1 December 2011
Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg have given readers all over the world a new perspective of the story of Jesus. In their novel, Sitting at the feet of Rabbi Jesus we learn more in depth about the Jewishness of Jesus’ life and how Israel was during his day. They help us see Jesus’ story through first century Jewish eyes. The story unfolds and becomes clearer when looking at it in this perspective and we better understand His purpose here on earth. In chapter one, we learn what it means to “sit at the feet of Rabbi Jesus.” It not only means that we are literally sitting at his feet, but it is also an idiom for learning from your rabbi. The disciples did this to be covered in the dust of their rabbi. Ann and Lois give an example through the story of Mary and Martha. They too wanted to be covered in Jesus’ dust. Mary literally sat at his feet and listened to Jesus; while Martha was too busy being distracted by other things. This helps us retune our thinking and imagine being a disciple at Jesus’ feet. In chapter two, we learn how extremely devoted the Jewish are through their religion and daily customs. The Rabbi had the most customs to uphold and their life style and goals were different from most. Jesus’ greatest goal was to raise up disciples who would carry on his teaching after he was gone. He spends his entire time on earth being a living example of God to all of his disciples. In chapter three we see that rabbinic technique was used often in this time. Hinting to the scriptures was a popular technique used by Jesus and other Rabbis. Knowing what Jesus doesn’t say becomes just as important as what he doesn’t say. One very important technique was the Stringing of the Pearls. Jesus uses this technique often in the Bible. In the Beatitudes, Jesus puts together various scriptures to make one major point that God is faithful! Also when Jesus calls himself shepherd in John 10, he was really hinting at Micah 5:2. We have to understand the Jewish context in order to fully understand some of these references. God also uses Stringing of the Pearls when Jesus is baptized. Chapter four shows the task of the disciple and how children didn’t really take classes to learn what they knew. They would learn hands on and by example from watching their parents. Jesus calls us to be his faithful disciples and he gives us the perfect models in scripture through Elijah and Elisha. When Elijah called Elisha, he gave up everything and made his main goal to become like Elijah. In chapter 5 we learn that community was also an important aspect of learning. We can’t become Christ-like completely on our own. We need accountability and community. In order to do so we need a haverim. A haverim is basically a close friend that you study and learn together with. Jesus says there is a critical need for us to have one. When we become someone‘s haverim or acquire a haverim for us we are fulfilling Jesus’ command to raise up disciples. Ann shares an experience in chapter 6 of her time in Tel Aviv, emphasizing the apparent devotion the Jewish people have. Prayer was extremely important to the Jewish. They not only recited 100 prayers a day but they also wore telfillin and Rabbis wore tzitziyots. This priority is evident by the fact that the Mishnah is devoted entirely to the subject of how and when to pray. Chapter 7 focuses on the Jewish tradition of blessings and prayers of thanksgiving. We should thank God everyday for all that he has given us. Prayer should become something we do just like we say “please and thank you.” A life filled with prayer is a life saturated with kavanah, which is the deep awareness of God’s presence and love. There was misunderstanding in the text when Jesus prayed for the five loaves and two fish. People say he said bless the food but he was really saying bless God for providing us with this food. That is why today’s Christians say Bless this food before each meal....
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