The Mind of Christ

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - Apologia

You can have the mind of Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul explains in part why the Corinthians struggled so with the gospel message. At the end this explanation (verse 16), he uses the term "mind of Christ." Much has been written on this, several books with that phrase as the title. We can't fault the work of those who came before us, but it should be obvious to anyone, if we already agreed with their work, we need not bother writing something fresh. It occurred to me Paul explained in that chapter of his letter something it seems so many people miss. Christianity is in essence an Eastern religion, and the Corinthian believers were still clinging to their Western intellectual roots. Paul attacks the Western intellectual approach to understanding the world as a force contrary to the very mind of Christ and the will of God.

Paul could claim to have the mind of his Savior because they shared a common Hebrew heritage. But more, they shared a common spiritual orientation built from that heritage. It's no secret Paul had to throw away his very substantial position among the Sanhedrin to become a Christian. While both were nearly pickled in the intellectual assumptions of the Pharisees of their day, they clearly rejected the Pharisaical approach to Scripture.

What was that Pharisaical approach? It was a mixture of Hebrew content with Hellenistic assumptions and analysis. "Hellenism" is the common academic term referring to the intellectual assumptions of the Greco-Roman civilization of that day. Today it's roughly equivalent to the term "Aristotelian," a reference to Aristotle, the great philosopher and teacher of Alexander the Great. During his years of conquest in that part of the world, circa 300 BC, Alexander was a hard-core evangelist for the intellectual culture of the Greek intelligentsia, and the those people called themselves "Hellenes" (after Helen of Troy). Thus, their intellectual legacy is Hellenism, and we can trace how the rabbinical scholars of that time embraced Hellenism. In so doing, they dismissed the ancient Hebrew intellectual approach. (See Edersheim's Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book I.) The religion of Judaism is not the same thing as the Old Testament religion of Moses.

That the two are quite different is easily proven, and yet so often ignored by most modern Christian scholars. Even among those who are aware of this conflict, it seems they side with the Pharisees, seeing no problem with reading the entire Bible from that Aristotelian approach. Perhaps these Christian scholars really do not understand how completely different it is; they seem to ignore how Jesus Himself, and His followers such as Paul, rejected Hellenism in favor of the ancient Hebrew approach. While none of the New Testament writings state it in those modern terms, it seems obvious from how they expressed themselves that they were favoring the Hebrew way over the Greek, even as they expressed Hebrew thoughts in the common Greek language. Centuries of serious academic work support this interpretation, and even secular scholars can point it out.

Believers who become aware of this are left wondering why so few Christian writers today can offer an explanation of Scripture from this more Hebraic approach. As noted, it's not out of reach, and it doesn't require advanced degrees in philosophy, theology or the like. Further, there's every reason to struggle for that understanding. This ancient Hebrew way is God's own choice for His revelation. Indeed, not simply something He found and liked, but something He created Himself, as we can see by whom He chose to build His nation and carry His message. So why do all those today claiming to offer God's message eschew the ancient Hebrew approach? We may never know, but let us determine we will not continue in what seems such an obvious mistake.

Today's Western scholars use dismissive terms such as "mysticism" for this approach. While technically correct, the connotations are unfortunate and inaccurate. It shares nothing with New Age beliefs or any other brand of mysticism. The term "mysticism" itself means simply non-rational inputs to our minds. The whole idea God can reveal Himself directly to humans is mysticism by definition. The concept of revelation assumes humans can receive knowledge from a non-human, non-rational source. However, we must be careful to choose the distinctive Hebrew form of mysticism.

We should rid ourselves of the assumption we cannot know anything about Our Savior's thought processes. He was fully human, bearing in His mind many of the assumptions about everyday things common to Judean men of His day. We can see easily enough what made Him stand out, but we tend to ignore what made Him seem so ordinary, and why His claims seemed preposterous to His opposition. He was too much an ordinary man, and it is that ordinary man we need to understand. Taking the time to read afresh the Gospels in light of what we can know of such things, we can begin a useful search for Jesus' human side.

Paul claimed to have the mind of Christ because he had the Spirit of Christ living in him. Paired with that was a mind prepared to obey the Spirit by a proper frame of reference, building on the ancient Hebrew way Christ promoted in His debates against the rabbis of His day. In that portion of the first Corinthian letter, Paul pointedly warns you cannot use human reason to get very far with this obedience. You cannot let your mind run the show; it has to take direction from the Spirit-spirit communion which is far above the human intellect. While fallen men with dead spirits assume this is the same as relying on sentiment or emotion, since it is not intellect, we see Paul plainly saying that's not the case. If your spirit is alive in Christ, you recognize something in you which may well stir emotions -- but more importantly decides things on a much higher moral frame of reference.

What we offer here is one attempt at understanding that moral frame of reference, not authoritatively, but as an invitation for you to explore with us. As part of this exploration, this book assumes you are familiar with the text of Scripture, and can recognize major figures and events in the Life of Christ. As we get to know Him better, some of those other figures are likely to change a bit with our new image of Him. Indeed, how we understand our own world should also change.

Chapter 2 - The Task

Having the mind of Christ is not automatic; it requires some work.

If someone tells you Jesus was perfectly reasonable and consistent in His Hebrew logic, you would probably take that on faith. So far, so good; but it won't change your life. If we can explain something of His reasoning from the known culture and history of His people, showing what shaped His decisions, then you can have a shot at replicating that reasoning and moral consistency in your own life. You can live as Christ in your own context.

The biggest problem we face in understanding the mind of Christ is the vast pile of mythology arising from the distinctly Western approach to reading the Gospels -- indeed, the whole Bible. We have an embarrassing aura of false piety obscuring Jesus' actions and words, plus a wide gulf of cultural misunderstanding keeping us from seeing those words and actions in their proper context.

The Bible comes to us as the record of revelation God gave to the Hebrew people. The record itself indicates a wealth of information not included, so we have to trust He would not allow the most important narratives to be left out. At the same time, He preserved over the centuries sufficient scholarship and evidence for us to reclaim some of the background against which that narrative is offered. It's patently silly to assume the mere words of the record passed through multiple parties and filtered through many different languages and translations can somehow stand on their own. Yet this is the very false instinct under which many Western Christians labor. The result is turning some of this revelation completely upside down.

God is not hindered in His divine work of redemption by this, but it certainly keeps us from maximum participation in that work. If you want all God has to offer, it's on your shoulders to care enough to study materials which enlighten you to the differences between our world and Jesus' world. Here we would offer a bare bones outline of the vast differences between common Western assumptions about the Bible and what that collection of books actually intends to get across.

The Bible begins in the first few pages with certain intellectual assumptions, concepts not subject to debate. God is the Creator of all things and cannot be presumed confined inside that Creation. Whatever is outside the reality we experience is incomprehensible to us mere mortals, but we get indications it is there, and some shadowy grasp of how that matters to us.

Right off the bat, as soon as we understand this much, the Genesis narrative (chapter 3) warns us this reality is broken, not what God intended. Immediately the two humans in the story lose something so precious, it's impossible to explain. Instead, we see the results in terms of a complete loss of perspective. God notes their actions changed because their understanding was broken. He calls to them and asks what had changed. Why were they hiding? Where did they get the idea they had a reason for shame? Paul shows us how to read between the lines in Romans (chapters 5 and 8), how this was a shift from a spiritual to a fleshly perspective. Humans are completely fallen, as is the rest of Creation as we know it. God will not leave things in this condition, but His remedy is not directly obvious. The way back to the Garden is guarded by something incomprehensible to fallen humanity, but that's not to say the path is forever closed.

In the symbol of the Flaming Sword is the penalty of sin: death on this plane of existence. In that symbol, death itself is partly symbolic. Redemption requires a certain amount of recognition in the human soul. If you simply stumble under that sword, you gain nothing. But if you seek out that sword knowingly, it changes the results. You can't go back to eating from the Tree of Life until you stop eating from the Tree of Knowledge, and undo the damage from that taste of forbidden fruit. Quite simply, that forbidden fruit is the human decision to disregard revelation in favor of human reasoning. Undoing the damage means subjecting once again our reason under revelation.

How we come to understand the process of enslaving reason to faith is the rest of the story. At certain points the Creator chooses some people with especially fitting backgrounds to reveal bits and pieces of how to see and face that Flaming Sword. He created an entire nation with a peculiar intellectual background foreign to us today, and built the character of that nation through some experiences by which they learned to understand His path back to the Garden.

This was an opportunity too good to miss, but that nation simply frittered it all away. The story is long and sad, showing how God could create a nation best equipped to understand His revelation, and then give them everything they could possibly need to live that revelation. There were times they came close to the ideal, close enough to change world history, but they lacked staying power. Through the broad collection of failures, we learn humanity cannot adapt without a direct act of God which changes the individual human character. The last dying gasp of this nation was to give birth to the One who would exemplify what was possible when that human character was subjected to the divine character.

In essence, God restored what was lost in the Garden. The path through the Flaming Sword now has meaning to us. Here in the story of Jesus, we see a single human who embodied God's revelation, and knowing Him is as much as any human can know of revelation. We have to get to know the man in order to take full advantage of His offer. We have to understand Him in the context of His own nation, the failed experiment where God pointedly showed how man simply cannot do it, even under ideal conditions. By embracing what Jesus taught, we don't do it alone. We return to face that Flaming Sword with a promise He will carry us through to the other side.

