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The Twist

• Greg Boyd

When you read a book with a twist ending, the ending reframes the entire story. The Bible is no different. In this sermon, Greg shows how Jesus’ message reframes how we are to understand the Bible, and he shows us why the Anabaptists shared this belief.

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Scripture is not a flat book. Stuart Murray, in his book The Naked Anabaptist, says that a flat book is one where all parts of it are given equal weight. A cookbook is a good example of this. A recipe, no matter where it is located in the book, can be taken out of the book, and it doesn’t take away from the next recipe. But, if you’ve ever read a novel, you know that the ending reframes the entire book. And the Bible is no different.

People like to take sections out of the Bible and give it equal weight to Jesus. So, if they want to take vengeance on someone or justify some other behavior that we don’t see in Jesus, they tend to take passages out of the Bible to prove their point. But, as followers of Jesus, we are called to make him the central aspect of Scripture and to read every piece of Scripture through the lens of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Jesus was not what people expected him to be. The Jewish people thought the Messiah would reform the Jewish nation by leading a violent uprising against the Romans. But Jesus didn’t reform the nation of Israel. And he didn’t lead a violent uprising. Instead, he hung out with prostitutes and sinners, chastises the religious elite for their self-righteousness, and dies to the nationalist forces occupying Israel instead of killing them. And not only does Jesus not fit the mold of the Messiah that the Jewish people want, but he goes further and says that he IS the Messiah and that the Old Testament was written about him.

Jesus is the life of Scripture. If we try to read the Bible without finding Jesus, we won’t find life. This twist, at the end of the Bible, reframes how we are to read the Bible. When we find things in the Old Testament that don’t line up with who Jesus is or what He commands us to do, then we are to follow Jesus and not the Old Testament teachings. We cannot simply jump over Jesus and find whatever passage we want to us to justify our behavior. We cannot go to the shadow for something when we have the reality that creates the shadow.

The Anabaptists saw that the Bible was a story with a twist ending. They understood, like Paul did in Galatians, that the Old Testament was meant to show people how they were stuck in sin. The law could never get people out of sin. Nationalism will never bring about the Kingdom of God. Only in Christ can we be right with God and fulfill our life in the Kingdom. And to pull something out of the Old Testament that is counterintuitive to Jesus is to be unfaithful to Jesus.

Jesus brought a radical twist to the story that God was doing in this world. No longer would people be trapped in their sin and need to perform to get out of it. Jesus’ twist means that we can’t read the rest of the story as if the twist never happened. It’d be like watching the Sixth Sense and not seeing Bruce Willis as being dead throughout the movie. Not seeing the little hints along the way that point towards the twist. In the same way, we share with the Anabaptists that the twist of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are more important and weightier in our decision making than the story that led up to the twist.

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Topics: Anabaptism, Conflict, Nationalism, Non-Violence

Sermon Series: Kindred

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Focus Scripture:

  • John 5:36

    “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me.

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6 thoughts on “The Twist

  1. Mike Jones says:

    B-E-A-UTIFUL! I’ve called this “twist” that Jesus gives to the truth of the Kingdom, “the setup and the switch”. Jesus says, “you’ve heard it said that life is this way…..”, then he says, “but I tell you the Kingdom is like this…..”. Such a beautiful, outrageous, radical twist!

  2. kevin s. says:

    OOPS??? and just as i’ve placed ALL my trust in your video ministry! haahaha

  3. Peter says:

    The whole aspect of reframing my Christian life has continued to be massive as in my earlier blogs under “Reframing the Sun” and “Got Bread”.

    While to some extent the focus has been on the Ana Baptist movement, the reality is that they, essentially, did not add anything new (as in doctrines) to their beliefs that had not previously existed. It is just that the founders in one sense didn’t have a reformation but a “reframation” (if I can invent a new word) of their beliefs.

    All the New Testament documents were written after Pentecost or the giving of the Holy Spirit….which will lead you into all truth. Hence those that wrote the documents and those that received them at that time were on the same page, so to speak.

    It was to large extent the work of the enemy and time which led to a falling away from the initial freshness of the Word which the Ana Baptist leaders sought to restore.

    This freshness could be no more vital than the speech given by Peter after receiving the Holy Spirit (in Acts) which links the Old Testament to Jesus (in a public way), which they all had failed to see/appreciate prior to that time as Greg indicated in his message.

    (Interestingly, in Acts 1:8 Jesus says to the apostles “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth”…”my witnesses” in the sense of being a witness to Jesus and his works. Then in Acts 2 we are told there were devout Jews from every nation which Peter spoke to and received the Holy Spirit…the first key of the Kingdom….later the second key when he went and delivered the Holy Spirit to Samaria (Acts 8:14) and the third to the Gentiles (Acts 10:44)…so the Kingdom was open to all who believe in Jesus.)

    Prophets have always been an important means by which God communicates to man….and which man seeks to destroy from Abel to Zechariah as Jesus says (Luke 11:49-51). However, the interesting point is in Rev 19:10 where it says “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” This being the case and unredeemed man’s hatred for God it is no wonder they sought…and still seek to destroy Jesus by silencing His prophets/witnesses. With this type of pressure, it is easy to see (but wrong) why some resorted to the sword to defend themselves. Against this, I couldn’t help but think during Greg’s message that when Jesus was being crucified saying “Father, forgive them, for they know what not they do.”…. praying for his enemies who’s way of thinking was in need of reframing.

  4. Andy says:

    Loved this sermon and am loving this series so far. It did leave me with a couple questions though that I am hoping to get some clarification on. 1st has to do with Greg saying that Jesus instructs us to entirely replace what he refers to as “the principle of just retribution.” My questions is why would Jesus instruct us to replace an instruction that He (as part of the trinity) had issued in the first place? Why not just make the original instruction to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us? 2nd has to do with the loving of enemies etc…I totally understand that it is good an right to love my enemies and pray to those who would want to do harm to me. What I don’t understand is what that looks like. What am I supposed to be praying for? It would seem silly for me to pray that God bless them in their desire to do evil to me. Should I simply be praying that the Lord change their heart’s desire for evil thoughts and actions? Please help shed some light on this for me as it has been a huge hang-up and struggle for me for many months now. Thanks and wonderful sermon!

  5. I love what God has been doing in and through you for many years, Dr. Boyd! Overall, this message is absolutely phenomenal and echoes my beliefs exactly. I’m a bit concerned about one part though, namely, the part about Jesus replacing some aspects of the OT. How do you exegetically reconcile Matthew 5:17-19 with this sermon? I must admit that this part of the teaching has me a little concerned, mostly due to my Wesleyan proclivity…When I read the Sermon on the Mount, I see Christ getting at the heart of the Law: love. Love is the truest fulfillment of the Law/OT and is the hermeneutical center through which it should be interpreted and applied. Christ provides the interpretive key because He is the Interpretive Key, that is, the absolute quintessence of Love. (I hope this makes sense.)

    Instead of Christ replacing some aspects of the Law, could we alternatively say that He fulfills the Law on its truest level: the Shema and absolute, self-sacrificial love for humanity? Hence, if anyone is a true Christ follower, s/he still cannot use the OT to justify non-Christlike beliefs, words, or actions, especially like that “Pray for Obama” sign (which infuriated me also, by the way).

    Thank you again for all that you do! I love how the Holy Spirit is using you to build the Kingdom 🙂



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