“It was in this world that Jesus grew up, and to this world that he addressed his preaching. If we are to understand the thrust of Jesus’ ministry, we must project ourselves as far as possible into the worldview and mindset of a first-century Jew”.*
This was pointed out by a friend on social media and when I read it, it caused me to recoil a bit. Maybe it’s because of some wild propositions I’ve seen recently regarding the New Covenant, maybe it’s because some seem to think that just because they’ve smelled the fossilized leather one of Jesus’ sandals or skipped window’s mites on the Sea of Galilee that they have better biblical interpretive skills, or maybe it’s simply that I’m mentally fixed on this issue at the moment, I don’t know, but it’s the last part this N.T. Wright quote that bothers me.
“If we are to understand the thrust of Jesus’ ministry, we must project ourselves as far as possible into the worldview and mindset of a first-century Jew”.*
While I would agree that any holy due diligence seeks to understand culture, history, audience, language, etc., should be encouraged, I’m not so sure that ‘projecting ourselves into mind-set of a first-century Jew,’ is really our goal.
“For who has known the mind of THE LORD JEHOVAH that he may teach him? But we do have the mind of The Messiah, The Christ (Aramaic Bible in Plain English) 1 Corinthians 2:16 in conjunction with Isaiah 40:13
[Tweet “Our goal is the mind of Christ, the trans-century Jehovah, not the ‘mind of a first-century Jew.”]
In the early church, those who taught a combination of God’s grace and human effort were called “Judiazers.” The word Judaizer comes from a Greek verb meaning “to live according to Jewish customs.” The word appears in Galatians 2:14 where Paul describes how he confronted Peter for forcing Gentile Christians to “Judaize.” I fear that Judiazers are again on the rise and that the subtle doctrinal encroachments that are being put forth now are only the first of many waves.
Our goal is not be conformed to this world, or the history of it, but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds, that through the testing of them, ‘we may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’ (Romans 12:2)
How does this renewal come? By thoughtful reflectiveness in faith, by not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought, and by appropriating the blessings of unity in a multi-function ekklesia. (Romans 12: 3-21) By being “made new in the attitude of our minds” (Ephesians 4:23). By becoming a new indigenous and celestial species, (2 Corinthians 5:17). By embracing the death of our crucified selves and living in the reality of Christ living in us. (Galatians 2:20).
Also, I’m stuck in the idea of ‘understanding the thrust of Jesus’ ministry.’ Why do we want to understand the thrust his ministry? Why not try to understand His truth, ‘Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth,’ (John 17:17) and let ministry flow from there? Trying to unravel the mysteries of Jesus’ ministry and steps before His teaching’s seems to be reverse engineering ourselves into a state of clever paralysis.
Finally, if it’s true that here is neither Jew nor Gentile (Galatians 3:28) and that we are all and equally Abraham’s seed (Galatians 3:29), then Why chase after the minutia of the mind of the first-century Jew instead of the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. Yes, even the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:10)