Ok, let’s just get this out in the open – Jesus was Jewish. Shocking for some people I know, but it’s the truth. Don’t mean to shake anyone’s world views and all, but hey, we all need a good dose of reality every once in awhile 🙂
Jesus’ Jewishness can be seen all throughout the Gospels. In fact, the Jewishness of the New Testament can be seen all throughout the New Testament. Amazing that the Old Testament and New Testament go together so well, you would think someone designed it that way 🙂 But, that’s a whole ‘nother blog topic. Anyway, back to the Jewishness of Jesus.
One way of learning about Jesus’ Jewish identity is learning about the Jewish people before, during, and after Jesus walked this earth. And, apparently one VERY Jewish aspect of Jesus’ teaching was the fact that He spoke in parables. This was a common way for Jewish teachers (later called Rabbis) to teach and preach. There are numerous Jewish parables that were written down and are still studied today from this time period and later, and some are actually quite similar to parables found in the NT.
Now, why did they teach in parables? Partly because that’s the way middle eastern minds think. Westerners tend to think in linear and abstract thoughts. We say “God is love” or “God is strong.” Well, what does that actually mean or look like? Who’s idea of love and strength and is that good or bad? To the middle eastern mind the thought “God is strong” doesn’t really convey much meaning. They instead put that ‘abstract’ thought into pictures. You see this ALL throughout Scripture. They try to take what is essentially ‘unknown’ and make it ‘known.’ For instance, God does not just protect us – He is our strong tower, our defense in times of weakness (Ps 61:3; Prov 18:10)God does not just love us – He is a mother who nurses her child, a lover who pleads with His unfaithful spouse to return (Is 49:15; Hosea). God is not just strong – He is the one who kills and brings to life, He tears down and raises up (1 Sam 2:6).
Having studied the Old Testament and already having this type of mindset, what better way to teach about God and Torah then to teach in word pictures- or stories. Jesus and the other Jewish teachers wanted to take aspects of God and Torah and make them more understandable to the listeners of their day. So, they would take something ‘known,’ a relationship between people, a king, a pearl, fish, whatever and they would build this story that was specifically designed to communicate something about God. So that with our finite minds we can somehow better understand and grasp the infinite God. They would teach about God using word pictures basically. Does this make sense?
The purpose of the parables in the NT is to teach something about God, to take what we would say in the abstract concept but not really ‘know’ and make it personal, real, touchable, see-able, and knowable. Parables try to take an infinite God and make Him a little more understandable to His finite and limited creation. Next week I’ll try to remember to give an example of this.
My 6th month picture was taken yesterday and will hopefully be put up on the baby site sometime this week. Also, I had a 3rd ultrasound (surprise surprise but Thank You Lord) so there’s another ultrasound picture already up 🙂