The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 14

Admittedly, this post contains more background information than Red-Letter Words, but I think the background is too necessary not to include it.

Yeshua Drives Out an Unclean Spirit

21 They entered K’far-Nachum, and on Shabbat, Yeshua went into the synagogue and began teaching. 22 They were amazed at the way he taught, for he did not instruct them like the Torah-teachers but as one who had authority Himself.

Torah-teachers (scribes) were not ordained as rabbis; and, therefore, could not introduce new interpretations or make legal judgments. Therefore, the people were amazed: Yeshua taught like a rabbi and not like a scribe. This was one level of amazement.

The second level of amazement was that He taught as one who had authority himself. No rabbi taught or judged against the judgment of his own rabbi. But Yeshua, who had no rabbi of His own, appeared to have authority beyond that of any of the rabbis (vv. 23–27). By Yeshua’s own testimony throughout Yochanan 5–9, and summarized finally at Yochanan 12:44–50, His authority came directly from His Father, God.

Finally, in Mark 2:10, Yeshua claims, uniquely, that He has the authority to forgive sins. This is the highest authority given to human beings (Matt. 9:8), and people were amazed at this too (2:12).

23 In their synagogue just then was a man with an unclean spirit in him, who shouted, 24 “What do you want with us, Yeshua from Natzeret? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!”

Mark emphasizes the demons’ recognition of Yeshua as the one God has set apart for a purpose. This highlights human ignorance of who Yeshua is and how fearful evil powers were of Him.

25 But Yeshua rebuked the unclean spirit, “Be quiet and come out of him!” 26 Throwing the man into a convulsion, it gave a loud shriek and came out of him. 27 They were all so astounded that they began asking each other, “What is this? A new teaching, one with authority behind it! He gives orders even to the unclean spirits, and they obey him!” 28 And the news about him spread quickly through the whole region of the Galil. ~ Mark 1:21-28 (compare Luke 4:31-37).

Yeshua’s inaugural exorcism sets off a chain reaction, as those who hear the good news respond to it.

Healing Others in Capernaum

29 They left the synagogue and went with Ya’akov and Yochanan to the home of Shim’on and Andrew. 30 Shim’on’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever, and they told Yeshua about her. 31 He came, took her by the hand, and lifted her onto her feet. The fever left her, and she began helping them. 32 That evening after sundown, they brought to Yeshua all who were ill or held in the power of demons, 33 and the whole town came crowding around the door. 34 He healed many who were ill with various diseases and expelled many demons, but he did not allow the demons to speak because they knew who he was. ~ Mark 1:29-34 (compare Matt. 8:14-17 and Luke 4:38-41)

Yeshua Goes Out to Pray

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Yeshua got up, left, went away to a lonely spot, and stayed there praying. 36 But Shim’on and those with him went after him; 37 and when they found him, they said, “Everybody is looking for you.” 38 He answered, “Let’s go somewhere else – to the other villages around here. I have to proclaim the message there too – in fact, this is why I came out.” 39 So he traveled all through the Galil, preaching in their synagogues and expelling demons. ~ Mark 1:35-39

Our next post will examine Yeshua’s Healing Ministry and the Scribes Question His Authority.

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The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 13

Great Catch of Fish

One day, as Yeshua was standing on the shore of Lake Kinneret, with the people pressing in around Him in order to hear the word of God, He noticed two boats pulled up on the beach, left there by the fishermen, who were cleaning their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Shim’on, and asked him to put out a little way from shore. Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat.

The shore of the lake functioned acoustically like an amphitheater; withdrawing a little from the crowd and addressing them from the boat thus would have made Yeshua much easier to hear.

 When He had finished speaking, He said to Shim’on, “Put out into deep water, and let down your nets for a catch.” Shim’on answered, “We’ve worked hard all night long, Rabbi, and haven’t caught a thing! But if you say so, I’ll let down the nets.” They did this and took in so many fish that their nets began to tear. So they motioned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats to the point of sinking.

They motioned to their partners…the group likely includes Andrew, Kefa’s brother, since they fished together; this may also be a parallel, expanded account of Yeshua’s calling of these talmidim recorded in Mattityahu’s Gospel (see below). Luke likely leaves Andrew unnamed because this episode aims to record the calling of Yeshua’s three most influential talmidim.

