Saturday, November 3, 2012

Rebekah, who do you say Jesus is?

It was still raining lightly when Heinrich finally got home. As he entered the house he took off his wet shoes and coat and went straight for the fire. Everyone else was there too; its warmth was appreciated as the only source of heat in the house. Freyda said, “Well, I’m glad you’re back; it was quite a thunderstorm.” Heinrich agreed, “Yes, it was a rough one, but I made it to Luther’s just in time. I had a good talk with him and I’d like to share some of it, if that’s OK.” Freyda said, “Certainly - Rebekah and I haven’t started doing anything yet. The fire seemed more welcoming.”

So, Heinrich positioned himself near the fire, and began, “The thunderstorm caused Martin to relate how it was a storm like this that caused him to become a monk. He was on his way to school at Erfurt during a storm when a lightning bolt hit so close to him that he was sure he was going to die. He pleaded with God to save him and felt called to join the Augustinian monks. 

I broached the subject of how Luther felt about the Jews by making up a story – I felt kind of guilty about it – but I said that a Jewish customer had come into my shop and we began talking about whether or not Luther’s approach to Christianity would be any better for the Jews than the Roman Church’s had been. I said he had been driven out of Germany a few years ago.  Luther went to a stack of papers and proceeded to read to me from a pamphlet that he is writing called That Jesus Was Born a Jew. To summarize it as best I can, he laments the fact that the Jews have been treated so poorly by the church in the past and he hopes that by treating them better under his leadership, they will begin to see things in a different light. He thinks that this will cause them to see the truth of the gospel and they will become Christians. It seems like a step in the right direction, but he is assuming a lot.” 

Then Heinrich paused as he remembered something from his past, “After class once at the University, I overheard him talking with a difficult student. Things were going OK until the student said something that set Luther off and he became quite angry with the student about not doing things as Luther wanted. So, he definitely can be provoked to anger. I’m just wondering if this new approach will proceed until he senses that the Jews aren’t coming around as he is expecting. He could treat them as he is treating the pope or the King of England. Apparently Henry VIII wrote some things about Luther that he did not appreciate and he is drafting a response of equal intensity. The pen is a sharp weapon in Luther’s hand, especially when the printing press distributes it to the masses. He mentioned a few other things he is doing as well, but I could see that he is a busy man, and I left once I got his input.”

“That Jesus was born a Jew,” said Freyda, “not exactly an overwhelming endorsement of the obvious. But it is better than the typical: That Jesus was born a damned Jew.” Rebekah added, “Like you say, we’ll have to wait and see, but I think the Jews will wait even longer as they compare his life with the Book. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ comes from the Torah you know.”

Freyda then said something that took everyone by surprise, “Rebekah, who do you say Jesus is?”

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