The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 89

In Yerushalayim for Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) ~ Part 3

In our last post, we learned that Yeshua went privately to Yerushalayim and Taught in the Temple. This post shows that the People Ask If Yeshua is the Messiah, and the P’rushim Seek to Arrest Him.

People Ask If Yeshua is the Messiah

25 Some of the Yerushalayim people said, “Isn’t this the man they’re out to kill? 26 Yet here He is, speaking openly, and they don’t say anything to Him. It couldn’t be, could it, that the authorities have actually concluded He’s the Messiah? 27 Surely not – we know where this man comes from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where He comes from.”

We know where this man comes from, that is, from Nazareth and ordinary human parents (Yochanan 6:42). But when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he comes from. This expectation that the origins of the Messiah must be shrouded in mystery contradicts Micah 5:1, which predicts the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem (as cited in Mattityahu 2:1–8).

28 Whereupon Yeshua, continuing to teach in the Temple courts, cried out, “Indeed you do know Me! And you know where I’m from! And I have not come on My own! The One who sent Me is real. But Him, you don’t know! 29 I do know Him because I am with Him, and He sent me!” 30 At this, they tried to arrest Him, but no one laid a hand on Him; because His time had not yet come. 31 However, many in the crowd put their trust in Him and said, “When the Messiah comes, will he do more miracles than this man has done?  [1]

Because His time had not yet come shows Yeshua’s strong awareness of God’s providential direction of the circumstances of His life; His enemies could not capture or harm Him until “the hour” of His arrest, crucifixion, and death, as ordained by God. God the Father would not allow these things to happen until the earthly ministry of Yeshua (God the Son) was complete. Since the Messiah would be a prophet like Moshe (Deut. 18:15, 18) and Moshe performed many miraculous signs at the exodus (Exodus 7–11), the Messiah was expected to perform miracles as well. In any case, it would have been natural for people to wonder if He was the Messiah after witnessing Yeshua’s miracles.

P’rushim Seek to Arrest Him

32 The P’rushim heard the crowd whispering these things about Yeshua, so the head cohanim and the P’rushim sent some of the Temple guards to arrest him. 33 Yeshua said, “I will be with you only a little while longer; then I will go away to the One who sent me. 34 You will look for me and not find me; indeed, where I am, you cannot come.” 35 The Judeans said to themselves, “Where is this man about to go that we won’t find him? Does he intend to go to the Greek Diaspora and teach the Greek-speaking Jews? 36 And when He says, ‘You will look for me and not find me; indeed, where I am, you cannot come’ – what does he mean?” [2]

Greek-speaking Jews. The word in the text is “Ellênôn” (“Greeks”). Did the Judeans wonder if Yeshua would teach Gentiles? The word “Greek” often means “Gentile” in the writings of Luke and Sha’ul. But since the text explicitly refers to the Greek Diaspora (“dispersion”), which has meaning for Jews and not concerning Gentiles, the Judeans have in mind either Greek or Greek-speaking Jews. Of these two, it seems much more likely that the Greek Diaspora refers to the entire territory conquered by Alexander, where Greek had become the lingua franca, than Greece specifically.

In our next post, we continue with our new series on Yeshua’s Journey to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot. In our next post, we will learn more about Spiritual Drinks and more.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Yochanan 7:25–31.
[2] Yochanan 7:32–36.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 88

In Yerushalayim for Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) ~ Part 2

In our last post, we began our series on In Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot. In this post, we learn that He goes privately to Yerushalayim and Teaches in the Temple.

Yeshua Goes Privately to Yerushalayim

10 But after His brothers had gone up to the festival, He too went up, not publicly but in secret. 11 At the festival, the Judeans were looking for Him. “Where is He?” they asked. 12 And among the crowds, there was much whispering about Him. Some said, “He’s a good man,” but others said, “No, He is deceiving the masses.” 13 However, no one spoke about him openly for fear of the Judeans. [1]

In verse 12, the Greek noun used here for whispering refers to behind-the-scenes talk that can be either positive or negative depending on context. In private discussions, people speculated about Yeshua and had positive and negative opinions about Him. The accusation that He was deceiving the masses is intended to depict Yeshua as one among the false teachers and messianic pretenders of the day (compare Matt 27:63). Based on this accusation, later Jewish tradition condemned Yeshua of sorcery and leading Isra’el astray.

