I don't know about you, but it can be difficult for me to "listen sympathetically" to some people. Be forwarned! It might well be tough for you to read this particular C.P.E., in that; . . . well you know.
Ordinarily, it seems that folks like small talk, and later they go in for history of life lived, in a much abbreviated fashion. Next comes humorous stories and comparative "big moments". Have I ever mentioned that I met Ronnie Howard one day? People like to talk about their kids, old jobs, and other interesting things, and so far I'm all-in! Where it starts getting rocky is that section of road in which "discoveries" were made.
Did I mention that I invented the wheel to you? It's just that some other guy beat me to the patent office by about 4000 years or so. Conversation which (we suppose) is intended to reveal insights gained, to rehearse life lessons learned, for me, this type of stuff is hard to listen to.
Ordinarily, people will warn you off of this track with verbal clues. You say something like; ". . . and I've learned over the years, that humility (for an example) is really important". The clue coming back that listening has recently come to a halt sounds something like; "Oh, that's just common sense, everybody knows that", and is dropped to derail that brain train. No stops here please!
The life lessons we learn seem on the inside of us to be terribly relevant, and really quite unexpected! Yet somehow in the verbalizing of said brainwave, and kinda sorta giving a run-up account of just how we arrived at the destination, often sounds like truisms or platitudes. Beats me, as to just why this is so.
As an aside, I personally dislike the phrase "just common sense" and almost never employ it. Newsflash, this just in; if one must be informed of common-ness, it therefore is not so awfully common in the first place. "I would rather not hear this", likely considered rude, would at least be honest. I (predictably) fail in both directions, and attempt a half-hearted agreement, while studiously gazing about trying to find the EXIT sign. It is quite possible after all, for us to but "appear to be" listening.
So anyhow, consider yourself forewarned in that I propose to go where no plumber has ever gone before, so to reveal the (mildly) astounding brainwave from last Sunday!
The "I always thought" preamble is unfortunately part of the presentation, so deal with it. Dave the Sunday school guy was doing an interesting diagram job up on the whiteboard. He is a clever fellow, and I was just sitting there, quaffing black death (coffee) passing out cookies, and minding my own darned business. History does not record for us whether the life lesson thing kicked into high gear directly as a result of Daves' teaching, or whether some interior logic bomb in my skull, jump-started the shocking conclusion. Have you noticed? Many, if not all of the hard to hear stuff is "revealed" to the unwilling with just that same intro; "I was so surprised, shocked even!". Then it turns out that the guy is in favor of "perspective and balance" or something? Wake me when this is over?
Apparently then, the making of the small into the great, and vice-versa is a human type hobby? So, like I was saying before I interrupted me (and getting back to the thrilling narrative!); the brainwave in much condensed form, runs this-away.
In Luke, 24: 25-27 (go look it up if you care) the "Stranger" to Jerusalem begins with Moses and the prophets. The grand conclusion of Mister Explainer is; "Was it not necessary?". I have often thought that it would have been great to eavesdrop on that days' conversation. For one, it has never been too awfully clear to me just how the shape, the texture, and the drift of the O.T. predominantly concurs with the Strangers' analysis. Oh sure, here and there we get snippets and peeks into the Messiah necessarily suffering, but to say that this need is the predominant textual theme? How does one get there from here?
Warning; next comes the; "I always thought" section of the life lesson which is intended by the "vast" differences in between, to draw you in!
So Dave is up there with timelines, arrows and lots of historical background, and WHAM (!) it hits me. I had always thought of the sad series of collapses, turnings away from, stabbings in the back to YAHWEH which the first section of the Bible records, as a kind of; "Don't let this happen to you" type of sound moral advice. Those rascally Israelites are all the time cooking up some whacky new method to spit in His face, forget, ignore and generally speaking fail at things holy, true and good.
In this sense, the book might be somewhat like making jokes about the man standing onshore throwing the life-ring so to prevent your drowning. Or maybe the text is about a commmittee involved in the weird practice of forgetting to breathe air? Maybe the thing is a general description of amnesiacs, and their serial failure at remembering (correctly) even the simplest of things? Fascinating I suppose, but isn't that "common sense"? The entire schmeer of the history recorded looked very much to me as if; "Don't let this happen to you!" was the bumper sticker variety of the message. Don't was the theme!
Lemme tell ya, I was shocked! Please do not yawn. What if, just what if indeed the overarching theme of the O.T. is messianic, then what? This is what.
"He who wrestles with El" (Israel) is "found wanting, is weighed in the scales of justice, and sent away. That same wrestler is later returned to the inherited land, after a predicted time elapses"! Thus, the serial collapse of little wrestles-with, is a drawing, a picture of the actual Wrestles-With. Found guilty, wrestles-with is sent away from the inheritance, and in light of covenant, he is brought back home. Watch for that! Wrestles-With (Himself) is judged, sent away and returns.
We look not for some form of bland moralism, to the effect that I'd better pay attention and try a bit harder? What if instead, it is as close as possible, an enormous scale drawing to the actual picture, as fallen folk are capable of?
Think with me, people speak of the alarming statistical improbability of the many specific prophetic utterances coming true in one mans' life, as (I guess) the reason why we ought affirm the identity of the Stranger. Personally, this line of reason has never been very compelling for me, in that it clearly required assistance for those speaking in person with Him that day to be able to recognize Him. Numbers alone don't do the trick.
Logic alone might be interesting, but nobody wagers their house on mere logic. Logic is stronger than common sense, but in staking lives something is yet missing. It is always logic-plus something which we require.
Think back, we sometimes meet old friends whom we have not seen in years. In some cases, the cognition is plain as noonday and we embrace them with a; "You are a sight for sore eyes!". It goes downhill from there, and soon we need hints to coax the memory forward. Sometimes the face is kind of familiar, and the name stubbornly refuses to surface. We need help remembering friends? Next, and embarrassingly, we have not the froggiest fig newton as to who this person claims to be! Even with their nudges and prompts, we still have no idea who the guy is! Jesus is like that.
With King Kong sized letters, the monstrously huge lesson on correctly naming Him is blazed across history for all the world to see.
In small print, He like Jonah, three days in the whale, Him like David the (solitary) man after Els' own heart, look for that One! We know this. Like Noah, the preserver of life in the overthrow is He. Like Saul, the high king refused from above, watch for that. All these, and a hundred more particulars we might name as "tiny markers", but the people as a unit? Who saw that one coming?
The whopper sign, the predictive element is the pattern of collapse, judgement, sending away and returning home. What I thought (privately mostly) was to the effect; "I really don't know what He sees in them, why does He put up with such abuse anyhow?". Using a moralist type of lens to see by, does not allow you to note the striking similarity of the huge face across time; with the One face in time.
Lewis said something once like: "At the end, there is One face we long to see, one in which all our joys, hopes and dreams hinge upon. At the other end of that spectrum is another face. The malice and heartless insanity of it is poison to our souls". By the way, that is not a quote. Doubtless, I butchered it; but get my point here please!
If a fleet of "skywriters" (are they still around?) got together and instead of writing in the sky a few words, they drew a monster humoungous picture of Ed, wouldn't you notice the big grin, the crooked nose, and that crazy hat? Wouldn't you recognize the similarities between the sky picture and the guy standing next to you?
Answer; "Not without help!" Help is come, thus listen to the "Sunday hard to hear brainwave" number one. Gosh, I wonder what next week will be about? That Dave guy is full of surprises!