The Mishnah (and Gemara) of Christ

I am truly sorry to have interrupted a decent series of posts with two others about inspiration by the Holy Spirit and a general rant about my country still being at war.

What I had really intended to write about next, after The Tanakh of Christ and its two predecessors, was The Mishnah of Christ. Now I’ve completely derailed my train of thought and can’t seem to get it back together.

I remember that I wanted to say that the Mishnah of Judaism is the point at which the religion leaves preachin’ and goes to meddlin.’ Or something like that.

Maybe more accurately (and maybe not, as I am only a surface scholar of such matters), the Mishnah begins the process – 200 years after century one A.D. – of writing down all of the oral tradition of scholarly types among the Jews plus a little bit more. At least some of that is the oral tradition of legal interpretation that Jesus shot skeet-holes through while He walked this world with mortal feet.

Not all of it. Just some.

And there’s probably nothing technically wrong with nitpicking God’s law to the finest detail and recording it in volumes and volumes of commentary, other than perhaps the time used up doing so which might have been put toward actually living it out to the greater benefit of His children.

I do it. I admit it. I blog. I blog about the details of my interpretations of the Torah of Christ which differ from other people’s views. Sometimes I wash my hands afterward, but I usually forget.

And I think I’m typical of a long, long generation of Christianity (my tribe is Restoration Movement) that has been guilty of exactly the same misdemeanor.

The problem is, a new generation is sprouting up in all kinds of Christian tribes with the recognition that it wasn’t a misdemeanor at all; it was a felony. The world was left to starve and die and rot in a cesspool of what my long generation has gotten away from calling “sin,” because we didn’t feel it was politically correct – or that it was judgmental – to point it out.

Perhaps it is. The thing about it is, we never tried. Not really. And we never really discovered that we didn’t have to. All we had to do was tell The Story – without embellishment or commentary or controversy – and Jesus’ perfect life would have illuminated sin for the heinous thing it is.

So, here I am. I’m “mishnah-ing” again. I could be blogging about Christ at the old, abandoned cooperative blog What Would Jesus Do Next?. I could be doing a thousand things for other people. I could even be kneeling in prayer for some that I know and love who are hurting. I could be trying to invent ways to make their lives more blessed. I could be attempting some of them.

But it’s cold outside, and those attempts take effort, and it’s the end of the day, and I’m tired – too tired to think of any more excuses.

Oh, sure, I think a molecule or two of good comes from my “mishnah-ing.” Occasionally. Yet far too much of all the Christian “mishnah-ing” that has been generated in the span of my tribe’s existence has left preaching and gone to meddling; to differing and accusing and debating and proving and sometimes snubbing, disfellowshipping, eternally condemning and once in a while even rudeness and insult. It has gone to the Gemara level – the commentary on the commentary. (And sometimes, way beyond.)

Yup. In Judaism, as I understand it, there are copies of the Talmud whose pages contain the Torah and Tanakh, framed by the Mishnah commentary on the Torah and Talmud, encircled by the Gemara commentary on the Mishnah commentary.

And I have to ask myself: Are the things that God wants to say to us really that complicated?

Or is all our commentary just a way to avoid living and doing it?

So that’s why I asked HTML to strike through of Christ: When the level of commentary hits a certain point, it’s no longer about Christ or of Christ or for Christ.

At least, that’s what I think I was going to say in this post. It’s really been a while since it all occurred to me; before Christmas, when my train of thought first hit a snag in the rails. It was a dark time, a time of refining and discipline, a time when I just couldn’t write … when I was beginning to realize that in my life – when all was said and done – there would probably be a lot more said than done.

And, somehow, with God’s help, that has to change.

8 thoughts on “The Mishnah (and Gemara) of Christ

  1. So, what are you going to DO first? May I suggest that you find a young kid who needs clothes and take them shopping. There are people all over the country living in shacks who have to wear rags to school. I know, I used to be one of them. In the meantime, don’t stop blogging…I like what you’re saying and doing.

  2. Keith I enjoyed the two post to which you referred. with all the post on “Judaism” I was wondering.
    Sammy Davis Jr. you know 🙂

  3. Dear Keith,

    I appreciate your candor and confession. You are too hard on yourself, I imagine. I know I can speak for a lot of people when I say that we sure appreciate your thoughts and your mishnah-ing.

    Are you saying that maybe we talk the talk better than we walk the walk? That’s me sometimes. But thank God for baby steps and the story of the prodigal son who but slowly walked up the road to his home with a father RUNNING to meet him.

    Thanks for sharing your journey home with your blog-friends and brothers and sisters.

    We love you!


  4. I love your posts. They are so thought provoking. I think that we are now in a time when there is a geat awakening to the fact that we have been talking and sitting and sitting and talking about Jesus for 40 years. We have done little doing or being. I see an ever widening chasm between the people who are content to sit in their pews day after day and the ones that long to put legs on their faith. Seems to me that we are the new and improved restoration movement.

  5. When my friend who is an ethnic Jew and brother to a rabbi in Israel, asked me to recap in a nutshell Paul’s letter to the Romans, God prompted me to do a risky thing. I gave him NIV scriptures, in chronological order,
    with no commentary. “In the beginning” to the final “amen.”
    Read it and weep.

  6. When my friend who is an ethnic Jew and brother to a rabbi in Israel, asked me to recap in a nutshell Paul’s letter to the Romans, God prompted me to do a risky thing. I gave him NIV scriptures, in chronological order,
    with no commentary. “In the beginning” to the final “amen.”
    Read it and weep.

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