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Center for Action and Contemplation

Jesus: The Jewish Teacher: Weekly Summary

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Jesus: The Jewish Teacher

Summary: Sunday, March 1-Friday, March 6, 2015

Jesus, the self-revelation of God, made honest I-Thou relationship between God and humans imaginable! (Sunday)

What God does in biblical history (and wants to do in our own lives) is lead people beyond the idea of a bilateral covenant in which we must earn, deserve, and merit, to an experience of pure, unearned grace, a unilateral or “new” covenant with an Infinite Love Source. (Monday)

I think the very best key by which a Christian can interpret Scripture is to interpret Scripture the way that Jesus did. (Tuesday)

Christianity unfortunately put itself in competition with other religions—instead of being a nonviolent message of universal love that is needed for the maturation of all religions. (Wednesday)

Jesus showed no interest in maintaining purity systems, or closed systems of any kind, because they only appeal to the ego and lead no one to God. (Thursday)

Low level religion almost always attacks the shadow instead of the ego, the symptom instead of the cause. (Friday)


Practice: Midrash

Try to approach Scripture with patience, humility, respect, and the Jewish practice of midrash. Midrash is a way of interpreting scripture that asks questions more than seeks always certain and unchanging answers. It allows many possibilities, many levels of faith-filled meaning—meaning that is relevant and applicable to you, the reader, and puts you in the subject’s shoes to build empathy and understanding. Let the passage first challenge you before it challenges anyone else. To use the text in a spiritual way is to allow it to convert you, to change you, to grow you up. What does this ask of me? How might this apply to my life, to my marriage, to my church, to my neighborhood, to my country?

The German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, seemed to grasp the value of this practice applied not only to a sacred text, but to life. He wrote in Letters to a Young Poet: “Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”

As Jesus modeled so masterfully in his teaching, welcome uncertainty and paradox. Respond to questions with yet more questions, like Jesus did with the lawyer who asked how he might inherit eternal life, but really only to “justify himself” (Luke 10:25-37). Let the wisdom written on your own heart lead you, through experiencing God’s love, toward mercy and justice.

Gateway to Silence:
Teach me Your truth.

Adapted from Hierarchy of Truths: Jesus’ Use of Scripture (CD, MP3 download)

For Further Study:
Hierarchy of Truths: Jesus’ Use of Scripture (CD, MP3 download)
Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality
Scripture as Liberation (MP3 download) 

Image credit: Head of Christ (1648/detail) by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669)
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