Tuesday, February 14, 2017
I read a tweet a few days ago, actually on Friday 10th, published by Billy Graham’s son Franklin. He was commenting on the Mexican wall and current USA immigration issues. Here it is: Cities in biblical times had walls and gates for protection. When there was a threat, the gates were closed – temporarily. Now I’m only using this as an illustration, I’m not venturing into American politics or current American religious divisions. What I am doing is examining how we read and quote the bible, especially paying attention to how Jesus used Old Testament scripture. Jesus had two approaches to the Old Testament. "You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But now I tell you…” This is Bible Study 101! The Old Testament must always be seen through Jesus’ eyes. Everything in the Law, which Jesus said would be fulfilled and last forever, is summed up in these words, "Teacher," he asked, "Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus answered, " "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: "Love your neighbor as you love yourself.' The whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets depend on these two commandments." Jesus consistently ignored or even denied exclusionary, punitive, and triumphalistic texts in his own inspired Hebrew Bible in favour of passages that emphasized inclusion, mercy, and honesty. He read the Scriptures in a spiritual and selective way (He did this, we are not to). Think about it? Is this not why Jesus was accused of teaching as one with authority and why the Teachers of the Law hated him. He interpreted (or reinterpreted) the old teachings of the law, and they didn’t like it! It was no longer the way it used to be. “This is my blood of the New Covenant.” Getting back to the tweet. Such an idea of ‘Christian’ community would have been an anathema to Jesus. Jesus left quotes such as these out of his vocabulary. In their place he spoke new words like these, “So the master said to the servant, "Go out to the country roads and lanes and make people come in, so that my house will be full.” We must very carefully when banding the Old Testament around. In short WWJD? Read the Old Testament through Jesus' eyes, and see how he quoted it in the gospels. You will soon get a handle on what is gospel and what is not!