The nature of that Flaming Sword encounter is summed in the word "repentance." We turn from whatever it is man can accomplish alone to what God wants to give us, and wanted to give Israel in that ideal life she could not maintain. The primary failure was her departure from that ideal frame of reference, which calls back to the Tree of Life and away from the Tree of Knowledge. Israel slipped farther and farther under the spell of the Tree of Knowledge. By degrees she embraced the very fallen influences of foreign cultures, ending up with a complete shift in intellectual background. Repentance in the Flaming Sword includes a path backward through the cultural and intellectual devolution of Israel, back to where the human mind is the servant of the spirit.

Our challenge, then, is to reclaim some understanding of that historical context, to execute Paul's admonition we "rightly divide the Word" (2 Timothy 2:14f) -- which was the Old Testament when he wrote that. Those ideal conditions God gave Israel included a distinct intellectual approach, one which is quite plainly visible in the teaching of Jesus. This ancient Hebrew mysticism is how Jesus thought on a human level.

Chapter 3 - Reign of Justice

Jesus' Father portrays Himself consistently as a shepherd sheikh.

This is the fundamental image offered throughout the Bible: God as an Eastern potentate. He reigns absolutely over His domain. Our Western concept of feudalism is a matter of turf, focused solely on ownership of land itself and whatever is upon it. The core of Western justice is material assets, and the laws are impersonal, to the point even property can obtain the legal status as "persons." The Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) potentate considered his real treasure was his people. ANE justice builds on the foundation of personal accountability, and justice is defined as acting appropriately according to the character of the relationships between persons. God's justice in our lives is a matter of personal accountability to Him.

The ANE sheikh would recognize three kinds of people in his domain: family, trusted servants and slaves. Slaves were property. He might know who they were, but pretended to pay no attention to them unless they messed up something important. A slave considered going unnoticed a blessing, as the lord's attention was inevitably bad news. Thus, they would never look him in the face, and actively sought to avoid him. His trusted servants were covenant partners, gaining a measure of reciprocity in his personal regard. Family was those who shared ownership and knew him intimately.

Our God is much more than an Eastern potentate. As Creator, He sees each of us as individuals. By birth we are all slaves; the only thing we share across humanity is our mortality and fallen nature. In Adam we learned only to fear God, but revelation prior to Jesus told us He was holding forth that offer of covenant through His Laws so we could become trusted servants. In Christ, we can become actual family. So He cannot treat all humanity alike if only because we do not all relate to Him the same. As family, we are each unique in His mind. He cannot handle each of us the same, because we are not the same. Jesus reaffirmed His Father knows each of us intimately, from before birth and well past our death. (Matthew 10:29-31). Everything about us He knows because He made each of us individually. He is like the good shepherd who calls us by name (John 10). We are expected to recognize His voice in return.

You can hear and know God directly only in your spirit. Your mind cannot rise to that level, nor was it designed to do so. Your mind was given only to organize and implement your obedience to His mastery. The Fall can be described as the choice to make our intellects the ruler of our lives, contrary to God's design. The human mind was not supposed to decide what was right and wrong, because it lacks the ability to fathom God's design on its own. Somehow, we must teach the mind to obey the spirit, once He has raised that spirit to life by unity with His Spirit.

The business of using symbols and parables is giving the mind a clue how to proceed with that obedience. We know God intellectually only in terms of what He demands of us. His revelation before Christ was chiefly in terms of Law Covenants. We make a grave error when, in our Western intellectual heritage, we think of laws as primarily a matter of legislation and enforcement. God is Himself the Law, and any written code remains but a mere reflection of Him, subject to His personal refinement in our unique individual lives. Any verbal revelation of His Laws is only a limited manifestation. Our instinct to pick over the precise wording is completely wrong for reading God's revelation of Laws. The ancient Hebrew people would be amused at such antics.

That's because Truth is a Person; truth cannot exist apart from God's being. There is no such thing as objective truth. If something is true, it is so only as it reflects God's being. Our task as servants of God is to train the mind to remain utterly dependent on His whims, because we as fallen creatures cannot ever understand fully as we might claim to understand physical reality in this universe. Our insistence we can discern all the physical laws of matter and explain everything as a result of scientific investigation is a reflection of the human instinct for pride in our intellect. It's one of the gaping holes in our souls where the Enemy takes advantage of us. God can change reality at His whim, and has been known to do so, contrary to everything we imagine we understand of this broken reality after the Fall.

God's Laws reflect His Person, but we should approach the Laws in terms of justice rendered by verdict. This was a primary function of every Eastern potentate. All things are judged by His plans and purposes, by what promotes His glory. So when we think or speak of God's Laws, perhaps a better term would be God's Justice. Divine justice is setting things right. Woven into Creation itself is that moral fabric, indiscernible to the intellect on its own terms. However, in learning how His Justice has been revealed through the record of revelation, we can begin to discern that moral fabric as a pattern which no science can discover.

The moral fabric responds to the desires of the heart, not merely physical actions. Creation itself is wired to notice when God's Justice is at work inside our being, and amplifies His glory by responding according to His promised blessings revealed in the Law Covenants. At times the difference is startling, as with the miracles recorded in Scripture, but most of the time it takes place much more subtly. The objective is His glory, and a part of His glory is His judgment against sin. We have the option to embrace His judgment, to stand with Him in denouncing the sin we see in our own lives.

We struggle in our Western minds with the notion His wrath can heal. Yet this is how the Bible approaches the question (Hebrews 4:12-13). God wields His sword against sin. How it affects us depends entirely on how well we cling to Him and His revelation. To the degree we are clinging to sin, His wrath is painful and sorrowful. To the degree we cling to His glory, His wrath sets us free. The human experience of pain and sorrow is itself a deception, an element of this broken reality. The very same act of God to judge sin can bring both suffering and relief, and our only hope for sanity is catching a vision of His glory in the moral fabric of His Creation.

Here we come to the primary problem with allowing the intellect to rule in our lives. Eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil symbolizes the human drive to decide what is good and evil, to judge morality, to be one's own god. Not only is the intellect incapable of measuring such things, it is guaranteed to get it wrong. The mind is fallen, instinctively placing itself at the apex of all things, building an approach to life based on sensory input and logic. While it's just possible human reason might arrive at "love your neighbor as yourself," nothing in this natural world could lead you to "love the Lord your God with all your heart." Reason cannot tell you it needs to start from fearing God first (Proverbs 9:10); that requires God's initiative in revelation. It is the decision to place reason above all other things which is sin in itself, though it is slightly better than relying on emotions and physical appetites. God has revealed what is right and wrong, and we were meant to enslave our intellects to the frame of reference in His revelation. This is why Paul wrote to the Corinthian church to stop relying on human wisdom (1 Corinthians 2) and why Jesus told Nicodemus a spiritual birth was necessary to understand how God operates (John 3).

Jesus clarified the whole thing during His ministry. The Gospels are our single greatest authority on Jesus, and these were not written in terms of free standing absolutes. Each of the Gospels reflects something of the man who wrote, and how he perceived Christ correcting something which was very wrong in His world. Jesus was the living manifestation of God's Justice, the Son who was sent to correct abuses and reaffirm the original intent of revelation. The driving force of all His words and actions was always His Father's Justice. In His conduct, He faithfully carried out His Father's will, faithfully declared His Father's intent, and paid the ultimate price to open that revelation to all humanity.

We are called to examine His life and death, but if we ignore the context in which He lived and died, we will miss much of what it all meant. We will simply perpetuate the failures of His nation -- a nation which had long failed to understand the revelation granted them. Their ultimate failure was misunderstanding the revelation in His Son. Our only hope is to gain some understanding of who this man was, and some measure of how He thought, so His actions and words make better sense to us. Critical to that understanding is how He was driven by the moral sense of God's Justice.

Chapter 4 - Common Sense

If you were born in Europe or the US during the past two centuries, your fundamental assumptions about reality are distinctly different from those the Bible.

The West is inherently materialistic. There was only one reality for Aristotle, and even if we posit multiple dimensions, it's all an extension of this single continuum of reality. Further, it's all subject to human science. Given enough time and resources, everything that can be known will be fully understood by the human intellect. The difference between an atheist and an agnostic is the atheist asserts there can be nothing beyond observable reality, while agnostics admit there might be something else, but it can't be known and it won't make any difference in our choices. Thus, while Western Civilization has room for Heaven and Hell as concepts, they stand in the realm of fables.

Most people, who claim to believe in God, and in Heaven and Hell, speak as if such things were extensions of our physical universe, perhaps in a Fourth Dimension or something similar. It's all understood in terms of known reality, so that God, Heaven and Hell are bound under literalism, with all the silliness of things like a physical body, literal fire and literal worms; or they are pushed into the realm where it's essentially treated as fiction. Lip service to the ideas we find in the Bible won't change how our minds are programmed handle them. Aristotle demands faith must either be reasonable, or it becomes a matter of mere sentiment. That's because the entire mental frame of reference for Westerners excludes anything outside this reality. Convincing yourself to believe the claims of the Bible won't change your basic mental operations. You have to understand the false assumptions about reality and make a concerted effort to shift over to the Biblical worldview.

The Bible asserts, often in parabolic language (the language of parables), this reality is broken and unreliable. While Westerners can make sense of the phrase, "you can't trust your senses," it's meant only as a caution you don't know enough. In the ancient Hebrew culture, that phrase is more absolute. What you can discern by senses, knowledge and logic are not enough to understand the moral fabric of this reality, much less the Ultimate Reality beyond it. Our current reality is a bubble. This bubble is limited by distinct boundaries, a start and an end. It came into existence by a conscious act of God, and will end the same way. In essence, our entire existence here is meaningless, not in the sense of despair or existentialism, but in the sense it's all one big lie and the Truth is somewhere beyond the end of this life.

