Some questions from my confirmation students


#1

My CCD kids have asked me a couple of questions that I need help with. 1. Why was Jesus Jewish?
2. Why were the Jews the chosen people?
3. Why did Jesus have to suffer and die to save us from our sins?

Sorry there are 3 questions in this post, but I won’t be able to keep up with 3 different threads. My class is today. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!


#2

1.Because the Messiah was foretold in the Old Testament and the Jews were looking for Him, the Jews were God’s chosen people.

  1. Because God chose them!

  2. Because sin , even one sin is so offensive to God. The results of Sin it is said in the Scripture is death. Sin requires death for punishment. Now that is understood in many different ways. To atone for the sins of the human race, our sins, Jesus had to die so that we didn’t have to pay the price eternally. We still physically die because of the effects of Original Sin, but Jesus’ death satisfied the Eternal punishment for sin.


#3

Hi Philomena,

I would like to add something to Br Rich’s answer to the 3rd question that might make it easier for your charges to understand. Jesus chose to suffer and die because he wanted us to know how much he loved us. As a matter of fact he did say, "There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends. "

Verbum


#4

After the Fall, man forgot his original relationship with the one true God. God reached out to mankind by selecting a righteous man, Abram, with whom to make a covenant. “You will be my people, and I will be your God.”

Through this covenant, the descendants of Abraham became the witnesses to the world-- fallen into idolatry-- of the one true God and of morality.

They were “chosen” for this purpose.

Through the prophets, God foretold the coming of a Savior, from the House of David. Jesus is that Savior. Jesus is Jewish because his mother was Jewish and from the House of David. It was part of God’s plan of Salvation that the Messiah be born from among the Chosen People.

Only an infinite sacrifice could heal the rift between God and Man.

I suggest you review this section of the Catechism with them:

vatican.va/archive/catechism/p122a4p2.htm#II


#5

Slightly different explanation:

When Moses and the Israelites received God’s Law, Moses read the Law to them, sacrificed some animals, splashed the blood on the altar. After the people agreed to the covenant, Moses splashed some of the blood on the people, and then 70 elders represented the people as they ate and drank on the mountain in God’s presence.

It was an irrevocable covenant that signified, "If I (we) break this covenant, let me (us) be as this animal—dead!

There were several covenants–God is and was ever-faithful, but Adam & Eve, the Israelites, Catholics, and all of us, too, break them, meriting death. Jesus came into our world, dwelling among us, and offering Himself, the perfect and pure sacrifice that God would find pleasing, in our place.

He then left us the Eucharist, the means by which we can renew our covenant vows, and remain in Him Who is One with God, so that we can once again share in God’s life as Adam and Eve did before the Fall.

Some of my former Confirmation students were able to accept this explanation. A little involved, but a little more concrete, or so they seemed to think. Hope this helps.

In Christ’s peace and joy,

Robin


#6

I am probably a day late and a dollar short, but here goes…
[LIST]
*]The Jews were singularly blessed because they were descendants of Abraham, the “friend of God”
*]The oppressions and periods of captivity were periods of refinement[LIST]
*]A people dedicated to God’s word[/LIST]
*]The Roman Empire was instrumental in disseminating the fledgling Christian religion
[LIST]
*]its oppressed people welcomed the idea of a savior
*]in this way, the word of God was spread very far from Rome[/LIST]
[/LIST]The Jews, as being a very insular culture, were going through a refinement process into which God would bring Jesus. In the Old Testament times, they were the only monotheistic group to recognize God alone, in the middle of polytheistic nations. Because Abraham chose God, Abraham’s descendants were to be the ones into which God sent the Savior.Gen 12:1-3 The LORD said to Abram: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.”

James 2:23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.”

So basically, the Jews were dedicated to God alone as a very insular community because of the covenant between Israel and God.Psalm 135:4: 2 For the LORD has chosen Jacob, Israel as a treasured possession.

Deuteronomy 14:2 For you are a people sacred to the LORD, your God, who has chosen you from all the nations on the face of the earth to be a people peculiarly his own.From about.com (emphasis mine):

Question: Why did God chose the Jewish people?

Answer: All human beings are God’s people, as it says that Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. Further, the great prophet Malachi said, “Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10) In fact, the Talmud also states that Adam was created from the dust of all four corners of the earth (so to speak) so that no one nation could claim the distinction of being better.

Historically, however, the world slipped away from its relationship with God, and eventually the entire world was idolaters. Abraham re-discovered the idea of one God, and chose to accept the challenge to change the world through an understanding of monotheism and morality. Through his dedication and willingness to give up everything for God, he was chosen - and his descendents after him - to become the teachers of morality.

In other words, Abraham chose God, and thus God chose Abraham.

[continued]


#7

In choosing Abraham, God blessed Abraham’s descendants. So, the Jews were the chosen people because of the faith of their forefathers in the Old Testament, proving that God keeps His word to His people. And from this covenant, Jesus came to us:
Matthew 1:17 Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations.
Now, when Jesus was born, the Jews were logistically in the perfect place and the perfect time to receive Jesus into their midst.

Through years of being in captivity and having their populations in servitude to others, their focus was exclusivity and keeping separate from what would contaminate their society. The most faithful Jews constantly focused on their understanding of their relationship to God. Everything in Jewish society until this point has been in keeping pure and holy for the Lord.

