[jesus, the middle eastern storyteller] chapter 1: jesus’ storytelling world

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September 25, 2009

by Angela Kerns

Gary Burge describes Jesus as a storyteller who communicates with word pictures, dramatic actions, metaphors, and stories. Fortunately for us this author does many of these same things. The hallmark of a good writer, so I’ve been told, is in one’s ability to draw word pictures, to “show” rather than “tell”. This first chapter ends with a vivid word picture. To hear Jesus’ stories “as his first audience heard them will be like plowing a field we know well—only to discover treasures we never knew existed.”

artist-paintingFor people accustomed to the world of technology, we’re always looking for the fastest connections and twitter speed communication. To slow down and plow, that will take some work. I know for myself that reading this book takes a certain amount of tenacity, like plowing. On the other hand, to discover treasures, well therein lies the hook to keep reading this little book. Who doesn’t want to find treasures?

I’ve been plowing through God’s Word for over forty years, so the ground is familiar to me. For those of us who still long to discover deeper treasures in scripture we don’t need another translation or version, they seem to be plentiful. We need to sharpen our thinking, so the Word can be that sharp double edged sword God intended it to be, not a dull blade that isn’t useful anymore. Gary Burge’s work is like a sharpening stone.

This chapter is almost like setting the stage for the guest speaker at a conference. “I’d like to introduce you to Jesus: one who is well studied, having “eloquence matched by surprising wit”, humorous, one who speaks the language of the people by creating word pictures, simple yet with no “lack of profundity”, keen with his use of culturally accepted “overstatement and gross exaggeration”, from a “world filled with drama and entertainment and theater”. I’ve heard this Speaker before, but never quite in light of these comments.

For those reading the book with us, I’m sure you’ll agree that the insight Mr. Burge gives to the parable of the Good Samaritan is priceless. He shares the story told to him by an Arab Christian, relating it in terms of things we can picture – AIDS, a soldier in a hospital, being ignored by the nursing staff and the doctors, then finally being helped by one who knew the man to be his enemy. In the reality of our war torn world, we can imagine how sacrificial it would be for a Palestinian Christian janitor to come to the aid of one who had been part of an attack on his village. “When (we) understand what it means for an enemy to love an enemy – and for the righteous to show neglect—then (we) will have a picture of the power of God’s grace at work in a person’s heart.”

Gaining insights like this make the treasure hunt worth it for me. I will keep my hand to the plow and seek to understand the stories of Jesus with new eyes and a heart bent on getting His deeper meaning.

 

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About the author: 

Angela_KernsI am Angela Kerns. Married almost forever, mother of two beautiful daughters who never cease to bless me, teacher for over twenty five years, lover of God’s word, and a grateful one for His exceedingly abundant mercy and grace. Blessed to be part of this project, blessed to have discovered Dan, the Bibledude.  Desire to be a blessing and encouragement to others.

3 Comments

  1. jessegiglio

    Thanks Angela, agree with your idea of sharpening our thinking not just piling on more information. I also get the feeling as I read this that Iʻm walking in to a lab and about to blow some stuff up : )

    Reply
  2. BibleDude

    dude… this is just such an important thing for the church to get a hold of! sharpening our thinking is what is needed so badly! so i agree with you jesse… great minds dude…

    angela… i also appreciate how you laid this post out, particularly how you focused on the idea of creating 'vivid word pictures'. the author of the book (gary burge) does do a great job with this, and i agree that getting some good context like this around the biblical text does just that…

    good stuff!

    Reply
  3. BibleDude

    dude… this is just such an important thing for the church to get a hold of! sharpening our thinking is what is needed so badly! so i agree with you jesse… great minds dude…

    angela… i also appreciate how you laid this post out, particularly how you focused on the idea of creating 'vivid word pictures'. the author of the book (gary burge) does do a great job with this, and i agree that getting some good context like this around the biblical text does just that…

    good stuff!

    Reply

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[jesus, the middle eastern storyteller] chapter 1: jesus’ storytelling world

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