Jesus was the only person we know who came here inside the bubble, voluntarily confining Himself under the limitations of space and time as a human. Eternity -- outside the bubble -- is not simply limitless space and time. Rather, space and time are best understood as limitations on the human awareness as part of the penalty of the Fall. Jesus showed we were designed for that other plane of existence, and explained how the revealed Justice of God helps us prepare to go there when we have completed our mission here for His glory. In other words, the Law Covenants are the pathway to understanding and claiming our place in Eternity.

The truly massive differences in the basic assumptions about reality give rise to a totally different outlook, a different brand of common sense. What follows is a sample comparison. From history and writings we can deduce a bit about the cultural context, and offer at least the flavor of the ancient Hebrew mind.

It is common knowledge Eastern logic is more deductive than inductive. Truth is revealed from above, not built up from below. One learns by absorbing revelation. Revelation is far more than propositional statements, so Eastern logic is also symbolic in nature. It more often comes as an image within a context. Indeed, for the Hebrew mind, context is everything. Hebrew language is more a collection of symbols and images than a vehicle for passing data. It's a mistake to discount this as communication essentially by emotion. There is, indeed, a good bit of emotive expression, but it's more for the sake of drama, bringing the story to life, than brutish gut reactions. The objective is to impart a message which requires one to sit down and ponder one's own response.

Such contemplation is the primary learning activity. Hebrew culture assumes we can expect the subconscious to eventually reveal what it knows. There is a recognition it takes time for whatever is below the line of conscious mental activity to percolate up into the conscious mind. Even Western science recognizes the mind is not only mostly subconscious, but some of the best work is done below that line. The Hebrew language is primarily oral, and only secondarily written, and the doorway to the subconscious is more auditory. Thus, we hear the spoken message today, and reading is supposed to evoke a voice in the mind. Then we go about our normal business while letting that message echo in the mind, and gestate in the subconscious. We trust in God to use our daily experiences, along with our memories, to give life to that message.

Even Westerners know that dreams often reveal to us the content of the subconscious. For a Hebrew, dreams are the place where God may light the fire of revelation from fuel previously delivered while awake. We would assume that at some point, we come to a working conclusion of what changes are demanded of us. We would further assume other implications of that message will eventually leak over into conscious thought later. Only in our old age, after a lifetime of hearing and considering, could we claim to really understand much. It takes time to bring the moral instincts to maturity. Meanwhile, we would expect subtle mental associations which are at first difficult to formulate, perceived in half-shadow. This is what many Westerners mistake for simple sentiment. The half-shadowy realizations are the way God works, whispering in our mind's ear subtle imperatives.

To the Western mind, the Hebrew God is capricious. For the Hebrew, it's simply a recognition God reserves all prerogatives as the Prime Initiator. In no way shape or form is He accountable to any other agency, logic or anything else. Yet we are always accountable to Him. Accepting we never really do come to the end of understanding leaves room for God to act in ways wholly unexpected and wholly incomprehensible. We may well be close confidants in the Court of Heaven, but any lord would be silly to trust all his secrets to any one servant. Servants inevitably fail, and so there must be an alternate route to getting the business done. We are blessed just having one small part in it. We are included by His grace, not by our virtue. Thus, knowing intimately the design and content of our hearts and minds, He wisely reveals what we need when the time is right.

Time is not measured precisely, and events are not scheduled by the ticking of the clock. Nor are they are scheduled to follow preceding events, though it often seems that way. Divine acts are driven by Justice. Time is primarily a matter of ripeness.

We are expected to plan for contingencies based on what we know, but are prepared to suffer any surprises and discomfort for the sake of the mission. He knows our pleasure, of course, but will have very good reasons for denying us that pleasure. We take the sorrow as part of our due service. Westerners call this "fatalism," with the implication it's not a reasonable way to operate. A Hebrew would war against apparent fate only if he is certain fighting is the will of God, a moral imperative regardless of outcome. It's not a matter of mere reason, but a drive from above reason. Comfort is a gift of mercy, not our just deserts, and certainly not a right. There is no concept for rights as we conceive of them, only God's personal Justice. The Western concept of equality, primarily in the sense of people being interchangeable, is an insult to God. It is degrading and dehumanizing to be treated as one of a collection of functionally identical bits of machinery.

The fundamental assumption of all God's Law Covenants was the utter necessity of the extended family setting. There is no place for the modern "nuclear family" household. That is, your kin are your society and government. DNA is one thing, but kinship by covenant is actually more binding, as it carries the moral element of solemn choice. Favoring your covenant or blood kin above the rest of humanity is a fundamental imperative, and only evil minds imagine otherwise. What we would call nepotism is a virtue. The rule of the household, clan and tribe is sacred, and any political authority seeking to interfere is automatically illegitimate. This includes the whole range of authority, from the most insignificant issues all the way up to matters of capital punishment. It is equally anathema if the family fails to justly enforce restrictions on members when behavior threatens those outside the family. The notion your daily life could be governed by someone not related by blood or covenant is anathema, because no one else has moral standing. Family cohesion was an ultimate value, and the Hebrew mind regards the secular state as an abomination.

Without direct personal accountability in all things, there can be no morality, no moral good. Everyone serves someone; only God has no superior. The concept of the loner was that of an outlaw, a sinner rejected and barely allowed to live. While there was a place for the individual hero who saved the day, it was assumed he would arise from his own people at God's behest. There was no glory for the individual virtuoso apart from community, and the Great Man is a peculiar Western myth. Heroes and experts were gifts of God to the community, and He could as easily use animals or inanimate objects.

There was an assumption of balance between the individual and community. The only good loner was the prophet who stood for God against the sinning masses. Even then, the nature of his calling was to serve God by serving the community. While great works were ascribed to great men in the community, it was quite rare for great men to do the work themselves. Almost no one went about their calling individually, but would have at least one servant or apprentice at his side. The warrior had his young shield-bearer; the prophet had at least one servant, as did every nobleman. They never traveled alone, and the presence of an entourage was assumed, hardly worthy of remark, unless specifically stated otherwise. Thus, any number of people might represent a great man, and would be treated as the man himself in many ways. It was said such a representative was going in his master's name. Delegation was a basic assumption of life. One gained glory most from sharing in that of another.

Finally, Western and ancient Hebrew cultures differ on two fundamental concepts: love and belief. In Western lore, romantic love is completely irrational and cannot be tamed. It follows its own whims and is proper justification for all manner of devotional behavior. On the other hand, belief is chosen, but may also be irrational. True convictions are viewed as intransigence in resisting reason. To the Hebrew mind, this is backwards. Love is a conscious choice, and romantic attachment is the natural result of marrying appropriately. Yet religious conviction is ordained by God. It is based on revelation coming down from God, established long before the believer was born. In covenant with God, revelation is brought to life in the believer's heart, and grips the soul eternally. The content of conviction may expand, but is not subject to change from human forces. It is ruled by God; it is intransigent to resist commitment to Him.

Thus, you discover your beliefs planted inside you by God's hand, rather than formulated because they make sense. True faith is imminently unreasonable in its demands. Rather, you come to your belief as a result of your commitment from the heart to someone worthy of devotion. There is none more worthy than God as revealed by His Son, Jesus.

Chapter 5 - Background

Let's draw a picture of Jesus as He grew to adulthood.

In Western minds, there are two concepts typically regarded as mutually exclusive: God's sovereignty and human free will. At the very least it requires mental gymnastics to imagine a division of labor, who gets to decide what. In the Hebrew mind, there is no conflict. That is, the apparent conflict is a logical error, sometimes referred to as a category error, or context error.

In the Hebrew mind, spirit is spirit and flesh is flesh. The natural world and virtually everything belonging to it yields, in theory at least, to a clinical examination and description. Western logic is primarily concrete and the language is descriptive. Hebrew minds have no problem with that, but spiritual matters are in a different category. They cannot be known by the intellect, and our best hope is to use parables to indicate something about those matters in terms of what it demands of us, but no clinical description is possible. Spiritual logic is symbolic, and the language is indicative. Hebrew language is thus notoriously imprecise, and any precision in expression is an abstraction from symbolic terminology.

So you as a human being will experience free will to choose a great many things. The Bible asserts we bear moral accountability, even as it asserts God is the Sovereign Initiator of all things. The two are categorically separate. The only overlap between the two realms is morality, expressed as Divine Justice. God reveals Himself via His moral imperatives for us. We experience Him directly only on the spirit level, but our minds are left working with imperatives, written by His Presence upon our souls as convictions. How we manifest those convictions will vary with the context, but they are a separate logic in themselves.

The human life and character of Jesus, of all people in human history, was shaped by God. He was entirely ordinary in every sense except He was born with a living spirit, whereas every other human is born spiritually dead. Thus, while Jesus had the normal collection of human abilities and intelligence, He was morally precocious. Random humans unaware of this would simply remark He was unusually mature for His age.

But that He passed through the same formative experiences as any other human cannot be denied. We won't struggle here with explaining how to harmonize the Gospels, nor pick overmuch at biographical minutiae. Rather, we will outline significant biographical factors.

Matthew and Luke together tell us, in effect, Jesus was the legitimate royal heir to the throne of David (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 2:1-3 and 3:23-38). In practical political terms it meant nothing. The dramatic and twisted tale of Judean history during the Intertestamental Period is too complicated for our purpose here, but the Davidic Dynasty had long been set aside by the time Jesus was born. However, it did have some significance in the political imagination of people who were aware of it. Jesus didn't take Himself that seriously and never raised the issue, simply assumed it where it mattered.

