Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 5

In my last post, we continued with the aftermath of Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 4. In this post, we conclude the mini-series of the Disabled Beggar when Kefa and Yochanan Are Warned and Freed.

13 When they saw how bold Kefa and Yochanan were, even though they were untrained ‘am-ha’aretz, they were amazed; also, they recognized them as having been with Yeshua.

When they saw how bold Kefa and Yochanan were,… they were amazed. These “hicks” from the Galil dared to address the core of the establishment and tell them they were wrong! It was the Ruach HaKodesh at work in believers who gave such boldness, and He does the same today.

Untrained ‘am-ha’aretz, literally, “people of the land,” just ordinary folks, not systematically educated in the Scriptures and the traditions of either the P’rushim or the Tz’dukim (who together constituted the Sanhedrin’s membership). Jewish people have always had high regard for education, and “education” used to mean education in religious matters primarily. Thus, an untrained ‘am-ha’aretz would be guaranteed low social status, and little would be expected of him. The members of the Sanhedrin could easily spot these Galileans by their up-country accents as persons unlikely to be delivering religious truth. But the Galileans’ lack of training did not affect the truth of their message: there are uneducated pundits and educated fools.

14 Moreover, since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there beside them, there was nothing they could say to discredit the healing. 15 So they told them to step away from the Sanhedrin while they discussed the matter privately. 16 “What can we do with these men?” they asked each other. “Why, anyone in Yerushalayim can see that a remarkable miracle has come about through them – we can’t possibly deny that.

Both the talmidim and the Sanhedrin recognize that there is no valid basis for a legal charge. Still, as custodians of the Temple, they had the police power to control what they consider subversive teachings on what they consider their grounds. Yet rather than repent and believe they focused on damage control.

17 But to prevent it from spreading any further among the people, let’s warn them not to speak any more to anyone in this name.”

They sought to halt the spread of Messianic Judaism at all costs, so they warned them not to speak any more to anyone in this name. It seems they wished to guard their status as religious authorities even at the expense of undeniable truth.

Verse 17 raises an interesting question. How can Luke ( the author of the Book of Acts) know what went on behind locked doors? We know that Yosef of Ramatayim was both a Believer and a member of the Sanhedrin (Mk 15:43); Nakdimon, also a secret Believer, was probably in the Sanhedrin too (Jn 7:50). In all likelihood, in his research (Lk 1:3), he would have consulted them or other Sanhedrin members who came to faith later.

18 So they called them in again and ordered them under no circumstances to speak or teach in the name of Yeshua. 19 But Kefa and Yochanan answered, “You must judge whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than God. 20 As for us, we can’t help talking about what we have actually seen and heard.”

Kefa and Yochanan’s reference to what they had seen and heard included their experiences with Yeshua plus what they had witnessed since Shavuot. All told, they had been eyewitnesses to many of God’s revelatory acts.

21 They threatened them some more but finally let them go – they couldn’t punish them because of the people, for everyone was praising God over what had happened, 22 since the man who had been miraculously healed was more than forty years old. ~ Acts 4:13-22 (CJB)

Although the Sanhedrin backed down, they do not admit wrongdoing, which would be a matter of shame.

In my next two posts, we learn more about the last two of the fall High Holy Days.

Click here for the PDF version.

Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 4

In my last post, we continued with the aftermath of Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 3. In this post, we Kefa and Yochanan Are Arrested.

1 Kefa and Yochanan were still speaking to the people when the cohanim, the captain in charge of the Temple police, and the Tz’dukim [1] came upon them, 2 very annoyed that they were teaching the people the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead and offering Yeshua as proof. 3 The Temple police arrested them, and since it was already evening, they put them in custody overnight.

No longer dealing with someone overturning tables in the Temple, the aristocracy is content to follow the law and wait till the next day to try them (night trials were illegal, and most businesses of any regular sort stopped by sundown).

4 However, many of those who heard the message trusted; the number of men alone was about five thousand.

Repeated attempts to suppress the Messianic message only caused it to spread more quickly. On Pesach morning, the Believers in Yerushalayim only numbered 120. In response to Kefa’s sermon that day, another 3,000 were added. Now, with the healing of the disabled man, Kefa’s sermon, and their arrest, the community grew to about 5,000.

5 The next day, the people’s rulers, elders, and Torah-teachers (the Sanhedrin)assembled in Yerushalayim, 6 along with ‘Anan the Cohen HaGadol, Kayafa, Yochanan, Alexander and the other men from the family of the cohen HaGadol. 7 They had the emissaries stand before them and asked, “By what power or in what name did you do this?”

The parties listed in verses 5-6 represent all the most influential players in the Jewish religious establishment. They made Kefa and Yochanan stand before them, two men against all the powers of Isra’el. Ironic, therefore, that they asked them by what power they had performed the miracle and preached the Gospel.

8 Then Kefa, filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people!

Kefa was filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, a necessary prelude to his successful confrontation with the Jewish religious establishment. We need to get plugged into that same power source whenever we share the Gospel.

