The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 64

Yeshua Sends Out His Emissaries ~ Part 4

In our last post, we continued to examine the topic of Yeshua Sends Out His Emissaries. In this post, we learned that Yeshua discusses conflict and sacrifices.

Conflict and Sacrifices

34 “Don’t suppose that I have come to bring peace to the Land. It is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword!

Yeshua’s message inherently brings conflict. The context may indicate persecution and martyrdom, but interpersonal discord also results. A crude and foolish criticism of the Brit Hadashah based on this verse is that Yeshua advocates family strife. Yeshua’s purpose is, of course, not to create contentiousness but end it. Yet He knows that tension may result when some family members trust Him while others do not.

35 For I have come to set

36 a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law,
so that a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. [1]

37 Whoever loves his father or mother more than he loves Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than he loves Me is not worthy of Me.

Devotion to the family should not supersede allegiance to Yeshua. Yeshua asked for unqualified allegiance, something even the most esteemed rabbi did not demand. The central point of Matt. 10:34–37 is that the love of God and His Kingdom must take precedence over every other human relationship.

38 And anyone who does not take up his execution-stake and follow Me is not worthy of Me. 39 Whoever finds his own life will lose it, but the person who loses his life for My sake will find it.~ Mattityahu 10:34-39

Execution-stake, Greek stavros, usually translated as “cross.” It was a vertical wooden stake with a crossbar, usually shaped more like a “T” than the Christian symbol, used by the Romans to execute criminals who were not Roman citizens (Roman citizens sentenced to death were given a less painful way to die). It was not a normal Jewish means of execution. Halakhah [2] specified four methods of execution—stoning, burning, beheading, and strangling – but not hanging or being suspended from a cross (see Galatians 3:13 & 1 Kefa 2:24).

In our next post, we will continue to examine He Sends Out His Emissaries beginning in Mattityahu 10:40.

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[1] Micah 7:6

[2] A Jewish legal ruling concerning the application of the Torah to various daily aspects of human conduct. Yeshua and the Brit Hadashah writers lived in a period of intense halakic discourse and debate.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 63

Yeshua Sends Out His Emissaries ~ Part 3

In our last post, we continued to examine the topic of Yeshua Sends Out His Emissaries. In this post, we learned that Yeshua Warns Them.

Yeshua Warns His Emissaries

Yeshua Himself will face persecution; so too will His talmidim. Here, He warns them of their fate and assures them that the Ruach will give them the appropriate words in times of trial.

16 “Pay attention! I am sending you out like sheep among wolves, so be as prudent as snakes and as harmless as doves. (In the biblical world, serpents were associated with wisdom and cleverness.)

 17 Be on guard, for there will be people who will hand you over to the local Sanhedrins and flog you in their synagogues. 18 On My account, you will be brought before governors and kings as a testimony to them and to the Goyim.

Compare verse 18 with Psalm 119:46, “I will also speak of your testimonies before kings, and I will not be put to shame.”

19 But when they bring you to trial, do not worry about what to say or how to say it; when the time comes, you will be given what you should say. 20 For it will not be just you speaking, but the Ruach of your heavenly Father speaking through you.

Yeshua promises that the Ruach will give them the appropriate words to speak. Mattityahu has mentioned the Ruach in connection with Yeshua’s ministry (Matt. 1:18, 20; 3:11, 16; 4:1), and here the Ruach is extended to the ministry of the talmidim.

21 “A brother will betray his brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. 22 Everyone will hate you because of me, but whoever holds out till the end will be preserved from harm (will be saved). 23 When you are persecuted in one town, run away to another. Yes indeed, I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Isra’el before the Son of Man comes.

Before the Son of Man comes. There are at least five plausible options for understanding this reference:

  1. Yeshua’s coming to His talmidim upon their return from this mission (vv. 6–15);
  2. Yeshua’s resurrection,
  3. The coming of the Ruach at Shavuot (Pentecost),
  4. The destruction of Yerushalayim in 70CE, and
  5. The second coming of Yeshua at the end of the age.

The overall passage is difficult to interpret, but it looks ahead to final judgment. Yeshua probably means that, at His second coming, there will still be people left in the towns of Isra’el who have not accepted Him.[1]

24 “A talmid is not greater than his rabbi; a slave is not greater than his master. 25 It is enough for a talmid that he becomes like his rabbi and a slave like his master. Now, if people have called the head of the house Ba’al-Zibbul (Beelzebul), how much more will they malign the members of his household! 26 So do not fear them; for there is nothing covered that will not be uncovered or hidden that will not be known.