When he saw this, Shim’on Kefa fell at Yeshua’s knees and said, “Get away from me, sir, because I’m a sinner!” For astonishment had seized him and everyone with him at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and likewise both Ya’akov and Yochanan, Shim’on’s partners. ~ Luke 5:1-10a

In verses 3–5, Luke called him merely Shim’on, but in verse 8, he pointedly notes that Shim’on Kefa (Simon the Rock) fell at Yeshua’s knees.

The Calling of Shim’on, Ya’akov, Yochanan, and Andrew

“Don’t be frightened,” Yeshua said to Shim’on, “from now on, you will be catching men—alive!”11 And as soon as they had beached their boats, they left everything behind and followed him. ~ Luke 5;10b-11 18 As Yeshua walked by Lake Kinneret, He saw two brothers who were fishermen – Shim’on, known as Kefa, and his brother Andrew – throwing their net into the lake.

Lake Kinneret is the name used in Isra’el for the body of freshwater formed by the River Yarden (Jordan) in the Galil (Galilee); it is so-called because it is shaped like a harp. English versions of the Bible identify it as the Sea of Galilee; at Yochanan 6:1, 23, and 21:1, the Greek text calls it the Sea of Tiberias.

Kefa is the name Yeshua gave Shim’on Bar-Yochanan (Yochanan 1:42); it means “rock” in Aramaic. The Greek word for “rock” is “Petros,” which is usually brought into English as Peter.

19 Yeshua said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men!” 2At once they left their nets and went with him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers – Ya’akov Ben-Zavdai and Yochanan his brother – in the boat with their father Zavdai, repairing their nets; and he called them. 22 At once, they left the boat and their father and went with Yeshua. ~ Matthew 4:18-22 (compare Mark 1:16-20) [emphasis added]

One of the things that has always fascinated me is Yeshua’s charisma in calling His talmidim. He spoke, and they followed. The Faithlife Study Bible explains it this way: Capernaum was small, and Yeshua had been preaching the coming of the kingdom of heaven (compare v. 17). The two brothers, Kefa and Andrew, had probably already heard of Yeshua. Ya’akov and Yochanan were associated with Andrew and Shim’on Kefa. They were likely also familiar with Yeshua. [1]

There’s an important principle here. If you’re not fishing, you’re not following. If your Messianic life does not involve evangelizing the lost, you’re not functioning like the talmid Yeshua intends you to be. Evangelism includes sharing the gospel and intentionally seeking to convert the hearer to faith in Yeshua HaMashiach.

Our next post will examine Yeshua Driving Out an Unclean Spirit and Healing Others in Capernaum.

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[1] Faithlife Study Bible. Lexham Press.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 12

Yeshua Rejected in Natzeret

16 Now when He went to Natzeret, where He had been brought up, on Shabbat He went to the synagogue as usual. He stood up to read, 17 and He was given the scroll of the prophet Yesha‘yahu. Unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written (emphasis added)

He went to the synagogue as usual, like any good Jew. He stood up to read publicly from a scroll. The custom in the synagogue now is to read through the Torah each year, with portions of several chapters read on Monday, Thursday, and Shabbat mornings, ending and beginning over again on Simchat-Torah (“Rejoicing of the Torah”), which comes at the end of Sukkot (September 29th this year). At an earlier stage in Jewish history, three years were taken to read through the Torah.

There is a second reading called the haftarah (“conclusion”); it consists of portions from the Prophets and Writings related to the Parashat-hashavua’ (“[Torah] portion for the week”). While there is uncertainty over exactly what the first-century customs were, it seems clear that if Yeshua was given the scroll of the prophet Yesha‛yahu, He was being offered the haftarah reading. Since there is uncertainty about the practices of the time, it is not clear whether he found the place set by the lectionary for that Shabbat, or the place He himself chose, or the place where the scroll happened to open.

18 “The Spirit of Adonai is upon me
because He has anointed me
to announce Good News to the poor;
He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the imprisoned
and renewed sight for the blind,

to release those who have been crushed,
19 to proclaim a year of the favor of Adonai.

20 After closing the scroll and returning it to the shammash, He sat down, and the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 He started to speak to them: “Today, as you heard it read, this passage of the Tanakh was fulfilled!” 22 Everyone was speaking well of Him and marveling that such appealing words were coming from His mouth. They were even asking, “Can this be Yosef’s son?”

Verses 18–19 quotes Isaiah 61:1–2a but do not include the immediately following words, “ … and the day of vengeance of our God.” Although usually, a citation of Scripture implies the surrounding context, here Yeshua may have stopped short so that he could say, Today, as you heard it read, this passage of the Tanakh (up to but not including the “day of vengeance”) was fulfilled.

