Monday, June 30, 2014

Bible Lecture-session Two

With us on the Way to Caesarea Philippi

At the table, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. And Dr. Cleaves takes us back through the Emmaus Road texts from yesterday's lecture.  And now we review the reading of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, looking for what is written and what we read there, both.

So what if we applied those same two questions to the writings of the Prophets, just beyond the writings of the Law we studied yesterday?

What is written?  Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the Book of the 12

But what do we read there?  We turn to Mark 8:27-33, reading the story and discussing it briefly with those around us.  Feel free to do the same!

We saw the comparison of Peter's correct statement and his very incorrect statement in just a few verses, alongside the dual emphasis of 'who do you say that I am' in v. 29 and keeping our minds on divine things in v. 33 as significant in these texts.

Dr. Cleaves praises Marcus Borg and NT Wright as examples of the kinds of Biblical scholarship that can guide us as we work to read correctly.

Jesus asks an appropriate teacher's question, seeking feedback from his students.  They reply with potentially useful ideas; John the Baptist and Elijah and the prophets show some understanding.

Jesus knew his Bible, even as early as age 12 when he was lost in the temple, asking questions and sharing his own answers.  Isn't it likely (it was his custom we are told) that Jesus would continue to do this right up through the start of his ministry at age 30?  Isaiah 61 was his first text for preaching...a prophet not celebrated in his own land.

John the Baptist in Matthew 3:2 explains his approach, similar to the prophets of old.  Jesus in Matthew 4:17 explains his approach by taking up the mantle of John the Baptist like Elisha did for Elijah.  He is a continuation of that long line of prophets, comparable to Elijah and Elisha.

Jotham, Samuel, Nathan, others, speak to the weakness of power and bring truth to power, just like John the Baptist did in Luke's teaching.  This costs John his life, and Jesus retreats to the mountain to pray.  When he shares the Sermon on the Mount, he is sharing this same kind of message.  This makes him a new threat in the same vein as John the Baptist.

Jesus asks his questions of the disciples at Caesarea Philippi, a new city built by the son of Herod the Great as a sign of power and authority.  It reflects a great city of power that recognizes Caesar as God and Augustus as the Son of God by including a temple to Augustus and this is the setting for their answers, first about Jesus fulfilling the Old Testament, then Jesus as messiah.  When he describes the suffering that will come, Peter sees it another way, as a promise of power that will overcome that he sees as unacceptable.

And Jesus rebukes Peter.  He says you (and we) are thinking of human mechanisms and institutions, and he (and we) need to remember that the kingdom that Jesus speaks of is one of proper use of power like the prophets described as they critiqued and praised their kings.

Isaiah 61 tells us some important factors in this work: good news, release, sight, freedom and the Lord's favor (favour!) will be abundant.

Also Isaiah 11:3b-5

And Isaiah 32

And Isaiah 53, the suffering servant.

These are the passages that show us how to rule in God's way in God's kingdom, righteousness and justice, good news to the poor and release to the captives.

Peter sees this on Pentecost, seven weeks after the resurrection, and quotes the prophet Joel, a promise of what is yet to come for the Kingdom, found in Acts 2.

We must read the prophets in this way, to see and know what we are being called to do, in taking up the mantle now, to speak truth to power, to truly bring good news to the poor and fulfill that prophetic voice, keeping our minds on divine things, knowing that the Lord, our God is with us wherever we go.

We closed our session in prayer, grateful for this wonderful and generous teacher, and new thoughts to take with us, wherever we go!

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