Despite the hardships they will face, Yeshua commands the talmidim not to fear; instead, they should be bold witnesses to Yeshua’s message and faithfully carry out their tasks.

27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim on the housetops.

The housetops were flat roofs where people gathered when the weather was pleasant. Since houses were close together, people could shout from their housetops and proclaim to an impromptu audience.

28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but are powerless to kill the soul. Rather, fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in Gei-Hinnom.

People should have a healthy fear of God – treating Him with reverence.

 29 Aren’t sparrows sold for next to nothing, two for an assarion? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s consent. 30 As for you, every hair on your head has been counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

If God watches over sparrows, He indeed cares for His people. Yeshua uses a lesser-to-greater argument (common in Rabbinic teaching) to assure His talmidim of their value to God.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me in the presence of others, I will also acknowledge in the presence of my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.~ Mattityahu 10:16-33

In our next post, we will continue to examine He Sends Out His Emissaries in Mattityahu 10:34.

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[1] John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 62

Yeshua Sends Out His Emissaries ~ Part 2

In our last post, we began to examine the topic of Yeshua Sends Out His Emissaries. In this post, we learned that Yeshua Instructed Them.

Yeshua Instructs His Emissaries

These twelve Yeshua sent out with the following instructions: “Don’t go into the territory of the Goyim (Gentiles) and don’t enter any town in Shomron (Samaria)

Yeshua first extends His announcement of the Kingdom of Heaven to the Jews, who were eagerly awaiting its arrival. Their eventual rejection of Yeshua leads to the Gentile mission, which receives its most explicit expression in the ministry of the Emissary Sha’ul. The people of Shomron were of mixed Israelite and foreign descent who lived in the region of the northern kingdom of Isra’el before the Assyrian and Babylonian exile.

but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Isra’el. As you go, proclaim, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is near,’

Lost sheep commonly served as a metaphor for a hopeless and leaderless people. The emissaries were to preach the same message that Yeshua preached and that Yochanan the Immerser preached before Him.

heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those afflicted with tzara’at (leprosy) and expel demons. You have received without paying, so give without asking for payment.

The tasks listed here authenticate the emissary’s message. These actions also show the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven. Yeshua calls on the talmidim to share the blessings of the kingdom of heaven with no expectation of being compensated.

 Don’t take money in your belts, no gold, no silver, no copper; 10 and for the trip, don’t take a pack, an extra shirt, shoes, or a walking stick – a worker should be given what he needs.

The talmidim were to go without money or supplies. Their needs would be met through God’s provision.

The phrase a worker should be given what he needs sums up biblical principles regarding both priests and laborers (Lev 19:13; Num 18:31; Deut. 24:15; 25:4; 1 Cor 9:9; 1 Tim 5:18). The ultimate provision for ministry is the power of God, not our resources.

11 “When you come to a town or village, look for someone trustworthy and stay with him until you leave. 12 When you enter someone’s household, say, ‘Shalom aleikhem!’ (Peace be upon you) 13 If the home deserves it, let your shalom rest on it; if not, let your shalom return to you. 14 But if the people of a house or town will not welcome you or listen to you, leave it, and shake its dust from your feet! 

Shake its dust from your feet is a symbolic act of renunciation and indicates a severed relationship.

15 Yes, I tell you, it will be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for the people of S’dom and ‘Amora than for that town!  ~ Mattityahu 10:5-15

In our next post, we will continue to examine He Sends Out His Emissaries in Mattityahu 10:16.

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The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 61

Yeshua Sends Out His Emissaries ~ Part 1

In our last post, we paused Yeshua’s Healing Ministry. This post begins to examine the topic of Yeshua Sends Out His Emissaries.

After His second rejection in His hometown of Nazareth, Yeshua gains renewed encouragement as He is met by crowds in other parts of the Galil. Keenly aware of their need for spiritual guidance, Yeshua calls on all those willing to work among the multitudes for His Kingdom. Then, the time is appropriate for sending out the twelve Emissaries in pairs of two on a special mission of teaching and performing miracles with the power He gives them.

The Harvest Is Plentiful, the Laborers Few

These final verses summarize Yeshua’s ministry. They also set up the next chapter, in which Yeshua sends out His talmidim.

