This episode continues our series examining God as a character in the Bible. Today Tim and Jon dive deep into the story of Jesus of Nazareth.
In part one (00:00-12:30), Tim outlines the historical path of Jesus. He says that within Jewish culture, Jesus stands unique. For example, in early Christian culture, there were hymns singing songs of praise to Jesus, not just about Jesus. Christians can “praise the name of Jesus” and Paul can use the phrase “maranatha,” which means “our Lord come” in Aramaic. Tim says the point is that Paul can write to a Hebrew or Greek audience with an Aramaic phrase and have it apparently make sense. The significance is that what Jews would have said about Yahweh––“our Lord come”––Christians were then saying about Jesus in Paul’s letters. Tim says that by doing this you are essentially equating Jesus to Yahweh. Tim cites Larry Hurtado and his book One Lord, One God.
In part two (12:30-22:45), Tim outlines the most common exalted claim made about Jesus by the first Jewish Christians. It was to use the language of Psalm 110:1-2 combined with Daniel 7.
Psalm 110 A poem of David:
Yahweh says to my Lord:
“Sit at My right hand
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
The Lord will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying,
“Rule in the midst of Your enemies.”
These lines are the most-quoted Old Testament text in the New Testament. It describes God taking a “master/lord” of King David and placing him on a throne that is next to the divine throne. It’s quoted by Jesus himself inMark 12:36 and 14:62, by the apostles in Acts 2:33-35; 5:31; 7:55-56, and by the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:34; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:20; 2:6; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12-13; 12:2. It's also used in a Jewish context to claim that a human figure had been exalted to share in the divine rule over creation, which was equal to a claim that this figure shares in God’s unique identity.
Tim asks the burning historical question: How did this configuration of beliefs and practices come into existence? The New Testament offers an account for the origins of this exalted view of Jesus and their experience of him through the Spirit.
In part three (22:45-37:00), Tim lays out more accounts of Jesus and says that Jesus positions himself as “Yahweh returning” from the Old Testament. For example in Mark 1:1-3:
“The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way;
The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.’”
“Lord” here is in Greek (kurios), the Greek Septuagint translation of “Yahweh.”
In Mark 1:4-8, John the baptist is introduced as the messenger voice in the wilderness. So In Mark 1:9, we’re introduced to Jesus as kurios. Tim continues and says that with Jesus’ baptism, the story is a Father, Son and Spirit love-fest.
"In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens [God as Father]. 'You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.'"
Tim says the point is to demonstrate the unity of the triune God. Jesus is sent forth from God/Yahweh in the power of the Spirit.
In part four (37:00-end), Tim says after the baptism that Jesus does “Yahweh alone” things, such as forgiving people’s sins. Mark 2:5-7: "And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.' But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 'Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?' [lit. “the one God”]"
Jon asks about the relationship as a son and father. Why does Jesus call God his father? Tim says it’s not like Yahweh gave birth to Jesus. It carries forward Old Testament ideas that the son, specifically the eldest son, is the chosen one who will carry on the father’s mission.
Tim says that while the title “Father” or “my Father” or “our Father” can be confusing to modern readers, Jesus was fundamentally trying to show an intimate, precious relationship between him and Yahweh. Father is used in the Old Testament in Exodus when Yahweh refers to Israel as “my son.” Further, Christians get this language uniquely from Jesus’ own choice of that word to use it to describe Yahweh.
Tim says that there is always a point in these type of conversations when things seem mysterious and confusing and people lack language to describe this aspect of God. Tim says he thinks that this is part of the beauty of the topic.