9 If we are being examined today about a good deed done for a disabled person, if you want to know how he was restored to health, 10 then let it be known to you and to all the people of Isra’el that it is in the name of the Messiah, Yeshua from Natzeret, whom you had executed on a stake as a criminal but whom God has raised from the dead, that this man stands before you perfectly healed. 11 “This Yeshua is the stone rejected by you builders which has become the cornerstone. (see Psalm 118:22) 12 There is salvation in no one else! For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by whom we must be saved!” ~ Acts 4:1-12 (CJB)

There is salvation in no one else! For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by whom we must be saved! Kefa, here addressing Jews, not Gentiles, and speaking by inspiration of the Ruach HaKodesh, asserts that Yeshua is the only person by whom we (the Jewish people, both individually and collectively) must (there is no alternative) be saved (from eternal destruction and God’s fury due us for our sins). And if there is no other salvation for Jews, who already have wonderful promises from God, how much more is there no other salvation for Gentiles (see Acts 13:47-48; Romans 1:16).

In my next post, we continue with the aftermath of the healing of the man disabled since birth when Kefa and Yochanan Are Warned and Freed.

Click here for the PDF version.

 

[1] Tz’dukim (Sadducees) who denied resurrection from the dead.

Be Ministers of Reconciliation ~ Rosh Hashanah – 5781

In this post, we take a break from our series on Kefa to observe the first of the fall Jewish feasts of Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashanah: The key is Repentance, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation

Biblical References: B’midbar (Numbers) 29:1–6 and Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:23 – 25 ~ Yom Teruah (The Feast of Trumpets). In 2020, the appointed time begins at sundown on September 18th.

Rabbinic Change: Since this is a Shabbat of the Fall Appointed Times, it has been considered as the “spiritual” New Year. Hence, the name changed to Rosh Hashanah, “the head of the year.” It is also seen as the anniversary of creation; the sacrifice of Yitz’chak; the release of Yosef from Pharaoh’s prison; and, the birth of Sh’mu’el, the prophet.

The purpose and traditional observance of the Holy Day is summed up in one word – regathering. Since the Fall Appointed Times call us to regather to pure faith in Adonai, Rosh Hashanah has come to represent the Day of Repentance. It is the day when people of Isra’el take stock of their spiritual condition and make the necessary changes to ensure that the upcoming New Year will be pleasing to Adonai.

The shofar is sounded daily to alert the faithful that the time of repentance is near. The observance takes on a somber character, yet always with a hint of hope because of Adonai’s forgiveness.

The traditional challah is shaped in a circle to symbolize Adonai’s Kingship and the coming of the Messiah. Sweet honey cakes and apples dipped in honey are a real treat and express the hope of a new fresh year.

Tradition tells of three books that are opened in the heavenly courts during the feast of Rosh Hashanah; one for the thoroughly righteous, one for the thoroughly wicked, and one for the average person. The thoroughly righteous are immediately inscribed in the Book of Life. The completely wicked are directly written in the book of death. The average person is kept in suspension from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). If they deserve well, they are inscribed in the Book of Life; if they do not deserve well, they are written in the book of death. Consequently, the Ten Days of Awe are a time of solemn self-examination with time spent in seeking reconciliation and doing good works in the Jewish tradition.

Since the 15th Century, the ceremony of Tashlich is celebrated in the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah. The congregation meets at a river or stream. Special prayers of repentance are recited, and a portion of Micah is read. People then take breadcrumbs and cast them into the water symbolizing that our sins are carried away by the water.

Rosh Hashanah has profound Messianic significance! The rabbis have taught that one day the shofar would sound, and the Messiah would come. According to Rabbi Sha’ul, in the future, all true believers in Yeshua will be gathered to meet Him in the clouds. The dead in Messiah will rise first, to be followed immediately by those believers alive at the time. “For the Lord, Himself will come down from heaven with a rousing cry, with a call from one of the ruling angels, and with God’s shofar, those who died united with the Messiah will be the first to rise; then we who are left still alive will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we will always be with the Lord. So, encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) That day will indeed be characterized by joy, delight, and sweetness for those who are called home! As we observe Rosh Hashanah, we should anticipate the time of Yeshua’s return.

The traditional greeting during Rosh Hashanah is, “L’shanah tovah tikatevu!” May your name be inscribed in the book of life! As Messianic Believers, we can rightly say, “L’shanah tovah tikatevu b’shem Yeshua!” May your name be inscribed in the book of life, in the name of Yeshua!

Read 2 Corinthians 5:17 – 21. Rosh Hashanah: repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Rabbi Sha’ul wrote to the Corinthians about these key ingredients in our annual observation of this holy appointed time. Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the new spiritual year, so it is that we become new creations when we are united with Yeshua as our Messiah.

The fundamental idea in this passage is reconciliation. Because of our rebellion, we are the enemy of Adonai and out of fellowship with Him. Through the work of the execution stake, Yeshua has brought Adonai and us together again. Adonai has been reconciled and has turned His face in love toward the lost world. The essential meaning of the word reconcile is “to change thoroughly.” It refers to a restored relationship with Adonai and the lost world. “And it is all from God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18a)

Adonai does not have to be reconciled to man because Yeshua accomplished that on the execution stake. It is the sinful man who must be reconciled to Adonai. “Religion” is man’s feeble effort to be reconciled to Adonai, efforts that are bound to fail. The Person who reconciles us to Adonai is Yeshua, and the place where He reconciles us is His execution stake. He not only reconciles us to Himself, but he gives us the task of reconciling other people to Him. We have been entrusted with the message of reconciliation.