35 Yeshua went about all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and weakness. 36 When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them because they were harried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His talmidim, “The harvest is rich, but the workers are few. 38 Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send out workers to gather in his harvest.” ~ Matityahu 9:35-38

The lack of leadership intensified Yeshua’s compassion for the people to help them (compare Yochanan 10:1–18; Ezekiel 34). Without a shepherd, sheep are prone to wander and vulnerable to danger.

The Twelve Emissaries

Mattityahu Chapter 9 ends with the need for laborers for God’s harvest; Chapter 10 begins with Yeshua commissioning His talmidim (compare Mark 6:7–13; Luke 9:1–6). Mattityahu records the names of Yeshua’s 12 primary talmidim and His instructions for spreading the message of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Yeshua called His twelve talmidim and gave them authority to drive out unclean spirits and to heal every kind of disease and weakness. These are the names of the twelve emissaries:

First, Shim’on called Kefa, and Andrew, his brother,
Ya’akov Ben-Zavdai and Yochanan, his brother,
Philip and Bar-Talmai,
T’oma and Mattityahu, the tax collector,
Ya’akov Bar-Halfai and Taddai,
Shim’on the Zealot, and Y’hudah from K’riot, who betrayed him.
Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, his brother;
James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother;
Philip and Bartholomew;
Thomas and Matthew, the tax collector;
James, the son of Alphaeus and Thaddaeus;
Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. ~ Mattityahu 10:1-4

So far, Mattityahu has described the calling of only five talmidim (Matt. 4:18–22; 9:9). Yeshua had many followers, but these were His leaders – those whom He commissioned to build His Kehillah. Unclean spirits refer to evil spirits or demons. According to Jewish purity laws, people inhabited by such spirits were unclean.

In our next post, we will continue to examine He Sends Out His Emissaries in Mattityahu 10:5.

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The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 60

Performing Miracles ~ Part 4

In our last post, we examined Yeshua healing a Synagogue ruler’s daughter and a woman’s issue of blood. This post examines more of His healing powers and being rejected once again.

Yeshua Heals Two Blind Men

27 As Yeshua went on from there, two blind men began following Him, shouting, “Son of David! Take pity on us!”

By shouting, “Son of David! the blind men were publicly acclaiming Yeshua as the Messiah.

28 When He entered the house, the blind men came up, and Yeshua said to them, “Do you believe that I have the power to do this?” They replied, “Yes, sir.” 29 Then He touched their eyes and said, “Let it happen to you according to your trust,” 30 and their sight was restored.

The men also showed great trust (faith) and initiative.

Yeshua warned them severely, “See that no one knows about it.” 31 But instead, they went away and talked about Him throughout that district. ~ Mattityahu 9:27-31

Despite Yeshua’s apparent desire to keep a low profile, His call for secrecy is not obeyed. Once these men experience the good news, they cannot keep it to themselves.

Yeshua Heals Two Blind Men

32 As they were going, a man controlled by a demon and unable to speak was brought to Yeshua. 33 After the demon was expelled, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Isra’el,” they said. 34 But the P’rushim said, “It is through the ruler of the demons that He expels demons.”  ~ Mattityahu 9:32-34

Yeshua again asserts His authority over the spirit realm (compare Mattityahu 8:28–32) and causes all Isra’el to marvel at His deeds. It is through the ruler of the demons that He expels demons. Yeshua later shows the absurdity of this statement (see Mattityahu 12:22–32).

Yeshua Is Rejected In His Hometown

Messianic Jews today often find these verses poignantly relevant to their own families and hometowns. But they can take comfort from the fact that although Yeshua Himself encountered opposition, indifference, and skepticism, in the end, His family believed in Him (Acts 1:14, Galatians 1:19; contrast 12:48–50, Yochanan 7:3–5), and His hometown became a center of New Covenant faith.

53 When Yeshua had finished these miracles, He left 54 and went to His hometown.

Yeshua’s ministry base was Capernaum, but He had grown up in Nazareth.

 There He taught them in their synagogue in a way that astounded them so that they asked, “Where do this man’s wisdom and miracles come from?

The people know that, unlike their Rabbis, Yeshua has no formal training; He was raised as a craftsman. They express astonishment at the educated things He says and the attesting signs He performs.