Yeshua Teaches in the Temple

14 Not until the festival was half over did Yeshua go up to the Temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Judeans were surprised: “How does this man know so much without having studied?” they asked.

Without having studied, that is, without having attended any of the usual yeshivot, sitting under the Rabbis and Torah teachers who taught the Pharisaic oral tradition of Torah. The implication is that the speakers regarded Yeshua as an ‘am-ha’aretz, that is, a “hick.”

16 So Yeshua gave them an answer: “My teaching is not My own; it comes from the One who sent me. 17 If anyone wants to do His will, he will know whether my teaching is from God or I speak on my own.

If anyone wants to do His will refers not merely to feelings, attitudes, or mental assent but to having decided to obey God. Such a person will come to know whether Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God, as He himself teaches.

18 A person who speaks on his own is trying to win praise for himself, but a person who tries to win praise for the one who sent him is honest; there is nothing false about him. 19 Didn’t Moshe give you the Torah? Yet not one of you obeys the Torah! Why are you out to kill Me?”

Two quick observations: (1) the people are not obeying the Torah Moshe gave them, even though they suppose they are; for if they were, they would welcome Yeshua. (2) Yeshua was spiritually discerning: He spoke what they felt in their hearts (2:25) but did not want to admit (see next verse).

20 “You have a demon!” the crowd answered. “Who’s out to kill you?”

A godly person reacts to having his sin exposed by admitting it, being sorry for having done wrong, and resolving, with God’s power, to change. Here we see the typical reaction of a worldly person to having his sin exposed: the accusation of the exposer and denial of the sin.

21 Yeshua answered them, “I did one thing; and because of this, all of you are amazed.

I did only one thing, literally, “one work,” the miracle in Yochanan 5:9, and because of merely this, all of you are, in fact, amazed despite yourselves, even though at the same time you are out to kill Me because I did it on Shabbat.

22 Moshe gave you b’rit-milah – —not that it came from Moshe but from the Patriarchs—and you do a boy’s b’rit-milah on Shabbat. 23 If a boy is circumcised on Shabbat so that the Torah of Moshe will not be broken, why are you angry with me because I made a man’s whole body well on Shabbat? 24 Stop judging by surface appearances and judge the right way!” [2]

Moshe gave you b’rit-milah (circumcision) in the Torah at Leviticus 12:3. Not that it came from Moshe but from the Patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya‛akov; for God gave the command of circumcision to Avraham in Genesis 17:1–27, and he carried it out on Yitzchak at Genesis 21:4, all centuries before Moshe. A boy is circumcised on Shabbat so that the Torah of Moshe will not be broken. The Torah states that a Jewish male child is to be circumcised on the eighth day of his life (Genesis 17:12, Leviticus 12:3), but it also prohibits work on Shabbat (Exodus 20:9–10, 23:12, 31:14–15, 34:21, 35:2; Leviticus 23:3; Deuteronomy 5:12–14). Therefore, if the eighth day of a boy’s life falls on Shabbat, is circumcision to be put off till the ninth day, or is Shabbat to be broken by doing the work of tool-carrying and cutting needed for the operation? The Judeans (the Jewish religious authorities centered in Judea) of Yeshua’s time had already decided the question, and their decision stands on record in the Talmud. The rabbis were confronted with the conflict between the law against working on Shabbat and the commandment that a man should circumcise his son on the eighth day of his life. The conflict arises from the fact that cutting and carrying through a public domain the tools needed to perform a b’rit-milah are kinds of work forbidden by the rabbis on Shabbat. They decided that if the eighth day falls on Shabbat, one does the necessary work and circumcises the boy. Still, if the circumcision must occur after the eighth day for health reasons, it may not be done on Shabbat in violation of the work prohibitions – one waits till a weekday.

In our next post, we continue with our new series on Yeshua’s Journey to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot. In our next post, we will learn more about Yeshua’s Teaching in the Temple.

