The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 99

In Yerushalayim for Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) ~ Part 13

In our last post, we learned that Yeshua Declares His External Existence. In this post, we learn that Yeshua Is the Good Shepherd.

As in our last several posts, Yeshua is still speaking on the last day of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah.

The Sheep and Their Shephard

“Yes, indeed! I tell you, the person who doesn’t enter the sheep pen through the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. But the one who goes in through the gate is the sheep’s own shepherd. This is the one the gatekeeper admits, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep, each one by name, and leads them out.

He calls his own sheep, each one by name. He is distinguishing them from other sheep in the same fold. The point is that sheep follow the right shepherd.

 After taking out all that are his own, he goes on ahead of them; and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. They never follow a stranger but will run away from him because strangers’ voices are unfamiliar to them.” 6 Yeshua used this indirect manner of speaking with them, but they didn’t understand what He was talking to them about.  [1]

They didn’t understand what He was talking to them about. The audience misses the symbolism of the parable. Just as sheep recognize their shepherd and follow him, those who genuinely belong to Yeshua will recognize Him and follow Him.

The Gate for the Sheep

So Yeshua said to them again, “Yes, indeed! I tell you that I am the gate for the sheep.

I am the gate for the sheep. Yeshua is the gateway for eternal life and the one who leads the sheep.

All those who have come before me have been thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the gate; if someone enters through me, he will be safe and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, life in its fullest measure.”  [2]

Thieves and robbers highlight the misleading ministry of previous generations of Isra’eli leaders who had led them astray.

Yeshua Is the Good Shepherd

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand, since he isn’t a shepherd and the sheep aren’t his own, sees the wolf coming, abandons the sheep, and runs away. Then the wolf drags them off and scatters them. 13 The hired worker behaves like this because that’s all he is, a hired worker, so it doesn’t matter to him what happens to the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; I know My own, and My own know Me – 15 just as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father – and I lay down My life on behalf of the sheep. 16 Also, I have other sheep which are not from this pen; I need to bring them, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock, one shepherd.

I have other sheep which are not from this pen, namely, Gentiles, whom Yeshua says He will combine with the Jews into one flock under Himself, the one shepherd. Although at first He sent His talmidim only to “the lost sheep of the house of Isra’el” (Mattityahu 10:5) and spoke of His commission in the same way (Mattityahu 15:24), this limitation applied only to His life before the Resurrection. Moreover, He intimated the coming inclusion of Gentiles when He healed the Roman army officer’s orderly (Mt 8:5–13) and the daughter of the woman from Cana‛an (Mt. 15:22–28), ministered to the woman at the well in Shomron (Yochanan4:1–26), and prophesied that many would come from the east and the west to sit with the Patriarchs (Mt. 8:11) and that some nations (or Gentiles) would be judged favorably (Mt. 25:31–46).

The Tanakh often has the salvation of Gentiles in view; see, for example, Genesis 12:3, 18:14, 22:18, 26:4; Isaiah 11:10, 19:6, 54:1–3, 60:1–3; Hosea 1:10; Amos 9:11; Malachi 1:11; Psalms 72, 87. Sha’ul quotes Isaiah 45:23 in this connection (Philippians 2:10).

17 “This is why the Father loves me: because I lay down my life – in order to take it up again! 18 No one takes it away from me; on the contrary, I lay it down of my own free will. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. This is what my Father commanded me to do.”  [3]

I lay down my life …. No one takes it away from me: on the contrary, I lay it down of my own free will. Yeshua was neither the victim nor the perpetrator of any “Pesach plot” but was the fulfiller of God’s eternal plan that the eternal Word (1:1–2) humble Himself by taking human form and dying for the sins of humanity. Yeshua’s several predictions of his impending death for this purpose and Tanakh passages indicating the Messiah would die and be resurrected (Isaiah 53:1–12, Psalm 16:8–11) provide ample proof. I have the power to take it up again. The Father raised Yeshua (Romans 8:11), but according to this verse, Yeshua had the power, even in death, to resurrect Himself.

