Setting the Stage

“Of all the trails in this life, there is one that matters more than all the others: it is the trail of a true human being.”               (Kickingbird in Dances with Wolves)

Ease into the study by listening to the “Kol Nidre,” a piece of music played on the Jewish Day of Atonement. You can find a version by clicking here:

The Thinker (Picasso)

What was the image of God that Jesus, as a Jewish man of his time, would have carried? Remember, you are an ‘alien’. Make no assumptions about Jesus, for you haven’t learned anything about him yet.

To get an idea, look at some of the images of God in the Hebrew Scriptures:

Deut. 6:4 – Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!

Deut. 7:6 – For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.

Lev. 26:14-17 – But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, 15 and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, 16 I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. 17 I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you.

Ez. 11:16-17 – Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Although I have cast them far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.” ’ 17 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.” ’

Gen.18:21ff I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” 22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. 23 And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? 25 Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

A word about miming:  We use our bodies to help inform us in this study through the use of mime. When asked to mime, close your eyes and allow your body to act out the subject in question.  It may be simply a stance, or it may involve movement, but the aim is to take notice of the position of your body, i.e. what ‘body language’ is saying, being aware of where your body is tense, where it is relaxed and what emotions are connected with the mime (fear, anxiety, love, anger, etc).

Mime the God of your childhood.

Now, after taking a moment to relax…

Mime the God of the Hebrews

Write about the experiences you have just had. What struck you about them?

What did Jesus do with this image?

Be creative now and list some other words for God. Try to be creative and come up with words or phrases not typically used as well as the more common ones.


The age in which Jesus lived was a time of high messianic expectation. What are the unanswered questions at such a  time?

There are different ideas in the Old Testament about what the Messiah would do.  We can identify at least four different strands of expectation:

1)The Political Messiah:  Read Luke 1:67-75

6And his father Zechari′ah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying,

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people,
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, 74 to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.

1 Sam 2:10 –  The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; From heaven He will thunder against them. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth. “He will give strength to His king, And exalt the horn of His anointed.”

Who/what is being hoped for?

In Lk 1:74 –Who were the ‘enemies’?  What is hoped? 

What does liberation mean here?

In Mt.2:3-6 – When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet:

‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.’”

Where does liberation come from? What is being offered?

2) The Milk & Honey Messiah –  Bringer of new life/ giver of blessings

Read: Hos.13:4 – “Yet I am the Lord your God Ever since the land of Egypt, And you shall know no God but Me; For there is no saviour besides Me.” 

Joel 3:18 – And it will come to pass in that day That the mountains shall drip with new wine, The hills shall flow with milk, And all the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water; A fountain shall flow from the house of the Lord And water the Valley of Acacias.

Amos 13:15 – “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, And all the hills shall flow with it. I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, And no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them,” Says the Lord your God. 

  What is to be brought about? Who will bring it?

3) Apocalyptic Messiah – an end to world, as in Daniel and Revelation

4) Suffering Servant (Read Isaiah 53) 

       There is a Greek myth of a man made king for a year and then killed.

What has Christianity done with this image of the Suffering Servant?

 What did Jesus do with it?

It may help to define how we are going to use these terms in our study, because it is common to think that Jesus, Messiah and Christ are all the same thing.  For our purposes, Jesus is a man on a spiritual journey; the same journey we travel. Messiah has to do with the Jewish expectations of God acting through an agent on behalf of the chosen people.  Christ, though it means Messiah in Greek, is not the same; rather, it is a Christianisation of the Jewish hope made personal in scope instead of pertaining to a whole nation.


Read Lk.10:25-28

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law How do you read?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”

What is the lawyer saying?  What do you hear him asking?

What other words can you substitute for “eternal life”? Write them down.

How does Jesus respond?  To what does he point the lawyer?

What was Jesus’ own opinion of his tradition?

What is the lawyer’s response?  

    Note, he brings two commandments together: Lev.19:18/ Deut.6:5  and Lev. 18:5

What is the 1st part? What words would you substitute?

What kind of words are these?

Substitute the words for God you wrote down earlier into this commandment?  

What happens for you? What does it feel like?

Of the ‘all’, what is the hardest part to include in loving God?

What is the 2nd part? What comes 1st?

What were you taught to put first?  How do you feel about it?

How would you love your neighbour differently if you loved yourself?

Jesus replies…?…

What does the word “do” do?  

What is the challenge for you?  Write it down.

What is the newest thing for you in this passage?


Responses of others to these questions

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