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An Unavoidable Task

Many Christians have an instinctive reaction to anyone talking about interpreting the Bible. “Why can’t we just take it as it is?” they ask. If that is you speaking, please read on… It seems that Jesus doesn’t agree with you! When the Pharisees asked him to identify the most important of the approximately 630 commandments in the Law of Moses, he didn’t reply that they were all God-given and important, but agreed with their working principle that you have to identify one or more of these as the keys for understanding the others. In modern terms, Jesus had a hermeneutic method, and it turns out that his opponents agreed with it! So their disagreement was in the details of how that worked out. He also goes on to point out that their theology was hampered by some fixed ideas they brought to their reading of crucial scriptural texts.
One conclusion is inescapable: 2000 years later, followers of Jesus are expected to work hard at our shared task of interpreting the Bible’s message for our own age, as an integral part of our discipleship. Elsewhere in Matthew’s gospel, disciples are characterized as scribes who learn to bring out treasures old and new from God’s storehouse. Hard work, but richly rewarding.
You can find my recorded comments in this Sunday’s gospel reading here…
Howard Pilgrim

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