for a credible witness to the gospel’s truth?

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

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Sep 17

The King Jesus Gospel–So What?

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We’ve arrived at the final chapter of The King Jesus Gospel, “Creating a Gospel Culture.” McKnight doesn’t disappoint in his concluding chapter. He begins by contrasting cryptic cave drawings in Ireland whose meaning (if ever existed) has been lost and one of the Celtic high

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We’ve arrived at the final chapter of The King Jesus Gospel, “Creating a Gospel Culture.”

McKnight doesn’t disappoint in his concluding chapter.

He begins by contrasting cryptic cave drawings in Ireland whose meaning (if ever existed) has been lost and one of the Celtic high crosses.

The high cross depicts biblical stories and is beautiful in its art form, but without interpretation, it means nothing.

Which is true for life: For McKnight’s money, the gospel is Jesus’ and the apostles’ interpretation of the story of life (147).

Stories tell us how to act–emulating good examples, being sure not to repeat bad examples, learning what to laugh at, what to cry at, and a host of other postures and ways of being in the world.

The gospel is the interpretation of life that makes sense when following the King Jesus.

McKnight then dives into a headlong rendition of the gospel story, beginning in the begining (Genesis) and running all the way to the end (Revelation).

What struck me while reading his account of gospel history is the repeated rebellion of us human types. Rejecting has been our nature, from Adam and Eve rejecting God, to the people of Israel rejecting leadership (judges, kings, God), and finally to everyone rejecting Jesus, God become flesh.

Celtic high cross

**Muiredach’s High Cross–Brianann MacAmhlaidh–CC SA 2.0

But you can’t get that note from a flash card version of the gospel, which is what makes McKnight’s longer form (though he admits not exhaustive) version so helpful.

In one sitting you get swept up in the action of God throughout history. We often miss this when we read individual pieces of Scripture, expecting to “get something” out of our efforts.

Takeaway from this story: “what usurpers [that’s us] fear the most is the goodness of God, but, paradoxically, what usurpers most want is the goodness of God, and Jesus was that God, and that is why Jesus as Messiah and Lord is the gospel” (152).

Which makes complete sense when you sit with it for a moment.

God created us to be eikons, ruling under his own rule. But we thought we could interpret reality in a different and better way. We thought there was a better path to goodness, so we stormed the throne and came up empty.

Until, we get to the church, or new creation people in Jesus. This whole quote is excellent, sorry for the length:

“And this same God chose to do things all over again with his new cration people: he chose to give them a second chance, which is one way of talking about the magnificent theme of God’s grace. He chose to let them be people of the kingdom, called the church, and he summoned them to believe in Jesus, to turn from their usurpations, and to so identify with Jesus that they would enter into his death and into his resurrection and through that find new life. Most importantly, though Jesus was the true king, the true Messiah, the true Eikon, and the true Lord, God gave Jesus’ people the assignment he had given to Adam and Eve. They were Eikons like Adam and Eve but with a major difference: they had the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit could transform them into the visible likeness of Jesus himself. As Christlike Eikons they are assigned to rule on God’s behalf in this world. They do this by listening to this story, by living out this story as their story, and by spreading the good news of this story” (152).

Those last two lines highlight our calling as apprentices of Jesus: rule on God’s behalf (we live in the kingdom of God), and learning, living and telling the story.

But how do you get a gospel culture from that?

We have to become people of the Story (the big story) and people of Jesus’ story. We have to learn to soak in the gospels, ask questions, ponder, discover how the gospel connects to the story of Israel.

If the story of Jesus is the culmination and completion of the story of Israel, then the better we learn the story of Jesus, the better we will learn the story of Israel.

Put differently, a better understanding of Jesus will only come when we search out the Old Testament. And that searching out of the Old Testament will inform our understanding of the story of Jesus.

It’s a win-win.

I’m a liturgical (liturgy means “the work of the people) nerd, so my favorite suggestion from McKnight is: follow the church calendar, because it follows the story of Jesus.

In Advent, we expect the coming of the Christ child, but also the return of Christ and the culmination of all things in and through him.

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Christ. At Epiphany Christ is revealed to the Gentiles (non-Jewish world–also you and me).

Then comes Lent, Holy Week (Jesus’ final week, crucifixion, burial, resurrection) and then onto Pentecost (the Holy Spirit poured out) and the ascension of Christ to the right hand of the Father.

Then in ordinary time, we study Jesus’ teachings and healings in the gospels (apparently healing is ordinary for this Jesus character).

By following this story of Jesus in church each Sunday, we’ll get the whole gospel story every year. How great is that?

