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Week Seven | Becoming True Disciples

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Week Seven | Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus Online Book Study
Reading Assignment – Ch. 13 & 14
Listen to the Audio version | Read time 8.5-minutes

I remember sitting near the front of the chapel on my college campus.  The sunlight filtered through in bright colors across the tiled floor from the floor-to-ceiling stained-glass windows.  I was just months away from graduation, but eager to hear Rabbi Lowy speak to my Christian sorority, as my father had served alongside him on the city’s Human Rights Commission for many years.

I couldn’t tell you the topic of the discussion that day, but Rabbi Lowy, also a long-time professor of comparative religion at Wheeling Jesuit University, talked eloquently about how our faiths, Christianity and Judaism, were more alike than different.

My ears perked up as he plainly said, “your faith is rooted in mine”.
And it finally dawned on me that Jesus wasn’t a Christian.  He was Jewish!

Biblical Illiteracy

It would take many more years of ill-equipped attempts of understanding Scripture before I decided that enough was enough of having to rely on the interpretation of others.  I needed to be able to study God’s Word on my own.

Reading the Bible had always been a bit of a chore to me, even as an avid reader.  I struggled to gain anything except for a surface-level understanding… even while I tried to gather more information from the footnotes, cross-references, and various commentaries.  Biblically literacy always seemed out of my reach.

And I wasn’t alone.  Biblical illiteracy is rampant in the United States.

According to statistics, less “than half of all adults can name the four gospels”.  

Until I came across the study, “Jesus & Women: In the First-Century and Now” by Kristi McLelland that helped to bring Rabbi Lowy’s words back to the surface and to resurrect my stale and disjointed faith.

The scary statistics surrounding the central teaching of our faith is precisely why I ordered myself a copy of Kristi’s book in the fall of 2020.  And boy am I glad I did and continued to pursue this enlightening perspective through reading, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus.

“Without access to what was being said, we are like people who overhear only one side of a telephone conversation trying to piece together the rest of it through guesswork.  Tuning into this two-thousand-year-old Jewish conversation will bring us greater clarity.  It may even transform our understanding of Jesus’ ministry and of the nature and character of God himself.”

ann spangler & Lois Tverberg, sitting at the feet of rabbi jesus

We’ve been blessed to learn so much about the Jewishness of Jesus from Ann Spangler & Lois Tverberg’s book.

As they say on page 211,

“By looking intently into the cultural setting in which Jesus lived, you may have discovered many new things about him, like the way he…
– Used the Scriptures to make powerful claims in a subtle Jewish way
– Joined the conversation of other rabbis around him
– Celebrated the ancient Jewish feasts and was indeed their supreme fulfillment
– Brough the Torah to its greatest expression

ann spangler & lois tverberg, Sitting at the feet of rabbi jesus

A New Perspective

In the last six weeks of our study, we’ve learned that the context of Scripture is really important!

Now that we know what we know, we may need some guidance on how to move forward with this information.  Thankfully Ann & Lois provide us some really valuable questions to consider as we continue to pursue this eye-opening perspective on our faith and its roots.

  1. How should learning about the Jewishness of Jesus impact your own life?
  2. What are the implications for you, living as you do thousands of years later in an entirely different cultural setting?

As we each soak up this new information, like thirsty sponges, we also need to heed the advice that the wise authors share with us in chapter 14 of Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus.

“It is also important to treat the sources you read with caution.  Traditional Jewish sources, by definition, do not assume that Jesus is the Messiah… Christian sources, too, should be treated with care.  All sorts of odd theories pop up in books and on the Internet.”

ann spangler & Lois tverberg, Sitting at the feet of rabbi jesus

They also share a valid point in regard to one of the common pieces of context that is often placed on a pedestal in regards to studying the Hebraic perspective; the seating/reclining arrangements of the Last Supper.

“Does it really matter how people sat at the Last Supper?  Of course not.  But details have a way of making the ancient scenes come to life.  So as we seek to understand more about the Jewishness of Jesus, it is important to realize that we may need to revise our theories later on.”


Flexible sponges… that’s what we should be.  But that’s not all.

Becoming True Disciples of our Jewish Lord

“Discovering new insights about the historical reality of Jesus is fascinating, and it can greatly enrich our understanding.  But what should we do with our newfound knowledge?  One of the most important things we can do is realize that Jesus is calling us to be his disciples, his talmidim.”


As Christians, we find salvation through believing in Jesus Christ as our Lord, but we are also called as God’s people, to have an intimate relationship with Him and to take what we learn and share it with others.  

The disciple becomes a disciple-maker!

So we should ask ourselves in what ways we can deepen our relationship with Christ, through our newfound understanding of His experience here on earth.

How can we take what we’ve learned, such as the importance of community to hagah (chew) on the Word, to return blessings to God through daily berakhah (prayers of thanksgiving), and continue to carry out mitzvahs (ways to bless others from your abundance)?

“Christians today have an unprecedented opportunity to understand the historical and religious context in which Jesus lived and ministered.  Let’s take full advantage of these discoveries, deepening our discipleship by exploring what life and faith were like in the first century.”

ann spangler & lois tverberg, Sitting at the feet of rabbi jesus

So friends, let’s grab our Bibles and dig into the rich depths that await us.  Let us use continue to broaden our perspective of studying God’s Word, which calls us forward where “the ‘aha’ moments never come to an end”!

ANSWER THIS IN THE COMMENTS OR IN THE FACEBOOK GROUP — How has this book changed the way you read the Bible?  In what ways has this book strengthened your faith as you discovered more about the connections between Jesus, the Old Testament, and God’s timeless plan for his children?  How has this book enlarged your understanding of who God is and what he thinks of you?

Shop this study

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus | Lois Tverberg

A 7-week study to change the way you read Scripture and deepen your understanding of the life of Jesus, by taking a fascinating tour of the Jewish world of Jesus, offering inspirational insights that can
transform your faith.

Order the Book

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