Clcik here for the PDF version.

[1]  Yochanan 7:10–13.
[2]  Yochanan 7:14–24.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 87

In Yerushalayim for Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) ~ Part 1

In our last post, we concluded our series on Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End. This post begins a new series on Yeshua’s journey to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot. To learn the background of this Feast, click HERE.


It has been six months since the last Pesach (Passover), which Yeshua did not attend due to a threat to His life. However, Yeshua believes He can once again journey safely to Yerushalayim. However, He delays going with His step-brothers and goes separately. When He does arrive, He will spend time teaching and confronting the religious leaders who have assembled.

His Brothers, Taunt Yeshua

But the festival of Sukkot in Y’hudah was near; so his brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Y’hudah so that your talmidim can see the miracles you do; for no one who wants to become known acts in secret. If you’re doing these things, show yourself to the world!” (His brothers spoke this way because they had not put their trust in Him.) Yeshua said to them, “My time has not yet come; but for you, any time is right. The world can’t hate you, but it does hate Me because I keep telling it how wicked its ways are. You, go on up to the festival; as for Me, I am not going up to this festival now because the right time for Me has not yet come.”

Yeshua’s brothers … had not put their trust in Him (v. 5). It is sometimes argued that if His brothers did not believe in Him, why should we? But one of them, Ya‛akov (James), not only came to trust in Him later but became the leader of the Messianic Jewish community in Yerushalayim (Acts 2:17; 15:13; 21:18; Galatians 1:19; 2:9, 12); and he is usually credited with authorship of the book of Ya‛akov. Likewise, another brother, Y’hudah (Jude), is thought to be the author of the Brit Hadashah book bearing his name.

Yeshua was not swayed by His brothers’ challenge, which seems to have stemmed from a reasonable and friendly – yet entirely human – motive, the desire to see their brother succeed and become famous. Yeshua had performed miracles in the Galil; His brothers apparently felt He should not delay in developing His reputation in Judea too and even gave a plausible argument (v. 4). But Yeshua had another plan. My time has not yet come (v. 6), either to go to the festival or to do miracles in Judea. Underlying the repeated mentioning of Yeshua’s “time” is the theme of His fundamental mission, to die for the sins of humankind; this was to take place precisely at God’s right moment and was not to be precipitated by any human challenge.

Having said this, He stayed on in the Galil. [1]

In our next post, we continue with our new series on Yeshua’s Journey to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot. In our next post, we learn that Yeshua does indeed Journey to Yerushalayim and Teaches in the Temple.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Yochanan 7:2–9.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 86

Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End ~ Part 8

In our last post, we examined Works Done in Yeshua’s Name and other topics. This post looks at Kefa’s Question on Forgiveness and concludes this topical study with the Parable of the Servants in Debt.

Kefa’s Question on Forgiveness

21 Then Kefa came up and said to him, “Rabbi, how often can my brother sin against me, and I have to forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 “No, not seven times,” answered Yeshua, “but seventy times seven! [1]  If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. Also, if seven times in one day he sins against you, and seven times he comes to you and says, ‘I repent,’ you are to forgive him.” [2]

A generous offer is as many as seven times but not enough for Yeshua. In the passage from Luke, Yeshua suggests unlimited forgiveness by using the number seven, which often represents totality or completeness. Seventy times seven represents an unlimited amount. Yeshua tells Kefa and the rest of His talmidim that they should forgive continuously and without limit, just as God forgives them. The lavish nature of divine forgiveness requires the same response in human relationships – the point of Yeshua’s parable in Mattityahu 18:23–35.

Aren’t you glad that God offers us unlimited opportunities to repent and seek forgiveness?