STOP!!!

Take a few moments to digest what He just said: “Today, as you heard it read, this passage of the Tanakh was fulfilled!” Remember the setting. He was early in His ministry and speaking to His family and neighbors. No wonder C.S. Lewis opined that Yeshua was either a liar, lunatic, or the Lord.

For at His first coming, He healed and brought Good News of the Kingdom and salvation (Mt 4:17); it was not His time to take vengeance or judge (Yochanan 8:15, 12:47).

Shammash in Hebrew or shammes in Yiddish. A synagogue attendant or caretaker, the “servant” of the congregation (the word literally means). The Greek word here is upêretês (“attendant, servant”).

23 Then Yeshua said to them, “No doubt you will quote to me this proverb: “Doctor, cure yourself!” We’ve heard about all the things that have been going on over in K’far-Nachum; now do them here in your hometown!’ 24 Yes!” He said, “I tell you that no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 It’s true, I’m telling you – when Eliyahu was in Isra’el, and the sky was sealed off for three-and-a-half years, so that all the Land suffered a severe famine, there were many widows; 26 but Eliyahu was sent to none of them, only to a widow in Tzarfat in the Land of Tzidon. 27 Also, there were many people with tzara’at in Isra’el during the time of the prophet Elisha; but not one of them was healed, only Na‘aman the Syrian.”

28 On hearing this, everyone in the synagogue was filled with fury. 29 They rose up, drove him out of town, and dragged him to the edge of the cliff on which their town was built, intending to throw him off. 30 But he walked right through the middle of the crowd and went away. ~ Luke 4: 16-30

Everyone was filled with fury since Yeshua was implying that God’s grace would be withheld from them and given to the Gentiles. They drove him out of town and intended to kill Him by tossing Him off a cliff (4:29). Yet, He miraculously escaped what would have been a premature death (4:30). It was not yet His time. His death would be at the time and place of His choosing.

Our next post will examine a Great Catch of Fish and the calling of Shim’on, Ya’akov, Yochanan, and Andrew.

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The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 11

Yeshua Begins His Galilean Ministry

Yeshua had spent two days with the Samaritans, and many had become Believers because of His words before He returned to Galilee.

But when He arrived in the Galil, the people there welcomed Him because they had seen all He had done at the festival in Yerushalayim since they had been there too. 46 He went again to Kanah in the Galil, where He had turned the water into wine. An officer in the royal service was there; His son was ill in K’far-Nachum (Capernaum).

The Greek term used here could denote a member of the royal family of Herod, but it more likely refers to a Roman official serving Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee, on behalf of Rome.

47 This man, on hearing that Yeshua had come from Y’hudah to the Galil, went and asked Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Yeshua answered, “Unless you people see signs and miracles, you simply will not trust!” 49 The officer said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Yeshua replied, “You may go; your son is alive.” The man believed what Yeshua said and left.

The boy’s healing is connected to the father’s belief in Yeshua’s ability to heal.

51 As he was going down, his servants met him with the news that his son was alive 52 So he asked them at what time he had gotten better; and they said, “The fever left him yesterday at one o’clock in the afternoon.” 53 The father knew that that was the very hour when Yeshua had told him, “Your son is alive,” and he and all his household trusted. 54 This was a second sign that Yeshua did; He did it after He had come from Y’hudah into the Galil. ~ Yochanan 4:45-55

We will be shifting our focus away from Yochanan for several posts and looking at the other Gospel accounts of Yeshua’s ministry. We will learn that Yeshua does not come as a religious leader in the traditional sense. Instead, He takes His ministry to the city streets and country roads, homes and fields, and wherever else the ordinary people might be found. He is particularly fond of attending the Jewish Synagogues, where the commoner is permitted to discuss the meaning of the Scriptures.

Coming of the Kingdom Preached

Yeshua takes His ministry primarily to the Galil. He was using the city of K’far-Nachum as His base of operation. Mattityahu begins his account of that portion of Yeshua’s ministry by quoting from Yeshayahu (Isaiah).

12When Yeshua heard that Yochanan had been put in prison, he returned to the Galil; 13 but he left Natzeret and came to live in K’far-Nachum, a lakeshore town near the boundary between Z’vulun and Naftali. 14 This happened in order to fulfill what Yeshayahu the prophet had said,

15 “Land of Z’vulun and land of Naftali, toward the lake, beyond the Yarden, Galil-of-the-Goyim 16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light; upon those living in the region, in the shadow of death, light has dawned.” [1]

17 From that time on, Yeshua began proclaiming, “Turn from your sins to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!” [2] 14 Reports about Him spread throughout the countryside. 15 He taught in their synagogues, and everyone respected Him. [3]

Our next post will examine Yeshua Rejected in Natzeret.

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[1] Yeshayahu 8:23-9:1.

[2] Mat., 4:12–17.

[3] Luke 4:14–15).

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 10

Yeshua Meets the Women at the Well ~ Part 3

We conclude the story of Yeshua’s ministry in Shomron.

27 Just then, His talmidim arrived. They were amazed that He was talking with a woman, but none of them said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you talking with her?”

It would have been unusual for a rabbi (like Yeshua) or any Jewish man to converse publicly with a woman. Jewish teaching warned against spending too much time talking with women because of temptation and the appearance of impropriety. Through this interaction, Yeshua is showing care for the lowliest of people in the eyes of Jews.

28 So the woman left her water-jar, went back to the town and said to the people there, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done. Could it be that this is the Messiah?” 

The woman’s question implies hesitation and doubt. The Greek text indicates that a negative response is expected: “This cannot be the Messiah, can it?”

30 They left the town and began coming toward Him. 31 Meanwhile, the talmidim were urging Yeshua, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But He answered, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.”

Just as with the Samaritan woman and the metaphor of living water, Yeshua uses tangible physical things to teach intangible spiritual truths.

33 At this, the talmidim asked one another, “Could someone have brought Him food?” 34 Yeshua said to them, “My food is to do what the one who sent me wants and to bring His work to completion. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘Four more months and then the harvest’? Well, what I say to you is: open your eyes and look at the fields! They’re already ripe for harvest!

Harvest imagery has overtones of end-time abundance (compare Joel 2:18–27). Yeshua draws on a common proverb about a lack of urgency to emphasize the immediacy of His work. (See Matthew 9:37–38).

36 The one who reaps receives his wages and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that the reaper and the sower may be glad together –

The sowing was the expectation of the prophet laid out in Deuteronomy 18:18. The reaping will be the belief of the Samaritans. Yeshua emphasizes that it’s not always the one who first tells someone about salvation (as the prophets had done for the Samaritans) who brings them to believe, but often it’s those who come later. No matter who reaps, God alone deserves the credit.

37 for in this matter, the proverb, ‘One sows and another reaps,’ holds true. 38 I sent you to reap what you haven’t worked for. Others have done the hard labor, and you have benefited from their work…” 43 After the two days he departed for Galilee. ~ Yochanan 4:27-43

Our next post will begin to examine that Yeshua’s Great Galilean Ministry.

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The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 9

Yeshua Meets the Women at the Well ~ Part 2

We continue our story of Yeshua’s ministry in Shomron as He Meets the Women at the Well.

15 “Sir, give me this water,” the woman said to Him, “so that I won’t have to be thirsty and keep coming here to draw water.” 16 He said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 She answered, “I don’t have a husband.” Yeshua said to her, “You’re right; you don’t have a husband! 18 You’ve had five husbands in the past, and you’re not married to the man you’re living with now! You’ve spoken the truth!”

If the woman had five previous husbands who either died or divorced her, she would have exceeded the traditional limit of three husbands in Jewish law.

19 “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet,” the woman replied.

I can see that you are a prophet because you supernaturally knew about my sin. The Tanakh prophets spoke forth God’sWord concerning the sins of Isra’el and other nations; the prophecy was a secondary aspect of their ministry.

20 “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you people say that the place where one has to worship is in Yerushalayim.”

This mountain refers to Mount Gerizim, the holy mountain for the Samaritan community. The mountain was visible from the well where Yeshua and the woman were speaking.

21 Yeshua said, “Lady, believe me, the time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Yerushalayim. 22 You people don’t know what you are worshipping; we worship what we do know because salvation comes from the Jews.

Yeshua does not take up the debate over legitimate holy places. Instead, He points to a future time of salvation when worship will not be limited to any local sacred site, neither Mount Gerizim nor Jerusalem. How one worships is more important than where one worships.

Salvation comes from the Jews. Messianic Believers should acknowledge the Jewish roots of their faith and present close involvement with the Jewish people (Ephesians 2:13). Jews should acknowledge more specifically that only through Yeshua comes yeshu’ah, “salvation.”

 23 But the time is coming – indeed, it’s here now – when the true worshippers will worship the Father spiritually and truly, for these are the kind of people the Father wants worshipping Him. 24 God is spirit, and worshippers must worship Him spiritually and truly.”

Verse 24 is sometimes misappropriated to support the mistaken idea that the Torah is inferior or is no longer in force, having been replaced by worship “in spirit and in truth” (the literal rendering of spiritually and truly). But spiritual and genuine worship is not to be set alongside or compared with the Torah. Instead, authentic, spiritual worship is God’s universal standard, which He also commands in the Torah itself. The Torah opposes legalism and the mere performance of acts and routines without genuine, spiritual involvement.

25 The woman replied, “I know that Mashiach (Messiah) is coming” (that is, “the one who has been anointed”). “When he comes, he will tell us everything.” 26 Yeshua said to her, “I, the person speaking to you, am He.”  ~ Yochanan 4:15-25

I, the person speaking to you, am He, literally, “I am, the one speaking to you.” Thus, He answers everyone who questions whether Yeshua proclaimed his own Messiahship. The declaration, “I am,” echoes Adonai’s self-revelation, I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14). Yeshua says this “I am” nine times in Yochanan’s Gospel (here; 6:20; 8:24, 28, 58; 13:9; 18:5, 6, 8), implying a claim even more significant than being the Messiah.

Our next post will continue to examine that YeshuaMeets the Women at the Well ~ Part 3.

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The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 8

Yeshua Meets the Women at the Well ~ Part 1

We pick up our story of Yeshua’s ministry in Shomron as He Meets the Women at the Well. As this a familiar story to most. It covers some thirty-two verses, so I decided to go short to provide the background and Yeshua’s response.

He came to a town in Shomron called Sh’khem, near the field Ya’akov had given to his son Yosef. Ya’akov’s Well was there; so Yeshua, exhausted from His travel, sat down by the well; it was about noon.

Tel-Sh’khem (the archeological site of Sh’khem) is just outside modern Nablus in Shomron, and Ya‛akov’s Well, not far away, is a tourist site to this day.

As a human being, He experienced human exhaustion; as Son of God, He worked continuously (5:17); compare Hebrews 4:15.

A woman from Shomron came to draw some water, and Yeshua said to her, “Give me a drink of water.”

The standard time to draw water was morning or evening during the cooler hours of the day. This woman is coming to draw water at a time when no one else would usually be at the well.

(His talmidim had gone into town to buy food.) The woman from Shomron said to Him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for water from me, a woman of Shomron?” (For Jews don’t associate with people from Shomron.) 10 Yeshua answered her, “If you knew God’s gift, that is, who it is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink of water,’ then you would have asked him; and he would have given you living water.”

Yeshua had a way of masterfully reaching the people with whom He shared. To the woman at the well, He spoke of living water. To aging Nicodemus, He talked about being born again. To the blind man, He identified Himself as the Light of the world (Yochanan 9:5). To sisters grieving the death of their brother, He was the Resurrection and the Life (Yochanan 11:25). To fishermen, He invited them to become fishers of men (Mattityahu 4:19). [1]

11 She said to him, “Sir, you don’t have a bucket, and the well is deep; so where do you get this ‘living water’? 12 You aren’t greater than our father Ya’akov, are you? He gave us this well and drank from it, and so did his sons and his cattle.”

You don’t have a bucket. The woman misunderstands Yeshua as speaking of literal water; this is reasonable based on the use of living water as an idiom for spring water. The woman’s identification of Ya’akov as her ancestor shows the Samaritans believed themselves to be the rightful descendants of Ya’akov and true Israeli.

13 Yeshua answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I will give him will never be thirsty again! On the contrary, the water I give him will become a spring of water inside him, welling up into eternal life!”  ~ Yochanan 4:5-14

In Hebrew, Mayim chayyim (literally, living water) means running water from a stream or spring, contrasting with water stored in a cistern. Figuratively, with Yeshua, it means spiritual life; see Yochanan 7:37–39.

Our next post will continue to examine that YeshuaMeets the Women at the Well ~ Part 2.

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[1] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 466).

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 7

Yeshua Leaves for Galilee

We pick up our story of Yeshua’s ministry in Yochanan 4:1-4. When Yeshua learned that the P’rushim had heard he was making and immersing more talmidim than Yochanan (although it was not Yeshua himself who immersed but His talmidim), Yeshua left Y’hudah and set out again for the Galil (Galilee). This meant that he had to pass through Shomron (Samaria).

As you can see on the map below, the shortest distance to the Galil from Judea was to go directly thru Shomron.

There had historically been animosity since the exile of the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom, which continued in Yeshua’s day. Both groups excluded the other from their respective cultic centers, the Jerusalem Temple and the Samaritan Temple on Mt Gerizim. The Samaritans, for example, were forbidden access to the inner courts of the Temple, and any offering they might give was considered as if it were from a Gentile. Thus, although probably more accurately defined as “dissidents,” it appears Samaritans were in practice treated as Gentiles. Therefore, all marriage between the groups was forbidden, and social relations were greatly restricted (Yochanan 4:9). With such criminal separation, it is not surprising that any interaction between the two groups was strained. The mere term Samaritan was one of contempt on the lips of Jews (Yochanan 8:48), and among some scribes, it possibly would not even be uttered. [1]

Well, the best-laid plans don’t always work. I thought it would be wise to lay the background out that Yeshua was challenging conventional wisdom.

Our next post will examine that Yeshua Meets the Women at the Well.

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[1] Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). Tyndale Bible Dictionary. (p. 1154)​

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 6

For God So Loved the World

This, perhaps the most famous and most quoted of verses in the Brit Hadashah, epitomizes the truth of God that has come to Jews and Gentiles alike in Yeshua the Messiah. It teaches that:

  • God loves His creation, the world.
  • To love is to give, to love much is to give much, and God loves the world so much that He gave what is most precious to Him.
  • Yeshua was fully aware in advance that He would die as God’s own sacrifice.
  • Yeshua knew that he was uniquely God’s Son.
  • The destiny of man when he relies on himself and does not trust in Yeshua is total destruction – not the cessation of conscious existence, but the eternal suffering that is the inevitable consequence of sin.
  • The destiny of an individual who trusts in Yeshua is everlasting life – not only in the future but right now – not just survival beyond the grave, but positive life “in” Yeshua (1:4, 11:25–26).

Trusting in Yeshua is not mere intellectual acknowledgment but adherence to, commitment to, trust in, faith in, reliance upon Yeshua as fully human, wholly identified with us, and at the same time fully divine, completely identified with God.

16“For God so loved the world that he gave His only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in Him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed.

This is the very first verse I memorized (in the KJV) when my mother took me to a Baptist VBS about seventy years ago.

17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but rather so that through him, the world might be saved.

The world is subject to condemnation and, in the end, will have its sinfulness condemned. But Yeshua’s first coming was not for that purpose. In the Day of Judgment, He will be the Judge who condemns the world (5:27).

18 Those who trust in Hm are not judged; those who do not trust have been judged already, in that they have not trusted in the One who is God’s only and unique Son.

Those who do not trust… Clearly, those who, upon hearing the Good News and understanding it, nevertheless refuse to trust are judged already. But what about those who have never heard of Yeshua? or who have heard but not understood? See Ro 2:14–16 and Lk 12:8–10.

19 “Now this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness rather than the light. Why? Because their actions were wicked. 20 For everyone who does evil things hates the light and avoids it so that his actions won’t be exposed. 21 But everyone who does what is true comes to the light, so that all may see that His actions are accomplished through God.~ Yochanan 3:16-21

This passage echoes Isaiah 59:2, “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear.”

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Our next post will examine: Yeshua Leaves for Galilee and Meets the Women at the Well.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 5

Yeshua’s Driving Merchants from the Temple

13 It was almost time for the festival of Pesach in Y’hudah, so Yeshua went up to Yerushalayim. 14 In the Temple grounds, He found those who were selling cattle, sheep, and pigeons and others who were sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 He made a whip from cords and drove them all out of the Temple grounds, the sheep, and cattle as well. He knocked over the moneychangers’ tables, scattering their coins; 16 and to the pigeon-sellers, he said, Get these things out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market?” 17 (His talmidim later recalled that the Tanakh says, “Zeal for your house will devour me.” [1]) 18 So the Judeans confronted him by asking him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove you have the right to do all this?” 19 Yeshua answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it up again.” 20 The Judeans said, “It took 46 years to build this Temple, and you’re going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the “temple” He had spoken of was His body.

