We must use as a point of initiation for any New Testament exegesis the fact that Jesus was an observant Jew and that everything he said and did was directed toward his Jewish contemporaries. He himself declared, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
The God whom he addressed as Father was YHWH, the God of Israel; the Bible that he used was the Tanakh, the Hebrew Scriptures; the soil which he traversed was Israel, the land of the Jews; and the people who were his family, friends, associates, and even his detractors were Jews.
In order to understand the record, therefore, we must look at it through Jewish eyes, or at least we must discard our Greco-Roman and Euro-American eyeglasses and don Hebrew lenses. And, we must be sure that our lenses are positioned in the proper direction so that we are reading out of Scripture what is actually there (exegesis) rather than reading ourselves, our cultures, our philosophies, and our traditions into the record of Scripture (eisegesis).
When we engage ourselves in a search to discover what the authors said– and not what our presuppositions want them to say–we find a gold mine of enriching truth that transforms our lives into the image of God’s dear Son.
Every event reported by the evangelists in the Gospels takes on new meaning, because we see the living Jesus not as some extraterrestrial cosmic Christ but as the Son of man, the Jew
Jesus living out among his Jewish brethren the paradigm of what it is to be fully human. The Memra (Logos in Greek), God’s eternally preexistent Word, emptied himself of inherent equality with the Father in the kenosis of becoming very man. When we see what the essence of God was when he made himself flesh and tabernacled among us, we understand much more about him in his absolute deity.
A knowledge of the Hebrew foundations of Christian faith is vital for all believers in Jesus as Messiah and Lord.
By understanding the ancient system of praise, worship, and service through which Jesus and the apostles expressed their devotion to God, we comprehend the motivations for their actions and the basis for their teachings.
Christian faith acquires a new depth and meaning when it is understood in the light of the Hebrew matrix from which it emerged. Jesus and the apostles are placed in the context of their Jewish brethren and their religion, Judaism, so that the acts of Jesus and the apostles recorded in the Christian Scriptures from Matthew to Revelation maintain continuity with the acts of God recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures from Genesis to Malachi. Faith in Jesus is then elevated and expanded, given new depth and meaning, not diminished or subsumed into Judaism.
The living Messiah is truly seen to be the one who elevated the faith of his heavenly Father and of his fathers according to the flesh by fulfilling it, reforming it, and restoring it to its inherent ideal.
The above is from the Forward of the excellent book by Dr. John Garr Touching the Hem: Jesus and the Prayer Shawl
The Hem of His Garment by Dr John Garr gives a comprehensive study of the long and interesting Jewish tallit tradition, which required that the four-cornered garment commonly worn in Bible days have tzitzit (fringes) appended to each corner as a means of calling both the wearer and the observer to remember all the Word of God (commandments). You will simply be amazed at the extent of this tradition and its continuing impact upon the Jewish people to this day in the form of the “prayer shawl” that they wear at specific times of devotion and interaction with the Divine Presence.
Table of Contents:
- A Healing Touch
- The Hem of the Garment
- A Mark of Remembrance
- A Ribband of Blue
- Tzitzit and Tekhelet
- A Symbol of Authority
- The Mantle Passes
- A Prayer Closet
- A Blessing Covering
- Talitha Cumi
- Your People, My People
- God Is With You
- Under His WingsHealing Wings
- A Rich Tradition
- Epilogue: Living Emblems
This is my favorite song by Nicole C. Mullen. Just beautiful!