Dos and Don’ts When Teaching or Preaching About Jesus’ Ministry



Messianic Expectations

speak of a single expectation

indicate that there were many ideas about messiah(s)

say that the prophets predicted a messiah to come

say that some of the prophets looked for the Day of the Lord when justice and peace would prevail.

Jesus as a Jew

speak about Jesus as if he were not Jewish

stress that as a Jewish child, Jesus was inspired to love Yhwh

claim that the "love command" or calling God "Abba" were unique to Jesus

say that other preachers also called God "Abba" and combined Dt 6:4 and Lev 19:18

Jesus and Jewish Contemporaries

portray first-century Judaism as legalistic, joyless, burdensome, or heartless

describe first-century as a dynamic exchange among many ideas

contrast Old Testament "justice" with New Testament "love"

speak of Jesus as rooted in the Hebrew experience of God as loving, just, and merciful

imply that there were universal norms for purity, kosher customs, or Sabbath observance

say that these topics were widely debated by first-century Jews, including Jesus

The Pharisees

describe them as hypocrites, legalists, or self-righteous

describe them as creatively seeking to bring Temple holiness to everyday life

portray them monolithically

portray them as having various "schools" of thought

describe them only as Jesus’ foes

state that they were closest to Jesus in many ways

involve them with the crucifixion

distance them from the crucifixion

Jesus’ Crucifixion

attribute to the Jewish people or unspecified "leaders"

ascribe to Roman officials and Jewish collaborators such as Caiaphas

discuss blasphemy as claiming to be divine

discuss blasphemy as being arrogantly presumptuous

describe a formal Sanhedrin "trial"

describe a hearing before Caiaphas and cronies

portray Pilate as seeking Jesus’ release or crowds demanding Jesus’ death

discuss that Caiaphas was appointed by Pilate, that Pilate was eventually removed as prefect for cruelty, and that Jesus was popular with the people at large (as seen by his clandestine arrest)

attribute Jesus’ death to non-political "religious" motives

link Jesus’ death with the politically charged Passover season, Jesus’ Kingdom preaching, and Jesus’ criticisms of the Temple leaders.

employ the Gospel passion narratives in a simplistic, uncritical manner

be aware of the apologetic and polemical forces that helped shape the Gospel passion narratives

Philip A. Cunningham