New book! Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus

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How do we live up to being the “image of God?”

We were created to be God’s image on earth. Both Jesus and other rabbis shared their wisdom about the implications.

When Jesus instructed us to love one another unconditionally, he presented God himself as our model for living. We should have the same love for one another that God has for us:

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous… Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matt 5:44-45, 48)

Jesus says that we should strive to be “sons of our Father in heaven,” implying that somehow our “genetics” as God’s children should enable us to act like him. We are to imitate him and reflect his image to others and the rest of creation.

 

Imitating our father

 

Much of the time we don’t live up to our calling. Indeed, we are just the opposite! A few centuries after Christ, other teachers felt this tension. A rabbinic commentary on Genesis contains an imaginary debate that supposedly occurred in heaven about whether humankind should even be created. Here’s the story:

When creation was all but ended, the world with all its grandeur and splendor stood out in glorious beauty. God was seated on his…

A Good Eye or a Bad Eye? A Cryptic but Critical Idiom

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23)

Over the years, these mysterious words of Jesus have invited all kinds of speculation. But we can crack Jesus’ cryptic saying about the “eye” by hearing it within its Hebraic context, and grasping the figures of speech that Jesus was employing.

Jesus was most likely comparing the idea of having a “good eye” with having a “bad eye,” two idioms that have been a part of the Hebrew language from biblical times until today.1