Both His parents were of the royal clan. His father was around thirty, His mother about half that age, as was common in those days. We know Joseph possessed a high moral character, and a strong piety. He and Mary had some clue to their son's future, but weren't sure what to make of it. His parents decided not to move from the historic clan home of Bethlehem district after He was born there. We know King Herod tried to have Him killed there. Given the king's infamous paranoia and brutality, we can assume his order to slaughter the dozen or so infants aged two years or less in that area had a safety margin. Jesus was probably about half that age when His parents fled to Egypt.

They most likely would have stayed in the Jewish community at Alexandria. Because they lingered until Jesus was about six, the age when linguistic facility has usually developed past the formative stage, He would have had an Alexandrian accent to some degree. People, who had traveled, particularly among the educated classes, would have noticed that. He could not avoid knowing some Greek, at least understanding if not speaking it. The Alexandrian Jews were deeply proud of their classical Greek scholarship. Jesus would have heard quite a few other languages, including the local Egyptian, and would be familiar with the negative and deeply pagan influences on the Alexandrian Jews.

Upon returning to Palestine, they went to Galilee to avoid Herod's equally nasty heir, Archelaus. Galilee was the country bumpkin region in Hebrew society, with its own distinct habits and accent. His father was a builder; our modern term "carpenter" is much narrower than is implied by the Greek word tekton. If we judge from Jesus' parables, it would appear He was as much a stonemason as anything else. The village of Nazareth was just a few miles from Sepphoris. That great city had been partially destroyed by Herod, then again after his death by Syrian troops, both times putting down revolts. Yet Flavius Josephus later describes a very beautiful, well built city, so we surmise it must have been rebuilt during the years Jesus was a young man. There would have been no such work for Joseph anywhere else in that area.

A lad at his Bar Mitzvah (typically age 12) able to engage the Temple rabbinical scholars for several days in deep discussion would naturally be steered into rabbinical studies. This was in addition to learning a trade, but would have taken progressively more of His time as He aged. At that point in history, the Talmud was still a collection of oral traditions. He would have learned that oral lore He called "traditions of men" (Mark 7:1-13), but knew it was contrary to Scripture. He had buried His heart in the written Word. He quotes an awful lot from Isaiah. At the same time, the ancient Hebrew approach was not totally eclipsed by Hellenism, but confined mostly to an aging minority of scholars, marginalized to small rural academies. Apparently Jesus learned quite a bit from at least one of these, because His debate performances show a powerful ancient Hebrew mystical bent, quite politically incorrect. If nothing else, His moral compass drove Him to embrace that viewpoint.

By the time of the Wedding in Cana, He was well established as a ranking young rabbi, albeit a maverick. When the time came to announce His calling and mission, the opposition was the establishment. That's because His mission was to accomplish everything Israel was supposed to do, but failed. Israel was supposed to be a light to the nations, entrusted with God's personally edited collection of ancient narratives, His one package of unassailable revelation. Instead of taking that message to the world, the nation squandered all their energy puffing their unique status. They treated their calling as a fragile thing in itself to be guarded and protected, instead of a weapon of universal moral conquest. In essence, the religious leaders had completely abrogated the Covenant by perverting it into an excuse for the most awful abuses (Matthew 15:1-9). Jesus was sent to correct all that, with the knowledge doing so would surely kill Him.

Chapter 6 - Messianic Expectations

We simply cannot hope to understand some of the events and conversations in the Gospels without realizing just what the Jews had in mind regarding the Messiah. In their minds, Jesus could not be the Messiah because He didn't fulfill certain unquestionable requirements.

As with all Scripture text, we often run astray because we aren't acquainted with the large pool of background information the writers assumed was common knowledge among their readers. It becomes the task of Bible scholars to fill in this really large blank spot, and their success has been mixed. Intellectual assumptions are one thing, but simple historical facts are another. As if we don't have trouble enough with virtually the whole of Western Christianity ignoring the unique Hebrew intellectual assumptions, virtually every sectarian division can be traced in part to a measure of ignorance regarding the much more accessible facts of social and historical context of the Bible times. Between overly literal readings and lack of context, we should hardly be surprised at the vast hoard of disputes and plain sectarian silliness embraced by so many who claim to follow Christ.

The Jews suffered the same fracturing, each sect claiming to hold the true heritage of Moses. We know the Pharisees were the most popular sect among the common folk. A critical element in the Gospel accounts is the often unexplained assumptions the Hebrew people had regarding the Messiah, along with the political instability stirred by these expectations.

We pick up the thread with the fundamental error of Israel first noted by the early prophetic writings. There was this huge pool of pride, even arrogance, at being The Chosen People. Instead of the humble gratefulness we might expect, and the resulting noble burden of responsibility, we see a racist hatred for anyone who was "uncircumcised," as if they were somehow unbearably filthy. Jews were forbidden to eat with or visit Gentiles in their homes. While the Law often seems to use the language of defilement, the intent was to make Israel cautious about mixing inappropriately, and protecting their tribal cohesion. The exclusionary impulse itself is proper and right, because it is right for all humanity, but the spiteful attitude was not. This, despite Moses bluntly pointing out their national identity was in the Covenant faithfulness, not in their DNA. And while it's not shared by every Jew, the presence of this unjustified arrogance culturally was strong enough to be a major issue very early in the nation's history.

Along with this was an early tendency to what can only be called a subtle form of blasphemy. The term "blasphemy" is defined as suggesting Jehovah wasn't as high and holy as He claimed, that other beings were in His class. Through the prophets we see God often thunders at the notion He is just another of many petty deities, nothing special. Among the various expressions of this was the silly notion God was not all-powerful, but was held hostage to protecting Zion because His Temple was there, "His House." This illusion of weakness, along with God's patience, gave rise to the tendency to be less than scrupulous and sincere in ritual observances, and even slipping into idolatry, because something in the popular subconscious told them they could get away with it. In their minds, God wasn't paying attention.

The prophets pointed out these flaws often enough, but even when taken seriously by those who heard, righteous fervor didn't seem to last long. They had no trouble remembering all the great and mighty miracles God performed on their behalf, but Israelis kept forgetting those things were for His glory, not theirs. When the Assyrians were dispatched by a plague in the siege camp, limping home to Nineveh only to be wiped out there by the rebellious Babylonians, this set the stage for insufferable folly. And while the prophets foresaw this last period of Judean monarchy as the final unforgivable insult to God, the Babylonian assault still came as a shock. God did not save them, and the Davidic Dynasty was removed.

When, almost a century later, some tiny remnant returned to Palestine, they bore the imprint of two very powerful negative influences. The Babylonian and Persian Empires brought a one-two cultural punch to the Hebrew intellectual assumptions about things in general. While the Jews never again slipped into open idolatry, the very attitude which prevented it gave rise to a much more subtle idolatry of political power and worship of wealth. They had a very weak hold on the moral imperatives which were the reason for fastidious observance of rituals and laws. The small remnant returning to rebuild Jerusalem was already crippled by this subtle influence, and the ease with which they became dissatisfied by the failure to regain their former worldly glory set them up for all sorts of huge mistakes.

In their prophetic library at the time was a long thread of promises to restore the monarchy under an heir of David. While there was, of course, a literal implication for this, the real meaning was symbolic, which they tended to ignore in favor of a thrilling literal expectation. They wanted the goods without having to pay the moral price, which was simply impossible. So when the Restoration disappointed them, and there weren't any miraculous bailouts for all that work, they began dwelling on all those promises some anointed figure ("Messiah") would arise to set things right. They went back through the prophecies combing for the nuggets of Messianic Promise. The final blow was the Hellenist influences, by which the mere trappings of obedience became their god.

Along with that overly literal expectation of a Messiah was a host of things He was supposed to bring with Him. The literature is expansive, but we can sum it up as a trio: all the wealth of the world carried to Israel, an endless supply of food provided by miracles if need be, and complete global political domination of the entire human race. This Messiah would manifest spectacular miraculous powers over nature and over all His enemies, and bring by force the Covenant Peace (shalom). He would elevate His People over the entire world as benevolent rulers to which everyone would fervently cling.

So now you can understand what Satan was trying to do with the Wilderness Temptations. He was attempting to get Jesus to accept those expectations, to embrace the role already laid out for Him by the Jewish scholars. It would be so easy. Jesus knew better, because by that time, He knew He was supposed to fight this very thing, die a senseless death, and reclaim His real heritage in the Spirit Realm. Sure, He was the lawful heir to David's throne, and could easily do all those things the Jews expected, but that power was simply a formality, a sign of deeper truth. Miracles do not come based on need, but use human need as the basis for drawing attention to the underlying moral imperatives which drive God's miraculous support for His people. Jesus was about to change the meaning of "His People" to what it was meant to be in the first place: those who cling to Him in purity of moral commitment.

He understood fully He was the sacrificial Lamb of God, opening the way to all humanity into God's Courts, and all the verbiage in Scripture about the Messiah was more symbolic than literal.

Chapter 7 - All in the Family

Westerners have a hard time imagining how small Jesus' world was on the human level.

We know Jesus possessed a prophetic insight. Some of His decisions arise directly from that, but this does not remove the purely human motives which surely fed into some of those choices. Too often Western Christians paint every scene in the Gospels as yet another grand miracle, when the human context itself was usually more than sufficient explanation.

Jesus dealt with real people, and His moral genius made Him realize human foibles on a level few could approach. He took these weaknesses for granted, even when it was personally frustrating. For example, almost everyone He encountered had bought into some measure of the false Messianic Expectations, and people were constantly missing the point of what He said. At times, He seemed blissfully unconcerned they didn't get it, because He knew after His resurrection, the Holy Spirit would correct a lot of false understandings they had. Still, there were so many times the utter lack of spiritual perspective, how so much simply flew right over their heads as they stared uncomprehendingly at Him, it broke His heart. As a human who instinctively understood the moral imperatives, He often marveled at common human intransigence against a clear sign from God.

