Sacred Heart students already have daily prayer time, but the new “Theosis” program launched in the school this year offers high school students a special opportunity to hear from a rotation of guest speakers on a variety of topics pertaining to faith, family, and life.
Jake Unterseher, a former UND Focus Minister, spoke to Sacred Heart students about the humor he finds when reading the bible.
“Some of the stories crack me up!” He then told the traditional story of how Jesus healed a paralytic man by leaning over him and saying that ‘his sins were forgiven.’ The people watching this were shocked – and said to Jesus that only God can forgive sins. “So that’s one way to read the story – but then you have to remember the part from the beginning. This is the one where they literally shove a paralytic guy through a roof. Imagine if you were traveling and stopped by a friend’s home and all of a sudden these guys rip open your friend’s roof and shove a guy through! Think about that!” The students laughed as Unterseher mimicked the scene. “My favorite part is the last line of the passage where the people said, ‘we have never seen anything like this before’… No kidding!”
Unterseher continued to break down the steps he uses when reading a bible passage saying he likes to think about what exactly he is reading; a story, rule book, or letter. “When I read this way it helps me understand what is going and what I am reading. A letter to the Romans is going to be different than a story of a miracle as both are dealing with different things.” He then considers the context the stories were written in all those years ago. “Paul didn’t write a letter to the Christians in Grand Forks in 2015. He wrote those letters 2,000 years ago. Things were a lot different then so some of those crazy rules that seem ridiculous now made sense in context.”
The third step to Unterseher’s bible reading method is to remember the purpose of the story. “We have to remember none of this matters if it is not for Christ in the end.” To make his point, Unterseher used the story of Abraham and Isaac. “If you don’t read it and think about Christ coming in after it seems totally crazy!” Abraham, who was old and didn’t have any children was told by God to in the story of Genesis to go outside and look up in the sky to number his descendants. “We miss the part of this story where this happens at 9:00 AM in the morning. When you walk outside at 9:00 AM how many stars do you see?” A student responded, “One.”
Later, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. “So when you read this you’re thinking, that sounds terrible! What kind of God would say that he was going to have a father kill his only son?” Unterseher used the full story of Abraham to explain how, in reality, God was setting up something that would occur 1000 years later. Unterseher said to students, “there’s so much good stuff in the Abraham and Isaac story. The story of Abraham and Isaac, when compared to Jewish and Christian traditions reveals a much more amazing message.”
The place where this story happens is Mt. Moriah. Unterseher adds, that “Mt. Moriah gets a new name later on – Golgotha.” The Sacred Heart students were quick to respond that they knew what happened at Golgotha. “That’s the place where Jesus was crucified. That place is also called The Place of the Skull.” Unterseher asked if The Place of the Skull was just a creepy name or if they thought it meant anything else. “The skull they are talking about is Adam’s burial place. So in ancient Jewish tradition that is the ancient burial place of Adam.” In Christian tradition, the tomb Jesus was buried in is only a short distance away from the site of the crucifixion. Jesus was buried in the same location. “So the story all comes together. Abraham and Isaac, Jesus, and Adam.”
When Abraham is asked by his son, Isaac, what they are planning to sacrifice, Abraham responded with “God will provide.” God did provide Abraham with a son. And God had asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son. At the last minute they spot a ram with its head stuck in a thicket of thorns. Unterseher adds that “the thicket where the ram had its head stuck is the exact same kind of thorn that the crown of thorns was made out of when Jesus was crucified.” Excitedly Unterseher says, “Check that out! Not only is God’s only son being sacrificed on the same hill where Isaac was going to be sacrificed on but they found the right lamb of God with its head stuck in a crown of Thorns – which in the New Testament is Jesus. Bam. Jesus, crown of thorns, on the hill with the tomb of Adam, which becomes Jesus’ tomb where he rises from the dead.”
Unterseher concluded by mentioning that he notices interesting things all the time when he reads the bible. “I want to encourage you to do this when you read the bible. You can skip some the boring stuff — you don’t have to mumble through cover to cover. Does the bible still sound mind-numbingly boring? Maybe. But are you willing to try to read some things that might seem exciting?”