55 Isn’t He the carpenter’s son? Isn’t His mother called Miryam? and His brothers Ya‘akov, Yosef, Shim‘on, and Y’hudah?

The language implies that the answer should be a plain “Yes.” But the honest answer is not so simple, as Luke’s careful language reveals: “It was supposed that He was a son of the Yosef who was of Eli, of Mattat (etc.) ” (see Luke 3:23–38). Yosef, the carpenter, raised Yeshua and accepted Him as his son even though He had no natural human father since Miryam the virgin was caused to become pregnant by God supernaturally.

56 And His sisters, aren’t they all with us? So where does He get all this?” 57 And they took offense at Him. But Yeshua said to them, “The only place people don’t respect a prophet is in His hometown and His own house.” 58 And He did few miracles there because of their lack of trust. ~ Mattityahu 13:53-58 (compare with Mark 6:1-6a)

In our next post, we interrupt our look at Yeshua’s Miracle Ministry as He Sends Out His Emissaries beginning in Mattityahu 9:35.

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The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 59

Performing Miracles ~ Part 3

In our last post, we examined Yeshua healing a demon-possessed man. This post will examine Yeshua healing a Synagogue ruler’s daughter and a woman’s issue of blood.

The narrative about Ya’ir’s’ daughter (vv. 21–43) frames the interrupting story of a hemorrhaging woman (vv. 25–34). Both stories show Yeshua’s incredible and surprising power.

[Because this story includes miraculous healings tied together, this post is a little longer than I like to post. You may want to download the PDF version.]

Performing Miracles ~ Part 3

21 Yeshua crossed in the boat to the other side of the lake, and a great crowd gathered around him. 22 There came to Him a synagogue official (head or president of a synagogue), Ya’ir (Jarius) by name, who fell at his feet 23 and pleaded desperately with Him, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Please! Come and lay your hands on her so that she will get well and live!”

24 He went with Him, and a large crowd followed, pressing all around Him. 25 Among them was a woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years 26 and had suffered a great deal under many physicians. She had spent her life savings, yet instead of improving, she had grown worse.

Who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years likely describes ongoing vaginal bleeding? According to Leviticus 15:19–33, it would have made the woman ceremonially unclean – preventing her from worshiping in the Temple or joining her people in everyday activities.

 27 She had heard about Yeshua, so she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His robe;

In contrast to others who approach Yeshua directly, this woman is cautious and hesitant – perhaps because her condition makes her ritually unclean (as noted above). Alternatively, this might be the only way the woman could reach Yeshua through the crowd.

28 for she said, “If I touch even His clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Instantly, the hemorrhaging stopped, and she felt in her body that she had been healed from the disease. 30 At the same time, Yeshua, aware that power had gone out from Him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

This story and the story of Ya’ir’s daughter focus on the relationship between power and faith. Belief gives people access to Yeshua’s life-giving power; unbelief blocks it.

31 His talmidim responded, “You see the people pressing in on you; and still you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 But He kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 The woman, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, came and fell down in front of Him and told Him the whole truth.

If she admitted to the healing, she would acknowledge that she had compromised the ritual purity of Yeshua as well as members of the crowd. The woman likely feared reprisal for violating religious law. She may also be afraid because she has just experienced divine power, and without permission, and is concerned about how Yeshua will respond.

 34 “Daughter,” He said to her, “your trust has healed you. Go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” 3While He was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house came, saying, “Your daughter has died. Why bother the rabbi any longer?” 36 Ignoring what they had said, Yeshua told the synagogue official, “Don’t be afraid, just keep trusting.” 37 He let no one follow Him except Kefa, Ya‘akov, and Yochanan, Ya‘akov’s brother.

Yeshua likely brings this select group of talmidim along with Him because He has already decided that He will heal Ya’ir’s daughter – He does not want word about this to spread.

38 When they came to the synagogue official’s house, He found a great commotion, with people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 On entering, He said to them, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s just asleep!” 40 And they jeered at Him. But He put them all outside, took the child’s father and mother and those with Him, and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand, He said to her, “Talita, Kumi!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 At once, the girl got up and began walking around; she was twelve years old. Everybody was utterly amazed. 43 He gave them strict orders to say nothing about this to anyone and told them to give her something to eat.  ~ Mark 5:21-43 (see Mattityahu 9:18-26 and Luke 8:40-56).

Talita, kumi! is Aramaic. It is sometimes asked whether Yeshua spoke Hebrew or Aramaic. Though Aramaic and Greek were the international languages in use in the Middle East in the first century, Hebrew was a common household language among Jews at that time and continued to be spoken until the third century CE. After that time, it was used for prayer but rarely for daily communication. In the nineteenth century CE, it was revived for secular literary purposes and consciously developed as a modern language by Eli‛ezer Ben-Yehuda and others after 1879. Most people in Yeshua’s day probably spoke all three languages to some degree. [1]

Yeshua intends to continue to keep His identity secret until the appropriate time (compare Mark 8:31–38). If He revealed His identity at this stage as the Son of God (Mark 1:10–11), it could result in Him being prosecuted and executed immediately.

In our next post, we continue to focus on Yeshua Performing Miracles beginning in Mattityahu 9:27.

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[1] David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 58

Performing Miracles ~ Part 2

In our last post, we finished by examining Yeshua calming Lake Kinneret. This post will examine what happens when they reach the other shore.

Yeshua Heals A Demon-Possessed Man

Yeshua and His talmidim arrived at the other side of the lake, in the Gerasenes’ territory.

Gerasenes’ territory. Mattityahu 8:28 puts this incident in the Gadarenes’ territory.And some manuscripts have “Gergesenes’ territory.” There were three towns in the region east of Lake Kinneret and nearby – Gerasa, Gadara, and Gergesa – so the same “territory” might reasonably have been named for all of them. The text does not state which “town” (v. 14) was the one involved.

As soon as He disembarked, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the burial caves to meet Him. He lived in the burial caves, and no one could keep him tied up, not even with a chain. He had often been chained hand and foot, but he would snap the chains and break the irons off his feet. No one was strong enough to control him. Night and day, he wandered among the graves and through the hills, howling and gashing himself with stones.

Seeing Yeshua from a distance, he ran and fell to his knees in front of him and screamed at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Yeshua, Son of God Ha‘Elyon (the Most High)? I implore you in God’s name! Don’t torture me!” For Yeshua had already begun saying to him, Unclean spirit, come out of this man!” Yeshua asked him, “What’s your name?” “My name is Legion,” he answered, “there are so many of us”; 10 and he kept begging Yeshua not to send them out of that region.

11 Now, there was a large herd of pigs feeding near the hill, 12 and the unclean spirits begged Him, “Send us to the pigs, so we can go into them.” 13 Yeshua gave them permission. They came out and entered the pigs, and the herd, numbering around two thousand, rushed down the hillside into the lake and were drowned. 14 The swineherds fled and told it in the town and in the surrounding country, and the people went to see what had happened. 15 They came to Yeshua and saw the man who had had the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind, and they were frightened. 16 Those who had seen it told what had happened to the man controlled by demons and to the pigs; 17 and the people began begging Yeshua to leave their district.

The non-Jewish Gerasenes raised pigs. That Yeshua permitted the demons to enter the pigs, destroying harmless animals together with their owners’ property, is raised as a moral argument against Him. But God has permitted demonic expression with evil consequences since the Garden of Eden. Job asked why, and God indicated that His dealings with Satanic powers are not to be understood fully by human beings at this time (Job 40–41). Some have suggested the demons destroyed the pigs to prejudice the owners against Yeshua – which is what happened.

18 As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demonized begged Him to be allowed to go with Him. 19 But Yeshua would not permit it. Instead, He said to him, “Go home to your people, and tell them how much Adonai in His mercy has done for you.”

This is the only episode in Mark’s Gospel in which Yeshua does not attempt to conceal His identity, but He also does not tell the man to proclaim to his friends how much He, Yeshua, has done for him. Instead, it seems that He is telling the man to share how much Adonai – likely a reference to God the Father has done for him.

20 He went off and began proclaiming in the Ten Towns (Decapolis) how much Yeshua had done for him, and everyone was amazed. ~ Mark 5:1-20 (see Mattityahu 8:28-34 and Luke 8:26-39).

In our next post, we continue to focus on Yeshua Performing Miracles beginning in Mark 5:21.

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The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 57

As I have stated previously, I am following F. LaGard Smith’s “The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order” for the outline of this series and his introductions to the topics. As usual, Scripture quotations are from the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) by David Stern. Since the CJB is not a Red-Letter edition, I double-checked the red versus green with the English Standard Version (ESV).