He chose people knowing their flaws, knowing He had to deal with them, and the vast ocean of false understanding in the world around Him. People seem utterly surprised He would sometimes calculate on their weakness, not to harm them, but to keep the mission on track. Some people were more reliable in their failures than in their virtues, and He used this to good advantage in some places. For example, He counted on at least some the Twelve carrying illegal weapons so as to fulfill prophecy (Luke 22:35-38), and counted on Pilate to be a good Roman official and perform his duty despite deep misgivings. For all the prophetic insight He had, there was nothing to prevent Him using that insight in very human ways. Not everything was a miracle, nor had to be.

The other thing most surprising to people is how many of Jesus' relatives were involved in the Gospel accounts. In Hebrew society, it was taken for granted a man who had an entourage always included a large percentage of close kin, so the Gospel accounts hardly mention it. It's almost by accident we learn among the Twelve were probably five cousins. It requires chasing through all four Gospels the alternate names or other labels of various figures mentioned, but we learn a certain Alphaeus was Jesus' uncle, brother of Joseph (according to Eusebius, an early church scholar). The sons of Alphaeus include Matthew, James the Less and Jude. Also, Jesus' mother had a sister named Salome who was married to Zebedee. With this is the natural expectation there were already strong emotional bonds between Him and these cousins. Some of the recorded conversations and interactions take on a new meaning when we realize these people already knew Him quite well on a mere human level.

His forerunner, John the Baptist, was a cousin, of course. Each knew very well the other's calling, and had obviously discussed these things at length prior to Jesus' ritual announcement of His ministry at John's riverside camp. John's prophetic calling simply confirmed what he knew in the flesh, that his cousin was the Messiah, the Lamb of God, and all that came with that. John took his calling seriously, not himself, so the idea of being displaced in the public attention by Jesus was the whole point. John also realized almost everyone crowding his camp did so with failed understanding and, too often, with moral insincerity. Despite his best efforts, John could not avoid being a fashion trend and a political pawn. His late query of Jesus from prison seeking confirmation was preparation for his impending death. He honestly faced his execution as a relief, in some ways.

Every active preacher, prophet and rabbi was likely to have an entourage of apprentices and servants, all volunteers. John had some, moved to invest time in shadowing him, in part from general piety, but also because they sensed this might put them close to the promised Messiah. They wanted to be involved at almost any cost, and in whatever capacity was possible. After John's testimony about Jesus as the Lamb of God, some of his disciples switched to following Jesus. As previously noted, no one should be surprised this included rather close relatives of both.

Some of the Twelve loom large enough in the Gospels, one way or another, to become significant figures for us. Some remain in the background. Keep in mind, most of them had been hanging out with Him on a part-time basis already. The call of the Twelve was a change in daily occupation to full-time discipleship. Many more than this dozen continued following Him around, and He had to make a concerted effort to get together with them in private. A surprising number in this crowd were rather wealthy, giving financial support in keeping with the Law.

As a cousin and disciple, Matthew was valuable on the human level as record keeper and translator, but his likely access to Roman authorities didn't hurt. The symbolism of choosing someone from so popularly hated a profession should be obvious, as a pointed rejection of the damaged and perverted moral sense of the Jewish social leaders. Politics simply had no place in His ministry, except as a weakness to be exploited. Not mentioned directly is, in the popular mind, if Jesus was the real Messiah, He would have surely struck dead folks like Matthew as traitors working with the oppressors of His Nation.

Among the Twelve, John was apparently the closest friend Jesus had. John displayed a remarkable moral sensitivity, which had to appeal to Jesus' sense of loneliness in this crazy world. James and John were business partners with Peter and Andrew, and we should expect they were probably distant relatives, too.

Peter was the eventual leader, as would naturally be the case, since he was the oldest of the Twelve, perhaps older than Jesus. This makes Peter a particular focus of attention, and we see more of his unique character. He had all the natural confidence in the world, but didn't know himself well enough to keep from frequently appearing a blustering fool. When Jesus called him "the Rock" it was good for a snicker among the rest of the disciples, but it wasn't merely sarcasm. It was a fitting introduction to the symbolic meaning of recognizing Him as the Messiah. For the stonemason Jesus, Peter in this shining moment of his confession was a good solid block firmly fixed on the foundation of truth. If any man could amount to anything ever, it could only come from such faith. Many details in the narrative make no sense unless we imagine Peter as physically large and imposing. Though Jesus knew prophetically Peter was simply a good strong leader currently turned inside out, Peter also had some very useful social connections as a salesman for the fishing business. We'll have more about Peter later.

Judas had a mission we know all too well, but in human terms, he was a highly competent organizer and manager over mundane details. Jesus knew prophetically Judas would pilfer the treasury, but that didn't prevent the very sensible choice of giving him ready access for expenses. Simon the Zealot was the token political activist, almost the total opposite of Matthew. All of them were probably inclined to varying degrees of activism, prepared to take up arms in rebellion behind their Messiah. All of them suffered under the expectation this was all leading toward a political and military confrontation, if not with Roman officials, then with at least the Jewish political system. The rest of the Twelve are lesser known to us, but each served, if nothing else, as a representative sample of the wider population of the nation. This was a well rounded crew. Tradition indicates each served out his life in unique and exemplary ways, proving the rightness of choosing them.

Jesus stopped at twelve full-timers simply because a larger group would have been unmanageable within the constraints of His mission.

Chapter 8 - Rolling with Roles

While it would be an overstatement to suggest your human existence is scripted, you surely need to understand what God says is your role in His world.

In Hebrew language and culture, context is everything. Sometimes a person's actions or words might be inappropriate because it was tantamount to assuming prerogatives from a role they couldn't claim. A typical Hebrew response would be to correct impertinence by pushing things to the logical conclusion. Seize the wrong role and you'll be treated accordingly. "Is this really what you want?"

So it happened at the Wedding in Cana. Jesus was fresh from announcing His mission, spending more than a month in seclusion and fasting to clarify His thinking on that mission, then selecting the first members of His crew of apprentices. They all returned to the Nazareth area in time for the wedding in a nearby village. Keep in mind, this was often a week long affair, with guests feasting and sleeping on site the whole time.

The standing joke among Jews is every Jewish mother believes her son is the Messiah. Mary knew it for a fact in Jesus' case. She was just as warm, loving and ambitious for her son as every other Jewish mother would be. Unfortunately, she suffered many of the popular delusions about what the Messiah should be like. She expected Him to play a socially prominent role, and relished the glow such a thing would reflect on her. If Jesus was a real human, His mother was no less so.

Weddings could be make-or-break social affairs for just about all parties, not merely the bride and groom. It was not unknown for one family to sue the other family involved in a wedding if there was some kind of embarrassment, something which put them in a bad light. The caterer noticed the wine was running low, and it was the groom's responsibility to fix the problem. It was time to panic.

Mary prompted her son to play the big shot rabbi and solve the issue. Surely among His entourage was someone who could pull strings and get some good wine even in this remote nowhere village? Jesus had no intention of playing her social games. What He said to her was a colloquial equivalent of, "If that's your game, I don't want to admit you are my mom." Undeterred, she simply advised the servants to keep pestering Him until He did something. It's doubtful she in any way expected what followed, since He had performed no miracles up to that point.

Turning water into wine was for the benefit of the Twelve. That others knew didn't matter. It inaugurated the ministry of restoring justice. Not so much because the party needed wine, but this sign was because the disciples needed to see something of His very real authority as Messiah, that His teaching was backed by God's own power. They would recognize this as some part of the Messianic Expectations -- miraculous supply of the best quality food -- and He couldn't help that, so He used it to His advantage.

Word got out, of course, and when they eventually went back to Nazareth, we discover what a mean and nasty little town it was. This was what was behind that smart-alecky remark made by Nathaniel: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" The folks tried to lynch Jesus, but failed. Calling Him "Jesus of Nazareth" provided a strong distinction among all the other guys named Jesus, but it wasn't necessarily a positive association. On the other hand, Nazareth clearly didn't claim Him.

That, along with His mother's pushy interference, were pretty good reasons for Jesus to move His base of operations to Capernaum. It was still outside the dicey political situation in Judea proper, yet within the nation's borders. It was rather like the rebel hero hiding out in a pirates' nest. The city was an Imperial crossroads, but also bore the nasty history of idolatry associated with the likes of that breakaway clan of Danites during the Period of Judges. Traveling north they chased out the pagan Canaanites, only to turn and build even worse religious practices than those they were supposed to cleanse (Judges 18). Then there was Caesarea next door to Capernaum, built over a Jewish graveyard, of all things. Gentiles didn't mind much, but Jews refused to enter Caesarea. The whole area was reputed a moral black hole, passively hostile to the nosy Sanhedrin who avoided the place, yet perfectly happy with Jesus and His crew.

It's hard to know precisely how long Jesus stayed here, but His early ministry lasted at least some months, and is the context for His early fame as a prophet who worked miracles, with massive numbers healed and fed from nothing.

Chapter 9 - Parables and Miracles

Miracles and parables served similar purposes in the ministry of Jesus: pointing to a higher truth.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus spent a great deal of time teaching in parables. Even when it was easy enough to state things in more common terms, He insisted on using parables and symbolic speech. His disciples were vexed by this and said so. The immediate response Jesus gave does not translate well, particularly into our Western culture, given He spoke in His native Aramaic, and the explanation is recorded in Greek. But His longer answer as recorded in Matthew's Gospel (chapter 13) was itself a parable.

