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This episode continues our series on God. Tim and Jon dive deeper into the portrayal of Jesus as a character in the New Testament. They ask the big question: Just who did Jesus think he was?
In part one (00:00-12:15), Tim and Jon briefly recap the conversation so far. As depicted in the Hebrew Scriptures, God is a “complex unity.” Tim says it’s a fundamental mistake and a case of cultural imperialism to read the Bible expecting the biblical authors to use language and words the same way that you do. He offers an example: Would you travel to another country and expect them to speak the same way, eat the same things, and have all of the cultural norms you are accustomed to? Of course not. You travel to see other cultures. So when reading the Bible, the reader needs to be trained to think as a Hebrew author would think.
In part two (12:15 - 24:15), Tim breaks down some of Jesus' more inflammatory claims, including that “all the things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son reveals him.”
Tim says that when Jesus says this it's another way of Jesus proclaiming he is the Son of Man, but he doesn’t use Daniel 7 Son of Man language. Instead, he uses Father/Son language. Jesus is saying that just because people may not recognize who he is, doesn’t change his identity as the Son of Man. Tim says there was a point in Jesus' human development where he became aware of his identity as the Messiah. The only window into this is the short story in Luke where Jesus is twelve years old and wants to stay in the temple because he’s aware of his identity.
In part three (24:15- 40:40), Jon asks how ancient Jews thought of the Son of Man coming? Tim says that the Son of Man figure in Daniel 7 inspired a lot of different ideas. Jesus is claiming that he is opening up a way to relate to the God of Israel as “Father.”
Tim outlines Matthew 26. The high priest demands to know if Jesus is the Messiah. Tim makes a key distinction. For the Jews, the title Son of Man is much more blasphemous than the title Son of God. To be a Son of God is a royal title that says you’re a descendant of King David. To be the Son of Man means you are claiming divinity, sharing in God’s own identity.
Jesus’ response to the high priest is a response from Psalm 110 and Daniel 7. He says “from this moment,” meaning that as soon as he is condemned to death, it is actually the beginning of his installment or coronation as the Son of Man, who will now be sitting at the “right hand of the Father.” Jesus is then given a robe and a crown of thorns and is crucified. This is his coronation as King of the universe.
In part four (40:40 -44:35), Tim gives a historical example of “Alexamenos of Rome,” an ancient piece of Roman graffiti depicting Christ being crucified, only in the image he has the head of a donkey. The graffiti is the Romans mocking someone named Alexamenos for worshiping Jesus, saying that it’s completely absurd.
Tim offers an example of twenty-one Christians in the Middle East who were slaughtered and beheaded for their faith in Jesus. The apostles would have you believe that while they were being brutally murdered, they were the ones in charge, not their captors. How counterintuitive.
In part five (44:35-end), Tim and Jon briefly discuss Christian baptism. Baptisms bookend the book of Matthew. At the beginning, Jesus is baptized, and at the end, he tells his disciples to baptize new believers. Tim says that, unfortunately, baptism has been controversial and divisive in Christian history. Because the apostles didn't seem to be interested in explaining baptism to the degree that it would solve debates about what baptism actually means and symbolizes. Tim says that regardless, all Christians agree that it is an important motif in Christianity. Why? Because you get to identify yourself with the Jesus story, going through the same ritual he did to identify as a child of God.
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Dan Gummel, Jon Collins, Matthew Halbert-Howen
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