…we must carefully seek to determine not just what Jesus said, but what he meant, and how he would have been heard by his original hearers. Only then can we venture to explore what his original meaning would mean for us today, and even then, we must do so with great humility and awareness of our amazing human capacity to be wrong. This process is far more complex than simply marshalling quotes, and it is also more fruitful. It requires more than an ability to lift quotations out of context and fire them at an opponent like a missle. It requires the ability to get a sense for the shape, feel, and direction of Jesus’ life and words, in the swirl and spin of his times, and find patterns of resonance with our own.
(from Everything Must Change)