In addition, we need to know the story of the church, from Acts to recent times. Once we learn this story, we can discover ways (both good and not so good) of adapting the gospel to fit our audience and context.

We’ll close with McKnight’s words:

“…this book is a plea that we will both discern the apostolic gospel and embrace that gospel so deeply we are wholly transformed into the image of Christ himself. A gospel culture can only be created if we are thoroughly converted ourselves” (158).

There are a number of other gems in this final chapter, but hopefully this whets your appetite enough to go read the whole thing.

I think McKnight’s counsel is spot on and easily adaptable into almost any church setting. Who’s going to argue with diving more deeply into the story of Jesus and being transformed more and more into the image of Christ?

The work of creating a gospel culture is simple, but not easy. Here’s to realizing that reality in your community of faith.

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Sep 03

The Gospel of Peter and a New Way of Reading

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This week we reach the penultimate chapter in The King Jesus Gospel–Ch. 8: The Gospel of Peter. The one big idea in this chapter: The apostles preached the gospel. They filled out the bare bones summary of 1 Corinthians 15 and depicted a living, breathing, dying,

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This week we reach the penultimate chapter in The King Jesus Gospel–Ch. 8: The Gospel of Peter.

The one big idea in this chapter:

The apostles preached the gospel. They filled out the bare bones summary of 1 Corinthians 15 and depicted a living, breathing, dying, resurrected, ascending Jesus who has been identified as Messiah and Lord over all–Jews and Gentiles alike.

Wrapped up in that big idea is an important note: With the resurrection of Jesus and the ourpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, the apostles experienced a “hermeneutical revolution” (117).hermeneutic

Hermeneutical, think interpretation. The veil was pulled back from their eyes and they saw the story of Israel (the Old Testament/the Scriptures) in a whole new light.

It wasn’t so much that the apostles’ old interpretation (hermeneutic) was faulty, as it was incomplete. Now, they could see they whole picture and it was both stunning and life-changing.

Probably a little overwhelming, too.

Those two terms–Messiah and Lord, connected to Jesus–offer a new way to read the texts.

It’s kind of like reading John 1:1-18. What’s this “Word” John keeps mentioning? Then one day–someone tells you or it just clicks–you realize this “Word” is “the Son” is “Jesus” and you can never read John 1 the same way again.

It’s kind of like that, but more…

Read through the Old Testament sometime and you’ll follow the story of a people called by God and looking for leadership. Judges, Kings, prophets, all fall short, but point toward another who will come and restore Israel–the Messiah.

The way Peter gospels in Acts, it’s like he’s reading the Scriptures for the first time, he can’t go back to the way he read them before. It’s good news for Israel.

The second term–Lord–is significant for Israel and everyone else (looking at you, Gentiles).

Lord over all–all means all.

Everything, so nothing he’s not lord over.

This gospeling is good news even for people who don’t know the Old Testament as Scripture.

McKnight offers the example of Paul in Athens. Paul doesn’t try to explain the covenant between Israel and God. He doesn’t explain Leviticus, or talk about Torah, or even line up Jesus’ lineage with King David.

Nope, Paul doesn’t even mention the name Jesus in his impromptu homily: instead he talks in terms they can understand. He tells them about “the God who made the world and everything in it, who is Lord of heaven and earth” (Acts 17:24).

He adapts the gospel of Jesus to fit his audience, but the integrity of the gospel is still here.

This section is probably worth the price of admission: “True gospeling that conforms to the apostolic gospel leads directly to who Jesus is, whatever the gospeler has to say to get folks to move in that direction. Once there, the apostolic gospeling in the book of Acts summons the audience to respond.” (127)

Which made me wonder, how much of my gospeling has led directly to Jesus? How much of yours has?

That’s the deal with this whole gospeling thing, through all the variations of presentation (Paul, the Gospels, apostles, Peter), it’s still all about Jesus. End of story.

But it’s not the end of the story, because the goal of the gospel is response:

 “To believe means more than just mentally agreeing to some truth, even if that truth is that Jesus is Messiah and Lord over all. The entire sweep of the Story of Israel and the Story of Jesus ushers us into a world where God’s people rely on and trust in God, and such a trusting relationship generates a life of obedience, holiness, and love.” (127)

That response is about more than salvation (though that may be included in the story), it’s about a hermeneutical revolution in your life. You no longer interpret/see things the same way you did before. Things change because Jesus is Lord over all.

Next week we’ll finish up The King Jesus Gospel with “Gospeling Today.”

Will you add The King Jesus Gospel to your bookshelf? What book would you like to see on the blog next?

*Merriam-Webster online

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