Another fundamental idea in this paragraph is that Adonai does not count our sins against us. In the KJV, the term used is imputing. This is a word borrowed from banking; it just means, “to put to one’s account.” When you deposit money in the bank, the teller puts that amount into your account. When Yeshua died on the execution stake, all our sins were imputed to Him – put into His account. Adonai treated Him as though He had committed those sins.

What was the result? All those sins have been paid for, and Adonai no longer holds them against us, because we have trusted Yeshua as our Messiah. But even more: Adonai has put into our account the very righteousness of Yeshua! “God made this sinless man be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with him we might fully share in Gods’ righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Reconciliation is based on imputation: because the demands of Adonai’s Torah have been fully met on the execution stake, Adonai can be reconciled to sinners. Those who believe in Yeshua, as their Messiah will never have their sins imputed to them again (see Psalms 32:1-2; Romans. 4:1-8). As far as their records are concerned, they share the righteousness of Yeshua!

How does this beautiful doctrine of reconciliation motivate us to serve Yeshua? We are ambassadors with a message. Adonai has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

Since we are the ambassadors of Yeshua, this means that the world is in rebellion against Adonai. He has sent His ambassadors into the world to declare peace, not war. “Be reconciled to God!” We represent Yeshua (see John 20:21; 2 Corinthians 4:5). If sinners reject our message and us, it is Yeshua who is rejected. What a great privilege it is to be heaven’s ambassadors to the rebellious sinners of this world!

Adonai has not declared war on the world; at the execution stake, He said peace. But one day, He will declare war; and then it will be too late for those who have rejected Yeshua (2 Thessalonians 1:3-10). Satan is seeking to tear everything apart in this world, but Yeshua and His Messianic community are involved in the ministry of reconciliation, bringing things back together again, and back to Adonai.

Ministry is not easy. If we are to succeed, we must be motivated by the fear of the Lord, the love of Yeshua, and the commission that He has given to us. It is indeed a privilege to serve Him!

During these next ten days before Yom Kippur, I encourage you to do some self-reflection. Is there any unconfessed sin in your life? Do you need to forgive someone who has hurt you? Are there any relationships that require reconciliation? As we enter the start of a new spiritual year, resolve to make a fresh start and be ambassadors of Yeshua HaMashiach, “so that in union with Him, we might fully share in God’s righteousness.”

In my next post, we will return to our study of Kefa.

Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 3

In my last post, we continued with the aftermath of Kefa Heals a Crippled Beggar ~ Part 2. In this post, we hear Kefa Preach Repentance to those who marveled at the Beggar’s Healing.

17 “Now, brothers, I know that you did not understand the significance of what you were doing; neither did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what He had announced in advance when He spoke through all the prophets, namely, that His Messiah was to die.

After blaming his fellow Jews in vv. 13-15, Kefa again calls them brothers and mitigates his words by stating: you did not understand the significance of what you were doing. In the Torah, atonement avails only for unintended sins; for sins committed presumptuously, there is no atonement. Even the cohanim and P’rushim involved in the events leading up to Yeshua’s execution may be forgiven through trusting Yeshua, and some availed themselves of the opportunity (see Acts 6:7, 15:5). Kefa softened the message by stating this is how God fulfilled what he had announced in advance. The Messiah’s death does not end all hope; on the contrary, God intended Him to die, be resurrected, and return.

19 “Therefore, repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be erased;

Repent and turn to God means: Change your mind and turn. But to the modern reader, this suggests changing religions from Judaism to Christianity, which is not what Kefa meant. For at that time, “Christianity” as such did not exist; there was Judaism with Yeshua and Judaism without Him (the same choice, along with the possibility of rejecting both, faces Jews today).

20 so that times of refreshing may come from the Lord’s presence, and He may send the Messiah appointed in advance for you, that is, Yeshua.

The phrase times of refreshing means the Messianic Age. In these times of refreshing, self-rule will be restored to Isra’el, and the Messiah appointed in advance for you; namely, Yeshua, will return. Kefa’s audience, like today’s Orthodox Jews, expected the Messiah in the future. Kefa says that the very Messiah they expect is Yeshua goes on in the following verses to explain why He does not come at once.

21 He has to remain in heaven until the time comes for restoring everything, as God said long ago when He spoke through the holy prophets.

He has to remain in heaven at the right hand of God) until the time comes for restoring everything, both social and natural (see Isaiah 11:1-12, Romans 8:18-23) when Yeshua will come on the clouds of Heaven (see Daniel 7:13-14). Yeshua said the same thing at least twice quoting Daniel (see Mt 24:30, 26:64).

22 For Moshe, himself said, ‘Adonai will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You are to listen to everything He tells you. 23 Everyone who fails to listen to that prophet will be removed from the people and destroyed.’

This same passage from Deuteronomy 18:15-19 is also cited in Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7:37. The P’rushim asked Yochanan the Immerser if he was the prophet foreseen in this passage (John 1:21). The five thousand whom Yeshua fed wondered the same thing, as did some of the crowd to whom he offered living water (John 7:40). Evidently, this passage from the Torah was widely understood then as Messianic, and people were looking for its fulfillment.

You are to listen to everything He (Yeshua, the prophet like Moshe) tells you. Everyone who fails to listen to that prophet will be removed from the people and destroyed. But what if the nation as a whole fails to listen? Then this becomes the kind of Torah violation which leads to the curses of Deuteronomy 28:15-68. The destruction of the Temple (70 CE), the expulsion from Yerushalayim (135 CE) and the centuries of exile typify the punishments suffered by the Jewish people, not for deicide and not directly for rejecting Yeshua but for violating the Torah’s injunction to listen to the prophet like Moshe, who is Yeshua. But He can still be heard. He speaks through the Tanakh and the Brit Hadashah. Those who heed him become part of Isra’el’s remnant (see Romans 9-11) and are not removed from the people.

24 Indeed, all the prophets announced these days, starting with Sh’mu’el and continuing through all who followed. 25 “You are the sons of the prophets, and you are included in the covenant which God made with our fathers when He said to Avraham, ‘By your seed will all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 So it is to you first that God has sent His servant whom He has raised up so that He might bless you by turning each one of you from your evil ways.” Acts 3:17-26 (CJB)

You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant with… Avraham. The point is that for this very reason, it is to you first that God sent Yeshua the Messiah. The Gospel is to the Jew first (Romans 1:16). And it is with the Gospel of Yeshua that the promise of v. 25 is fulfilled, for that promise was made to Avraham and his son Yitzchak, and Yeshua is Himself the promised seed who brings the blessing. The blessing consists in turning each one of you from your evil ways.

Have you repented? Have you turned from your evil ways and put your trust in Yeshua as the Son of God? If not, the hour is drawing near when it will be too late. I believe that we are living at the beginning of the birth pangs of His soon return.

In my next post, we take a break from our series on Kefa to observe the first of the three fall feasts: Rosh Hashanah.

Click here for the PDF version.

Kefa Heals A Disabled Beggar ~ Part 2

In my last post, we learned about Kefa Heals A Disabled Beggar. In this post, we continue with the aftermath of the healing. We pick up the story in Acts 3:11.

11 While he clung to Kefa and Yochanan, all the people came running in astonishment toward them in Shlomo’s Colonnade. 12 Seeing this, Kefa addressed the people: “Men of Isra’el! Why are you amazed at this? Or why do you stare at us as if we had made this man walk through some power or godliness of our own?

Recognizing that the onlookers were amazed, Kefa seized the moment to testify about Yeshua HaMashiach. Signs of God’s power can point to the truth about Yeshua.

I love this comment from David Stern regarding Men of Isra’el!:

A personal reaction: the start of Kefa’s speech is so Jewish! The crowd had just witnessed an unbelievable miracle, and he asks, deadpan, “What are you all so surprised about?” [1]

13 The God of Avraham, Yitz’chak, and Ya‘akov, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Yeshua — the same Yeshua you handed over and disowned before Pilate, even after he had decided to release him.

The phrase the God of Avraham, Yitz’chak, and Ya‘akov, the God of our fathers, is not accidental in Kefa’s sermon. Its two parts are found in the first paragraph of the ‘Amidah, the central section of the Minchah prayer service, which begins: Praised be to You, Adonai our God and God of our fathers, God of Avraham. God of Yitzchak and God of Ya’akov… and which Kefa’s hearers would just then have been reciting in their minchah prayers in minyans (groups of ten men required for corporate worship) throughout the Temple grounds, much as is done today at the Western Wall.

Kefa’s point is the very God to whom they were just now praying in these words has glorified. His servant is identified in Isaiah 42-43 as God’s suffering servant, Yeshua.

14 You denied the holy and innocent one, and instead asked for the reprieve of a murderer!

Holy and innocent one applied, especially to God in Jewish literature. Because the healing did not occur during Pesach, most of Kefa’s audience are residents of Yerushalayim. Still, the corporate accusation against his audience is no stronger than denunciations of the Tanakh prophets (see Amos 2:6-3:8). Calling a revolutionary (Barabbas), a murderer starkly distinguishes the emissaries from the sort of people who had revolutionary sympathies. Gee that sounds like our calling some protesters as “peaceful” versus the “anarchists” many are. Yes, many are peaceful and have a constitutional right to do so.

15 You killed the author of life! “But God has raised him from the dead! Of this, we are witnesses.

Wow, what an indictment to the average listener in the crowd! The P’rushim would probably shrug it off, but not your average worshipper who may not have been in the crowd, yelling, Crucify Him!”

16 And it is through putting trust (faith) [2]  in his name that his name has given strength to this man whom you see and know. Yes, it is the trust that comes through Yeshua, which has given him this perfect healing in the presence of you all. ~ Acts 3:11-16 (CJB)

Kefa and Yochanan had a chance to claim credit for the miraculous healing of the disabled man but instead insisted it was trust in His name that had given strength to this man. The emissaries were merely God’s chosen instruments for conveying the miracle.

