Tuesday, April 08, 2014

This week's lesson: Christ and the law of Moses

You could say Jesus was Jewish.

You could also say he was "Jewish."

Consider the story in Matthew 9:20-22 -- the story of a woman who wanted to be healed:  
And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.
Now if Jesus has a "fringe" to his garment, then he's obviously Jewish -- Jewish enough to wear the kind of tzizit  worn by all mensch in Fiddler on the Roof. 

Yet "Jewish" as he is, Jesus isn't bothered by the fact this woman is unclean -- or that her touch has made him unclean and unfit to worship until he's been ceremonially cleansed.

No, all through the Gospels, we learn that Jesus is Jewish -- that Jesus keeps the Sabbath, that he is circumcised, and that he worships in the Temple.

Yet all through the Gospels, Jesus is criticized for doing things that "good" Jews weren't supposed to do -- things such as healing on the Sabbath. Praising the faith of Roman officer. And predicting the destruction of Jerusalem.

In short, Jesus was a reformer . . .

But he was a conservative reformer: he loved Judaism enough to try and make it better . . . 

Which is a very Jewish thing thing to do.

Likewise, the most loyal members of a nation, a school, or a church are not always the people who love the status quo. No, their loyalty is qualified by their dreams; they are committed to what could be, and not just what is.

Like Jesus, in other words, we are called to be Christians.

But sometimes, that means we need to be "Christians."

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