The Encyclopedia Judaica provides a secular, historical explanation of this belief, stating that “It would seem that the more extreme, and exclusive, interpretations of the doctrine of election, among Jewish thinkers, were partly the result of reaction to oppression by the non-Jewish world. The more the Jew was forced to close in on himself, to withdraw into the imposed confines of the ghetto, the more he tended to emphasize Israel’s difference from the cruel gentile without. Only thus did his suffering become intelligible and bearable…When the Jew was eventually allowed to find his place in a gentile world, the less exclusivist aspect of the doctrine reasserted itself.” (from Wiki)

The Romans’ hold on Jerusalem was perfect timing for Jesus to be sent. God could use the Roman empire, the known “center of the world,” for His word to be disseminated throughout the Gentile world. In this way, God used the Jews as His refined people into which Jesus should be born, and the Roman Empire to spread His message.

John the Baptist foretold that God would extend His love further than the Jews, saying that being children of Abraham was no guarantee for salvation:
Luke 3:6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Luke 3:8 Produce good fruits as evidence of your repentance; and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Then in Galatians 3:7-9 Paul says,
Realize then that it is those who have faith who are children of Abraham. Scripture, which saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, foretold the good news to Abraham, saying, “Through you shall all the nations be blessed.” Consequently, those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham who had faith.
And clarifies in verse 14:
That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
and sums it up in verses 23-29:
Before faith came, we were held in custody under law, confined for the faith that was to be revealed. Consequently, the law was our disciplinarian for Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian. For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.
So, the Jews were chosen because of God’s promise to Abraham, their willingness to be a people seperate unto God alone, and their being in the right place/right time to send the seeds of faith through the Romans. In this way, the fulfillment of the Redeemer is offer to all people through the Jews.


#8

[LEFT]Now, to your second question: “Why did Jesus have to suffer and die to save us from our sins?” The CCC answers this is great detail here:
ARTICLE 4: "JESUS CHRIST SUFFERED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE, WAS CRUCIFIED, DIED, AND WAS BURIED[/LEFT]

In a very simple way, I was taught that up until His birth, the Jews were able to atone for their sins through blood sacrifice of animals. They used the most pure, unblemised lambs (and other animals prescribed by the Law).

[LEFT]Essentially, Jesus became the last, final, most perfect Paschal Lamb. [/LEFT]

[LEFT]

"Goats and lambs, being finite creatures, had to be offered again

and again as people sinned again. However, Christ’s Sacrifice, being infinite and perfect and without any possible blemish, was most pleasing and hence is sufficient for the Father to forgive any sin committed and no more Sacrifice is needed." (From the now defunct website cathinsight.)
[/LEFT]

  1. Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies that He would be the last sacrifice for our sins. He IS the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Jn 1:29; cf. Lk 3:21; Mt 3:14-15; Jn 1:36.

  2. Jesus knew the He was born to BE the that last sacrifice, and accepted this mission freely. His whole life was lived for that moment. “In suffering and death his humanity became the free and perfect instrument of his divine love which desires the salvation of men.” **His free will acceptance is the example of most perfect love. **

From the CCC:

619 “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3).

620 Our salvation flows from God’s initiative of love for us, because “he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10). “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor 5:19).

621 Jesus freely offered himself for our salvation. Beforehand, during the Last Supper, he both symbolized this offering and made it really present: “This is my body which is given for you” (Lk 22:19).

622 The redemption won by Christ consists in this, that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28), that is, he “loved [his own] to the end” (Jn 13:1), so that they might be “ransomed from the futile ways inherited from [their] fathers”(1 Pet 1:18).

623 By his loving obedience to the Father, “unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8), Jesus fulfills the atoning mission (cf. Isa 53:10) of the suffering Servant, who will “make many righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities” (Isa 53:11; cf. Rom 5:19).

I can’t say it any better than the CCC does. Check out the ouline there.


#9
  1. Because if he had been, say, Hindu and gone around telling people “I am the son of God,” they would have said, “Yes, and so are we. What’s your point?” However, to a Jew, that is evidence of utter blasphemy. This means they’ll really listen to him.

  2. Because God decided to delegate. Rather than tell every single person in the history of the world about himself, he wanted us to tell each other, so he started with Abraham and the Jews.

  3. So that our suffering might mean something. If our sins were to be forgiven without a matching sacrifice, it would be to the world like they never happened at all. They would become pointless, and God might as well have prevented us from performing them in the first place. However, he has given lordship of the world to us, which is why the spiritual realm follows Newton’s third law of motion as well as the physical realm.


#10

a little thing that is often overlooked in the story of Abraham, is that God tells him that he will bless ALL nations through him, not just his seed. Everyone stands to benefit from the blessings bestowed on Abraham.


#11

You’ve been given some good replies. But my first thought is: have these kids never learned any bible history?

It’s been awhile since I taught CCD, but I remember this: they weren’t much interested in anything else, but they did like stories. And the book of Genesis is a goldmine of stories. Adam and Eve, the Fall, the stories about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the 12 brothers and how Joseph came to be prime minister of Egypt. The story of Benjamin. Then, enslavement, Moses in the basket and on to Exodus. Those stories provide the answers to all those questions. It’s how the Jews taught theology.


#12

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