In my next post, we continue with the aftermath of the healing of the man disabled since birth when Kefa Preaches Repentance.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary.

[2] The Jewish New Testament generally uses the word “trust” instead of “faith” to translate the Greek “pistis” because “trust” more clearly signifies to English-speakers the confident reliance of God that generates holy deeds, as opposed to a mere mental acknowledgment of facts and ideas. I agree.

Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 1

In my last post, we examined Kefa’s First Public Sermon. In this post, we learn the Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar. As you can see by the title, this is a multipart series covering Acts 3:1 – 4:31.

1 One afternoon at three o’clock, the hour of minchah (afternoon) prayers, as Kefa and Yochanan were going up to the Temple,2 a man disabled [1] since birth was being carried in. Every day people used to put him at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple so that he could beg from those going into the Temple court.

This is the first healing miracle in the Book of Acts. The man was disabled since birth and was daily carried to the Beautiful Gate of the Temple so he could beg for money. We learn in Acts 4:22 that the man was 40 years old. In the era before governmental aid for needy persons, it was the kindness of strangers and loved ones that kept men such as this alive.

The Beautiful Gate may have been a popular title for what later sources call the Nicanor Gate, covered with bronze, which led from the Gentile Court to the Women’s Court of the Temple. It was accessible from Shlomo’s Colonnade. According to their state of being ceremonially unclean, beggars were not permitted to go into the Temple any further but could appeal to those entering.

3 When he saw Kefa and Yochanan about to enter, he asked them for some money. 4 But they stared straight at him, and Kefa said, “Look at us!” 5 The disabled man fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 Kefa said, “I don’t have silver, and I don’t have gold, but what I do have I give to you: in the name of the Messiah, Yeshua of Natzeret, walk!”

It is good for the disabled man that Kefa and Yochanan had neither silver nor gold to hand out, for what they did have to offer was of far higher value – healing power through Messiah Yeshua. Rather than a temporary fix, the man was given a permanent remedy for his physical and spiritual problems. The disabled man asked for what he wanted; he was about to receive what he needed. Do not settle for what you want from God. When God meets your needs, He may not give you what you asked for, but what He provides will always be better than what you wanted.

7 And taking hold of him by his right hand, Kefa pulled him up. Instantly his feet and ankles became strong;

After pronouncing the man’s healing, Kefa took the initiative and pulled him up; therefore, the kehilah must both speak hope into a broken life and extend practical help.

The book of Acts recounts several healing miracles (see 9:32-34,36-42). During the Hellenistic period, knowledge of science and medicine was advanced enough that the bystanders recognized without a doubt that Kefa had enacted a miracle. The mention of the strengthening of the disabled man’s feet and ankles may provide indirect support for the traditional view that the author of the Book of Acts, Luke, was a physician.

8 so that he sprang up, stood a moment, and began walking. Then he entered the Temple court with them, walking and leaping and praising God! 9 Everyone saw him walking and praising God. 10 They recognized him as the same man who had formerly sat begging at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, and they were utterly amazed and confounded at what had happened to him. 11 While he clung to Kefa and Yochanan, all the people came running in astonishment toward them in Shlomo’s Colonnade. ~ Acts 3:1-11 (CJB)

When God does something amazing in an individual’s life, he usually has a higher purpose in mind than that individual’s benefit. He wants to do something even more amazing through that individual. The Ruach HaKodesh worked in this disabled man’s life and then worked through him so that the truth might be proclaimed to a large crowd of people (3:11-26) and the Jewish leaders (4:1-22). His transformation ultimately led to the salvation of many souls (see 4:4). All of this took place because God acted in the life of a simple beggar who responded with public praise.

In my next post, we continue with the aftermath of the healing of the man disabled since birth.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The actual text says “crippled.”

Kefa’s First Public Sermon

In my last post, we examined Kefa Calls for the Replacement of Y’hudah. In this post, we examine Kefa’s First Public Sermon.

Some fifty days after Pesach when Yeshua was arrested, the Believers were gathered in Yerushalayim for Shavu’ot. Suddenly there came a sound from the sky like the roar of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each one of them. 4 They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh and began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. ~ Acts 2:2-4 (CJB) Now when the pilgrims heard the sound a crowd gathered; they were confused, because each one heard the believers speaking in his own language. Acts 2:5-6 (CJB)

14 Then Kefa stood up with the Eleven and raised his voice to address them: “You Judeans, and all of you staying here in Yerushalayim! Let me tell you what this means! Listen carefully to me! 15 “These people aren’t drunk, as you suppose – it’s only nine in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken about through the prophet Yo’el:

17 ‘Adonai says: “In the Last Days, I will pour out from my Spirit upon everyone. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my slaves, both men and women, will I pour out from my Spirit in those days; and they will prophesy. 19 I will perform miracles in the sky above and signs on the earth below — blood, fire and thick smoke. 20 The sun will become dark and the moon blood before the great and fearful Day of Adonai comes. 21 And then, whoever calls on the name of Adonai will be saved.”’ [1]

