Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pitchers 15: Shoot

We want a real Messiah

Here's the board from the 11/28/12 Isaiah class. This is when the kids remind me that the Jews want the good old days back, when David and Solomon whipped Israel's enemies, and the Chosen People weren't little dogs living in a big-dog world. Some drawing accompanies me reading a series of Isaiah prophecies while the children figure out what they might mean.

The lower left sketch shows how highway builders trim down the high points and use that material to fill the low points to make a smoother road, as in: "prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level."

Above that is the Temple on the Mountain, both of which figure repeatedly in Isaiah.

To the right is the sort of Messiah/ Mashiah/ Christos/ Anointed One which the Jews are hoping God will send them: a fighter who's gonna get Israel some payback from the likes of Babylon. Once this cartoon is drawn, we start on the prophecies.

"Y'all tell me who David's daddy was. Joseph! No, but close...Jesse!  Yes. And David's son? Solomon!  Yes again. And what sort of Messiah were the Jews hoping for? One like David and Solomon. Yes. Now we're going to learn about a lot of Isaiah's prophecies to see what sort of Messiah the Jews were actually going to get.

Y'all tell me about the Jesse Tree from last week. It's a tree that grows out of Jesse and Jesus is at the top.'s Jesse, he's kind of lying on a sofa so the tree can grow out of's the tree, it goes way up. That doesn't look like a person! So what? I just said it's Jesse. Use your imaginations, you're 6th-graders. Anyway, Israel's enemies have conquered Israel, and cut the tree down (I erase it). All that's left is...this...stump. There ya go. I need the green marker now...OK, what would Israel like to happen to this cut-down tree? For it grow big again? Yes, like so, tall and green with a conquering King at the top. But let's hear what Isaiah has to say about this stump: "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse..." Do y'all know what a shoot is? No? Look, it's like this...just a little green sprout with a leaf or two:

Could you build a house from that sprout, that shoot? No it's too flimsy. Make a fishing pole? No it's too small. So what's it good for? Nothing. Right, it's not very practical. But who is that little shoot coming out of Jesse's stump? David? Umm, no, this is a prophecy, David's in the remote past. Ummm...Jesus!  Yes! So why is Jesus a little green shoot instead of a big strong tree? Isn't the Messiah supposed to be big and strong? Yes! So...? Well, Jesus wasn't big and strong. Right. Isaiah is telling Israel that the big strong David and Solomon tree isn't coming back, but a humble little twig will grow that's related to Jesse and his kingly descendants."

With this foundation we then look at about a half-dozen Jesus-specific prophecies, time permitting. The little shoot sets the mood for the rest of them. Now I could have just said hey, listen to this verse, it means that Jesus is meek and humble like a little sprout and he's not what the Jews expected in a Messiah. But the kids learn so much better if they can access the emotional content, and see some fast sketching that helps them think.

As you can see, even bad drawings work well with narration.