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Text and Context (Video On Demand)

Towards A Deeper Understanding Of Jesus

Author: Desi Maxwell

Product code: V127

Look further at the Jewish roots of the Christian faith by exploring various aspects of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, whom if we are to truly understand, must be set as a Torah-observant Rabbi in the matrix of first century Jewish life.

Jesus never went to church. He never read a New Testament. He never sang a Christian hymn. He never encountered a Protestant or a Roman Catholic. He never possessed a passport. Much has been written and spoken about Jesus, but so often this has been filtered through the lens of scholarship or culture. Jesus has become many things to many people, and sadly the real man from Nazareth has been obscured or even lost. We constantly need to pursue the quest for insights into the true Jesus as we engage with His world, words and wisdom.

He grew up in a Jewish family, attended synagogue on Sabbath, celebrated the Jewish festivals and walked the land of Israel. So much of what He said was coherent with Jewish thought and consistent with the teaching of contemporary rabbis. Yet He was unique. He lived in a context of social turmoil, political conflict and religious dissent.

A line from someone attending the conference provided an appropriate prayer: ‘Lord of Life, send our roots rain.` It was an opportunity to ‘xplore` the roots of our faith in more depth. Delving into the world of Yeshua/Jesus is like visiting a foreign country where we discover people do things differently and speak another language.

However, both the text of Jewish Scripture and context of Jewish life will help us get to know more about the person and work of this Torah-observant village workman whose work is now known all over the world.

This set of recordings is offered by CFI Communications as an excellent follow-on from our Kesher Course. We trust that you will be inspired and your walk with God enriched as under Desi`s engaging leadership, you follow him on a journey back into the world and surroundings that were so very familiar to Jesus and His first disciples. 

Click on the following titles to view a brief sample of that session.

  • Session 1: Jesus the Jewish Boy
    After introducing the themes for the teaching series, Desi introduces us to the Torah observant world of Joseph and Mary, explaining the purification rituals after the birth of a child. This leads on to the commandment relating to ritual of circumcision, and all that was associated with that time in a Jewish boy`s life. The Session concludes with a detailed overview of the various stages in the education of Jewish boys, and the impact that had on Jesus of Nazareth as He grew to adulthood.  

  • Session 2: Jesus the Workman
    Desi takes us further on our journey back into the agrarian society where Jesus grew up, and we begin to understand the full extent of the "Tekton`s" - the village artisan`s - skills that He learned from His earthly father Joseph, and the wider environment in which those skills were used. We look at the possibility that Jesus was acquainted with the world of the theatre in His day. The contrasts between the Hebraic and Hellenistic views of work are explored, and the Session concludes with Jesus` invitation to study with Him: "Take my yoke...learn from me."

  • Session 3: Jesus the Galilean
    We take a detailed tour of The Galilee, visiting many of the places mentioned in the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. We gain not only an understanding of their place in the history of the Jewish people at that time, but also their importance in our understanding of the background as to who Jesus was and what He came to say and do.

  • Session 4: The Tallit - Prayer Shawl
    Like most Jewish rabbis of His day, Jesus wore the "Tallit" - Prayer Shawl - with its tasselled fringes or Tzitziot. In this Session, Desi gives us a detailed explanation of the significance of the Tallit and its fringes, drawing useful object lessons that challenge us to

  • Session 5: Jesus the Storyteller
    As the master teacher, Jesus wants to communicate the concept of ‘The Kingdom` to His audience. Desi begins the first of several Sessions on "The Parables" as a means of putting ‘handles` on profound teaching, enabling people to carry these truths with them wherever they go.

  • Session 6: Parables - Truth Made Portable
    As Desi delves deeper into Jesus` use of Parables as a means of getting truth into the hearts and minds of His listeners, he compares ‘Halakah` and ‘Haggadah`: the two major Hebraic views on teaching from the Torah. Desi also challenges us as to which "lenses"-Hebraic or Hellenistic-we use to view our world, and the consequences of adopting one outlook or the other. He closes this Session with further thoughts on how Parables paint vivid word pictures of God`s Kingdom rule and how this still advances in our world. 

  • Session 7: Jesus - Time and Talents
    Desi compares and contrasts the Parable of the Pounds (Luke 19:11-27) with the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-28), while at the same time making a strong case that these stories need to be understood within the context of when and where they were told. He also spends some time explaining the importance of understanding the Hebraic concept of "Qal va`homer" - reasoning from the light to the heavy.

  • Session 8: Jesus - Son and Stone
    In this Session, Desi takes us to the Parable of the Tenants (Mark 12:1-12). He contrasts two quite different ways of looking at this story. Depending on which one you adopt, the conclusion will be very different. The subtle linkages in the story back into the Hebrew Scriptures of the Old Testament are also examined, along with a possible deliberate play on the words `son` and `stone`. 

  • Session 9: The Bible As Jesus Knew It
    Desi gives an overview of the three major sections of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament): The Torah; The Prophets (Neviim); and The Writings (Ketuvim). We are clearly reminded that these are the only inspired Biblical writings that Jesus, the Apostles and leaders of the Early Church knew and used.

  • Session 10: Jesus and Halakah
    Desi returns to the major theme running through this whole teaching series: the journey that each of us is called to take as we ‘walk` with the God of the Bible through this earthly life. Jewish ‘halakah` covers every area of life: how we live with one another, how to love, how to raise families, how to create community. All of these are covered, along with the very striking parallels between Moses and the receiving of the Torah, compared with Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount.

  • Session 11: Jesus and the Sabbath
    In this teaching Session, Desi looks at the whole subject of ‘Rest` encompassed in the Biblical term ‘Sabbath` as it is applied to various periods of time: from the weekly "day of rest" through to Sabbatical Years and also the Year of Jubilee. All of these point in the end to the promise of "a rest to come", but included are a place to live, a peace to enjoy, and a person to trust. 

  • Session 12: Jesus and the Synagogue
    The synagogue has been described as one of the most important institutions in Jewish society down through the centuries. In this teaching Session, Desi looks at three aspects of the place that the synagogue held in Jewish life: (i) the Beit Knesset - the Meeting Place; (ii) the Beit Tefillah - the House of Prayer; and (iii) the Beit Midrash - the House of Study or Learning.

  • Session 13: Jesus and the Temple
    Desi returns one more time to the central theme of the road that runs through Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Integral to that unfolding story is the nation of Israel...the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And a key part to the story of the Jewish people is their relationship to the structures that have stood for various periods of time on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

  • Session 14: From Last Supper in Egypt to Lord`s Supper Today
    Drawing upon the story of the Jewish people`s escape from bondage in Egypt to freedom on the border of the Promised Land in the Book of Exodus, Desi reminds us that at both Passover and the Lord`s Supper we: (i) obey the Lord`s command; (ii) remember the Lord`s work; and (iii) we join together with the Lord`s people.

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Streaming limit 3 months.

These sessions can be bought on DVD here, CD here or individually in MP3 format here. Further copies of the Student Guide are available here or at a discounted price for 5 or more copies here.

About the Author

Desi Maxwell

Desi grew up in Co. Antrim, N. Ireland. After studies at the University of Ulster, then Westminster and Princeton theological Seminaries, he entered pastoral ministry for seven years: three in Canada, followed by four in Belfast.

For the next twenty years he lectured at Belfast Bible College (and remains a senior teaching fellow), before seeking to bring the classroom to the living room through `Xplorations`, the ministry he co-founded and directs with his wife Heather.

He has studied at Dwight Pryor`s Haverim Schools of Discipleship and comes with his warm recommendation as a gifted teacher with his own unique presentation and introduction to Jesus in His Jewish world.

Click here to see an introductory video about Xplorations.