Breadmaking With Jesus -- By: Robert C. Newman

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 40:1 (Mar 1997)
Article: Breadmaking With Jesus
Author: Robert C. Newman

Breadmaking With Jesus

Robert C. Newman*

“Beware! Beware the leaven of the Pharisees and the the Sadducees!” 1 said Jesus to his disciples. “Beware!”

Did Jesus intend this warning just for the twelve in the boat with him? Or was he aiming at a wider audience?

Since the day he spoke these words, Jesus’ followers have come to recognize that he is not just a prophet but also the Author of history. Did he, as Author, design this warning to function as something of a motif in the drama of Church history? Was he doing something like Shakespeare did in Julius Caesar with the soothsayer’s warning: “Beware the ides of March”? 2 Was Jesus preparing us for a major temptation the Church would face throughout history? I think he was. And I would like to explore this idea in this paper.

Certainly Scripture contains prophetic warnings. Drastic editorial theories are necessary to remove them. The Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32 is explicitly prophetic. 3 So are the blessing-and-curse passages of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, though at first they appear to be merely general principles (blessings for obedience, warnings for disobedience). Yet looking back over the 3500 years since they were given, we can now see an ominous portent in them. These chapters are dominated by threatened disasters, with nearly eighty percent of the Deuteronomy passage and seventy percent of the Leviticus passage giving curses for Israel’s covenant disobedience, only a few verses being allotted to the blessings promised for obedience. But this in fact is what has actually happened to the nation: The people have faced one disaster after another and still have survived. 4

On the other hand, sometimes an apparently specific prediction may turn out to be rather general. Jesus tells the Jews: “I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me; if another shall come in his own name, you will receive him.” 5 Hearing this, we would naturally expect to see a single

* Robert Newman, professor of New Testament at Biblical Theological Seminary, Hatfield, PA 19440, delivered this presidential address at the 48th annual meeting of the ETS on November 21, 1996, in Jackson, MS.

false Messiah who will be acknowledged by Israel. But there have already ...

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