The Children’s Gospel

I’ve just blogged about Justin Brierley’s show on Premier Radio, ‘Unbelievable‘, so forgive me for continuing to riff on the same material (ie. things other people say rather than my own thoughts), but I caught up with the latest episode via podcast, this time asking “Was Jesus just a Rabbi?” (Click to listen)

This is just to highlight a wonderful little nugget that was brought out by David Instone-Brewer – the Christian guest (up against David Lister, an orthodox Jew). Instone-Brewer is an expert in Rabbinics. He had a lot of interesting stuff to say about the Jewish, religious context of Jesus’ day, but the thing that most inspired me was his statement that Jesus preached ‘a children’s gospel’.

According to I-B, until one’s bar mitzvah, one carried ‘the yoke of the kingdom’ – that is, children taught simple things about how to live in God’s kingdom (I’m unsure of some of the details). This stood in contrast to when one crossed over into adulthood and began to carry ‘the yoke of the commandments’ – where one was expected to follow and live up to all 600+ commandments in the Torah.

Thus when Jesus came announcing the kingdom of God, when he said “my yoke is easy and my burden is light”, he was calling people to a simple, child-like faith. How wonderful to see it from this new angle!

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