But the “Temple” He had spoken of was His body.Yeshua often spoke obliquely to those He knew lacked faith (for another example, see v. 25 below). At Mattityahu 13:10–17, He answered at length the question of His talmidim, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” Like Nechemyah, he did not waste time in futile conversations with closed-minded people (Nehemiah 2:19–20, 6:2–3).

22 Therefore, when He was raised from the dead, His talmidim remembered that He had said this, and they trusted in the Tanakh and in what Yeshua had said.

At the end of Yeshua’s ministry, when He overturned the moneychangers’ tables a second time (Mattityahu 21:12), the talmidim recalled Yeshua’s quoting Psalm 69, “Zeal for your house will devour me” (above, v. 17). This shows that Yochanan’s Gospel attributes to the later overturning of tables in the Temple a significant immediate-causative role in Yeshua’s being brought to trial and death.

23 Now, while Yeshua was in Yerushalayim at the Pesach festival, there were many people who “believed in His name” when they saw the miracles He performed.

There were many people who “believed in his name” but not in Him (vv. 24–25). His miracles excited them, but they were not ready to acknowledge their sin and repent. In contrast, Nakdimon (3:1ff.) was a sincere seeker, and eventually, he came to genuine faith.

24 But He did not commit Himself to them, for He knew what people are like – 25 that is, He didn’t need anyone to inform Him about a person because He knew what was in the person’s heart. ~ Yochanan 2:13-25

He Has an Encounter with Nakdimon

There was a man among the P’rushim, named Nakdimon, who was a ruler of the Judeans. This man came to Yeshua by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know it is from God that you have come as a teacher; for no one can do these miracles you perform unless God is with him.” 3 “Yes, indeed,” Yeshua answered him, “I tell you that unless a person is born again from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

Yeshua neither criticizes Nakdimon for fearing to seek Him openly nor praises his insight in perceiving that Yeshua has come from God. Instead, He deals with him at his point of need, which is to be born again from above.

Nakdimon said to Him, “How can a grown man be ‘born’? Can he go back into his mother’s womb and be born a second time?” Yeshua answered, “Yes, indeed, I tell you that unless a person is born from water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.

Born from water and the Spirit. Water immersion is connected with a ritual cleansing of the body (see above, 1:26–34, and Matt. 3:1–17). The Ruach gives power for turning from sin and living a holy life; both suggest aspects of purification. This is why born from water does not mean ordinary human birth; moreover, since everyone is “born from water” in that sense, it would be silly for Yeshua to make a condition out of it with the word unless.

 What is born from the flesh is flesh, and what is born from the Spirit is spirit. Stop being amazed at my telling you that you must be born again from above! The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it’s going. That’s how it is with everyone who has been born from the Spirit.”

The wind blows. There is a wordplay here since both the Greek word “pneuma” and the Hebrew word “ruach” may mean either “wind” or “spirit,” depending on context.

 Nakdimon replied, “How can this happen?” 10 Yeshua answered him, “You hold the office of teacher in Isra’el, and you don’t know this?

You hold the office of teacher in Isra’el, literally, “You are the teacher of Isra’el.” The use of the definite article implies that Nakdimon’s position was uniquely important, although it is difficult to reconstruct precisely what it was.

11 Yes, indeed! I tell you that what we speak about, we know, and what we give evidence of, we have seen, but you people don’t accept our evidence! 12 If you people don’t believe me when I tell you about the things of the world, how will you believe me when I tell you about the things of heaven? 13 No one has gone up into heaven; there is only the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.

It is sometimes asserted that Yeshua never claimed to be more than an ordinary human being. But here, He affirms His heavenly origin, and indeed, throughout Yochanan’s Gospel, He presents Himself as divine as well as human, both in function and in essence. We speak … we give evidence. Yeshua is associating Himself with other witnesses: Yochanan the Immerser (1:7, 32–34), Yesha’yahu (12:41), Avraham (8:56), Moshe (5:46), and the writers and subjects of the Tanakh (5:39).

14 Just as Moshe lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life. ~ Yochanan 3:1-15

Just as the Isra’eli were saved from the plague of serpents when they gazed on the brass serpent raised by Moshe (Numbers 21:6–9), so all people are saved from eternal death, torment, and separation from God by gazing with spiritual eyes on the person of the Messiah Yeshua lifted up in death on the execution-stake.

Our next post will examine For God So Loved the World.

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[1] Psalm 69:10(9).