19 Again, there was a split among the Judeans because of what He said. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon!” and “He’s meshugga (insane)! Why do you listen to Him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the deeds of a man who is demonized – how can a demon open blind people’s eyes?” [4]

In our next post, we learn that Yeshua’s Ministry Goes from Galilee to Judea.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  Yochanan 10:1–6.
[2]  Yochanan 10:7–10.
[3]  Yochanan 10:11–18.
[4]  Yochanan 10:19–21.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 98

In Yerushalayim for Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) ~ Part 12

In our last post, we learned that Yeshua Declares His External Existence. In this post, we continue to learn about The Healing of the Man Born Blind.

As in our last several posts, Yeshua is still speaking on the last day of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah.

The Healing of the Man Born Blind ~ Part 3

The Blind Man Questioned Again

Fearing they might get expelled from their synagogue, the parents of the Man Born Blind told the P’rushim to ask their son again.

24 So a second time, they called the man who had been blind; and they said to him, “Swear to God that you will tell the truth! We know that this man is a sinner.”

Swear to God that you will tell the truth! (literally, “Give glory to God!”). We know that this man is a sinner. Reading with a twentieth-century mentality, the sense one would arrive at is: “Give the glory to God, not to the person who put mud on your eyes; He doesn’t deserve glory and couldn’t have been responsible for your healing because we know He is an open sinner.” But the phrase, “Give glory to God,” often precedes a solemn judicial statement; here, it is a solemn oath to admit as accurate the conclusion these P’rushim have reached (compare Joshua 7:19 and 1 Samuel 6:5). Who deserves credit for the healing is not at issue.

25 He answered, “Whether he’s a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know: I was blind, now I see.” 26 So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 “I already told you,” he answered, “and you didn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Maybe you too want to become his talmidim?” 28 Then they railed at him. “You may be his talmid,” they said, “but we are talmidim of Moshe! 29 We know that God has spoken to Moshe, but as for this fellow—we don’t know where He’s from!” 30 “What a strange thing,” the man answered, “that you don’t know where He’s from – considering that He opened my eyes! 31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but if anyone fears God and does His will, God does listen to Him. 32 In all history, no one has ever heard of someone opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, He couldn’t do a thing!”

Once again, we see how simple it is to give your own personal testimony of what God has done for you.

 34 “Why, you mamzer!” they retorted, “Are you lecturing us?” And they threw him out.  [1]

Why, you mamzer! (literally, “In sins you were born, entirely!”). The Hebrew and Yiddish word mamzer is often rendered “illegitimate son,” although technically, it refers specifically to the offspring of a marriage prohibited in Leviticus 18; according to halakhah, a mamzer may not marry a legitimate daughter of Isra’el, only a mamzeret. Here the Jewish English term “mamzer” is used colloquially (like the English word “bastard”) to convey with precision and force the hot-tempered and insulting valence of the Judeans’ response. And they threw him out, carrying out the threat of expulsion from the synagogue.

Yeshua Confronts the Healed Man

35 Yeshua heard that they had thrown the man out. He found him and said, “Do you trust in the Son of Man?” 36 “Sir,” he answered, “tell me who he is so that I can trust in him.” 37 Yeshua said to him, “You have seen Him. In fact, He’s the one speaking with you now.” 38 “Lord, I trust!” he said, and he kneeled down in front of him.

Yeshua meets the newly outcast, formerly blind man, who has exchanged exclusion from the world of seeing for exclusion from society and brings him to faith in Himself as Messiah. Clearly, the man was ready to believe.

39 Yeshua said, “It is to judge that I came into this world so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” 40 Some of the P’rushim nearby heard this and said to him, “So we’re blind too, are we?” 41 Yeshua answered them, If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin. But since you still say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. [2]

It is to judge that I came into this world. Not a contradiction with Yochanan 5:22 or 8:15. The “judging” that Yeshua did at His first coming consisted in making clear to people where they stood in respect to God, as the rest of the verse explains. Only at His second coming does He judge the world (Yochanan 5:22, 27–30).

