Why Not Jesus? (Episode 1)

Do We “Get” Him?

This week (Dec 9) on Shabbat Night Live, mainstream marketing has been flooded with a multi-million-dollar campaign to promote the Messiah — but is it pointing to a savior that doesn’t exist?

Keith Johnson explains why the “He Gets Us” campaign sends a misguided message based upon a false idea of “Jesus” and why the real question is: “Do we get Him?”

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The video’s timeline for each discussion topic is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section, and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) Why have so many viewers and readers responded to discussions in this forum on the matter of proper names and formal address of God and the Messiah? Why is this such a relevant issue in a period of history wherein agnosticism and materialism have all but triumphed over attributes of spirituality and worship among ordinary citizens, who have become fearful of maintaining their apostolic lives?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) How do experiences like those recounted here constitute a bonafide beginning of a “Jesus Journey” for the prospective Christian who would be sincere on his path to salvation? How does the immediate challenge of temptation toward sin after profession of faith demonstrate the providential nature of seemingly random events that compel us to recall the need for an obedient application of Love, as professed repeatedly in the gospel of John?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) Similarly, how might a private dispute over the identity or address of Jesus serve to dramatize the virtual impossibility of eradicating this figure from the lives of contemporary individuals, however secular their outlook? What constitutes his staying power, even among those who would censor social media or demand removal of religious expression from public places?
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How does the Church of the Nativity continue to cast a long shadow over today’s faithful, despite its location in a disputed territory and the relative disinterest in biblical archeology among many believers? Why does Bethlehem consistently draw international pilgrims on their own Jesus Journeys, even in the midst of enduring controversies regarding doctrine or historical disputes over first-century political economy?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) Why do glib public relations campaigns like the current HeGetsUs or the mid-seventies’ I Found It! initiative ultimately fail in their attempts to evangelize through popular media by encouraging parallels between the historical life of the Messiah and our own present-day experience?  How is this reflex an example of anachronism, like that of contemporary slang or hairstyles appearing in a historical costume film?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 37:00) Furthermore, how do these efforts to achieve conversion through commercialism often risk failure, owing to the law of unintended consequences? How can the massive funds that subsidize a promotion like HeGetsUs serve to trivialize its purported intention through an emphasis on imagery and phraseology rather than firm grounding in study, discussion, and prayer?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) Similarly, how does this particular endeavor risk endangering genuine faith through its leveraging of current affairs as part of its apostolate? How might its use of race, gender, or income inequality as contexts for spirituality and its focus upon Jesus as a popular figurehead serve to encourage the post-Christian reflexes of agnosticism, “Woke” culture, and personality cultism?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 45:00) How do the straightforward opening verses of Matthew’s gospel demonstrate the essential unity of scripture and the fallacy of deriving YeHoVaH’s plan for our salvation from separate books or testaments? How does ignorance over the relevance of such figures as Abraham, Jacob, and David compromise the spiritual growth of believers and make them vulnerable to questionable influences like the organization behind HeGetsUs?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) How does the familiar episode in Luke 2:43-52 of Yeshua’s three-day separation from his family while at Passover continue to resonate, not only among believers as an exemplum or an amusing anecdote but also with skeptics, who might otherwise dismiss his life and ministry altogether as fiction? Why is the significance of his asking questions of learned elders and their astonishment over his understanding often overshadowed by his witty reply to his worried mother?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 52:00) Similarly, how is the significance of the detail in John 19:20 – that Pilate’s designation of Yeshua as “King of the Jews” was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin – often glossed over as historical trivia? How can this multilingual designation be viewed as a correlative for both the colonial diversity of this setting and for the ethos of the crucifixion as a sacrifice for all peoples who would preserve his narrative and heed the call of his ministry?

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *