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Showing posts from August, 2015

Portraits of Christ: Luke’s Gospel, part 2

Imagine living as a Jewish person in the province of Judea around the time of Jesus. Not only do you live under Roman oppression and taxation, but the Romans have carved out the province from the rest of Palestine so that it has few economic centers or resources, making the area fairly poor. On top of that, the corrupt provincial governor “King” Herod (and sons) has also oppressed the land as a cruel dictator, and has imposed his own additional taxes to support his life of luxury and his grand building projects. While the Romans venerated their Emperor Augustus as a god-like hero, empire-builder, and peace-maker, the Jewish people would view him less favorably.

Luke 2 sets up an implicit contrast between Augustus, in all his power to make life difficult (say, with an inconvenient census), and the Son of God, who is born to a peasant woman and lives among the common people. Furthermore, his birth is announced to shepherds, who were one of the lowest social classes in that time. This p…

Portraits of Christ: Luke’s Gospel

Particularly in Luke, we see a Jesus born and raised in the backwaters of insignificant Jewish towns - born in Bethlehem, and growing up in the small farm village of Nazareth. You would think that if God mainly cared for or wanted to influence the powerful and mighty of the world, then Jesus should have been born in Rome, or Athens, or Alexandria, or at least Jerusalem. Instead he is born to a peasant girl named Mary in the middle of nowhere, at a time when the province of Judea suffered under poverty and oppression. Incredibly, her peasant son changed the world. But he never did it by allying himself with the rich and powerful or even seeking them out in order to implement his program. Usually if you want to start an influential movement, even as a grassroots movement, you would still recruit some wealthy donors and celebrities or leaders to promote your movement. Jesus did it totally opposite. He did not even focus on winning over the religious establishment; in fact, he often chal…

New Testament portraits of Christ

Who is Jesus to you? Reflect on that for a minute. Your mind will probably first turn to some standard explanations that you learned in church. But do you really understand what that means very deeply? Is it an understanding that really challenges your spiritual life?
Jesus was a very complex character. He is a complex person, and far more complex as God and man in one. We can better know and appreciate him when we pull away from the two-dimensional Sunday school representations of Jesus, and see him as a real person who lived and acted in history with other people. And as a person he is more fascinating and mysterious because this man is also a member of the divine Trinity who walked among us. These concepts have real implications for how we live. This blog is the first in a series that will look at some insights from different parts of the New Testament, by touching on different perspectives of Jesus, especially viewed within the bigger context.

The New Testament writers show us di…