In our next post, we continue with our new series on Yeshua’s Journey to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot. In our next post, Yeshua Declares that He Is the Good Shepherd.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Yochanan 9:24–34.
[2] Yochanan 9:35–41.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 97

In Yerushalayim for Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) ~ Part 11

In our last post, we learned that Yeshua Declares His External Existence. In this post, we continue to learn about The Healing of the Man Born Blind.

As in our last several posts, Yeshua is still speaking on the last day of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah.

The Healing of the Man Born Blind ~ Part 2

The P’rushim Question the Blind Man

13 They took the man who had been blind to the P’rushim. 14 Now, the day on which Yeshua had made the mud and opened his eyes was Shabbat. 15 So the P’rushim asked him again how he had become able to see, and he told them, “He put mud on my eyes, then I washed, and now I can see.”

The blind man’s first response is precisely what we need to do when we give our testimony. He gave them the facts. (We will learn more about his testimony in the next post.) We were spiritually blind to our own sin, but now we see through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.

16 At this, some of the P’rushim said, “This man is not from God because He doesn’t keep Shabbat.” But others said, “How could a man who is a sinner do miracles like these?” And there was a split among them.

He (Yeshua) doesn’t keep Shabbat. A false accusation, which the accusers take as a fact. So there was a split among them, as before in Yochanan 7:43.

17 So once more, they spoke to the blind man: “Since you’re the one whose eyes he opened, what do you say about him?” He replied: “He is a prophet.”  [1]

He is a prophet and more – see the man’s response to additional information about Yeshua (vv. 35–38).

The P’rushim Question the Blind Man

18 The Judeans (identified in verse 13 as the P’rushim), however, were unwilling to believe that he had formerly been blind but now could see until they had summoned the man’s parents.

They summoned the parents to verify the identity of the man and corroborate that he had, in fact, been born blind. It is unlikely their investigation was conducted on the Shabbat.

19 They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind; 21 but how it is that he can see now, we don’t know; nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him -he’s old enough; he can speak for himself!” 22 The parents said this because they were afraid of the Judeans, for the Judeans had already agreed that anyone who acknowledged Yeshua as the Messiah would be banned from the synagogue. 23 This is why his parents said, “He’s old enough; ask him.”  [2]

He will speak for himself! The parents try to excuse themselves from a further inquiry by disclaiming legal responsibility for their son. They feared they would be expelled from the synagogue, equivalent to being excluded from the community. The synagogue was the community gathering place.

In our next post, we continue with our new series on Yeshua’s Journey to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot. In our next post, we continue to explore: The Healing of the Man Born Blind.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  Yochanan 9:13–17.
[2]  Yochanan 9:18–23.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 96

In Yerushalayim for Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) ~ Part 10

In our last post, we learned that Yeshua Declares His External Existence. In this post, we will learn about The Healing of the Man Born Blind.

As in our last several posts, Yeshua is still speaking on the last day of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah.

The Healing of the Man Born Blind ~ Part 1

As I shared in my last post, this is one of my favorite chapters in Yochanan. Not only because of the fantastic miracle but later also because of the blind man’s testimony before the P’rushim.

As Yeshua passed along, He saw a man blind from birth. His talmidim asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinnedthis man or his parentsto cause him to be born blind?”

Yeshua’s talmidim were not the first to attribute all human misfortune and disability to immediately traceable sin: the entire book of Job is devoted to combatting this misunderstanding of how sin has come to affect the present world. Verses 1–5 of this chapter correspond to chapters 1–2 of Job; both set the scene for teaching about sin.

