Friday, February 5, 2010

Jesus' Radical Good News Requires 3D Glasses

So my husband and I were talking today about my new cHesed glasses: they are not only purple, they are 3D! (And no, I don't know to represent that with my already photo-shopped picture.)

Anyway, let me try to explain these 3D glasses. (Get a refresher on my old glasses here.) All the properties of my old glasses remain intact ... but the 3D component makes otherwise ordinary words of the Scriptures (especially in the New Testament) jump off the page. The first part of the 3D factor is the context provided by understanding first century Mediterranean society's foundational patriarchy, which Jesus (and Paul) subverted.

I started talking about this in my last post. And I'll be talking about it for a long time as I continue to process Dr. Bartchy's research and upcoming book, Call No Man Father. Stop and think for a moment what it meant for Jesus' followers to hear him say that they were to call no man father but their heavenly Father. The implications for this one statement are played out through the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. I want to look at one today.

Now you're ready to slip these 3D glasses on so that you look out with this context:
  • Fathers, who were used to being the dominant figure in their families and society, were asked by Jesus to give up their right to dominate their wives, children and slaves -- and other less powerful men -- in order to become children of the heavenly Father.
  • This new status would appear to be "weak" in their society, but in the Kingdom of God, it would be "strong" in the power of cHesed's love, grace and mercy. The "greatest" in this Kingdom would be the "least" and the eager servant of all. This was the stance Jesus took and he expected it of his followers.
  • The ones given admittance to the Kingdom of God would be those who were like a child -- one who has no status, no power, no influence ... but lots of love and trust and devotion to the Father, as well as to the brothers and sisters in Father's family.
Okay, got 'em on? Take a read through Matthew 18 (here it is in The Message).

Have you ever read through this chapter with a single context in mind?

How does 3D change what you see?

...oh, there will be lots more. Later.


Janet Woodlock said...

It's really biblical interpretation 101 to think about the cultural context of a teaching, but it's often forgotten! I love this perspective... it's hard to get our heads around the cultural world of the first century east when we live in the world of the 21st century west... but it is so enlightening! Thanks for posting on this Peggy.

AbiSomeone said...

I am looking forward to more on this as things progress. I've been a bit sidetracked (so what else is new, eh?), but I will get back here.

Thanks for your encouragement, Janet!