Parable of the Servants in Debt

23 Because of this (referring to Yeshua’s teaching above), the Kingdom of Heaven may be compared with a king who decided to settle accounts with his deputies. 24 Right away, they brought forward a man who owed him many millions; 25 and since he couldn’t pay, his master ordered that he, his wife, his children, and all his possessions be sold to pay the debt. 26 But the servant fell down before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 So, out of pity for him, the master let him go and forgave the debt. 28 “But as that servant was leaving, he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him some tiny sum. He grabbed him and began to choke him, crying, ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ 29 His fellow servant fell before him and begged, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 But he refused; instead, he had him thrown in jail until he should repay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were extremely distressed, and they went and told their master everything that had taken place. 32 Then the master summoned his servant and said, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt just because you begged me to do it. 33 Shouldn’t you have had pity on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And in anger, his master turned him over to the jailers for punishment until he paid back everything he owed. 35 This is how my heavenly Father will treat you unless you each forgive your brother from your hearts.” [3]

Many millions, literally, “ten thousand talents.” In Roman times one talent equaled 6,000 denarii, a denarius being roughly a day’s wages for a common laborer. If a day’s wages today are $100, 10,000 talents would be $6 billion! Most fast-food establishments pay more than that in a day.

In our next post, we concluded our series on Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End. In our next post, we follow Yeshua into Yerushalayim for Sukkot (the fall Feast of Tabernacles).

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Mattityahu 18:21-22.
[2] Luke 17:3b–4.
[3] Mattityahu 18:23–35.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 85

Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End ~ Part 7

In our last post, we examined Yeshua’s Concern for the Young. This post looks at several topics, including Works Done in Yeshua’s Name and other topics.

Works Done in Yeshua’s Name

38 Yochanan said to him, “Rabbi, we saw a man expelling demons in your name; and because he wasn’t one of us, we told him to stop.” 39 But Yeshua said, “Don’t stop him, because no one who works a miracle in My name will soon after be able to say something bad about Me. 40 For whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Indeed, whoever gives you even a cup of water to drink because you come in the name of the Messiah – yes! I tell you that he will certainly not lose his reward. [1]

He wasn’t one of us implies that since he wasn’t an Emissary (apostle), they were the only authorized agents of Yeshua. He will certainly not lose his reward alludes to the day of final judgment and the expectations that Yeshua’s followers treat all people with love and kindness. This distinguishes them from those who do not follow Yeshua.

Rebuke and Discipline

In this section, Yeshua explains how to handle a sinning brother or sister in the community.

15 “Moreover, if your brother commits a sin against you, go and show him his fault – but privately, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. 16 If he doesn’t listen, take one or two others with you so that every accusation can be supported by the testimony of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to hear them, tell the congregation; and if he refuses to listen even to the congregation, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. [2]

Approaching the offender in private would avoid humiliating that person. It also would minimize the opportunity for misunderstanding and gossip. If he doesn’t listen, take one or two others with youemphasizes the importance of the issue, and provides the benefit of others’ wisdom. It is unclear if these additional witnesses are meant to verify the original charge as people who witnessed the wrongdoing or to witness that the person has been charged with wrongdoing. Either way, they become witnesses of the efforts to resolve it. See also D’varim (Deuteronomy 19:15).

The Emissaries Given Authority

18 Yes! I tell you people that whatever you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven. 19 To repeat, I tell you that if two of you here on earth agree about anything people ask, it will be for them from my Father in heaven. 20 For wherever two or three are assembled in my name, I am there with them.”  [3]

David Stern makes an interesting comment on this passage: food for thought:

Contrary to most Christian interpreters, I take the p’shat(“plain sense”) of this passage to be dealing with making legal judgments and halakhah, [4] not prayer.

The words rendered prohibit and permit (v. 18) are, literally, “bind” and “loose.” These terms were used in first-century Judaism to mean “prohibit” and “permit.” In this sense, Yeshua, when appointing His talmidim to be His successors, used the familiar formula (Matt 16:19, 18:18). By these words, He virtually invested them with the same authority as that which He found belonging to the Scribes and P’rushim who ‘bind heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will not move them with one of their fingers; that is, ‘loose them,’ as they have the power to do (Matt 23:2–4).

Yeshua is speaking to those who have authority to regulate Messianic communal life (vv. 15–17) and commissions them to establish Brit Hadashah halakhah, that is, to make authoritative decisions where there is a question about how Messianic life ought to be lived. In v. 19, Yeshua is teaching that when an issue is brought formally to a panel of two or three Messianic Community leaders (elders), and they render a halakhic decision here on earth, they can be assured that the authority of God in heaven stands behind them. [5]

In our next post, we conclude our exploration of Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End by looking at Kefa Asks About Forgiveness and The Parable of the Servants Debt.