Yeshua answered, “His blindness is due neither to his sin nor to that of his parents; it happened so that God’s power might be seen at work in him. As long as it is day, we must keep doing the work of the One who sent Me; the night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said this, He spits on the ground, makes some mud with the saliva, puts the mud on the man’s eyes,

He … makes some mud with the saliva. Any kind of building is one of the thirty-nine kinds of work prohibited on Shabbat according to Mishna Shabbat 7:2; Mishna Shabbat 24:3 also says that on Shabbat, “it is permitted to put water into the bran” of animals, “but they must knead it.” It requires kneading to make clay, and clay is a building material, so there are two possible violations of Shabbat, according to P’rushim’s understanding – building and kneading. Put the mud on the man’s eyes. If this was done as a means of healing and with the intention of healing, this, too, would have been regarded as a violation of Shabbat.

and said to him, “Go, wash off in the Pool of Shiloach!” (The name means “sent.”) So he went and washed and came away seeing.

Hebrew shiloach means “sent,” as Yochanan says. The Pool of Shiloach still exists in the neighborhood of East Jerusalem called Silwan (the Arabic transliteration of “shiloach”). It marks the end of Hezekiah’s Tunnel, constructed by the Judean king around 700 BCE. to bring water from the Gichon spring in the Kidron Valley to the Pool of Shiloach in the City of David.

His neighbors and those who previously had seen him begging said, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “Yes, he’s the one,”; while others said, “No, but he looks like him.” However, he himself said, “I’m the one.” 10 “How were your eyes opened?” they asked him. 11 He answered, “The man called Yeshua made mud, put it on my eyes, and told me, ‘Go to Shiloach and wash!’ So I went, and as soon as I had washed, I could see.” 12 They said to him, “Where is He?” and he replied, “I don’t know.” [1]

In our next post, we continue with our new series on Yeshua’s Journey to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot. In our next post, we continue to explore The Healing of the Man Born Blind.

Click here for the PDF version.

1 Yochanan 9:1-12

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 95

In Yerushalayim for Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) ~ Part 9

In our last post, we learned that YeshuaWarns Against Unbelief and more. In this post, we will learn that Yeshua Declares His External Existence.

As in our last several posts, Yeshua is still speaking on the last day of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah.

Yeshua Declares His External Existence

48 The Judeans answered Him, “Aren’t we right in saying you are from Shomron and have a demon?” 49 Yeshua replied, “Me? I have no demon. I am honoring My Father. But you dishonor Me. 50 I am not seeking praise for Myself. There is One who is seeking it, and He is the judge. 51 Yes, indeed! I tell you that whoever obeys My teaching will never see death.”

52 The Judeans said to Him, “Now we know for sure that You have a demon! Avraham died, and so did the prophets; yet You say, ‘Whoever obeys My teaching will never taste death.’ 53 Avraham Avinu (Father Abraham) died; You aren’t greater than he, are You? And the prophets also died. Who do You think You are?” 54 Yeshua answered, “If I praise Myself, My praise counts for nothing. The One who is praising Me is My Father, the very one about whom you keep saying, ‘He is our God.’ 55 Now you have not known Him, but I do know Him; indeed, if I were to say that I don’t know Him, I would be a liar like you! But I do know Him, and I obey His word. 56 Avraham, your father, was glad that he would see My day; then he saw it and was overjoyed.”

Avraham…would see My day. In Jewish tradition, details about the final judgment of all people are revealed to Avraham before his death.

57 “Why, you’re not yet fifty years old,” the Judeans replied, “and you have seen Avraham?”

You’re not yet fifty years old. The implication is that Yeshua appears close enough to fifty for the statement to be meaningful as a reasonable upper limit to His estimated age. Yet, we know that He was “about thirty” when he began his public ministry (Luke 3:23) and that His ministry lasted no longer than three years. Conclusion: He must have looked older than He was.

58 Yeshua said to them, “Yes, indeed! Before Avraham came into being, I AM!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to throw at him; but Yeshua was hidden and left the Temple grounds. [1]

Before Avraham came into being, I AM. This and Yochanan 10:30 are Yeshua’s clearest self-pronouncements of His divinity. It was obvious to the Judeans exactly what Yeshua’s claim was because they immediately took up stones to kill him (v. 59) for blasphemy. Claiming to be God and, specifically, pronouncing God’s name (as Yeshua had just done) were punishable by death. See Exodus 3:14 and Leviticus 24:15-16.

In our next post, we continue with our new series on Yeshua’s Journey to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot. In our next post, we come to one of my all-time favorite passages: The Healing of the Man Born Blind.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  Yochanan 8:54–59.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 94

In Yerushalayim for Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) ~ Part 8

In our last post, we learned that YeshuaWarns Against Unbelief and more. In this post, we will learn about the True Children of Avraham.

As in our last several posts, Yeshua is still speaking on the last day of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah.

True Children of Avraham

39 They answered him, “Our father is Avraham.” Yeshua replied, “If you are children of Avraham, then do the things Avraham did!

Yeshua concedes their physical descent from Avraham but disputes their automatic inheritance of the promises to Avraham on that basis alone. Behavior, not bloodline, determines who are indeed children of Avraham.

40 As it is, you are out to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Avraham did nothing like that! 41 You are doing the things your Father does.” We’re not illegitimate children!” they said to him. “We have only one Father – God!”

We’re not illegitimate children (like you, Yeshua is implied)! They knew something about the unusual circumstances of Yeshua’s birth.

42 Yeshua replied to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me; because I came out from God; now I have arrived here. I did not come on My own; He sent Me. 43 Why don’t you understand what I’m saying? Because you can’t bear to listen to My message. 44 You belong to your Father, Satan, and you want to carry out your Father’s desires. From the start, he is a murderer, and he has never stood by the truth because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he is speaking in character; because he is a liar – indeed, the inventor of the lie!

You belong to your Father, the Adversary Yeshua is through playing games: He has listened to these people claim Avraham and God as their Father; he is no longer interested in wrong answers. Their sinful behavior, exemplified by unbelief, puts them in opposition to God and Himself. The accusation is an intentionally offensive counterclaim to their assertion that God was their Father.

 45 But as for Me, because I tell the truth, you don’t believe Me. 46 Which one of you can show Me where I’m wrong? If I’m telling the truth, why don’t you believe Me?

Which one of you can show me where I’m wrong? Or: “Which one of you can convict me of sin?” In either case, the answer is No one.

47 Whoever belongs to God listens to what God says; the reason you don’t listen is that you don’t belong to God. [1]

In our next post, we continue with our new series on Yeshua’s Journey to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot. In our next post, we learn that Yeshua Declares His External Existence.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Yochanan 8:39–47.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 93

In Yerushalayim for Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) ~ Part 7

In our last post, we learned that Yeshua says, “I am the Light of the World.” In this post, we will learn that Yeshua Warns Against Unbelief and more.

As in our last post, Yeshua is still speaking on the last day of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah.

Warning Against Unbelief

21 Again, He told them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin—where I am going, you cannot come.”

You will die in your sin. This is a new teaching. Until now, Yeshua has not said you must trust in Him unless you are prepared to die in your sin.

22 The Judeans said, “Is He going to commit suicide? Is that what He means when He says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 Yeshua said to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 24 This is why I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not trust that I AM [who I say I am], you will die in your sins.”

I am who I say I am, literally, “I am. Yeshua is intimating here and in v. 28 (below) that He is to be identified with God.

25 At this, they said to Him, “You? Who are you?” Yeshua answered, “Just what I’ve been telling you from the start. 26 There are many things I could say about you and many judgments I could make. However, the One who sent Me is true; so I say in the world only what I have heard from Him.” 27 They did not understand that He was talking to them about the Father. 28 So Yeshua said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM [who I say I am], and that of myself I do nothing, but say only what the Father has taught me.

When you lift up the Son of Man, Yeshua predicts the manner and instrumentality of His death: these Judeans will have Him crucified by the Romans.