22 “Men of Isra’el! Listen to this! Yeshua from Natzeret was a man demonstrated to you to have been from God by the powerful works, miracles, and signs that God performed through Him in your presence. You yourselves know this. 23 This man was arrested in accordance with God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge; and, through the agency of persons not bound by the Torah, you nailed Him up on a stake and killed him! 24 “But God has raised Him up and freed Him from the suffering of death; it was impossible that death could keep its hold on Him. 25 For David says this about Him:

‘I saw Adonai always before me, for he is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. 26 For this reason, my heart was glad; and my tongue rejoiced; and now my body too will live on in the certain hope 27 that you will not abandon me to Sh’ol or let your Holy One see decay. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; you will fill me with joy by your presence.” [2]

29 “Brothers, I know I can say to you frankly that the patriarch David died and was buried – his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him that one of his descendants would sit on his throne, 31 he was speaking in advance about the resurrection of the Messiah, that it was he who was not abandoned in Sh’ol and whose flesh did not see decay. 32 God raised up this Yeshua! And we are all witnesses of it! 33 “Moreover, he has been exalted to the right hand of God; has received from the Father what he promised, namely, the Ruach HaKodesh; and has poured out this gift, which you are both seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into heaven. But he says,

35 ‘Adonai said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ [3]

36 Therefore, let the whole house of Isra’el know beyond doubt that God has made him both Lord and Messiah — this Yeshua, whom you executed on a stake!”  37 On hearing this, they were stung in their hearts; and they said to Kefa and the other emissaries, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Kefa answered them, “Turn from sin, return to God, and each of you be immersed on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh! 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for those far away — as many as Adonai our God may call!” 40 He pressed his case with many other arguments and kept pleading with them, “Save yourselves from this perverse generation!” 41 So those who accepted what he said were immersed, and there were added to the group that day about three thousand people. ~ Acts 2:14-41 (CJB)

Kefa disposes of the closed-minded skeptics and scorners before addressing the open-minded but bewildered remainder. In quoting from Yo’el, he explains that the Last Days have already begun. We know that they are continuing now, and they will culminate on the Last Day, here called the great and fearful Day of Adonai.

Men of Isra’el…you killed Him! Like a knife, the accusation pierced their hearts. But the Messiah’s death was in accordance with God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge. It was not an accident, not a miscalculation on the part of Yeshua and His talmidim. God knew and planned Yeshua’s death as atonement for humanity’s sins. But that provides the killers no excuse; they had free will and could have chosen to act differently. Also, Gentiles – Pontius Pilate and Roman soldiers – were directly involved in killing Yeshua. Kefa does not measure the degree of their guilt because he is not speaking to them.

But God has raised Him up. It is of the essence of Messianic faith that Yeshua is alive. If He were not, we could feel sorry but could do nothing to repair the relationship between Him and us, and Kefa would not have delivered this sermon.

The patriarch David died. According to Jewish tradition, he died on Shavu’ot, as Kefa’s Shavu’ot audience was undoubtedly aware, The Tanakh says he was buried in the City of David, southeast of the present Western Wall (1 Kings 2:10).

Kefa’s central point is that all Jews, the whole house of Isra’el, should acknowledge Yeshua as Lord and Messiah because God had made Him fulfill those roles in Jewish life and human history.

Verse 41 is a mindblower to me. Most preachers are grateful when a handful accepts the invitation, and I am sure none of them used the tactics Kefa used. I know that the late Billy Graham did use the same tactics, but do not know his stats for one message. My wife and I attended two of his meetings at Anaheim Stadium and saw many come forward. But his message was much more low-keyed than Kefa’s and the response was probably only in the high hundreds.

In my next post, we will learn that Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar.

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[1] Joel 2:28-32

[2] Psalm 16:8-11

[3] Psalm 110:1

Kefa Calls for the Replacement of Y’hudah

In my last post, we concluded our story of Kefa in the Gospels and the beginning of the Acts of the Emissaries of Yeshua, the Messiah. Recall from the last post that we learned that they all devoted themselves single-mindedly to prayer, along with some women, including Miryam (Yeshua’s mother), and his brothers. In this post, we examine Kefa’s Calls for the Replacement of Y’hudah.

15 During this period, when the group of believers numbered about 120, Kefa stood up and addressed his fellow-believers:

16 “Brothers, the Ruach HaKodesh spoke in advance through David about Y’hudah (Judas Iscariot), and these words of the Tanakh had to be fulfilled. He was guide for those who arrested Yeshua –
17 he was one of us and had been assigned a part in our work.” 18 (With the money Y’hudah received for his evil deed, he bought a field; and there he fell to his death. His body swelled up and burst open, and all his insides spilled out. 19 This became known to everyone in Yerushalayim, so they called that field Hakal-D’ma – which in their language means “Field of Blood”).
[1]
20 “Now,” said Kefa, “it is written in the book of Psalms,

‘Let his estate become desolate, let there be no one to live in it’;
and
‘Let someone else take his place as a supervisor.’

21 Therefore, one of the men who have been with us continuously throughout the time the Lord Yeshua traveled around among us, 22 from the time Yochanan was immersing people until the day Yeshua was taken up from us — one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” ~ Acts 1:15-22 (CJB)

The Ruach HaKodesh spoke in advance. Notice that Kefa was a student of prophecy. He said these words of the Tanakh had to be fulfilled. He was confident that prophecy would come to pass. Not only was Kefa a student of prophecy, but he believed in the divine inspiration of Scripture, saying it was the Ruach HaKodesh who spoke through David.

