Are We Missing the Point of Jesus' Story?
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MAGNIFIED: Are We Missing the Point of Jesus' Story?
The story of Jesus Christ is the most important one ever told, but many people have been getting it wrong for centuries. Join us on a journey of understanding the story of Jesus as it was written, to look past the traditional narrative and shed new light on His teachings and message.
Micah: The wolf huffed and puffed, but the brick house did not fall down. And the three little pigs remained safely inside. The moral of this story is if you are ever a hungry wolf that needs to tear down a brick house, bring a hammer, a chisel, and a drill, and maybe a hand grenade.
Wait, that's not the moral of the story.
Micah: You're right, Barry. We all love stories, but it drives us crazy when people tell them wrong. But what if I told you that one story, one of the most recognizable and most important stories is consistently told wrong?
You gotta be kidding me.
Micah: The story we're gonna be looking at today is the undeniably true story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These three events are supported by so much historical and manuscript evidence, and they outline the purpose of the gospels that so many affirm to be accurate accounts. But when I say the story is often told wrong, it isn't that the plot points of the story are missing, but the focus is often incorrect. We good, Cam?
Micah: Okay. To see this, we need to know a little bit about the way the biblical writers told stories compared to the way we tell them now. Modern stories, and by modern, I mean for the last thousand years or so, are often told in this pattern.
So, in the beginning, we meet the three little pigs with three houses constructed out of different materials. Then we meet the hungry wolf. The wolf blows down two of the three houses, and after a series of failed attempts to blow down the brick house, the wolf flees. And in the end, we get the moral of the story, which, yes, Barry, is that hard work, dedication, and proper planning pay off.
Now, you're cooking with gas.
Micah: But this is not how biblical stories were so often written. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, stories are often told in a structure called a chiasm.
"Though the beginning can still set up a story much like it does for us today, it is mirrored with the ending and ascend and descends around a certain midpoint, which acts as the focus of the story. This midpoint is often where the reader's attention is supposed to be directed. And in it, the most important lessons are highlighted."
Micah: Let's look at how Moses used chiasm to tell the story of Noah and the flood. In the beginning, God closes the door to the arc. The flood begins. At the midpoint, God remembers Noah. The flood recedes. Noah opens the door to the ark. God never abandoned Noah before, during, or after the flood. He honored his commitment to Noah through everything, and that is the point highlighted by this chiasm.
So, let's take the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and plug the familiar elements into this structure to see where the emphasis is. Christ begins His ministry in relative anonymity. When things begin heating up, His disciples flee from Him. He suffers through shame, torture, and pain.
Then the pinnacle, His death. This story into trial, mockery, and torture, culminating in the crucifixion, was punctuated by darkness, earthquakes, the dead rising from their graves, and the veil in the temple torn in two. These miracles were a frightening display of the monumental thing that had just been accomplished. And immediately unbelievers began to believe.
On the other side of the chiasm, Jesus experiences healing and resurrection. His disciples return and He is exalted as a resurrected being, reassuming His place beside the Father, and His ministry is spread around the world. When placed in the structure that the biblical writers communicated in, we see clearly what God believes the midpoint to be.
This way of understanding the story is not meant in any way to minimize the depth of the trials that Jesus went through or the glory of His resurrection. Isaiah says that it is by His stripes we are healed. And Paul writes that if He hasn't been raised from death, we among men are the most pitiable and our faith is empty. The resurrection, while invaluably important, isn't the thing he focused on most, it was the sacrifice of Christ.
Why is this at all important for our lives? Because if we desire to be raised with Christ, we also have to die with Him. This means no longer seeking after our own desires. This means giving ourselves as living sacrifices to further His work and support His people. This means being willing to walk step by step after Jesus Christ, obeying His commands, and not even shying away from death itself if it's required of us.
This means surrendering what time, abilities, willpower, and strength we have so that we can say along with Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." His sacrifice was the turning point for God's entire plan. He wanted so badly to rescue humanity, and this was the fulcrum for salvation for all people who have ever existed. That's why Paul said, "Proclaim His death until he comes." His death.
It's true that without the life of Christ, we have no example to model our life after. But without His sacrifice, His death, and our willingness to follow Him into that, too, we have no ability to be cleansed from our sin, be reconciled to God, or receive His spirit. And this is what God desires for us.
So, as we approach the anniversary of the death and resurrection of Christ, and we hear His story retold, let's not forget the emphasis of the story that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but shall have everlasting life.