29 Also, the One who sent me is still with me; he did not leave me to myself because I always do what pleases him.” 30 Many people who heard him say these things trusted in Him.  [1]

On Spiritual Freedom

31 So Yeshua said to the Judeans who had trusted Him, “If you obey what I say, then you are really My talmidim, 32 you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

There is a kind of trust which falls short of making one really a talmid of Yeshua. Real talmidim obeys Yeshua, which is more than mentally acknowledging who He is. The famous quotation, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” is conditioned on obeying what Yeshua says.

33 They answered, “We are the seed of Avraham and have never been slaves to anyone; so what do you mean by saying, ‘You will be set free?” 34 Yeshua answered them, “Yes, indeed! I tell you that everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin.

We … have never been slaves. Valid for the speakers but not for the nation, which was redeemed from slavery in Egypt. The “Four Questions” of the Haggadah read on Pesach are answered by a passage that begins, “Avadim hayinu” (“We were slaves”). The speakers are avoiding Yeshua’s challenge by invoking extreme literalism.

35 Now, a slave does not remain with a family forever, but a son does remain with it forever. 36 So if the Son frees you, you will really be free! 37 I know you are the seed of Avraham. Yet you are out to kill me because what I am saying makes no headway in you. 38 I say what my Father has shown me; you do what your Father has told you!”   [2]

In our next post, we continue with our new series on Yeshua’s Journey to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot. In our next post, we learn about who are the True Children of Avraham.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Yochanan 8:21–30.
[2] Yochanan 8:30–38.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 92

In Yerushalayim for Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) ~ Part 6

In our last post, we learned that Nakdimon (Nicodemus) Counsels Caution and about the Women Caught in Adultery. In this post, we will learn that Yeshua says, “I am the Light of the World.”

“I am the Light of the World”

We pick up where we left off in our last post with Yeshua still speaking on the last day of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah:

12 Yeshua spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light which gives life.”

I am the light of the world: whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light which gives life. Compare Isaiah 9:1(2), “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,” and Malachi 4:2(3:20), “But to you who fear my name the sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings”; both are alluded to at Luke 1:78–79. All these texts have been understood as referring to Yeshua as the light or in connection with light.

13 So the P’rushim said to Him, “Now you’re testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.” 14 Yeshua answered them, “Even if I do testify on My own behalf, My testimony is indeed valid; because I know where I came from and where I’m going; but you do not know where I came from or where I’m going. 15 You judge by merely human standards. As for Me, I pass judgment on no one;

I pass judgment on no one. Not now, during His human life, during his first coming. In the future, He will judge everyone (Yochanan 5:22, 27–30).

16 but if I were indeed to pass judgment, My judgment would be valid; because it is not I alone who judge, but I and the One who sent Me. 17 And even in your Torah, it is written that the testimony of two people is valid.

Your Torah. Some, perhaps to cast suspicion on whether Yeshua considered Himself a Jew, suppose that with these words He distanced Himself from the Torah, that by calling it your Torah, He meant that it belonged to the Judeans or P’rushim but not to Him. But there is no such implication, for Yeshua, too, is part of the Jewish people to whom the Torah was given. Instead, the sense is that since the Torah is theirs, as they themselves have already claimed (v. 5), they should heed it. (Compare President John F. Kennedy’s famous inauguration address challenge, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Needless to say, Kennedy considered America his own country too.) The testimony of two people is valid. See Deuteronomy 17:15, 19:15.

18 I myself testify on My own behalf, and so does the Father who sent Me.” 19 They said to Him, “Where is this ‘father’ of yours?” Yeshua answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father too.” 20 He said these things when He was teaching in the Temple treasury room, yet no one arrested Him because His time had not yet come[1]

Yeshua is not using the texts referred to in the previous verse literally to prove, as He would if it were a court hearing, that He has two acceptable witnesses. He is using them midrashically: [2] He and His Father have independent wills (Yochanan 5:19) and are, therefore, “two” witnesses. Yeshua never speaks of Yosef as His Father in any of the Gospels; always, he speaks of God as his Father.