We've already noted parabolic language is the native Hebrew approach to spiritual matters. It was well understood from ancient times the best way to make someone remember something important was to build an interesting story around it. People do not forget a well-spun tale. Human memory has always been less than perfect, but this is what we know works best.

Whether the actual meaning of that story ever takes root is another matter. This was the point Jesus made as He answered His disciples in explaining the Parable of the Sower. It seems almost humorous how Matthew places their question after the parable which answers it. The truth of God is planted in the mind, but the mind needs some help to germinate and produce something which changes our lives. If the mind is backed up by only what human experience itself provides, then our natural human weaknesses will not be sufficient to make anything of the parables. This is why Israel failed her mission; even ideal human conditions simply aren't enough. If the soul is aware of spiritual things, because the spirit is alive, or even someday could be, then there is fertile soil for a harvest of truth.

Jesus was like any other rabbi, recycling some of the same material for different audiences. When the disciples asked for an explanation of this particular parable, Jesus was able to translate something of the spiritual truth into more common terms. They were quite enthusiastic about that, but it changed neither His teaching plans for them nor for the crowds. He simply allowed them a bit more leeway as future preachers for His message. He made His explanations infrequent, apparently, in order to challenge them to leave behind their simplistic outlook.

The language and logic of the Spirit Realm is symbolic and parabolic. The parables are not descriptive, but indicative. Only a living spirit can perceive the full meaning of things, and it doesn't process in terms of human language. Only a living spirit can truly see the moral fabric woven into this fallen world, and nothing we can do in human language will make that more accessible. All we can do is condition the mind to obey, to connect with our own living spirits by becoming the servant, not the master.

Thus, Jesus chose parables to invalidate a false piety, the religious legalism and its false claim as God's Law. It was critical to draw a wide distinction between genuine faith and false piety. The most diabolical lie is the one standing closest to the truth. The best antidote to a pedestrian mind is to frustrate it by keeping things out of its reach. The Ultimate Truth of God as revealed in the person of Jesus the man was meant to polarize, to clearly separate those who would receive Him and those who would not. Those who did receive Him might not at the time know why they were so drawn, and they really didn't need to grasp it intellectually, as if they could somehow take control over the relationship. They needed to respond first as total supplicants. The parables were a way of sifting out those who simply would not ever get it, because they were spiritually dead and too wrapped up in the concerns of this world.

So while every parable took the form of familiar human experiences, and Jesus consciously used the wealth of Hebrew parabolic images, He was counting on the divisive nature of the parables. Eventually it paid off. While the miraculous feedings drew in a huge following, most of those who followed were simply hoping they could quit working so hard for their next meal. It was the old "bread and circuses." To break them off, Jesus told the parable of Bread of Life. After insisting in symbolic language He was the Bread they all really needed, it rattled the empty souls and they quit following Him. This reduced the physical and human demands on Jesus so He could truly serve the needs of those spiritually alive. It would also reduce the suspicions of the local authorities, preventing untimely interference. Jesus had no intention of challenging the political system, and it was odd how Pilate understood this from a brief conversation, but the Sanhedrin never caught onto it. Everything Jesus did pointed to a spiritual reality and worldly concerns were simply tools for this.

Jesus was fully aware He had to give everyone a chance to discover what was inside themselves in terms of His eternal mission. Thus, He performed these huge miracles on hundreds of people. The world needed to see His teaching carried the Creator's stamp of approval; He was working on God's own authority. Even Nicodemus understood as much, and when He interviewed Jesus, his question was in essence, "How can I reconcile what I see with what I have been taught?" The conflict was painful. The famously quoted response from Jesus is typically misunderstood. Jesus told Nicodemus the answer was not on the level of human intellect, but required a living spiritual connection with the Divine. The whole objective was otherworldly. If your spirit has not been brought to life, then you'll never understand how miracles come, nor can you correct centuries of bad teaching based on very limited human capabilities.

Jesus was calling His whole nation to notice they were not on the right path. The miracles were their one best chance to see what they had lost. Whatever blessings they could have had were denied them, even on the human level alone, because they had left the essential ground of understanding inherent to the Covenant. The blessings of Law require not simply obeying the letter of the Law, but required the Law be a pathway to deeper spiritual realities. Because of the Hellenism of the rabbinical colleges, almost no one understood the Law properly because all they knew were the words and what human logic could make of them. It was utterly necessary to have the Hebrew mystical culture just to obey the words. Actually touching the face of God required something which Hellenism simply did not allow.

Jesus knew the shortest path to His Father's divine Presence for fallen mankind was turning the nation around. He also knew that was not going to happen in terms of the earthly system now in place. The only alternative was to make sure it was painfully obvious they were on the wrong track as their last prophetic warning, then throw open the spiritual path first, allowing people to obtain the cultural background after the spiritual change.

The Scripture would offer enough clues to this background, carrying the seeds of Ultimate Truth. Since the chosen keepers of Scripture refused to keep the truth alive, it had to be taken from their hands. Jesus planned well before His public baptism to die as the final last sacrifice to end the old sacrificial system permanently. The implication of this was ending the Old Covenant itself. Since the surviving portion of Israel could no longer obey it anyway, that covenant was done. The written record still serves a purpose, and helps to fill in the blanks after people's souls had crossed over to the Eternal Kingdom of the Spirit. Once their spirits are alive, the restoration and redemption of life here could proceed. The Lord would accept sincere repentance under any context, but expected folks to keep moving toward the moral purity possible only through the ancient Hebrew heritage.

Of course it would work better if that spiritual birth came in the proper cultural and intellectual climate, but that's no longer possible. We don't know how much Jesus saw prophetically regarding the global dominance of the Hellenism which lies under our Western Civilization. No one is going to tell you it's impossible to be a Christian without replacing your cultural background with that of the Ancient Hebrew. What we will tell you is you can't hope to fulfill the whole purpose of God in your life without striving to conquer that which was the final perversion destroying the Old Covenant -- the Western Aristotelian outlook and intellectual assumptions. As soon as your spirit is alive, you'll still love the parables of Jesus and repeat them, and you may even believe you understand them. You'll be drawn with a power you don't comprehend. But you'll live a very misinformed life of Kingdom service which requires God to clean up an awful lot of messes you leave behind. Yes, others will see your life and still respond to the move of the Spirit, but you won't get the full effect yourself. The Hebraic frame of reference opens a large spiritual inheritance you can't otherwise access. Without it, you won't have the internal storage system for safekeeping some of those blessings God pours into your life.

Satan cannot prevent anyone's spiritual birth. His battle is not against that, but to dim your witness and steal your share of the blessings available here. That includes the vast ocean of joy possible for those who have their minds conditioned to see and understand how to obey the Spirit. Not by compulsion and stumbling into it, but a mind ready to participate fully and willingly because it understands how God intended to reveal Himself to fallen humanity. If you don't understand how Satan uses Western Civilization to accomplish his spiritual destruction of humanity, you are wasting your time reading this book. You'll never get hold of the mind of Christ. Jesus' use of parables was meant to point out this very thing.

Once Jesus ascended into Heaven, and sent back His Spirit into those prepared for His Presence, all those parables came to life in their minds. All those perplexing teachings and miracles suddenly had shape and meaning.

Chapter 10 - Limits of a Broken Covenant

The charade was nearly ended.

Jesus had embarrassed the Sanhedrin consistently. They attacked Him on particulars and He always shot back from the substance of the Law. Having no real answer to His teaching, they determined to trap Him and undermine His popularity. They always underestimated Him, no longer able to use the deep wisdom of Hebrew sages, in part because Hellenism steals your very soul.

The rabbinical system arose during the Exile, displacing some of the functions of the priesthood, given there was no access to the Temple. (The priests became the single most secularizing influence afterward.) Among those functions was judging cases under Mosaic Law, and the large collection of oral precedents thus set formed a part of the Talmudic tradition. This business of having rabbis act as judges was typically used in cases where it seemed the Law was ambiguous for whatever reason. In Jesus' day, only the highest ranking rabbis were asked to judge these complicated matters. It was a mark of high trust when your fellow rabbis asked you to judge a case.

Of course, in the matter of adultery, there was hardly any ambiguity. Caught in the act, it was a mere matter of formality, simply to ensure a public notice for the crime and sentence. And of course, Roman law forbade the death penalty unless it came through their legal system. The point was to trap Jesus between violating Roman law, which they would gladly report to the authorities, or violating Mosaic Law and losing His popular influence.

Why was adultery a capital crime? From ancient times, the cohesion and trust within a family, clan and tribe was sacred. Adultery is an attack on that trust, and it's no small matter. Humans who don't feel a powerful possessive sense for something so utterly personal are not normal, themselves a threat to any community. The Bible makes adultery tantamount to publicly stripping and raping the spouse of your adulterous sex partner (Leviticus 18:6f; "uncover" refers to exposing and implies sexual abuse). In ancient tribal societies, this was highly destructive, causing wars, among other things. Most of what we today regard as silly social customs and repressive rules are actually pretty realistic efforts to prevent the kind of moral looseness which destroys the essential unconditional trust necessary for people to live in close proximity without killing each other over petty disputes. God says adultery is not petty, along with all sorts of common sexual improprieties.

