Article: Discovering Jesus in His Jewish Context

Since the 18th century, the question of the historical Jesus has puzzled theologians. They have actively constructed portraits of Jesus, and depicted him as an apocalyptic prophet, a charismatic healer, a Cynic philosopher, a prophet of social change and so on. Jesus has been a black man, a Marxist revolutionist, a Palestinian and a feminist. Many different contextual theologies have been created in the desire to make the world a better place.

When the readers see the title of our upcoming course, Discovering Jesus in His Jewish Context, I wonder if they get the impression that Jewish Jesus is another attempt to harness our Saviour to someone’s ideological wagon. That would be logical reasoning, but it is not the case here.

Everyone knows that Jesus was Jewish. However, we Christians often assume, without thinking, that the Apostle Paul was the first Jewish convert to Christianity. Isn’t that what happened on the road to Damascus? The Christian interpretation of the bible generally evolves from Paul’s writings in the Epistles. We tend to ignore the narrative of the book of Acts, and how Jewish Paul really was. Research shows that “Christianity” remained a Jewish movement for quite some time. Many factors influenced the historical development where Christianity and Judaism parted ways, and were formed into separate religions. In the beginning, the Jewish believer in Jesus was the standard – later the Church was widely gentilized, while the Jewish way of following Jesus disappeared, for the most part.

Many tourists come to Israel to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. They hear about the history, they explore churches and archaeological sites. Lots of interesting stones! But where are the living stones? During our upcoming course, participants will have the opportunity to learn about Jesus by listening to his Jewish brothers and sisters. The present-day Messianic movement, as a general rule, desires to revive the Jewish way of following Jesus. It is true that there is a gap of about 1,700 years between the modern Messianic movement and these first generations of Jewish believers (who disappeared in the fourth century, as they assimilated in churches). Even so, today’s Messianic movement can still give us Christians a glimpse into the bible through a new window, from which we can view our beloved Messiah, and God’s plan for this world. Something that – I believe – has been missing from the Church for a long time.

Sanna Erelä

 

We still have few open spaces for our Discovering Jesus in His Jewish Context course, April 23 – May 4, 2018. The course will be held in English and is aimed at pastors, ministry people and other theologically-minded Christians. For more information, write caspari@caspari.com or go to our website www.caspari.com