Clcik here for the PDF version.

[1] Mark 9:38–41 (see also Luke 9:49-5).
[2] Mattityahu 18:15–17.
[3] Mattityahu 18:18–20.
[4] See the Glossary for the definition.
[5] David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 84

Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End ~ Part 6

In our last post, we examined Yeshua’s Death is Again Foretold. This post looks at several topics starting with Yeshua’s Concern for the Young.

Yeshua’s Concern for the Young

36 He took a child and stood him among them. Then He put His arms around him and said to them, 37 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes Me welcomes not Me but the One who sent Me.[1]

The attitude of heart Yeshua is teaching does not even overlook a lowly child (at times marginalized in ancient societies) but welcomes, and thereby cares for, such a little one in His name. In contrast to the status-seeking of the talmidim (v. 34), Yeshua shows them they should willingly take on lowly, often unnoticed tasks and care for those with minor status worldwide. Anyone who does this, Yeshua says, welcomes Me and, in so doing, also receives the Father (the One who sent Me). Humbly caring for people of lowly status out of obedience to Yeshua will be rewarded by rich personal fellowship with both the Son and the Father.

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. [2] 10 See that you never despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually seeing the face of my Father in heaven.

Their angels in heaven are constantly seeing the face of my Father. The imagery recalls Oriental court ceremonies. The verse does not say that each believer has a guardian angel, but that recent Believers as a group have angels in heaven. The apocryphal book of Tobit (c. 300 BCE) speaks of guardian angels; Daniel and Zechariah mention angels of particular countries. The talmidim praying for Kefa thought that the knock at the door was that of “his angel” (Acts 12:15), but their ideas were not necessarily correct. There may be guardian angels, but Scripture does not prove it. Angels have many functions concerning believers: ministering to God on their behalf (Messianic Jews 1:14), protecting them (Psalm 91:11, Mt 4:6), overseeing their worship (1 Corinthians 11:10), in judgment, separating them from the wicked (Mattityahu 13:41, 24:31). Their function here is not stated.

(11 Some manuscripts include verse 11: For the Son of Man came to save the lost.) 12 Whats your opinion? What will somebody do who has a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away? Wont he leave the ninety-nine on the hillsides and go off to find the stray?

The Greek verb used here, planaō  (“to go astray” or “wander away”), is often connected to people who abandon the faith.

13 And if he happens to find it? Yes! I tell you, he is happier over it than over the ninety-nine that never strayed! 14 Thus, your heavenly Father does not want even one of these little ones to be lost. [3]

In our next post, we continue to examine Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End by looking at Works Done in Yeshua’s Name and other encounters.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  Mark 9:36–37.
[2]  Mattityahu 18:6.
[3] Mattityahu 18:10–14.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 83

Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End ~ Part 5

In our last post, we examined Yeshua Heals A Demon-Possessed Boy. This post looks at several topics starting with Yeshua’s Death is Again Foretold.

Yeshua’s Death is Again Foretold

22 As they were going about together in the Galil, Yeshua said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of people 23 who will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were filled with sadness. [1]

Mattityahu’s first reference to Yeshua’s impending betrayal by Judas Iscariot. The talmidim are grieved but do not dispute this prediction, as Kefa did the first time.

Yeshua’s Death is Again Foretold

24 When they came to K’far-Nachum, the collectors of the half-shekel came to Kefa and said, “Doesn’t your rabbi pay the Temple tax?” 25 “Of course he does,” said Kefa. When he arrived home, Yeshua spoke first. “Shim’on, what’s your opinion? The kings of the earth – from whom do they collect duties and taxes? From their sons or from others?” 26 “From others,” he answered. “Then,” said Yeshua, The sons are exempt. 27 But to avoid offending them – go to the lake, throw out a line, and take the first fish you catch. Open its mouth, and you will find a shekel. Take it and give it to them for you and for me.” ~ Mattityahu 17:24-27.

