YESHUA BAR ELOHIM: THE ENIGMA OF JESUS AS SON

JESUS AS SON: PART 3 “JESUS AS EMBODIED ISRAEL”

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols” (vv. 1–2).

– Hosea 11:1–7

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Another aspect tied to the title of Son of God, is that of the identity of the nation of Israel. As Hosea points out in the verse, Yahweh actually refers to Israel as his own beloved child, and as his son. Although it should be noted that Moses is the first to point this out in Exodus, but he isn’t permitted by God to speak of it. This particular identity is historic in nature; implying that it is tied to the Jacob, the father of the 12 sons of Israel. Now, what’s even peculiar about this is that Jacob who was given a new name by a divine stranger was called ‘Prince with God’. This identity ties well with the identity of the Messiah as Prince of Shalom (as the true Prince/Ruler with God).

Jesus exercises his authority as the ultimate Patriarch that will redefine the world by selecting the 12. Now, if this isn’t made clear enough, Jacob’s name literally meant liar; Jesus intentionally revealed his name as ‘The Truth’. There’s not only that revelation but the continued allusion to his very being as the ‘Vine’ and his followers as the ‘branches’ as seen in John 15. This identity is essential to Jesus’s teachings as he anchors his church to his identity as the sole source of teaching. This is how God’s working in the messiah manifests its weight; God has revealed that he redeems by redefining and replacing the old in a manner that only he could.

The kingdom of God is unlikely to be formed unless Jesus lived the life that Israel was to live in all its history, and that is a righteous, devoted life to Yahweh alone; this is based off Deuteronomy 6:6. So, the theory goes, that when Jesus lived the perfect sinless life, his very life was made capable of enveloping all who were going to fall under the umbrella of his name as Son. It is in this very belief that the generational gap that stretched over for centuries is now reduced because Israel Incarnate has truly become Immanuel. He is our direct connection to God the Father as he is also now our Elder Brother as the book of Hebrews tells us.

So, you see, there’s quite a lot going on here with Jesus’ title of ‘Son of God’. Each of these implications are reflected in Jesus’ teachings as well as the doctrines surrounding him in the entire New Testament. What then does all this mean for us today? I have 3 main ideas:

a. Jesus identity as Israel gives us direct access to God and as such we can approach him directly (not relying on traditions as the Pharisees did).

b. We are assured of a genuine cover of our lives when we submit to him; Jesus is capable of understanding us “at all our points of weakness” because he himself was tested but yet without sin as the book of Hebrews tells us.

c. Jesus has given his followers a new identity as the members of the divine city, we have become, in him true Israel; if we remain in him we continue to be true Israel according to John 15.

And, to make things even more interesting. The New Testament would paint Jesus’s life in the same way as the Israelite journey, especially Jesus’s Flee to Egypt, his Baptism, His Period in the Wilderness for 40 days, His Temptation, His Passion and the eschatological aspect of Israel; His Resurrection. The Resurrection is blanketed over mankind and over all creation for those who believe in him. This is why John 1 would tell us, “those who believed in him he gave the power to become sons of God”. Paul the Apostle on the same note would say, “As he is, so also shall we be”.

“Do not fear, I have overcome…behold I was alive, and was dead and now I am alive forever more”

-Jesus to John

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BLACK PANTHER: THE MOST UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION TO BLACK THEOLOGY

God works through me, the same as you. There is no feat I achieve that you are not capable of.”

-Black Panther

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As fascinating and as unexpected as it may sound, the Black Panther is indeed a very important figure in comics. This exception of the Black Panther does not exclude other significant black superheroes of authority and influence such as the Blue Marvel. But, the Panther takes first place because he came before the rest. His impact on African American thought was revolutionary. At a time when the African American community battled with self identity, Marvel Comics showed that they could rise up to the occasion and create a character who would be the image of African Americans. The Black Panther, though unassociated to the group that went by the same name did something unimaginable. It not only changed how African Americans saw themselves, it also demonstrated that though they originally hailed from Africa [which had been christened the ‘Dark Continent’ in the sixties], that they and their homeland were not so ‘dark’ after all.

In a manner that must have stunned DC readers at the time, the Black Panther was a point in and of himself. Unlike DC’s Cyborg, the Panther was not a sidekick, he was his own authority. He has remained, since the time of his creation, a king, a genius of Marvel’s top cream, a superhero and a priceless contribution to the Avengers’ team on panel. Now, here’s where some of you may ask some questions like, “Wasn’t Marvel just trying to capitalize on a present issue to earn some extra income?”. The answer, a resounding “No”, here’s why; Stan Lee had pointed out that he did not like his character being ‘shadows’ of the so-called ‘main hero’ because he felt that they took something away from this main hero. He later on went to state that he would not do to any of his characters what DC had done to Batman’s Robin and subjugate them.

At a time when comic books themselves were seeking relevance, Stan Lee and Marvel Comics were on the right path. Seeking to create characters of substance, and relatability; meaning that the selling point of the characters would not be on their power or abilities but on their diverse personalities, weaknesses, challenges and ability to ‘rise up’ as it were after being knocked down several times over. This, if I must say, is a strength. And as recent comic news is showing us, Cap’s history has been re-written. He is now a triple agent and a HYDRA project?? Anyway, many fans are a bit confused about this reveal but this story is bound to be one that may lead fans to respect the Captain even more. Some of you might be skeptical but watch this space…

Now, to the issue at hand, Black Theology and Black Panther’s contribution to the same. Black theology has had a very powerful influence on American society as a whole. Be it loved or hated, it is a force to reckon with. Seeing the likes of Martin Luther King Junior, pardon me, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. springboard the revolution in the U.S. that shook the very core of the rest of America we got the best comparison to the Black Panther character. We got Barack Obama, an educated African man who made African American history through his dual heritage as a Hawaii-born black man. It’s this point that makes me respect Marvel; they looked into the future by being great analysts of the present. I speak and express myself in these posts as a young African man of black descent and I have grown up reading comics. Not only do I love them, I relish their perspectives on several events. As an African theologian, I am thrilled to see the parallels that can be made from the comic book/fictional realm and the realm of theology. If some of the greatest ministers advised other preachers/theologians to hold a paper in one hand and the Bible in another, then comic books qualify right there near the newspaper.

Kudos Marvel on bringing the character to the big screen in Captain America Civil War!

“The more different we are, the more we find that we are the same”

-Chinese Proverb

WHAT ‘GANGLAND’ HAS TO SAY ABOUT KENYA’S POTENTIAL

WHEN ALL WE NEED IS A CAPABLE GROUP OF LEADERS FOR THE NEXT PHASE…

“You know originally, the gangs were created to protect everybody in the community. There was lynching and bombing going on and the gangs were there to protect. What people don’t understand is that a lot of the leaders died. Medgar Evers (has been shot), Bunchy Carter (has been shot), Fred Hampton (has been shot), MLK (has been shot in Memphis Tennessee). These youngsters didn’t have any direction. No leaders to look up to so they imploded on themselves”

-Lecrae

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Lecrae CC3…When the Christian Artists Get Real

It’s amazing how personal this song is, personal in the sense that it speaks from the heart about the heartbreaking effects of the difficulties being faced by many in the U.S. right now. Many of these difficulties are not recent as many of us would think because each and every single one of them have caused strains in inter-ethnic relationships. These strains are presented as being brought about (primarily) by a quest for identity–an identity in a new land/time period. Whereas in the past great leaders emerged who helped make a difference and level the grounds for those from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds, the need to progress, evolve and adapt is urgent.

So much crime has taken place because of hatred and indifference. These things, as the song would point out, have not helped lessen the burden being borne by either side of the conflict. Although these things are of great concern, the song would rightly point out that “it was a crooked system like this that left the King of kings bloodless”, a straight up nod to the fact that the systems in place that deny us the rights to be treated as human beings, regardless of race/ethnicity need to be acknowledged. Not only are they to be acknowledged but undone altogether.

Kenya’s current interest in advancing the nation falls under one oddly similar situation as the U.S.; it needs to accept and take advantage of its diversity. With over 40 tribes, each possessing sub-tribes of their own, Kenya’s diversity is as beautiful as the view of a rose in a kaleidoscope: Each mirror reflection interacts with another reflection from another angle and thus creates a beautiful view.Why tribal politics lets us down is yet to be understood, but the fact is, the power has been and always remains in the hands of the people to change things. Although, like the U.S., there were those who came before to fight the oppressive laws and systems that denied the people equal rights as the rest, Kenya can build right now and today from that great history and become greater.

Although there are issues that have kept many suppressed and kept under the feet of oppressive powers and laws, there still remains a great chance that they can rise up again and produce amazing people. As though things couldn’t get any stranger, Obama was Kenyan and became the president of the U.S. for two whole terms. Whereas some disagree as to his heritage, they should remember that Kenya, like the U.S. had great leaders that suffered to give the people freedom. No one bred from this beautiful land is without worth and value (forgive me here, I am letting loose on my patriotism here. I am Kenyan after all!).

Hence, if Obama can lead, so can any one in the world, but it starts here. No more crime, No more violence. No more pitiful fighting and squabbling. No more lying. No more corruption and stealing. No more negative tribal politics. No more extortion. No more robbing the people. As Lecrae and Propaganda’s ‘Gangland’ rightly point out, Jesus is the best example to learn from regarding leadership and making a difference, as well as living a life worthy of God in the midst of difficulty. This, I believe is what the Gospel of Jesus offers my people and the world today.

Why don’t we make a difference by tackling our issues differently?

Why don’t we dare to be better?

Why don’t we dare to love?

Why don’t we dare to share when it hurts?

Why don’t we dare to be different?

THE CHRISTIAN HOPE AND THE CONCEPT OF AN UNENDING TOMORROW

WHEN TOMORROW CAN NEVER DIE...

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Hey y’all! I hope that your week has gone well and that Friday the 13th didn’t give you the spooks, because what I have for you is something to give even the dead hope. It’s been such an amazing journey so far with you and I do hope that these posts do make a difference in someone’s life. If you have been following my posts, I thank you; if you have just gazed upon this post and thought it worth the while to read it, I thank you too: These posts are made for your benefit and interest. I gain nothing from these posts by the way, just a smile or two…:-)and sometimes that’s all we hope our words do to others. We are people after all, broken and flawed but still possessing so much more beneath the surface that can be tapped into if we only transition.

What’s odd about the concept of transition is that it truly is a longing deeply rooted in the human soul and psyche. Buddhism describes the best transition as being likened to that of the butterfly that has emerged from a caterpillar; the Greeks described transition as sacrificial, likening the process to a snake shedding off its skin and today, people are finding meaning behind a full gender change. What these three entirely different worldviews show us is that although we have the need, we do not–as of now understand why we do have this urge. Something I would like to point out at this time though is that we have dealt with this issue from a moralistic point of view as Christians and done a lot of damage in the process because we do not fully understand what our faith is about, and that is, transition.

The idea is, what Jesus has done for man is so beautiful that the best way that the Apostle Paul could frame it in the New Testament is, “Now we only see (this thing) dimly as in a mirror…but we await the reality”. It is too hard to give it a natural equivalent. In short, the message that Jesus gives us from both his life and teachings are phenomenally radical. He offers a full transition to the Kingdom of the Light and to a new nature, life, worldview and Kingdom. But here’s the twist, it isn’t a new idea. Way back in Genesis, when God was creating and ordering his work, he structured the days as night transitioning into the morning.

It was thought that this move echoed the life of the free Hebrew when he/she had been brought out of Egypt. What’s even more peculiar is that although some make it seem like it was so glum for all Israel, it really wasn’t in the eyes of the modern reader: they argued with Moses that they ate well, that they had enough for themselves (and no one comes up to deny these claims, you can actually check it out), finally Moses is described (although he was a prince, as living a life filled with the pleasures of sin). It doesn’t look so bad now until we look back and see that darkness isn’t just torture or some deep magic or evil cult worship or stuff like that, but serving our appetites and doing what pleases us. This is the one thing makes us stuck in a loop and makes transition a fading thought.

Then it hits us, perhaps there is more going on in our lives than we realize! Please don’t mistake this post as being hateful and moralistic but as a theological expression of what’s truly going on with the human condition. After all, is it not written that God gives us the ability to will for good according to his will? Why then do we do things as we want, not as he directs us? I too fall in this category, I am by all means no exception. But there is hope. Hope that refreshes us. The movement of the days from darkness (night) into the day (morning) is a reflection of what God does with us when we follow him…whether sprinting or with baby steps, we transition.

That’s where the Bible makes it more interesting when it points out that the act of following God is not some cut and dry religious experience. It actually breeds life, “Though weeping may endure for the night, joy comes in the morning”…our pain is relieved; “His mercies are new every morning, great is your faithfulness”, he gives us what we need most and never forsakes us even when we slip, slide or fall. That’s the transition that Jesus offers each and every one of us. It is a reflection of what we as human beings are desperately crying for, change, identity, purpose, belonging, meaning and peace. It is an echo of what is to come when Jesus comes back tomorrow…