Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bible Lecture-Session One

When things go wrong, it is good to talk...and they needed to talk.

Sometimes the theory isn't enough!
     Dr. Cleaves takes us to the Emmaus Road to encounter the two disciples...
     They need to realize that Jesus was with them, even on the road.  Like Joshua 1:6, our theme verse.

Using a verse from Joshua, a book that includes sections used by some to justify genocide, causes some questions about how we read the Old Testament.

A key understanding of how we read the Old Testament comes from the Emmaus story; the disciples KNEW their scriptures and knew that Jesus was the messiah in the same manner that Joshua was.  However, the story had ended with his death, an unthinkable possibility.

When Jesus meets them, he tells them they have read it wrong, then explains it to them.  In detail.  Interpreting all the texts about himself, a story we do not hear, but that we might be able to reconstruct.

What he told them that day would form how they would read the scriptures from that day forward.  So we can look at Acts and the other New Testament to see the 'genius of Jesus himself' that he shared on the road to Emmaus.

What was the strategy of Jesus as he interpreted the scriptures?

We look at Luke 10:25-37, the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Dr. Cleaves invites us to discuss:  what does this story say to us today?

My conversation ties together two thoughts:  that we are called to go and do likewise by Jesus, like the one who showed mercy, and the thought that there are two people who show mercy-the Samaritan and the innkeeper.  What can they teach us about love?  About mercy?

In talking about a trip the Holy Land, Dr Cleaves talks about visiting Peter's house in Capernaum and the synagogue across the street.  Synagogue in Greek translates as congregational in Latin, wherever people gather!  "Wherever two or three..." connects us across faith traditions!

In the synagogue, one teaches and all ask questions...the way to read and study scripture in the Jewish approach.  In the questioning, the truth of scripture emerges.

So let's look at the text again...

Verse 25, a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. (this would be normal to ask questions, not a threat)

A respectful question...what must I do to inherit eternal life?  How do I get eternal life from someone who has gone before?  How do I inherit from those before the full life here and now not bounded by death?

Jesus sends him back to the law...two questions! (normal!)

What is written?  And what do YOU read there?  The words and the interpretation are important, the understanding is key.

The expert in the law answers with the two Old  Testament texts that hold the whole of the law.

Jesus says you are correct so LIVE!  (not eternal life only but life right now)

Then another question...followed by the story.  Some will be uncomfortable as they hear it, but not all.  Those who seek the literal word and the details therein will struggle with what Jesus has to say.

The figures who reflect the temple culture walk past the man who has been beaten.

Only the Samaritan, who does not have the exact same law to work from, or the same history or connection to the temple, stops to offer help, to be a neighbor, to bring mercy.  His way of reading the law is different from the priest or the Levite.

So Jesus's question is about which one of the three read the law, and got it right!  And he affirms the Samaritan and says we should do likewise.

This can tell us about how Jesus read the find the truth within it.

Test this:
Jesus and lepers
Jesus and the bleeding woman
Jesus and the woman caught in adultery
Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount

Jesus chooses to move away from the literal words of the law to find the truth within, the measure of love and mercy.  And Jesus promises to be with us, on the road and in our strategy to read the Bible.

How do we read the Bible?

Jesus asked:  what is written in the Law?  AND what do you read there?
The answer was Love God and Love your Neighbour, so remember the story Jesus told and don't limit who your neighbor is.  (British spelling!)

We closed in prayer, asking that we may walk as Jesus walked and read the Bible as Jesus read the Bible, seeking to love God and to love our neighbor, whoever they may be.  Amen!

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