A per-capita tax of one half-shekel to support the activities of the cohanim is specified in Exodus 30:11–16, 38:26. This was equivalent to one or two days’ wages for an average worker.

Unique to Mattityahu’s Gospel, this passage addresses whether Jewish followers of Yeshua’s day should continue to pay the Temple tax. This was particularly relevant to Mattityahu’s audience since they were most likely Jews. Yeshua’s response communicates the Temple’s continued sanctity and demonstrates the miraculous ways in which God provides for His people.

Who Is the Greatest?

33 They arrived at K’far-Nachum. When Yeshua was inside the house, He asked them, “What were you discussing as we were traveling?” 34 But they kept quiet; because on the way, they had been arguing with each other about who was the greatest.

The talimidim’s inability to comprehend Yeshua’s destiny, or perhaps its significance, matches their distorted understanding of their own futures.

35 He sat down, summoned the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.” [2]

Servant of all echoes the words of Isaiah 52:13–53:12, which Yeshua will fulfill. He demonstrates this principle by sacrificing His own life.

If one of you has a slave tending the sheep or plowing when he comes back from the field, will you say to him, ‘Come along now, sit down and eat’? No, you’ll say, ‘Get my supper ready, dress for work, and serve me until I have finished eating and drinking; after that, you may eat and drink.’ Does he thank the slave because he did what he was told to do? No! 10 It’s the same with you—when you have done everything you were told to do, you should be saying, ‘We’re just ordinary slaves, we have only done our duty.'” [3]

This passage’s final set of Yeshua’s sayings is unique to Luke’s Gospel.We’re just ordinary slaves” implies that His talmidim should comport themselves as humble slaves to God, in contrast to the self-aggrandizing P’rushim.

He called a child to Him, stood him among them, and said, “Yes! I tell you that unless you change and become like little children, you won’t even enter the Kingdom of Heaven! So the greatest in the Kingdom is whoever makes himself as humble as this child.” [4]

In our next post, we continue to examine Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End by looking at Yeshua’s Concern for the Young and other encounters.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Mattityahu 17:22–23 (see also Mark 9:30-32 & Luke 9:43b-45).
[2] Mark 9:33–35.
[3] Luke 17:7–10.
[4] Mattityahu 18:2–4.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 82

Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End ~ Part 4

In our last post, we examined Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End, including His Transfiguration. In this post, Yeshua Heals A Demon-Possessed Boy.

Yeshua Heals A Demon-Possessed Boy

Apparently, back in Caesarea Philippi (Mattityahu 16:13), Yeshua encounters a demon-possessed person and demonstrates His power over evil. His talmidim had tried to cast out the demon, but they failed due to their weak faith.

14 When they returned to the other talmidim, they saw a large crowd surrounding them, and some teachers of religious law were arguing with them. 15 When the crowd saw Yeshua, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet him.

16 “What is all this arguing about?” Yeshua asked.

17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I asked your talmidim to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”

19 Yeshua said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

Yeshua rebukes the faithless people of His day for their weak faith and distorted perception (compare Deuteronomy 32:5, 20). This criticism was probably aimed at His talmidim.

20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Yeshua, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.

As in Yeshua’s previous encounters with unclean spirits, the demon causes a commotion within its host when Yeshua appears.

21 “How long has this been happening?” Yeshua asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into the water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us if you can.”

23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Yeshua asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Yeshua’s response redirects the conversation from questioning His ability to the need for faith.

24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

25 When Yeshua saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, He rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” He said. I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”

26 Then, the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Yeshua took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.

28 Afterward, when Yeshua was alone in the house with His talmidim, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?” [1]

20 He said to them, “Because you have such little trust! Yes! I tell you that if you have trust as tiny as a mustard seed, you will be able to say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there!’ and it will move; indeed, nothing will be impossible for you!” [Some manuscripts insert verse 21: But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting.] [2]

In our next post, we continue to examine Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End by looking at Yeshua’s Death Is Again Foretold and other encounters.

