Across the last two weeks we’ve covered the A to E of Jesus slang, which I feel was a bit of a tourist’s guide to symbolism across the ancient world. This week’s post has a different focus.
On top of the geographical, the Bible has a fair amount of agrarian symbolism, some of which is used commonly enough beyond the walls of churches.
Fruit, first fruits, vines, farmers, sheep, shepherds and harvesting are probably the main ones.
Jesus says at one point that he is the vine and his followers are the branches. So if you are a Christian you need to think of yourself as a branch that bears fruit.
Or should bear fruit. Obviously if your branch doesn’t bear fruit you’ve got problems. Then again your tree could bear fruit, but it’s bad fruit. Obviously that’s a problem too.
Fruit symbolises your actions, what you do, the final outcome or motive behind your actions.
You’ve probably heard the opening to Jesus’ famous speech on top of a mountain. The one that opens with a whole heap of anaphora: blessed are the them people, blessed are the those people and so on.
Almost right at the end of that speech Jesus says that there’s heaps of people who say they follow him, but Jesus doesn’t buy it because he’s not an idiot. He knows that just saying you believe in the biblengod story doesn’t actually hold any weight. Jesus says check out the person’s fruit instead.
The Bible is mostly about God’s special people, the Jews. But obviously not everyone on the planet is Jewish. If you’re not a Jew then you’re a Gentile. This means I’m a Gentile.
If you’ve never heard the term before it could sound like some sort of racist slur, similar to a Shakespearean insult: thou art an arrant knave and pig eating Gentile!
Well… yes and no…
Understandably with the Jews spending so many centuries, just God and them, it took a while for some (understatement) to see that the whole biblengod story actually included Gentiles too. Because Gentiles in their minds were outsiders. It was only the Jews who were in with the Almighty.
Or so they thought.
Holy is a word that is said and sung often in Churchland. On the surface level, its meaning is fairly simple.
Holy just means to be put aside from other things for a certain purpose. That purpose being to be used by and for God. This also means that the put aside thing/person should be pure or made pure by God. And also, if you’ve been set aside for some God related purpose, you should be trying to behave like God.
Usually the word is used in connection to spiritual matters, but any time you set something or someone apart from a group, then you are making it holy in at least one sense of the word, because you have set them apart for a particular role, job or service.
The word holy is also used to describe God. Usually when it’s used to describe him, it’s said three times in a row to emphasise the level of purity he has as opposed to humanity. There are also plenty of commands in the Bible for people to be holy because God is holy.
Additionally you can make something holy, such as the Sabbath Day when you remember to rest on that day. Obviously that doesn’t mean the Sabbath will always be a pure and perfect day, but it’ll be set aside from the six other days when you are working.
Yours in restfulness,