What's an exegete, Jim? I'm glad you asked! 'Exegesis' is a Greek word for getting stuff out of a book or a conversation or a moment without always putting your own stuff into it. It's all just a fancy way of saying "it's good listening". That's why we call good bible reading 'exegesis' - we get out what's there from God, not put in our stuff that's not. It's just good listening. Listen in as Jason Ayres puts his ear to the ground. I now call him the Street Exegete. He writes,
"Well, I was out at Bondi yesterday,slowly driving up this narrow street. So narrow, that I could just about shake hands with the nearby pedestrians. On occasions, I'm so close to the pedestrians, I'll just say hello,or comment on the weather, or their garden, because, generally, I am driving slower than they are walking. Yesterday, I was 'driving' along side a man, maybe ten years older than me, with a long beard. Down to his pot belly.
His beard merited the comment,"You know, it's not the man who chooses the beard, it's the beard that chooses the man." That usually gets a smile, and I continue on about my way, but yesterday I got more than what I'd bargained for.
"This beard is special to me." he said, with this incredible New York accent. "Since I've had this beard,I see things in the spirit world. It's got...power." Well, I had to stop the car for this.
"Some people think I'm strange, but I have these visions.."
He then went into this passionate speech about how Jewish people believe in this connection between the spirit world, and the natural. Some religious people are too 'rational'. Some religious people live too much in the 'spiritual'.
And then he stops looking 'out there' somewhere, deep in thought, and turns to me.
"Are you Jewish?"
"No," I said, "I'm a Christian."
Now, that's when most Jewish people usually keep walking, but he just kept talking. Sober as a judge, just 'matter of fact' about everything. He started to try and explain to me about his visions. Then something popped into my mind,so I asked him,
"Oh. You mean like Daniel? When he walked through the fire with two friends, but the king saw somebody else with him?"
He looked so happy. "That's exactly what I mean." he said.
This prompted him to talk about the cycle of life, and threw in some Hebrew terminology, and other bits and pieces, and then a moments pause, and before we parted company, he pointed his index finger at me, just 'out of the blue', and proclaimed,
"The Jews believe that God has put us here for a challenge." And then repeated, sincerely and determined, "God has put us here for a challenge."
Then he waved his hand, said something in Hebrew and wished me "Shalom".
So I thanked him,and returned with a blessing and fair well.
Bits of his impromptu lesson were overwhelming, but his parting words kept rolling over my mind for the rest of the day. It's a challenge.
(But our assurance is that the Son of God is walking with us, also, through our trial by fire, eh..) There you go. I'll never be flippant about a man's beard again.