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Breezin’ Through the Bible, #22 Jesus At Last

March 19, 2014

JESUS, AT LAST

How could the hearts of mankind span the breech from Judaism to Christianity? Jesus is the bridge. Beginning with a small promise to Abraham two thousand years before Christ was born, God’s words spread from a small nation of Israelites to the wide movement of Christianity. The story illustrates God’s power, the duration indicates God’s patience, and the theme reveals God’s everlasting love and concern for his people.

The Bible is not two separate books, but one continuous story. His words became flesh. God built his relationship with his people as carefully as a writer builds a novel or a craftsman build his house. When Adam and Eve showed their tendency toward disobedience, they werGode given clothing to cover their shame and ejected from Paradise. Paradise would have to be rebuilt with blood, sweat and tears. How could paradise exist in hearts that were evil or in a world filled with discrimination, hypocrisy, and hate? The mission of God’s son Jesus was clear. He would help people find love and peace in their hearts and in this world; then he would gently lead us beyond death.

History is slow to unravel, and many lose interest in “prequels”. “Get on with the story,” they say. But much is lost in the interim. Four hundred years elapsed between the old and new testaments, and the four hundred years are filled with a history not clearly examined in the Bible. Twenty-five or so generations separate the birth of Jesus from his ancestor, David. Those years have been sketched by historians, but the hearts of men in ancient days of Greek and Roman power remained self-centered, not God-centered.

The Jewish religion underwent changes. Groups evolved and doctrines spread compromising God’s laws. The Pharisees enacted hundreds of laws surrounding Moses’ revelation of God’s Ten Commandments. Observances of rites, ceremonies, and traditions left little time to spend with God. Sadducees were an ancient sect that guarded the temple. They believed the soul died with the body. Essenes were an obscure group who led a communal monastic life near the Dead Sea. They excluded women, the handicapped and the sick. They thought they were preparing the way for the Lord. Zealots were fanatical rebel bands dedicated to overthrowing the government.

In Jesus time, intense opposition to Roman rule occasionally boiled over in open rebellion. Prophets had promised a Messiah, a leader who would save the people. A warrior was expected, not a  babe born into a poor family who would save without ousting the oppressive government. 

The Christmas story reminds us each year of his humble birth, visited by shepherds and kings, but so detested by King Herod that he ordered the deaths of babies, hoping to kill the baby predicted to be the king. Escaping to Egypt, his mother Mary and her husband Joseph later returned to Nazareth, keeping the boy safe and teaching him. Scriptures note Jesus at age twelve went to the temple for the Feast of the Passover and remained there after his parents left, learning and questioning the priest and scribes, in the “house of his father.” His parents did not understand, but Mary kept the moments treasured in her heart, and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. The old story takes on new meaning as we read the story of Jesus.

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