Monday, September 9, 2013


When anyone mentions Ben-Hur, I think of Charlton Heston and the 1959 version. That movie, and this scene, came to my mind in our Sunday School lesson yesterday:

Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.  (1 Corinthians 4:1 KJV)

In this chapter Paul tells who he is, what he’s doing and that God will be his judge – just as he will be ours. As he gives an account of himself, the King James translates a title as “minister”, the ESV says “servant”, as does the ERV, NRSV, NIV and I didn’t check others. Usually, when “servant” is used, it is translated from the Greek διακονέω (diakoneō) "to be an attendant, that is, wait upon", a servant "minister (unto), serve", but not in this verse.

The word used is ὑπηρέτης (hupēretēs) an under oarsman. That's what Judah ben Hur was in the above scene.

Think for a moment how important those oarsmen were. Movies depicting that era are few and far between in today’s cinema, but there are examples out there of how the battleships of the Mediterranean were propelled. Multiple rows of oars, moving to the beat of a single drummer. What if they did not? The ship would be running off course, pulled in multiple directions. It would be useless for travel, much less battle.

When there is a single goal, a single purpose, a group of oarsman working together, it is a beautiful sight. Have you watched the rowing teams during the Olympics? One person setting the pace, rowers in coordination skimming their craft across the water.

It sets a beautiful picture of equality as well as coordination. One goal under a specific authority.

For me, the authority for believing Christ to be the Messiah isn’t a single one of the pastors of churches I’ve attended over the years. My authority is the word of God. The scriptures. Though some may think they require blind obedience, they do not. The scriptures are for study, for questioning, for growth and for sustaining faith.

Toward the end of Joshua we find:

But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Joshua 22:5 KJV)

“Diligent heed”, not blind obedience, but steady, earnest and energetic attention was how they were to look to the law that told them to love and serve God. Luke records the Bereans as more noble:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11 KJV)

Jesus asked that we search the scriptures, too, knowing they will tell of Him.

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5:39 KJV)

I did, and I still do, continuing to believe they testify of the Messiah. I am happy as an under oarsman! Please, receive His word and study to see if those things were so.

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