In our next post, we continue with our new series on Yeshua’s Journey to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot. In our next post, Yeshua Warns Against Unbelief and more.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Yochanan 8:12–20.
[2] Creating a commentary on the Hebrew Scriptures.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 91

In Yerushalayim for Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) ~ Part 5

In our last post, we learned about Spiritual Drinks and more. In this post, we will learn that Nakdimon (Nicodemus) Counsels Caution and about the Women Caught in Adultery.

Nakdimon (Nicodemus) Counsels Caution

45 The guards came back to the head cohanim and the P’rushim, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring Him in?” 46 The guards replied, “No one ever spoke the way this man speaks!” 47 “You mean you’ve been taken in as well?” the P’rushim retorted. 48 “Has any of the authorities trusted Him? Or any of the P’rushim? No! 49 True, these ‘am-ha’aretz (people of the land) do, but they know nothing about the Torah; they are under a curse!”

Has any of the authorities put their trust in him? Or any of the P’rushim? The questioners suppose a negative answer, but Nakdimon may have already trusted in Yeshua (see vv. 50–52); by 19:39, he indeed had. Have any modern-era Jewish authorities put their trust in Yeshua? Of course! There are multitudes of Messianic Jews in the world.

50 Nakdimon, the man who had gone to Yeshua before and was one of them, said to them, 51 “Our Torah doesn’t condemn a man – does it? – until after hearing from him and finding out what he’s doing.” 52 They replied, “You aren’t from the Galil too, are you? Study the Tanakh, and see for yourself that no prophet comes from the Galil!” [1]

Study the Tanakh and see for yourself that no prophet comes from the Galil! One need not study it deeply to find that the prophet Jonah came from Gat-Hefer in the Galil (2 Kings 14:25).

Nakdimon (Nicodemus) Counsels Caution

Most scholars believe that 7:53–8:11 is not from the pen of Yochanan. Many believe it is a true story about Yeshua written by another of his talmidim. I have chosen to include it as most of us are familiar with the story.

53 Then they all left each one to his own home. 8 But Yeshua went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak, He appeared again in the Temple Court, where all the people gathered around Him, and He sat down to teach them. The Torah teachers and the P’rushim brought in a woman who had been caught committing adultery and made her stand in the center of the group. Then they said to him, “Rabbi, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now, in our Torah, Moshe commanded that such a woman be stoned to death. What do you say about it?” They said this to trap Him so that they might have ground for bringing charges against Him, but Yeshua bent down and began writing in the dust with His finger. When they kept questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “The one of you who is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then He bent down and wrote in the dust again. On hearing this, they began to leave, one by one, the older ones first, until He was left alone, with the woman still there. 10 Standing up, Yeshua said to her, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, sir.” Yeshua said, “Neither do I condemn you. Now go, and don’t sin anymore.” [2]

How many have wondered what Yeshua wrote in the dust? Leave a comment as to what you think it might have been.

Bruce Metzger, in A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, ad loc., writes that

“the account has all the earmarks of historical veracity. It is obviously a piece of oral tradition which circulated in certain parts of the Western church and which was subsequently incorporated into various manuscripts in various places.”

Namely, into Yochanan’s Gospel after 7:36, 7:44, or 7:52, and into Luke’s Gospel after 21:25 or 21:38. On the strength of its apparent “historical veracity” the JNT includes it here in its traditional location, with the asterisked note explaining that some scholars doubt whether it was initially part of this Gospel.