Performing Miracles ~ Part 1

It is one thing for a man to teach what he claims is truth; it is another thing to demonstrate one’s authority to claim the truth. [Think Moshe and Aharon before Pharoah.] That is why Yeshua’s miracles are such a vital part of His ministry. They are not being performed to entertain, show off His divine power, or even convince skeptics. The miracles are a means of confirming the message that the Kingdom of God is now being established with power!

Challenging Followers

 MT 18 When Yeshua saw the crowd around him, He gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 A Torah-teacher approached and said to Him, “Rabbi, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 Yeshua said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds flying about have nests, but the Son of Man has no home of his own.”

Son of Man. One of the titles of the Messiah is based on Daniel 7:13–14, where the text has bar-enosh(Aramaic). Bar-enosh,” like Hebrew ben-adam, can also mean “son of man,” “typical man,” “one schooled to be a man,” or simply “man.”. Yeshua is all of these: the Messiah, a typical (ideal) man, and one schooled both in heaven and on earth to be a man. Yeshua refers to Himself by this title frequently, stressing His complete identification with the human condition. [1]

LK 59 To another, He said, Follow me!” but the man replied, “Sir, first let me go away and bury my father.” 60 Yeshua said, “Let the dead bury their own dead; you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God!”

The call to discipleship takes precedence over all other duties.

61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, sir, but first let me say goodbye to the people at home.” 62 To him, Yeshua said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and keeps looking back is fit to serve in the Kingdom of God.”~ Mattityahu 8:18-22 (see Luke 9:59-62).

Followers of Yeshua must have a singular focus on the work of God’s Kingdom.

Yeshua Calms the Sea

 23 He boarded the boat, and his talmidim followed. 24 Then, without warning, a furious storm arose on the lake so that waves were sweeping over the boat. But Yeshua was sleeping. 25 So they came and roused him, saying, “Sir! Help! We’re about to die!” 26 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? So little trust you have!”Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and there was a dead calm.

Yeshua uses this phrase at the beginning of verse 26 to respond to His talmidim doubt that God would care for them. Their weak faith contrasts with the centurion’s great faith (v. 8:10).

27 The men were astounded. They asked, “What kind of man is this that even the winds and sea obey him?” ~ Mattityahu 13:44

In our next post, we continue to focus on Yeshua Performing Miracles in Mattityahu 8:28-34.

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[1] David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 56

Teaching Through Parables ~ Part 5

In our first post in this mini-series on the Parables of Yeshua, we looked at why He spoke in parables. In Part 2, we examined the Parable of the Sower and its explanation. In Part 3, we examined The Parable of the Weeds and its explanation. In Part 4, we examined the Parable of the Lighted Lamp, The Parable of The Seed Growing, and The Parable of The Mustard Seed. Now, we come to Mattityahu 13:33.

The Parable of The Yeast

33 And he told them yet another parable. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with a bushel of flour, then waited until the whole batch of dough rose.”  ~ Mattityahu 13:33 (see Luke 13:20-21).

Yeast (or leaven) usually represents evil (compare 1 Corinthians 5:6–8). If so, it represents the evil mixed with the good as in the previous two parables. Some interpret the parable to mean that the Kehillah will beneficially influence the world.

The Parable of Hidden Treasure

The first of the following two parables (v.44) deals with the unexpected discovery of the Kingdom of God, the second (vv.45-46) with the successful conclusion to a search for it. The person who comes upon it recognizes its great value and is willing to give up all (he sold everything he owned).

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. A man found it, hid it again, then in great joy went and sold everything he owned and bought that field. ~ Mattityahu 13:44

According to halakhah [1], if the treasure is unmarked and found on public land, it belongs to the finder. If it is marked, the owner must be sought. If it is natural (a gold nugget or a diamond) or unmarked and on private land, it belongs to the landowner; that’s why the finder bought that field to become the owner. But the story seems to imply that the finder bought the field at the “pre-treasure” price and that if the owner had known the treasure was there, he wouldn’t have sold the field at that price.

The Parable of the Valuable Pearl

45 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for fine pearls. 46 On finding one very valuable pearl, he went away, sold everything he owned, and bought it. ~ Mattityahu 13:45-46.

The point is not that the man purchased a place in the Kingdom of Heaven, but rather than entering the Kingdom is worth giving up everything.

The Parable of the Net

Like the weeds parable (Mattityahu 13:24–30), this parable describes the ingathering of the righteous and wicked and their subsequent fates. The Kingdom of Heaven will consist of those who follow Yeshua.