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[1] Mark 9:14–28 (See also Mattityahu 17:14-19 & Luke 9:37-43a, 17:5-6)
[2] Mattityahu 17:20-21.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 81

Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End ~ Part 3

In our last post, we examined Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End, including suffering foretold, taking up our cross, and Kingdom within a lifetime. In this post, we examine His Transfiguration.

Yeshua’s Transfiguration

I have always been fascinated with His Transfiguration. It means a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state. Not only that, but how did His three talmidim know that the two people with Him were Moshe and Eliyahu?

Six days later, Yeshua took Kefa, Ya’akov, and his brother Yochanan and led them up a high mountain privately. As they watched, He began to change form – His face shone like the sun, and His clothing became as white as light. Then they looked and saw Moshe and Eliyahu speaking with Him.

Yeshua’s face shone like the sun, and his clothing became white as light. Why? So that his glory would not be less than that of Moshe and Eliyahu, who was speaking with Him. According to Jewish tradition, when God sent an angel at the end of Moshe’s life to fetch his soul, he “saw Moshe sitting and writing down the Unutterable Name of God, and how the radiance of his appearance was like that of the sun.” This is an aggadic (Text recited at the Seder on the first two nights of the Jewish Passover) extension of what the Tanakh itself says about him, “that the skin of his face shone” (Exodus 34:29–35).

Kefa said to Yeshua, “It’s good that we’re here, Lord. I’ll put up three shelters if you want – one for you, one for Moshe, and one for Eliyahu.” While He was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them; and a voice from the cloud said, This is my Son, whom I love, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the talmidim heard this, they were so frightened that they fell face down on the ground. But Yeshua came and touched them. Get up!” He said, “Don’t be afraid.” So they opened their eyes, looked up, and saw only Yeshua by himself.

As they came down the mountain, Yeshua ordered them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

The Transfiguration confirmed Yeshua’s“coming in his kingdom” (Mattityahu 16:28) to these three talmidim. Still, without the more public confirmation which followed His resurrection, the testimony would have been of little value in proving Yeshua’s identity. It would have raised more questions than it answered. Hence Yeshua advised keeping quiet about what they had experienced for the time being.

10 The talmidim asked Him, “Then why do the Torah-teachers say that Eliyahu must come first?”

The Torah-teachers say Eliyahu must come first. This teaching is based on Malachi 3:1 and 3:23–24, and it is kept alive in Judaism every Pesach, at the Seder meal, when an extra place is set for Eliyahu HaNavi (“Elijah the prophet”). The door is opened to welcome him, should he be there.

Three points: (1) Yochanan the Immerser, “if you are willing to accept it,” was Eliyahu (Mattityahu 11:10–14), and (2) Eliyahu himself had, in fact, “come first” by appearing there on the mountain (v. 3), and (3) Eliyahu may yet appear before Yeshua’s second coming (see Revelation 11:3–6).

11 He answered, “On the one hand, Eliyahu is coming and will restore all things; 12 on the other hand, I tell you that Eliyahu has come already, and people did not recognize him but did whatever they pleased to him. In the same way, the Son of Man too is about to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the talmidim understood that he was talking to them about Yochanan the Immerser. [1]

In our last post, we continued to examine our topic on Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End. In our next post, we will examine Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End by looking at Yeshua Heals a Demon-Possessed Boy.

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[1] Mattityahu 17:1–13 (see also Mark 9:2-13 & Luke 9:28-36b).

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 80

Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End ~ Part 2

In our last post, we began a new series on Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End. In this post, we continue with His preparation.

Suffering Foretold

21 From that time on, Yeshua began making it clear to His talmidim that He had to go to Yerushalayim and endure much suffering at the hands of the elders, the head cohanim, and the Torah-teachers; and that He had to be put to death; but that on the third day, He had to be raised to life. 22 Kefa took Him aside and began rebuking him, “Heaven be merciful, Lord! By no means will this happen to you!”

Yeshua teaches His talmidim what must happen to Him as Messiah and is completely misunderstood, both here and on two later occasions (Mattitayhu17:22–23, 20:17–19), so different is His scenario from that popularly expected. Even at the Last Supper (Yochanan 14:28) and after His resurrection (Acts 1:6–7), they did not comprehend God’s plan for the Messiah.

