The four friends

Mark writes a story of a lame man whose four friends take him to a rooftop and open a hole in the roof to lower him down to where Jesus is.

In Jewish culture at the time it was commonly believed that someone who had a physical condition also had a spiritual condition. That is they were cursed. They were to be avoided. So how is it that this lame man has four friends?

I wonder if the friends were equally cursed socially? Did they have their own physical conditions? Is that how they met? Or was this a man who recently became lame and these were faithful friends from before the onset of the laming condition?

Topical vs. Exegetical

When I was in highschool I took an internship with the pastor of the church which ran the school in which I was enrolled. It was a fantastic relationship and mentorship. One of the things that was stressed in that course was the merits of exegetical preaching over topical preaching. While both are alleged to have their merits, topical preaching was framed as the weaker public form because it was seen as supporting a theology which was ungrounded. It gave opportunity for convenience in theology. However, there are times which social groups need to address specific topics. In fact Paul addresses specific topics at churches in his letters. In this sense then, theology when systematic, must look at issues topically. It must also look at all supporting arguments to make sure those arguments are exegetically or socio-culturally-contextually accurate. In these cases contextual relevance and interpretation is important. The topic of the discourse unit is paramount in the application of the verse. Verses markers in scripture are purely indexical. Understanding the topics the Bible discusses and why those topics are discussed allows for accurate and appropriate application in new social environments.

Who is Jesus when we are in a temporary culture?

This morning at church we sang the song Ever Be. Part of worship is leading people in reverent thought and attitude. The lyrics made me think. Particularly the verse that goes:

Your love is devoted

Like a ring of solid gold

Like a vow that’s been tested

Like a covenant of old

Your love is enduring

Through the winter rain

And beyond the horizon

With mercy for today

while there is a lot of symbolism in this imagery, the phrase like a covenant of old makes me wonder why the phrase of old is included.

Why is this not redundant information?Is it for the poetic effect of nostalgia? Or is it because the audience listening to the song needs to remember that there were covenants in an era not like the current era? This seems to indicate that covenants do not exist in and among the common populace of the current era.

If what we know about God is through analogy, and biblical texts, as divine inspiration are God’s way of communicating to us through things and experiences known to us in our culture then who is Jesus to a culture that has only a nostalgic connection to covenants? Particularly the theological view that Jesus is the fulfillment of a covenantal promise? Who is Jesus now?