Jesus knew the scriptures; to understand him, we must too

Again, the high priest asked, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the blessed one?”

Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Human One sitting on the right side of the Almighty and coming on the heavenly clouds.”

Mark 14:61-62

There is a lot on my mind this morning:

  1. There is excitement and anticipation – because our church is increasingly able to make some positive, yet careful and responsible, movement toward more in-person worship.
  2. There is concern and frustration – because I am still dealing with too much pain.
  3. There is gratitude – especially for our family in Miami and Germany.
  4. And there is this ongoing sense of journey through Lent, in the context of deepening faith.

Let’s open box number 4:

So let’s talk about this journey toward Easter. Specifically as a companion to the two books I am reading along the way (24-Hours that Changed the World, and Reaching Toward Easter).

Pastor/author Adam Hamilton gets to the heart of who Jesus is – and why that truth so difficult for the religious leaders to take – in his chapter on the “trial” before the Sanhedrin.

It has often been noted that Jesus does not say much in response to his accusers. But Hamilton does a great job of showing quite the opposite; Jesus may not use many words but he absolutely says everything, and then some.

What Jesus does is use a rhetorical tool that plays off the deep knowledge – both cultural and scriptural – resident in those judging him.

When the Lord answers with “I AM,” he presupposes an intellectual and visceral understanding that “I AM” is synonymous with The One True God.

Christ’s reference to “Coming on the heavenly clouds” would have brought Daniel 7:13-14 to mind:

“One like a human being,
    coming with the heavenly clouds.
He came to the ancient one
    and was presented before him.
 Rule, glory, and kingship were given to him;
    all peoples, nations, and languages will serve him.
His rule is an everlasting one—
    it will never pass away!—
        his kingship is indestructible

And, when Jesus says he sits at the right hand of the Almighty he is evoking Psalm 110:1-4: “Sit right beside me until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet!” Jesus is both King and Priest forever, this passage attests, according to the order of Melchizedek!

Know the Scriptures!

What Jesus does – and he does this a lot, I told the guys – is to use one phrase from the scriptures that then brings a whole passage, or section, to mind.

It’s like saying, “It was the best of times it was the worst of times…” and anyone with a knowledge of literature understands: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” Not just that but, the whole story and meaning of the Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities.

An intimate and expansive knowledge of the scriptures is an invaluable tool for faith, for living, for conversation, for prayer, for understanding… and so much more. Jesus relied on it. If we are to understand what Jesus is saying then we must be able to rely on it too.

– author Derek Maul

Okay, so that’s enough for today!

Walk on, then, on this journey through Lent, reaching – daily – toward Easter. My prayers are with you – DEREK

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