23 But Yeshua turned His back on Kefa, saying, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path because your thinking is from a human perspective, not from God’s perspective!”  [1]

When Yeshua says, “Get behind me, Satan!” He could be talking to Satan, conceived of as speaking through Kefa; if so, Yeshua is telling Satan not to be an obstacle to him but to get behind him, out of the way. Or Yeshua could be addressing Kefa; it could refer to Kefa as an adversary who is opposing Yeshua so that Yeshua is saying: “Bo acharai,” (come after me), and see that the things I have predicted for Myself will indeed happen, contrary to what you are saying and that this will be for the benefit of all concerned. This interpretation is based on the fact that Hebrew achar means both “behind” and “after” or “following,” with the implication that the translator of the incident into Greek misunderstood it. The context certainly does not support an interpretation I occasionally hear that Yeshua is inviting Satan to become His follower (with the universalistic doctrinal implication that eventually, even Satan will be “saved”). [2]

Take Up Your Cross

24 Then Yeshua told his talmidim, “If anyone wants to come after Me, let him say ‘No’ to himself, take up his execution stake, and keep following Me. 25 For whoever wants to save his own life will destroy it, but whoever destroys his life for My sake will find it. 26 What good will it do someone if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life? Or, what can a person give in exchange for his life? 27 For the Son of Man will come in His Father’s glory, with His angels; and then He will repay everyone according to his conduct. [3]

Yeshua’s great call to discipleship is His teaching on how to think the way God thinks (v. 23). Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran theologian who was imprisoned in the Theresienstadt concentration camp and shot by the Nazis at age 39, days before the close of World War II, wrote in The Cost of Discipleship that there is no “cheap grace,” no primrose path to Heaven. Jews have often thought Christianity to offer exactly that; some Christian theologies, emphasizing God’s work and de-emphasizing man’s in the salvation process, encourage this misunderstanding. This verse is the antidote. To follow Yeshua is to say no to oneself, not by practicing asceticism or developing low self-esteem, but by placing the will above one’s own feelings, desires, and urges. To take up one’s execution stake is to bear the instrument of one’s death, for, as Bonhoeffer put it, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” The consequences of wholeheartedly taking this stand are given in vv. 25–26. [4]

Kingdom Within Lifetime

28 Yes! I tell you that there are some people standing here who will not experience death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom!” [5]

Some of the Twelve standing there with Yeshua in Caesarea Philippi would live to see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom. This predicted event has been variously interpreted as referring to: (1) Yeshua’s Transfiguration (17:1–8); (2) His resurrection; (3) the coming of the Ruach at Shavuot; (4) the spread of the Kingdom through the preaching of the early church; (5) the destruction of the Temple and Yerushalayim in 70 CE; or (6) the Second Coming and final establishment of the Kingdom. The immediate context indicates the first view, the Transfiguration, which immediately follows (see also Mark 9:2–10; Luke 9:28–36). There, “some” of Yeshua’s talmidim “saw” what Yeshua will be like when he comes into the power of his Kingdom. This interpretation is also supported by 2 Kefa 1:16–18, where Kefa equates Yeshua’s “glory” with His Transfiguration, to which Kefa was an eyewitness. At the same time, interpretations (2), (3), and (4) are also quite possible, for they are all instances where Yeshua “came” in the decisive advance of His Kingdom, which was partially but not yet fully realized. Some interpreters think that Yeshua generally speaks of many or all events in views (2) through (4). View (5) is less persuasive because the judgment on Yerushalayim does not reflect the positive growth of the Kingdom. View (6) is unacceptable, for it would imply that Yeshua was mistaken about the timing of His return. [6]

In our last post, we introduced our next topic on Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End. In our next post, we continue to examine Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End by looking at the Transfiguration.

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[1] Mattityahu 16:21–23 (see also Mark 8:31-33 & Luke 9:21-22).
[2] David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary.
[3] Mattityahu 16:24–27 (see also Mark 8:34-38 & Luke 9:21-26).
[4] Ibid.
[5] Mattityahu 16:28 (see also Mark 9:1 & Luke 9:27).
[6] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible.