In our new book, Jesus: A Theography (Thomas Nelson, Oct. 2012), Leonard Sweet and I take 424 pages to show that both the Old and New Testaments tell the story of Jesus in great detail. The Old Testament points forward to Him. The New Testament points back to Him. But “all Scripture” points to Him, as Jesus said in John 5:39. Throughout the book, we draw on the best scholarship available to throw light on who Jesus is and was and put it together in almost novel form.
In this post, I’d like to sketch out seven things that many Christians may not know about their Lord. (The book contains many more.) Note that we expand each point in the book and provide source materials:
1. Jesus envelops time. According to Colossians 1, when God created the world, He created it by, through, and in Christ. This means that all time, space, and matter are all in Him. Thus Jesus is Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, all at the same moment. Consequently, the crossing of the Red Sea and the consummation of the ages are all “now” for Jesus. He not only sees the end from the beginning, but He stands at the end and the beginning at the same moment. What an awesome Lord!
2. Jesus sung on the cross. First-century Jews always sung the Psalms and they were sung in their entirety. Jesus is found quoting the Psalms during His darkest hours on Calvary. In the book, we demonstrate that Jesus sung the Psalm on the cross.
3. Jesus’ twelve disciples were teenagers. In the first century, when a boy reached his early teens, he became a man. Women married at around age 13. In our chapter on why Jesus chose the twelve disciples and what their purpose was, we cite renowned scholar Craig Keener who argues that the twelve disciples were most likely in their late teens. There’s more to the story that we uncover in the book as well.
4. Jesus was fragrant when He rose from the dead. Just before His death, Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus with a very potent perfume. When His body was taken down from the cross, Nicodemus put 100 lbs. of myrrh and aloes on His body (the amount that was used for kings). Thus when Jesus rose again from the dead, He was fragrant. Paul makes mention of the fragrance of the resurrected Christ in 2 Corinthians. The Psalms also allude to it prophetically. The fragrance of resurrection has spiritual implications that we explore in the book.
5. Jesus had a keen sense of humor. Since we live in the 21st century, we easily miss the use of humor that Jesus regularly employed. Suffice it to say that He was a master at irony and wit. Many of his sayings indicate this.
6. Jesus completed and replayed the story of Israel. Most Christians are aware that Jesus fulfilled certain prophecies in the Old Testament. In addition, much stress has been laid on the fact that Jesus completed the story of Israel. But He actually did more than complete the story. He replayed it. For instance, Jesus was tested in the wilderness for 40 days just as Israel was tested in the wilderness for 40 years. Jesus experienced the exact temptations that Israel experienced in the wilderness. In fact, what Jesus said to satan on three occasions were direct quotes from Moses to Israel during Israel’s wilderness temptation. Jesus chose twelve disciples, which represented the twelve tribes of Israel. And on and on.
7. Jesus was regarded as a political figure. First-century Jews believed that the Messiah (translated “Christ”) was to rule the entire world and save them from their enemies. First-century Gentiles knew that Caesar was Lord (or Emperor) of world. He was also regarded as the Savior of the people who brought peace to the empire. Whenever a new Emperor took the throne, the Emperor’s emissaries heralded the news of the new Caesar. The word they used for this news was “gospel.” When the early Christians preached to the Jews, they announced the “gospel” that Jesus was the Messiah – meaning, He was the Ruler and Savior of the world. When the early Christians preached to the Gentiles, they proclaimed the “gospel” that Jesus was the new Lord of the world who was also the Savior who would bring peace. So saying that Jesus is Christ and Lord in the first century were high-octane political statements that resulted in riots and persecution to those who claimed such.
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