For my devotional times I am once again studying and thinking on Jesus’ life as a regular human being. We hear and think a lot about Jesus as the Messiah, the Anointed One from God, who came to save us. [Matthew 1:18-21 I will put the whole verse below] And that is right and good, as the Bible would say. In other words, we hear and think a lot about Jesus’ divinity. But I like to delve a little more into Jesus’ humanity. It is through studying Jesus’ humanity that I have come to know Him more and better, and maybe to understand our own helplessness, despite having Jesus and the Father living in us, as Jesus promised. John 14:23
However, just to be clear, I believe with all my heart that Jesus was and is all God and all Human. How? I’ll get into that in my next post.
Several years ago I wrote a fictional novel based on Jesus’ humanity, ie, his first 30 years as well as the roughly three years covered in the Gospels and the beginning of Acts. I felt God wanted me to write this book and so I persevered through eight years of research and writing. When it was done [the first and second drafts] I had a novel about 700,000 words long [yes, I can hear you laughing]. It was much too long and although I believe I had some brilliant moments in the book, it was also written very badly and naively. I knew nothing about characterization, or plot planning, etc. The book [which I named The Son of Man] had so many subplots and twists and turns that even I became a little lost at times. It would be impossible to publish as is. Now that I know a lot more about writing, I have revisited the story from time to time and considered rewriting it properly, but frankly I’d have to tear it apart completely and pick out the main plot and maybe three subplots at most and go from there. Although the story is unpublishable the way it is, I am loathe to do anything with it. For one thing, I don’t know if I’ll live long enough to completely fix it…haha [I’m nearing 63 and I think it could very well take twenty years to rework the story.]
So why would God want me to write this book? [And I still believe he did.] First of all it brought my writing out of the closet. I had been a secret writer for years, but too bashful about it to tell anyone except my most immediate family. Even my brothers and sisters didn’t know I was a writer. I felt God wanted me to tell people about my novel, The Son of Man. In the telling [and people were very interested in this angle of looking at Jesus] I would tell them first of all that we need a better understanding of Jewish words, names and culture in the life and times of Jesus. And so we would start talking about Jesus.
About the names in scripture…For instance I had wondered for years why the angel said to Joseph, “You shall name him Jesus for He shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21. The sentence seemed to be irrelevant and obscure. But in Aramaic it would read;
20 But while he [ie Joseph] was thinking about this, an angel of Adonai appeared to him in a dream and said, “Yosef, son of David, do not be afraid to take Miryam home with you as your wife; for what has been conceived in her is from the Ruach HaKodesh. [Ie Holy Spirit] 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘Adonai saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins.” from the Complete Jewish Bible, written by David Stern, a Messianic Jewish theologian.
However, even David Stern avoids saying the literal translation, because as a Jew he believes one should not say [or write] the Name of God. “Adonai” means Lord, but the verse says literally YHWH [which means I Am That I Am]. Theologians are unsure exactly how this would be pronounced so we have two versions; Yahweh [pronounced Yah-way or Yah-vay] or Jehovah. In actual fact in the first century there was no letter or phoneme [sound] as “J.” Jehovah should be pronounce Yeh-hovah. There is a secular discussion of the name YHWH in Wikipedia. A Judeo-Christian explanation is here. The name of Jesus in Matthew and all the Gospels would be Yeshua, which was a contraction of Yehoshua, which means literally, “YHWH saves.” Yehoshua and Yeshua have arrived by various language routes into Modern English as both Jesus and Joshua. Exactly the same name. The YH or Yah part of YHWH shows up in a lot of Jewish names. eg; John=originally Yochanen=YHWH is gracious.
By now you will have figured out at least two things about me. I relate to people, including God, through my intellect as well as my emotions, and I love history, even the history of words. The third thing, which is in keeping with the theme of this blog, is that virtually everything in God’s creation has connections. I believe God is about connections.
So to continue my story of my story, that is, my novel, The Son of Man, I researched until I was cross-eyed the background of the Gospels and the life and times of Jesus. In doing so I not only discovered how Jesus revealed himself through drawing parallels with the Jewish feasts, but also I realized we have sometimes read the Gospels at face value and not thought about the reality. For instance, John 1:43-50 reads
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
50 Jesus said, “You believe[h] because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you,[i] you[j] will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’[k] the Son of Man.”
Then at the beginning of Chapter 2 John says;
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
I used to think verse 1 meant; “three days later,” but after studying my maps and the times and places, I discovered that was impossible. In Matthew 3:1 , John the Baptist, Jesus, and his new followers are in the wilderness of Judea, close enough to Jerusalem that the Jewish leaders came out to see John the Baptist and ask him if he was the Messiah. John 1:19. From there it would take a week or more to walk to Cana in Galilee, as it was about 70 or 80 miles. see map. Therefore the reference to “the third day,” has to mean; “The third day of the week, ie, Tuesday.” [More about this in another blog post] This is just an example of how easy it is to get certain ideas in our heads.
[Some other misconceptions; nowhere in the Bible does it state Joseph and Mary had a donkey with them; a manger is referred to but not a stable [Jesus may have been born in a basement of a house, in a cave, of which there were many in the Bethlehem area, or even out in the open] Nor does the Bible number the wise men. There may have been as few as two, or as many as ten or more. There were three kinds of gifts; gold, frankincense and myrrh. The wise men also did not come to the stable, they came to the house where Joseph and Mary now lived. Matthew 2:11 Jesus may have been as old as two. [Why else would Herod order all boys aged two years and under to be killed? Matthew 2:16] We don’t know where exactly the wise men or literally, magi, came from but we can infer they came from a place that took about a year and a half to two years to travel from. See here. [This discussion asks questions about what the star actually was. My thought is; could it have been an angel? More about that in a different blog post.]
This blog post is getting a little long, so I will stop here. But I have felt for a while that God wants me to share, over time, at least some of my thoughts from The Son of Man. So there will be more posts about this fascinating time in history and the background of Jesus’ life.
For instance, some time between Jesus being twelve and about thirty years of age, his father apparently died. Here is Jesus, who would bring healing to thousands, apparently unable to heal his own earthly father, whom he must have dearly loved. [Or possibly God the Father told Jesus, “It is not yet your time,” so Jesus was not allowed to heal Joseph.] Either way Jesus suffered the same helplessness and grief that we do. This thought has ministered to me greatly. Jesus really does know what we are going through.
Matthew 1:18-21 NKJV Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
John 14:23 NKJV; 23 Jesus answered and said to him,“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. [It is a good idea to read all of John 14]
Matthew 2:1-18; After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
The Escape to Egypt
13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”[c]
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”[d]
I am looking forward to your thoughts, please comment.