So the Sanhedrin brought a woman caught in the act, which is indisputable evidence against her. We would not be surprised if there was some element of entrapment of her, as well. They pretend to flatter Jesus by asking Him to play judge. Of all humans who have ever lived, He was truly fit for the role. As such, He didn't allow them to tie His hands. This wasn't simply dodging the question to cleverly save His own hide or reputation, nor did He diminish the seriousness of the woman's sin. Nor was this simply because they conveniently forget to bring the other guilty party, who was probably socially connected enough the Sanhedrin wanted to protect him. Jesus wasn't simply attacking their cronyism and obvious misogyny. Rather, He took advantage of the situation to make a point.

Jesus stayed on task, on message. The Nation of Israel had so flagrantly violated the Covenant of Moses, her internal political leadership had no standing to accuse anyone, and could have been accused themselves as indirect contributors to this woman's crime. Her threat to the integrity of the social structure was nothing compared to theirs. "Take the log out of your own eye, first." Hellenism was as the sin of idolatry, exchanging their devotion to God the Person for devotion to human logic. This was spiritual adultery. It was a grave blasphemy off into uncharted territory. All the other sins of the nation recorded in the Scripture paled in comparison to this. Whatever Israel was meant to be could no longer exist. In essence, Jews under the Sanhedrin could not rightly claim to be "Israel" any more.

As such, there was no Covenant peace and security to threaten, because they had long since ceased to hold any valid claim to the Covenant blessings. Were this not so, Jesus would have done almost no miracles at all. When you count all the times He delivered folks from demons or healed them from some ailment, it was testimony against the leadership of Judah. Some human sorrow is normal, but not on that scale. The hundreds of peasants He helped were truly the lost sheep of Israel, because the shepherds had simply handed them over to spiritual wolves. Roman oppression was the direct result of sin, of refusing to build the moral superiority by which God empowers nations to endure. On top of this, what little national existence left to this people was to be short-lived.

All of this was burned into Jesus' consciousness.

His answer to them points directly at the problem. Were they faithful to the Law of Moses as God had revealed it, they would have a clear conscience. Those who cling to God's Laws sincerely might be slow to execute any penalties, but they would understand the necessity and humbly undertake corrective action. As soon as He spoke His challenge, the Spirit of God Himself smote them with conviction. Jesus knew this would happen. Not some rhetorical flourish creating false guilt, nor was it a miracle; this is how the moral fabric of Creation works for everyone who speaks God's truth. Suddenly they all felt nastier and dirtier than the woman so abusively tossed on the ground in front of Jesus. Indeed, He was the only one there without sin.

So when the Sanhedrin had melted away, and only a few spectators remained, Jesus rose from scratching in the dust, and caught the woman's eye. She had stayed because, by this point, she had accepted Him as her properly authorized judge. Court was still in session. She had surely sinned, and that same roaring fire of conviction was upon her now. He told her He could not justify sentencing her to death under the current circumstances, but she should surely stop giving in to such a destructive temptation. We can be certain that burning sense of shame never left her, nor did the sense of grateful relief. Her problem was dealt with; case closed.

Jesus never once lowered the bar on sexual sins. Instead, He raised it even higher, pointing out Moses took it easy on Israel regarding divorce. The divine standard was far higher. Even if we hold to that standard in our actions, our lust will betray us before God, and He surely notices. But the actions are destructive to the society God expects us to build for ourselves, even if we can't share that society outside our own home life.

The Law of Moses was closed, and only the Law of Noah still stood. The bar for capital punishment is much higher under Noah, and this standard applies to all human government even now. However, the time for God to actively work His Justice through human government was past. The one best chance of it had failed on the human side, and matters moved into a different standard of operation altogether.

The Laws of God are critical for us as individual followers of Christ. They provide a contextual example of holy conduct which speaks His Name to a fallen world. This is what a church was supposed to be, a reclaiming of some of what Israel had thrown in the trash. Though having a church composed of a clan of blood kin is highly unlikely today, we already know a covenant bond in His blood is actually stronger than mere shared DNA. Even then, Christians have no business attempting to reconstitute the ancient death penalties literally. Our equivalent today is simple ostracism; that's death penalty enough for the New Testament. Those whose actions and words threaten the cohesion of the Community of Christ are to be treated as spiritually dead.

When Israel turned from actually living the Law of Moses, and began using the mere semantics of that Law as an excuse to oppress and destroy life, the last window closed on the strictures of that Law as applied in the flesh. This is why Jesus said things which seem to abrogate certain limited applications of Moses, such as the utter necessity of kosher. They aren't holy for their own sake. While such dietary guidelines may be wise in the flesh, they have no bearing on real holiness.

Critical to His mission was for Jesus to show how true holiness could not be reduced to mere rules and actions.

Chapter 11 - Give Them Room

Efficiency and achievement are human values, not spiritual values.

How would our children learn if we didn't let them fail? How would they gain skills and confidence if we don't let them practice, taking much longer than we would on the same task? How much good is unfailing prophetic insight when people can't be moved to higher faith without first experiencing the failure of human limitations?

What if the objective was almost never efficiency of action and results, but a change in people? People have to die in one sense; they have to see the utter powerlessness of flesh in order to live morally.

Jesus possessed a prophetic ability to know anything which mattered to His work, even down to the most mundane stuff. We see He seldom bothered, not using that insight as people might expect. He just allowed an awful lot of stuff to happen because the whole focus was not on the events themselves, in most cases, but on the truth and the people involved. When people needed to stick around all day to hear His message, He could produce food for thousands from a handful of bread. When His disciples didn't catch any fish, He caused the nets to almost break with a most unnatural catch. When He needed to pay the Temple tax, to demonstrate His tolerance for human government, He had Peter catch a single fish which had swallowed the correct amount for both of them. Does anyone imagine the material possessions mattered at any point?

Jesus knew who touched Him in the crowd, when the woman suffering from hemorrhaging was healed. But she needed to know, not simply how she was healed, but why. And the crowd needed to know it, too.

Jesus knew that storm was coming, but told His disciples to row into it anyway. They needed to experience the utter disconnect between feeding thousands from a handful of bread versus their fear of weather while He was on board the boat. Not as a magic talisman, of course, but His presence protected them by virtue of His unfinished divine mission. They needed to toss their small thoughts into that sea. It doesn't matter whether we see Him prophetically anticipating the sudden abatement of the storm or if He literally commanded it; He was the Master.

Jesus knew the blind man could be healed without washing off the clay. There was nothing special about the procedure. His disciples needed a lesson about human sorrow, that simplistic cause-and-effect views about sin were a huge mistake. The man needed to see up close the stupidity of the Sanhedrin, so he could share that with others. The Sanhedrin needed a lesson, too. In the end, another soul came to spiritual life and truth.

Jesus could have healed a lot more people than that one fellow near the Pool of Bethesda. Healing was not the point, but pointing out the godless fallacy of hindering healing on any day of the week. Rituals never trumped genuine human need. If God alone does miracles, how could He be unhappy with someone miraculously healed on the Sabbath? The logical meaning of the written Law was not God, but Law was an expression of His personal will.

Over and over again, Jesus did things which were clearly not aimed at accomplishments as humans view them. His whole commitment was getting out the message, the long lost truth of God's revelation. He kept looking for ways to poke it in the faces of the Jewish leaders with their twisted logic, and the people who were totally lost, and His disciples who would some day take up the message themselves. It was irritating at times, but Jesus understood all too well His chosen crew would be among the last people on earth to get it, and would understand almost nothing until He was gone. Then, because He would share His Spirit among them, they would be the only ones with sufficient experience to do much with it right away. He knew these things would be recorded for us so we could duplicate their transition from human reasoning to moral imperatives.

Critical to our understanding Jesus' human mind was the complete willingness to let people be wrong. He was willing to let them fail over and over, because He had all the time in the world. There was no need to correct every little error, despite how annoying things could be dealing with human weakness. His calculus of input and output in terms of change had nothing to do with personality inventories, measuring the demographics and calculating economic factors, or anything else. Do you suppose He didn't know His hometown would try to kill Him? And why did He just have to go through Samaria, enemy territory?

This was the lesson He tried to teach when Martha fussed about Mary not helping with dinner preparation. He more or less finished that lesson for Martha when He didn't hurry to heal their brother Lazarus, but let Him die. It was the same reason He didn't raise any of the other dead bodies resting in that cemetery. He surely knew the big shots would report this, and He knew how Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin would decide that day Jesus must die or they would lose everything which mattered to them. It's the same moral reason He was willing to die on the Cross for no valid lawful reason.

You cannot fix broken humanity without changing their natures completely. You cannot make that change en masse no matter how you try. It has to be one at a time, individual by individual. Nor can you pull strings and manipulate them across the threshold. It has to be a miracle, or it doesn't happen at all.

Jesus warned about driving demons out without filling the empty space with something better. It was the same reason God told Moses He would not drive out the Canaanites all at once. Miracles sweeping the deck clean are fine, but now we have to occupy that living space, and it has to be occupied in the natural timing of human rhythms, or it won't fulfill the divine imperatives. Not everyone with a demon is ready to be set free. Those who are ready often need little more than the knowledge it can be done.

You can build a community around this change in souls, but you can't keep out people like Judas, tares among the wheat. All those miracles Judas saw didn't change him. The Transfiguration and all the miracles the other disciples saw didn't prevent them fleeing from the arrest in the Garden. Jesus knew that was coming, too. He had His big basket of forgiveness ready.

Our instinctive reckoning of what's reasonable for God to do is a serious threat to serving Him. People have to be ready at their own pace, and God alone knows that pace. Sometimes there is not a blessed thing you can do for someone, and you need to develop a divine sensitivity for that. It's not a question of what God can do, but what He wants from you in a given context. Nothing you have to do is more important than the people involved, unless God tells you to move and leave them for some other servant of His.

