Early in the course of higher education for ministers you take courses in sermon preparation. From the very beginning you are taught two major words that relate to this subject. The first word is eisegesis. This is “reading into the text what you’d like for it to say” (my loose interpretation). In my classes we were told, “Don’t do this–it’s bad . . . bad . . . ba-a-a-a-d.” Sadly, this is the approach that most Christians take when reading and studying the scripture. Even worse, this is the approach that many pastors and preachers take in sermon preparation.

The second word that issues from the mouth of our professor is exegesis or “reading out of the text what is already there.” Here we have the proper study and preparation for scripturally-based sermons. Here we also have the basis for a favorite among the jokes of Bible College and Seminary students. Upon hearing the word exegesis the preacher proclaims loudly, “Extra Jesus? We don’t need no Extra Jesus!”

And now to get to the point (sort of). Knowing my love for the Christmas season and especially for nativity scenes, my blushing bride went to the market (in July, mind you) before leaving Egypt to return to America for our wedding. She had in mind to purchase some sort of Egyptian souvenir for me. What she found was this handmade clay nativity.

In the process of bartering for the exchange, the vendor decided to “give a special gift to the American” so he threw in another piece. Look closely, and you see it.

That’s right, there’s an Extra Jesus! I love this nativity. Not only is it a precious gift from my wife, not only is it a nativity from foreign lands (Biblical lands, as it were), but it is also a reminder.

First of all, it reminds me to properly do my exegesis as I study the scripture–especially for presentation in sermons. But even more so it reminds me that “We don’t need no Extra Jesus!”

Jesus said, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV)