Sunday, October 3, 2010

Touching Base! Part 100

What Did Avatar Not Show Us?
(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once made the rather colossal claim that he had unassailably solved all philosophical problems. A measure of modesty entered into the equation, however, when he declared that the most significant portions of reality were beyond the grasp of language.

If you saw the movie “Avatar”, you may have noticed (I didn’t until I read a critique of the movie) that what the cameras did not show was “Eywa”. Eywa is the guiding force and deity of Pandora and the Na'vi (the inhabitants of planet Pandora). The Na'vi believe that Eywa acts to keep the ecosystem of Pandora in perfect equilibrium. The writer of the critique talked about how, with all the 3D magic of the movie, the cameras could not (or possibly chose not) to attempt to capture the imagery of Eywa. The writer said “Avatar is most remarkable for what it chooses to conceal from the camera.” Perhaps this is where Ludwig Wittgentstein and James Cameron (writer and producer of Avatar) agree - “the most significant portions of reality were beyond the grasp of language.”

This past Sunday we started into our Fall series entitled “Jesus One-on-One”. We looked at three stories that serve as three windows into glory beyond description. What the cameras of Cameron do not capture, Dr. Luke does capture with his detailed narratives of the life of Christ - glory beyond description.

If you are using this article in your small group discuss the following statement:
Maximus the Confessor (Abbot in about 6th cent) famously remarked that man is perched precariously between the grave and eternity. We nurture both a temporal and an eternal nature simultaneously.

Do you find that most people are somewhat aware of the eternal nature of life? Another way of asking this is, Do you encounter people who believe in the supernatural but have not been able to identify it?

Let’s look at the three stories that serve as three windows:

Story #1 Luke 4:31-37
Make as many observations about this story as possible. Notice the two names of Christ in this story. What name reveals that this Jesus is glory beyond description? How does the story illustrate the name?

I love the definition of the Greek word used for “authority” in this story: the liberty of doing as one pleases. The Holy One of God certainly demonstrates that Jesus has more authority than anyone else in this story, including the demon.

How does the presence of the demonic challenge or expand your theology?

Story #2 Luke 4: 38-44
Compare stories. What are the parallels and contrasts? Note the name “Son of God”. In the first story, the “Holy One of God” was demonstrated through His authority. In the second story we see authority but in addition, we see that Jesus has the bragging rights.

I’ll let Ravi Zacharias explain:
“In the 10th chapter of Mark’s Gospel, we find the story of a blind man named Bartimaeus. Look at his name carefully- “Bar-timaeus”. Ironically, we really do not have his name. He is simply “son of Timaeus,” which is what his name means. His only identity in the story is through his father. In that time and culture it was not uncommon for a son to be named in relation to the father, as in Simon Bar Jonah. This method established bragging rights within a culture.” (Has Christianity Failed You?, p. 29)

This is a title of nature and not of office. The sonship of Christ denotes His equality with the Father. To call Christ the Son of God is to assert His true and proper divinity. This name is used 37 times in the NT.

A couple of questions to ponder:
  • Why do you think Jesus in both stories told the demonic to be quiet?
  • How is it that the demons can have better theology than the religious leaders Jesus confronted in Luke 4:14-30?
Story #3 Luke 8:26-39
Certainly there is a lot that could be discussed in this story. However, for time and application I want you to think about how politically incorrect this third name of Jesus is.

In story number one, He is called the “Holy One of God”, illustrated by His authority. In story number two, He is called the “Son of God”, demonstrating His “bragging rights”. In story number three He is called… you tell me.

“Son of the Most High God”. The superlative used is interesting.
In this third story Jesus is knee-deep in demons. Note the word in v.30, “Legion” - a body of soldiers whose number differed at different times, and in the time of Augustus seems to have consisted of 6826 men (i.e. 6100 foot soldiers, and 726 horsemen). In the Luke narrative thus far this is the most demons we have seen, yet Jesus is the Most High God.

This was a very politically incorrect name to attach to Jesus. This story unfolds in Gentile territory. We partly know this because of the pigs. Gentiles were polytheistic, Jews were monotheistic. By declaring this third name, it is made clear that in a gentile culture that had many gods, that even deified the Roman emperor, Jesus was head-and-shoulders above them all. Most High! In fact note what Paul says about other gods:
1 Corinthians 8:4-6 “...‘there is no God but one.’ For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”

Jesus’ presence on earth was not just an affront to the legions of the kingdom of darkness but an affront to the legions of Rome! It was as politically incorrect to follow Jesus then as it is now.

How is following Jesus today politically incorrect? How offensive could this third name be to a Muslim, Hindu or atheist? How is it possible to humbly declare that we worship Jesus the Son of the Most High God?

Finally, go back through these three stories and note where Jesus is. What I find amazing is that Jesus - the Holy One of God, Son of God, Son of the Most High God - is up to His elbows in human need, and brokenness.

“Avatar is most remarkable for what it chooses to conceal from the camera.” That’s what one critique said. I say the Word of God is most remarkable for what it chooses to reveal: the Holy One of God, Son of God, Son of the Most High God, here among broken and helpless people.

Jesus truly does represent a glimpse of the world beyond, yet is amongst us!


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