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Week One | Opening the Bible with Jesus

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Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus Online Biblical Study
Reading Assignment – Chapters 1 & 2
Listen to the Audio version | Reading Time: 4 minutes

When I was seven years old, I started piano lessons.  I remember being so excited to learn so I could play the piano in the fellowship hall at church.  I was also a ball of nerves when I met my teacher, Sue, for the first time and as I crawled up on the piano bench in her living room.  

I would go on to take weekly lessons from Sue for another seven years, lugging my piano books in one of my Dad’s old briefcases on Saturday mornings, and not only did I perform in Sue’s Christmas and Spring recitals, but I played that piano in the church fellowship hall more times than I can count and was even invited to play for the worship service several times growing up.

But when I first started, it wasn’t a tune you’d want to hear anywhere, let alone a sanctuary.  

Sue had me start playing with my left hand only.  As a right-hander, this was mind-boggling, but it helped me to learn the notes and eventually how to form basic chords.  But try as I might, the songs I learned, like Hot Cross Buns and My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, didn’t sound much like I expected.

That was until I learned to play with my right hand as well.  That hand plays the melody.

And together, with both hands, the song came to life.

Opening the Bible with Rabbi Jesus

I love how Lois Tverberg reminds us in her book, Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus, of the importance of using both of our hands when studying Scripture.  

No, that doesn’t mean to literally hold your Bible with two hands, though I have to because my NLT Illustrated Study Bible is HEFTY; rather, we must take our modern understanding of God’s Word and apply its ancient context — the cultural, historical, geographical, linguistic, political, and religious influences — to grasp the full picture.

“…sometimes the reality of the world of Jesus is visible even today, hiding in plain sight.

Lois Tverberg, pg. 15, Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus

As Western believers, we’re more apt to focus on our devotions, quiet time, whatever you want to call it and to get through it quickly so we can check it off the to-do list.  And there certainly is a place and time for that type of study.  Not every study session will be a deep dive.  But we need to be mindful to schedule in the time to go beyond the surface.  

It will take more time, and it requires dedication, but we won’t be properly sustained if we simply devote ourselves to only 15 minutes of study, and soon, we find ourselves longing for more.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t have a strong faith.  It doesn’t mean that what we know, what we’ve studied, and what we’ve read is wrong. I’m not discounting any of that.  It’s just being able to view Scripture through its context is like adding the second hand to it.  It brings the melody of Scripture to life.

“We will be equipped to read Scripture with more insight and inspiration by grasping the perspective of its original audience.  We’ll take a fresh look at key biblical ideas from an Eastern perspective.  We’ll go on a journey back in time to help us understand how the Jewish people approached life, enabling us to rediscover wisdom that’s been largely forgotten and allowing us to read God’s Word with depth and insight for our lives today.”

Lois Tverberg, pg. 19, Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus

On on Hand

In our Fall 2022 Online Biblical Study, we studied another of Lois’ books, Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus, and she talks at length in chapter 10 about looking at two paradoxical viewpoints, a common Eastern way of thinking.

In Scripture, we see many important truths are also contrasting truths:

  • “God is both omniscient, but yet he is present at certain times in a unique way, like at the burning bush.
  • Jesus is both fully human and fully God.
  • God is loving and in control, and yet he allows tragedy and injustice to take place.”
    Lois Tverberg, pg. 130-141, Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus

On one hand, as dedicated followers of Jesus, we are well-versed in Scripture, but on the other hand, we’ve only scratched the surface of our understanding.

It is important for us to humble ourselves when we are tempted to believe we “get” what we read in the Bible because even Jesus’ closest disciples needed to be instructed on how to see Him in the Scriptures.

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”
Luke 24:27, NIV

What a gift Jesus gave His disciples that day!

They’re not alone because we also possess those very same Scriptures in our Bibles, and we have access to countless resources to aid in the revelation of those same truths Jesus shared that day on the road to Emmaus.

Lois reminds us on page 26 of Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus,

“The Scriptures are meant for us to read but they were not written to our modern world.  God spoke so that the ancient world would understand, as they looked at life through different lenses.  If we want to empathize with how they thought and approached life, we need to know more about their culture.”

Lois Tverberg, pg. 26, Reading the Bible of Rabbi Jesus

May we open our Bibles and not just read the familiar chords of the text with our modern understanding but lean into the melody of the heart of God through the Biblical narrative read in context.

1. Reading beyond the surface of Scripture is important to expand our understanding.
2. The Hebraic way of thinking is to think on “both hands.”
3. The Scriptures are meant for us, even though they were not written to us.

What Scriptures have you come across that have required you to think on both hands?

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Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus | Lois Tverberg

A 7-week study considering what it might be like to sit down beside Jesus as He explained the Bible and find fresh, practical insights for following our Rabbi’s teachings from a Jewish point of view.

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