Entries tagged with “Message”.

It took me awhile to get through All About Jesus, more because of my schedule than because the book is bad. Actually it is a good synthesis of the known story of Jesus.  It’s subtitle says “The Single Story from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Taking all four of the Gospel books and compiling it into one seamless story-line isn’t an easy task. The compiler, Roger Quy, did an excellent job of sticking to the texts. He used the New International Readers Version which I had never heard of as his primary text.  The NIrV has this to say about itself:

The NIrV was designed to make the Bible clear and understandable to early readers and can be read by a typical fourth grader. For this reason, it is also of value to the millions for whom English is a second language. It intends to be distinguished by five fundamental characteristics—readability, understandability, compatibility with the NIV, reliability, and trustworthiness. It serves as a natural stepping-stone to the NIV when the time is right.

This book doesn’t read like a novel. I kept wanting it to be like a John Grisham or Tom Clancy novel with smooth transitions and story-line. But I realized that the only way that would be possible is by adding to the story which would take away from the compiler’s primary goal of capturing the authentic story of Christ’s life. I’m not sure if a different version would have improved this area or not. The Message paraphrase could potentially make for an easier to follow story but as a paraphrase would lose some of the “inerrancy” of the story. I’m by no means a Biblical scholar so I assume their time line is accurate.

A few times the story repeated itself – in keeping with the original text they sacrificed smoothness to keep sections together. For example on page 200 and 201 it says this:

Herod and his soldiers laughed at him and made fun of him. They dressed him in a beautiful robe. Then they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends. Before this time they had been enemies…. Then Pilate took Jesus and had him whipped. The soldiers twisted thorns together to make a crown.  They put it on Jesus’ head. Then they put a purple robe on him.  They went up to him again and again. They kept saying, “We honor you, king of the Jews!” And they hit him in the face.

And again on page 205:

The governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the palace, which was called the Praetorium.  All the rest of the soldiers gathered around him. They took of his clothes and put a purple robe on him. Then they twisted thorns together to make a crown. They placed it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand. Then they fell on their knees in front of him and made fun of him. “We honor you, king of the Jews!” They said. They spit on him. They hit him on the head with a stick again and again. They fell on their knees and pretended to honor him.

This is actually the only book of this type that I’ve read so I appreciate their effort. At the end of the introduction is this statement of purpose:

This book is meant for those who would like to find out more about Jesus. It is ideal for someone who is new to the Bible. Readers who already know the Bible may find that it helps them learn more about the life and message of Jesus.

I’m not completely sure if he accomplished this goal or not.  Obviously there were new things that jumped out at me this time, but that is the same with every Biblical story and even great novels.  I think if I was wanting to introduce someone to Jesus I would probably recommend reading the Book of Mark in The Message paraphrase before recommending this book.

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I just started reading Isaiah the other day and was hit by these passages from the first chapter. I’m using the NKJV but love what The Message says.

13 -17“Quit your worship charades.
I can’t stand your trivial religious games: Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings—
meetings, meetings, meetings—I can’t stand one more! Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them!
You’ve worn me out! I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion,
while you go right on sinning. When you put on your next prayer-performance,
I’ll be looking the other way. No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
I’ll not be listening. And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing
people to pieces, and your hands are bloody. Go home and wash up.
Clean up your act. Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
so I don’t have to look at them any longer. Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good. Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenseless.

WOW, we know from countless other passages that God doesn’t like empty worship (vs 13-15). The NKJV actually uses the word futile to describe the religious practices. The Nelson Complete Study System notes say the actions were futile because the people did not celebrate them out of love for God. In the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 Jesus says that the religious practices alone aren’t enough, but you must “go and sell everything you have and give it to the poor. ”

I have actually heard Micah 6:8 be used to define worship. It says:

8But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously

Not only does this sound like the exact opposite of what is occuring in Is 1:13-15, but it also sounds precisely like verse 17.

In summary, all the “religous practices” do not add up to much without loving God. Mark 12:28-34 is helpful in understanding what loving God means. Quoting verses 30-31

30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Isaiah is calling us to give up futile religion and love God by loving those around us.

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