It is written was a typical Jewish quotation formula. Here Kefa refers to Psalm 69:25 and 109:8. Again, this is another instance that points our that Kefa knew the Tanakh.

Eyewitnesses were especially important in ancient times, as they are today, hence the need to select someone who had been with us continuously throughout the time the Lord Yeshua traveled around among us.

23 They nominated two men – Yosef Bar-Sabba, surnamed Justus, and Mattityahu. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25  to take over the work and the office of emissary that Y’hudah abandoned to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they drew lots to decide between the two, and the lot fell to Mattityahu. So, he was added to the eleven emissaries. ~ Acts 1:23-26 (CJB)

In my next post, we will examine Kefa’s First Public Sermon.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Yes, I know that Luke disagrees with Matthew’s account in 27:3-5, but that is beyond the scope of this blog.

Yeshua’s Final Instructions Before His Ascension

In my last post, we concluded our story in Kefa Goes Fishing One More Time ~Part 4. In this post, we examine Yeshua’s Final Instructions Before His Ascension. Although Kefa is only briefly mentioned in the following passages, I thought it beneficial to our understanding of his ministry as we begin to explore the Acts of the Emissaries of Yeshua, the Messiah in my next post.

Yeshua Commissions the Emissaries

16 So the eleven talmidim went to the hill in the Galil, where Yeshua had told them to go. 17 When they saw Him, they prostrated themselves before Him; but some hesitated. 18 Yeshua came and talked with them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Therefore, go and make people from all nations into talmidim, immersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son, and the Ruach HaKodesh, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember! I will be with you always, yes, even until the end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:16-20 (CJB)

God often revealed Himself on mountains, especially in the narratives about Moshe. According to 1 Corinthians 15:6, this may have been the time when Yeshua appeared to the five hundred. In verse 18, Yeshua alludes to Daniel 7:13-14. Make people from all nations into talmidim must have shocked His hearers, who thought that the Messiah was only, or at least primarily, for Jews. Today the situation is reversed, for many Believers think it wrong to evangelize Jews. But their position is inconsistent, for if they respect Yeshua, they should obey His command to make people from all nations, including the Jewish nation, into talmidimImmersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son, and the Ruach HaKodesh would lead us down an extensive “rabbit trail,” so I will leave that for another day. Suffice it to say that this is the closest the Brit Hadashah comes to stating the proposition that the God of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, consists of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One final note, making talmidim, was the sort of thing rabbis would do, but Yeshua’s followers are to make talmidim for Him, not for themselves.

Yeshua’s Parting Instructions

45 Then He opened their minds so that they could understand the Tanakh, 46 telling them, “Here is what it says: the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day; 47 and in His name repentance leading to forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed to people from all nations, starting with Yerushalayim. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 Now I am sending forth upon you what My Father promised, so stay here in the city until you have been equipped with power from above.” ~ Luke 24:45-49 (CJB)

The Tanakh (the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms) represents the three major divisions of the Hebrew Bible. Yeshua now did for the broader group of talmidim essentially what He had already done for the two on the road to Emmaus. He explained the Scriptures. What my Father promised was the Ruach HaKodesh (see Joel 3:1-5; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 16-21). The Holy Spirit gives the power necessary for being witnesses.

Yeshua Ascends to Heaven

50 He led them out toward Beit-Anyah; then, raising his hands, He said a b’rakhah over them.  blessing them, He withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. ~ Luke 24:50 (CJB)

6 They asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore self-rule to Isra’el?” 7 He answered, “You don’t need to know the dates or the times; the Father has kept these under His own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Ruach HaKodesh comes upon you; you will be My witnesses both in Yerushalayim and in all Y’hudah and Shomron, indeed to the ends of the earth!” 9 After saying this, He was taken up before their eyes; and a cloud hid Him from their sight. 10 As they were staring into the sky after Him, suddenly they saw two men dressed in white standing next to them. 11 The men said, “You Galileans! Why are you standing, staring into space? This Yeshua, who has been taken away from you into heaven, will come back to you in just the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:6-11 (CJB)

Raising his hands, he said a b’rakhah. To this day, there is a portion of the synagogue service wherein a cohen raises his hands and pronounces over the congregation the Aaronic Benediction of Numbers 6:24-26.

Lord, are you at this time going to restore self-rule to Isra’el? Virtually all Jews expected that when the Messiah came, He would deliver Isra’el from Roman oppression and become king over the Jewish nation reunited and sovereign as it had been under Kings Saul, David, and Solomon. Yeshua’s answer to His talmidim was you don’t need to know the dates or the times; the Father has kept these under His own authority. From this, we learn (contrary to the teaching of Replacement Theology) that the kingdom indeed will be restored to Isra’el. The only question is when, and that still is not presently ours to know.