Then they all left, each one to his own home (7:53). If this remark is in chronological order, it seems to refer to the return of the pilgrims at the end of the Sukkot holiday to their homes in regions and countries distant from Jerusalem. At the same time, Yeshua went to the Mount of Olives (8:1) instead of going down to Nazareth. Perhaps he stayed in Bethany, on the flanks of the Mount of Olives, at the home of His friends Miryam, Marta, and El’azar (11:1–2) at least until Chanukkah (10:22) and probably until He left to go to the East Bank of the Jordan River (10:40). The interchange with the woman caught in adultery took place after daybreak (8:2) the next day, which was still Hoshana Rabbah (7:37&N) since Jewish days begin at sunset. Later the same day, He said, “I am the light of the world,” which relates to Hoshana Rabbah customs (8:12&N). [3]

In our next post, we continue with our new series on Yeshua’s Journey to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot. In our next post, we learn that Yeshua says, “I am the Light of the World,” and more.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Yochanan 7:45–52.
[2] Yochanan 7:53–8:11.
[3] David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 90

In Yerushalayim for Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) ~ Part 4

In our last post, we learned that People Ask If Yeshua is the Messiah, and the P’rushim Seek to Arrest Him. In this post, we will learn about Spiritual Drinks and more.

Spiritual Drinks

37 Now, on the last day of the festival, Hoshana Rabbah, Yeshua stood and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to Me and drinking! 38 Whoever puts his trust in Me, as the Scripture says, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being!” 39 (Now He said this about the Spirit, whom those who trusted in Him were to receive later – the Spirit had not yet been given because Yeshua had not yet been glorified.)  [1]

On the festival’s last day, Hoshana Rabbah, literally, “on the last day, the great, of the festival.”. The seventh and last day of Sukkot was its climax. Throughout the seven days of the festival, a special cohen had carried water in a gold pitcher from the Pool of Shiloach (Siloam) to be poured into a basin at the foot of the altar by the Cohen HaGadol (the Great High Priest). It symbolized prayer for rain, which begins the next day on Sh’mini Atzeret. It also pointed toward the outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) on the people of Isra’el.

It was in the midst of this water pouring, trumpet blasting, palm waving, psalm chanting, and ecstatic joy on the part of people seeking forgiveness – and in the presence of all 24 divisions of the priesthood (see Luke 1:5) – that Yeshua cried out in the Temple courts, “If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to me and drinking! Whoever trusts in me, as the Tanakh says, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being! His dramatic cry, supported by the full display of Temple ritual, was not misunderstood as vv. 40 – 43 below make abundantly clear.

More Division Among the Jews

40 On hearing His words, some people in the crowd said, “Surely this man is ‘the prophet’ “; 41 others said, “This is the Messiah.” But others said, “How can the Messiah come from the Galil? 42 Doesn’t the Tanakh say that the Messiah is from the seed of David and comes from Beit-Lechem, the village where David lived?” 43 So the people were divided because of Him. 44 Some wanted to arrest Him, but no one laid a hand on Him.  [2]

But others said, “How can the Messiah come from the Galil? Doesn’t the Tanakh say that the Messiah is from the seed of David and comes from Beit-Lechem?” Yes, the Tanakh does say that (2 Samuel 7:12–13; Jeremiah 23:5–6; Micah 5:1(2)); Psalms 89:36–38(35–37), 132:11; 1 Chronicles 7:11, 14). Chapter 2 of Mattityahu explains how the Messiah could come from both Beit-Lechem in Y’hudah and Natzeret in the Galil: He was born in Beit-Lechem, taken to Egypt to escape the massacre of infants ordered by Herod, and by God’s command returned to Natzeret. Luke 2:1–7 further explains why a family from Natzeret happened to be in Beit-Lechem for Yeshua’s birth: the Romans ordered a census and required everyone to return to his own city for it. Doubters could have inquired and learned these things, but as is familiar with people whose minds are made up, they did not wish to be “confused by the facts.” So the people were divided because of Him. Yeshua the Messiah always divides people into two camps: those who are with Him and those who are not. The middle ground quickly disappears.

In our next post, we continue with our new series on Yeshua’s Journey to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot. In our next post, we learn that Nakdimon (Nicodemus) Counsels Caution and about the Women Caught in Adultery.

Clcik here for the PDF version.

[1]  Yochanan 7:37–39.
[2]  Yochanan 7:40–44.