Chapter 12 - The Special Case of Peter

Some of the greatest miracles are the hardest to see until much later.

Jesus must have had the patience of Job when it came to Peter. We can learn a great deal about the mind of Jesus by how He handled the eventual leader of the Twelve. We know Peter was a big blundering fool. A mind filled with big dreams, a mouth full of big talk, and big hands full of big mistakes -- that was Peter. So long as you kept him busy at mundane tasks, he was okay, if bored. Give him a job requiring initiative and at least half the time he would make a mess of it. And Peter seldom made small messes.

He was just the kind of man to be drawn with great passion to a Messiah. Peter just knew he could accomplish such great things if given a chance. He was ready for heroic battle, even carried an over-sized fishing knife, and probably practiced a bit using it as a sword, as he tried to do at Jesus' arrest in Gethsemane. He imagined himself a mighty Hebrew warrior of old in God's army. He never lacked for zeal when it was something he believed in, something big. He took himself too seriously, though. We can sense he was always shocked when things went wrong, never taking into account his humanity, never seeming to remember his previous bumbling. He knew deep sorrow and bitter regret over mistakes, but never seemed to remember why he failed. It was the reason he kept making more mistakes.

And Jesus wanted him.

When Peter got it right, he was a star, indeed. The Gospels record some startling moments of genius. On the day Jesus called him, Peter confessed he had no business polluting the air Jesus breathed, unworthy of the Lord's presence. Then there was that day Jesus discussed with the Twelve what people said of Him. When He asked them what their own opinion was, Peter blurted out Jesus was the Messiah. And when Jesus used the Parable of the Bread of Life to separate out the human chaff in His entourage, who was it said they had nowhere else to go, since Jesus had the words of life? Peter surely got some things very right, and Jesus purposely gave him those opportunities.

Only when Peter set aside himself and his dreams did he begin to understand, but the demand of his flesh was no small voice in Peter's ears. Its last dying gasp was in the Garden of Gethsemane. Here was this huge armed crowd, including Judas, some officials and dozens of soldiers.

Perhaps we'd have to have been there to understand why Peter didn't lunge at Judas, who at least might have deserved it. Instead, the least important man there caught the clumsy swipe with groggy Peter's blade. His name was Malchus, a mere slave of Caiaphas. Jesus rebuked Peter sharply, not for his natural human mistakes, but for his habit of thinking his human power could accomplish anything important. This was not Peter's proper role. Violence is a bitter fruit, which brings only more violence. God no longer sponsored armies in His Name. The time was past when human warfare could work the glory of God; there was no longer any political entity serving Him, nor would there ever be again. Jesus persuaded the soldiers to release Him long enough to restore the ear. He did that for the same reason He performed so many other healings: to redeem an injustice. Then He made sure He was the only one arrested. All the injustice that night was for Him alone, and He refused to share it. These people weren't enemies, just helpless pawns of the real Enemy, who could be faced only in death.

Painful it would be, but the worst they could do to Him was precisely what Jesus intended to face. They would think they had accomplished something, and Jesus had miserably failed. They had it backwards, and so did Peter. Jesus' hour of ultimate victory had come.

But the blundering little boy in Peter wasn't finished twitching just yet. He sneaked into the trial, and then lied about who he was, denying he even knew his own Messiah. On the Cross, the beast in Peter died, and it's a wonder he didn't finish it off with suicide. But he wasn't alone through this ordeal, nor was he alone when he got word of Jesus' body disappearing. The next time we see him rashly charging ahead was when he brushed past John and entered the empty tomb. He had to see for himself. His own resurrection was on the way.

So when Peter finally encounters the risen Jesus again, we should note the Lord's personality had not changed appreciably. That morning when they met on the shore of Galilee, Peter had returned to the one thing he knew how to do safely -- fishing. It was a calming time accomplishing nothing. And when he realized the man on the shore was not an eager buyer but his Master, he plunged into the water and beat the boat ashore. He professed his utter unworthiness yet again, and this time we sense it's real and final. Indeed, just to make sure for Peter's own sake, Jesus conducted a peculiar interview.

He asked Peter twice if he were willing to lead the others and face the danger first. Did Peter have a sacrificial passion for his Master? Twice Peter chose a lesser term than sacrificial love, indicating he wasn't sure, knew he couldn't boast big, but he certainly was a friend of Jesus. So on the third pass, Jesus asked Peter if he was at least His friend. Peter noticed the change in terminology, and felt a deep stab of regret, but knew better than to shoot off his big mouth any more. After denying Jesus three times that night, the least he could do is be honest now, at whatever cost. Yet, this time, as each of the other times, Jesus reminded Peter he was the chosen leader -- "Pastor my sheep."

Indeed, it was in the hands of Peter to lead in moving this Gospel message out, little by little, from a tiny sect of Judaism, to a faith available to all humanity. We see eventually Peter goes to the Samaritans, who, for all the hatred between them, Jews did not quite call "Gentiles." A short time later, Peter uses his divine keys to open the Gospel to actual Gentiles, visiting a centurion in his home after a vision pointed out certain ritual aspects of the Old Covenant were now dead. Yes, Peter stumbled yet one more time when he felt that old intimidation and Paul corrected him. And Peter was willing to humbly step aside and go underground while someone else took up the leadership. Eventually Peter willingly died for Jesus, right behind Paul, as Jesus had once asked him some decades earlier at that breakfast on the beach of Galilee.

With all the power of the universe in His hands, Jesus often let things go. He had a keen sense of what really mattered in His mission, saw unfailingly the threads of the moral fabric in every situation. He never picked over mere appearances and silly rules except in sarcasm, mocking those who worshiped their logical understanding of the Law instead of the God who gave the Law. He showed this strongly in the case of Peter, with all his flaws. Once broken of his childish inflated self regard, Peter was more valuable as a leader than all the rulers and rabbis of the entire nation.

The new Peter had become reliable after the Resurrection. It really didn't much matter what he accomplished, and Jesus didn't make any plans for him, but let him do what came naturally to his new nature.

Chapter 13 - Epilogue

The mind of Christ is much more than simply classical Hebrew.

Jesus was a real person, not some two-dimensional figure of mythology. He could be warm and gentle, or prickly and even violent, such as when He cleansed the Temple. Most of us are likely to interpret His personality from the narrative in light of our experiences, but He was complex and challenging as any real human is.

Classical Hebrew intellectual culture was simply the starting point for God's revelation, and Jesus was the final living expression of it. We who follow Him today are participants in His revelation. The Hebrew mind, and the entire message of the Old Testament, was a contextual manifestation of God's revelation. Those who have the mind of Christ -- were they transplanted to live among that people, in that land, at that time in history -- would find the Law of Moses a very fitting human frame of reference for that divine mind.

His mind doesn't permit us to escape our humanity, but recreates what humanity was supposed to be with all its weaknesses. The Garden of Eden isn't gone, but there is a price for readmission. That price is committing to shedding the insecurity, blindness and weakness of the Fall -- the decision to live by human reason. All those miracles from the beginning of the narrative were part and parcel of His revelation. That apparent disruption of natural limits was meant to show the natural limits were a lie in the first place. We live for a time with a foot in both worlds. We are aware what we see is generally false, even as we make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the limitations of this broken world.

Miracles remind us we cannot trust human capabilities. Mere reason alone will not take you where God wants you. For example, the proper attitude toward stuff: God owns it all. The mind of Christ dumps the conservative instinct and remains wide open, morally sensitive. Sometimes extravagance is right, particularly when giving your stuff away for His glory. Sometimes He wants you to be a tightwad because of what the other person actually needs. It always depends on His glory in the context. You can't learn this in the flesh; only learn to subject the flesh, until you develop a sense of God's Justice. It's not "give more to get more." It is give anything and everything His glory demands, and earthly consequences be damned. Spiritual maturity means being less worldly, not less human.

The New Testament writers refer to a human nature which has flesh, soul and a potential spirit. We are born with dead spirits. In that condition, human senses, talent and reason are all we have. When the spirit awakens, God creates a link to Himself and plants His very real Presence into our spirits. The intellect cannot grasp any part of this, only some vague notion of how it affects things. The Spirit of God implants His divine will in our spirits, rather like unshakable bedrock, a foundation of moral imperative by which our human existence expresses something of His divine nature. We call this bedrock "conviction," and it resides in the heart. The Hebrew culture considered the heart the seat of the will, of our essential commitments, not our emotions as it is for Western culture. The mind becomes aware of conviction in the form of conscience. The conscience changes as our moral commitment matures, but those convictions are as eternal as God Himself.

Those convictions are the mind of Christ. We come to know the will of God by obeying our conscience until it grows and clarifies by trusting properly in what is planted outside our conscious minds in our spirits. The starting place for the mind is to learn Hebrew intellectual culture, a dramatic shift away from our Western culture. I sincerely hope you can get free of false restraints to claim the full heritage of God's revelation through His people on this earth. The mind of Christ is well within reach of anyone who desires it. We gain the divine mind of Christ by knowing the mind of Jesus the man.

This is my best understanding of how you can begin that journey. This is not a movement, nor is anybody starting one. The contributors listed below are acquaintances, perhaps even friends, but most of us have never met face to face. We share only this project, and any organization is purely ad hoc for the task at hand. We come from all sorts of sectarian affiliation and non-affiliation.

There is no interest in donations, only the message and your response. We are also not interested in personal credit or copyrights. If this message appeals to you enough you want to use it, then it becomes your message, too. Use it as you see fit.

Ed Hurst
First edition, 29 October 2012


Christine L.
David Engel
DG Mattichak
Misty Poush
Tim Young