47 “Once more, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a net thrown into the lake that caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen brought the net up onto the shore, sat down, and collected the good fish in baskets but threw the bad fish away. 49 So it will be at the close of the age – the angels will go forth and separate the evil people from among the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where they will wail and grind their teeth. 51 Have you understood all these things? “Yes,” they answered. 52 He said to them,So then, every Torah-teacher who has been made into a talmid for the Kingdom of Heaven is like the owner of a home who brings out of his storage room both new things and old.”  ~ Mattityahu 13:47-50

A Torah-teacher who has been made into a talmid for the Kingdom of Heaven, that is, a committed and knowledgeable Jew who has become Messianic, brings out of his storage room, out of his treasury of knowledge, both new things relating to Yeshua and the New Covenant and old things, relating to the pre-Messianic Judaism he already understands. The storage room contains good things, things the house owner wants, and treasures. Some of the good things are new, and some are old. Likewise, the new Messianic and old Jewish things can both be good. Thus, the Messianic Torah-teacher is uniquely placed to enrich Messianic Judaism by expressing Messianic truth in Jewish relevant ways, repairing old coats with good patches, and restoring old wineskins for new wine. The outstanding New Covenant example is Sha’ul.

Parables Fulfill Prophecy

Like Mattityahu 13:10–17, this section reiterates Yeshua’s purpose in using parables.

34 All these things Yeshua said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without using a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet,

“I will open my mouth in parables.
I will say what has been hidden since
the creation of the universe.”

The quotation in this verse is from Psalm 78:2. This psalm identifies its author as Asaph, described in 2 Chronicles as a seer.

In our next post, we will begin to focus on Yeshua Performing Miracles beginning in Mattityahu 8:18-22.

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[1] Halakhah is how often ambiguous legal passages are clarified and interpreted for application in new and changed circumstances. ~ Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 55

Teaching Through Parables ~ Part 4

In our first post in this mini-series on the Parables of Yeshua, we looked at why He spoke in parables. In Part 2, we examined the Parable of the Sower and its explanation. In Part 3, we examined The Parable of the Weeds and its explanation. Now, we come to Mark 4:21, The Parable of the Lighted Lamp.

The Parable of The Lighted Lamp

21 He said to them, “A lamp isn’t brought in to be put under a bowl or under the bed, is it? Wouldn’t you put it on a lampstand? 22 Indeed, nothing is hidden, except to be disclosed; and nothing is covered up, except to come out into the open. 23 Those who have ears to hear with, let them hear!” 24 He also said to them, “Pay attention to what you are hearing! The measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you—and more besides! 25 For anyone who has something will be given more; but from anyone who has nothing, even what he does have will be taken away.”~ Mark 4:21-25 (see also Luke 8:16-18).

The Parable of the Lamp following Mark’s Parable of the Sower (4:13-20) – and Yeshua’s teaching about who can receive His message and who is not – implies that the mystery of the Kingdom of God is already revealed by Yeshua. Those willing to embrace it can receive it.

The Parable of The Seed Growing

Yeshua has already associated the Kingdom with a seed that grows (Mark 4:20), and He repeats that motif here (v. 28).

26 And he said, “The Kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seed on the ground. 27 Nights he sleeps, days he’s awake; and meanwhile, the seeds sprout and grow – how, he doesn’t know. 28 By itself the soil produces a crop – first the stalk, then the head, and finally the full grain in the head. 29 But as soon as the crop is ready, the man comes with his sickle, because it’s harvest-time.”  ~ Mark 4:26-29.

The Parable of The Mustard Seed

30 Yeshua also said,With what can we compare the Kingdom of God? What illustration should we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when planted, is the smallest of all the seeds in the field; 32 but after it has been planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all the plants, with such big branches that the birds flying about can build nests in its shade.” ~ Mark 4:30-32 (see also Mattityahu 13:31-32 and Luke 13:18-19).

Mustard is a tiny seed that grows into a 10-foot-high shrub. The shrub grew along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and may have been immediately in view of Yeshua hearers. But it is not the world’s smallest. Scripture, to be inspired by God, does not require that every facet of nature be woodenly reported. For Yeshua’s hearers, mustard might well have been the smallest seed frequently encountered. God used the culture of the age to convey spiritual truth.

In our next post, we continue to focus on Yeshua’s Teaching Through Parables by returning to Mattityahu 13:31.

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