CULTURE OF JESUS AND THE BIBLE
Understand the Bible in the first-century cultural context.
If God would have chosen Mexico to reveal himself, Jesus would have been Mexican and his language would include tacos, tamales, and burritos! If He would have been from El Salvador, then his language would be one of tortillas, pupusas, and enchiladas. If India, then rotis. If Greece, then gyros. You get the point.
God chose Israel as the nation to reveal Himself and through Israel reach the entire world. Therefore, it is vital to learn about the Jewish culture of Yeshua (Jesus) so that we can better understand His teachings, the Bible, its language, the people, and the land. Doing so will enrich our personal spiritual experience on this side of eternity to be effective disciples.
When we read the Bible in its original, cultural context, it truly takes on full color and inevitably takes our faith walk to a whole new level.
We love how Lois Tverberg explains it:
“Have you ever tasted fresh pita bread made by the Bedouins? It’s out of this world—chewy and hot, crispy in spots, and a little smoky from the open fire… Sure, you can buy bagged pita bread in your local grocery store, and its nutritional value will be exactly the same. But the mouthwatering aroma of the original simply can’t be captured and transported to you. Similarly, the Bible’s ideas are often best appreciated “freshly served” in their original Middle Eastern setting.”
(“Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus” by Lois Tverberg. Baker Books, 2017, pg 9.)
Understand the culture of Jesus and the Bible to:
- Better understand the teachings of Jesus
- Interpret God’s Word accurately
- Foster personal revival
- Understand the fullness of our spiritual heritage
- Learn how to support Israel
Unity fulfills God’s heart for oneness in the Body of Messiah. Unity does not mean uniformity. Rather, it means affirming Gentile and Jewish identities. One does not have to become the other to be saved or be accepted in the Body of Christ.
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:20-21 NKJV).
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1-3 NKJV)
According to Genesis 12:3, when we honor the Jewishness of our faith we position ourselves to:
- Walk in the fullness of the Abrahamic blessing
- Renew a genuine love and support for Israel and the Jewish people
- Activate unprecedented blessings that will impact our personal lives, families, and communities
I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (Gen. 12:3 NKJV)
You, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree (Rom. 11:17-18 NKJV)
At that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Eph. 2:12-13 NKJV)
The One New Man is the reality of the Body of Messiah. Based in part on Ephesians 2:15, Scripture affirms that Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished the following:
- Brought peace and unity between Jew and Gentile
- Tore down the wall of hostility that separated us
- Created the One New Man from the two peoples
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. (Eph. 2:14-16 NKJV)
As the Body of Messiah, we recognize that in terms of history, culture, and covenants, the Gospel was promised and preached to the Jews first, then to the Gentiles. This does not mean that the Gospel is exclusively for the Jews, but that as a chosen nation, God revealed Himself to the Jewish people first.
The Jewish people gave us the knowledge of the One True God, the Good News of the Gospel, our Savior Yeshua, and the revelation of God through the Hebrew Scriptures. Today, Gentiles have the responsibility to bring the Gospel back to the Jewish people and help them acknowledge Messiah Yeshua.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Rom. 1:16 NKJV)
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8 NKJV)