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The Powerful and Vulnerable Intercultural Encounters of Jesus

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In this reading of the New Testament record, Jesus approached intercultural situations with wisdom, grace, and sensitivity. He interacted with Gentiles, marveled at their faith, and even sent them as missionaries to their own people. He followed cultural patterns when they were helpful; he resisted cultural patterns when they were hurtful. He often interacted with people whom even his disciples wanted to avoid. Through humility and vulnerability, he created an atmosphere that elicits transparency and transformation. Jesus walked along borderlands and traversed across borders into Gentile regions. In doing so, he engaged in intense theological discussions with a Canaanite woman and a Samaritan woman, and, in both cases, met them in their brokenness and met their deepest needs. At times he interacted with high people of society, for instance, the centurion. Prior to healing his servant, Jesus marveled at the centurion’s faith, declaring it greater than all of Israel. This article argues that, though each intercultural context proved to be unique, Jesus contextually tailored his approach to the individual. While respectful of cultural customs, he boldly broke through cultural barriers that caused brokenness and oppression. Jesus carried on conversations with skill and sensitivity. He filled his conversation with questions, metaphors, and dialogue, thus respecting individuals and their cultural contexts.

Affiliations: 1: Azusa Pacific University


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