To be Yeshua’s witnesses in both word and deed means communicating the verbal content of the Gospel and living God’s way and not our own. This is the central task of the people of God, but it can be accomplished only with power from the Ruach HaKodesh. The talmidim are to start evangelizing where they are, in Yerushalayim, the center of the Jewish people. Then they are to move out into all Y’hudah (Judea, the Jewish countryside) and Shomron (Samaria, populated by half-Jews), and finally to go to the ends of the earth, that is, to reach Gentile peoples.

A cloud hid him…. Yeshua… will come back in just the same way, fulfills Daniel 7:13 and Yeshua’s predictions (Mt 26:64; Mk 14:62; Lk 21:27; Rev 1:7, 13; 14:14). In the Tanakh, a cloud often expresses God’s glory (Exodus 13:21), His Sh’khinah (“radiance,” Hebrews 1 3). The reply of the two men dressed in white, evidently angels, supports our hope (Titus 2:13) that Yeshua is coming back and at the same time implies a partial answer to the talmidim question in v. 6: Yeshua will restore self-rule to Isra’el and bring peace to the earth when He comes back to you in just the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

The Emissaries Return to Yerushalayim

52 They bowed in worship to Him, then returned to Yerushalayim, overflowing with joy. 53 And they spent all their time in the Temple courts, praising God. ~ Luke 24:52-53 (CJB) 12 Then they returned the Shabbat-walk distance from the Mount of Olives to Yerushalayim. 13 After entering the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. The names of the emissaries were Kefa, Ya’akov, Yochanan, Andrew, Philip, T’oma, Bar-Talmai, Mattityahu, Ya’akov Ben-Halfai, Shim’on “the Zealot,” and Y’hudah Ben-Ya’akov. 14 These all devoted themselves single-mindedly to prayer, along with some women, including Miryam (Yeshua’s mother), and his brothers.  ~ Acts 1:12-14 (CJB) 20 And they went out and proclaimed everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the message by the accompanying signs. ~ Mark 16:20 (CJB)

As Yeshua had requested (v. 49), the talmidim returned to Yerushalayim and stayed there until the events of the day of Shavuot (Acts 2). They bowed in worship to him because they now understood who He was, the Son of God, divine and worthy of worship. They spent all their time in the Temple courts praising God. The early Believers had a living faith and a close relationship with God; being Jews, they expressed that faith by praising God at His Temple. We pick them up praising God at Acts 1:14. Note that Kefa is mentioned first in the list of the eleven.

And they went out and proclaimed everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the message by the accompanying signs. Are you witnessing what the Lord has done for you – or are you expecting others to evangelize? Are you serving – or are you expecting others to serve you?

In my next post, we will examine Kefa Calls for the Replacement of Y’hudah.

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Kefa Goes Fishing One More Time ~ Part 4

In my last post, we examined when Kefa Goes Fishing One More Time ~ Part 3. In this post, we conclude our story in Kefa Goes Fishing One More Time ~ Part 4.

We pick up our story by the seashore after Kefa confirms his allegiance to Yeshua with a discussion of what would happen to Yochanan.

20 Kefa turned and saw the talmid Yeshua especially loved following behind, the one who had leaned against him at the supper and had asked, “Who is the one who is betraying you?” 21 On seeing him, Kefa said to Yeshua, “Lord, what about him?” 22 Yeshua said to him, “If I want him to stay on until I come, what is it to you? You follow me!”

So Kefa asked Yeshua, what about him? Kefa accepted that he had a martyr’s death awaiting him (see my last post), but he wanted to know what Yeshua’s plans were for Yochanan. Yeshua’s response was short and to the point: If I want him to stay on until I come, what is it to you? You, follow me!”

So, in essence, Yeshua said, “That’s none of your business, Kefa. If I want him to remain alive until my second coming, what difference does that make to you? You worry about yourself and follow me.”

God has a general will for all of his people. This is expressed in his biblical commands for all of his followers. But he also has a specific will for each Believer. Yeshua graciously revealed to Kefa his will for him. But he wasn’t about to tell Kefa his specific will for Yochanan.

We are called to follow Yeshua corporately as the Kehilah and personally as individuals. Each of us is to have a personal relationship with God through Yeshua and seek to discern how he wants us to serve and glorify him. You are not to use God’s specific will for you to measure anyone else, nor are you to take his specific will for another and use it to measure your circumstances. We are not to sit as judges regarding how God chooses to use other believers.

Yeshua rules out curiosity about matters that do not concern us or help us live a holy life, although he does not rule out a scientific inquiry into how the world works. Likewise, he excludes unhealthy, jealous competition concerned with comparing our lives, tasks, gifts, accomplishments, interests, and calling with those of others. In both matters, Yeshua’s central point is: You, follow me!

23 Therefore the word (rumor) spread among the brothers that that talmid would not die. However, Yeshua didn’t say he wouldn’t die, but simply, “If I want him to stay on until I come, what is it to you?” ~ John 21:1-23 (CJB)

Like the final chapter of Matthew, the closing verses of Yochanan’s Gospel dispel a rumor. Matthew denied that Yeshua’s talmidim stole His body (Mat 28:11-15), while Yochanan sought to lay to rest the rumor that Yeshua had promised to return during Yochanan’s lifetime.

In my next post, we examine Yeshua’s Final Instructions before His Ascension.

Click here for the PDF version.