Christ at the checkpoint 2018.

The theme is ‘Jesus Christ at the center’ and the range and quality of speakers has been awe inspiring. It is the end of day three, two solid days of input, including a visit to Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah, the home of Ahed Tamimi, the 17-year-old imprisoned by Israel for slapping a soldier.

Gary Burge challengd us as evangelical Christians to consider whether we are in danger of trying to throw Jesus off a cliff, Luke chapter 4.

Michael Brown, a Messianic Jew, followed with ‘A loving challenge to my Palestinian Christian friends’, which was courageous and honest but I doubt whether it felt loving to listening Palestinians. I may deal with his three conditions in a forthcoming blog post.

Tony Dieks Testimony was powerful, coming from someone who as a young Palestinian coming to Christian faith, was confronted with Christian Zionism. He was followed by Eugene Cho who pointed out that ‘if we are never offended by Jesus we may find that we have re-created Jesus in our own image’

Brian Zahnd also took Luke chapter 4, pointing out how Jesus edited the text, with his listeners waiting for the triumphalist punchline, deleting the ‘day of vengeance’ and slipping in a phrase from Isaiah chapter 42, where sight is given to the blind. Those blind were sitting in front of Jesus, leading Zahnd to his memorable Commentary on verses 28 and 29. In contrast to some fiery judgmental preaching, here we have ‘God in the hands of angry sinners’.

From my perspective having Jesus at the centre means that we are not slaves to the Old Testament text for the Old Testament does not define Christ, rather Christ explains the Old Testament. All that is unclear becomes clear when seen through New Covenant revelation. We are brought from death to life through the blood of Jesus spilt on the Roman Cross, only if the life we live is lived as followers of Jesus’ teaching. The challenge is, if we are not walking His way we may be walking a-way. If Jesus Christ is not the centre of every aspect of our lives, as Munther Isaac showed, he is not in the centre at all.

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