This Transforms How I See Easter

 Can you picture them?

Photo Credit: JD Lasica, Creative Commons, cc

Sweet little six year old Middle Eastern boys pouring down the cobbled stone Roman streets of a remote occupied town. Young Jewish boys in Jesus’ time all attended Bet Sefer at the local synagogue. Six to ten years old attended this Bet Sefer, which means House of Books or House of Knowledge, five days a week, Monday through Friday. Local temple leaders would teach them about the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, and the boys would soon have memorized all of Genesis through Deuteronomy!

Photo Credit: David Jones, Creative Commons, cc

Ten through fourteen year old teens, growing taller, broader, and with their voices just starting to change, would then proceed to Bet Talmud studies at the temple, where they would study the rest of the Old Testament books. Those showing promise would continue, soon memorizing all of the Hebrew scriptures from Joshua through Malachi, including the Psalms, by the age of thirteen or fourteen years old! Many Jewish seminaries continue this memorization feat today, I’m told, in an article called “Covered in the Dust.” 

By age twelve to fourteen years old, while still in the Bet Talmud, young Jewish males were learning the art of question and answering that marked an educated and intelligent person. Practicing with Torah teachers and temple leaders, they responded, fielded, and replied to the questions thrown at them. This casts new light on the story of Jesus as a twelve year old boy in the temple with the religious leaders where he is “sitting with the teachers. He was listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at how much he understood. They also were amazed at his answers.” 

Photo Credit: Ho John Lee, Creative Commons, cc

Jesus grew up, became a rabbi himself, and invested in his disciples for three intense years. One of the teaching tools that rabbis would do with their students, I’ve just learned, is to start saying a line from a Bible passage, knowing that his audience would immediately be able to recognize the next lines. Since almost all Jewish males had memorized Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, there were many passages to use. Jesus often started his lessons that way, or he simply said, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago…” and then continued with his teaching. The Hebrew audiences of his day would have instantly recognized most of his Old Testament references and tracked along with him in the rest of the chapter.

What hits me this week as we remember Jesus on the cross is something he said…

While hanging on the cross, undergoing excruciating agony, Jesus started the first line of a chapter. Educated Hebrew audiences of his day would have instantly recognized the words, and known the reference. They would have been able to recite the next words and lines, as easily as many of us know pop songs. Jesus’ gasped sentence on the cross would have set in motion for them the rest of the chapter.


To transform your Easter week, and add fresh poignancy to Jesus’ death on the cross, read through to the end of Psalm 22 in that purple link above, or on your own. There are powerful, amazing treasures all throughout that chapter. (I don’t want to spoil one sliver of it for you.)


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  1. Judith Evans on April 15, 2014 at 3:12 am

    Psalm 22 is indeed a powerful chapter for this week. Thank you, Jennifer, for this poignant post. Thanks for visiting my blog, too!

  2. Wise Hearted on April 15, 2014 at 3:46 am

    Good read Jennifer as we head into the Easter season. Always good to be reminded of the times Jesus lived in…rich heritage. Thanks for the words of truth.

  3. TC Avey on April 15, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    "He has done it"! Amen!

    Happy Easter. Praise God for what He has done. May His name be lifted high.

  4. Floyd on April 15, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    I've heard the correlation to that scripture, but not the full Psalm… Sister, that'll preach!!! Wow. This is an awesome find. Thanks for passing this along. "HE has done it"!

  5. Alecia Simersky on April 15, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Wow!! I've never noticed the same first line before, that's incredible. Now I'm going to go back and read through slowly. Thanks for sharing this, so insightful! Have a blessed Easter.

  6. Jayne on April 15, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    WOW! I just love the way God works. May I repost this on my blog?

  7. Jennifer Dougan on April 18, 2014 at 2:17 am


    Yes, I'll be right over to your blog to talk more.

    Jennifer Dougan

  8. Jennifer Dougan on April 19, 2014 at 2:18 am

    My pleasure, Judith. Isn't that powerful?! It excites me too.

    Happy Easter, Judith.

    Jennifer Dougan

  9. Jennifer Dougan on April 19, 2014 at 2:20 am


    Doesn't the history, culture and archeology of that time make it come alive? I agree. That helps me too.

    Happy Easter, Betty!

    Jennifer Dougan

  10. Jennifer Dougan on April 19, 2014 at 2:23 am


    Amen! It is finished. 🙂

    Happy Easter, TC.

    Jennifer Dougan

  11. Jennifer Dougan on April 19, 2014 at 2:26 am


    Isn't that exciting? It grabs me each time too.

    Happy Easter, Floyd.

    Jennifer Dougan

  12. Jennifer Dougan on April 19, 2014 at 2:30 am


    It's a powerful chapter, isn't it? It grabs me and rings through my mind whenever I think of him on the cross now. Poignant.

    Thanks for stopping in here, Alecia. Happy Easter,

    Jennifer Dougan

  13. Anonymous on April 22, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    wow indeed! And to think that David was saying this long before Jesus was every on the cross……thanks for sharing something so new and fresh about the cross!

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