The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 125

Yeshua’s Final Journey ~ Part 2

In our last post, we begin a new chapter dealing with the final days of Yeshua’s life and ministry to count down. In this post, Yeshua Blesses the Children and Talks to A Rich Young Man.

Yeshua Blesses the Children

13 Then children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray for them, but the talmidim rebuked the people bringing them. 14 However, Yeshua said, “Let the children come to me, don’t stop them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 Then, after laying His hands on them, He went on His way. [1]

Yeshua Talks to A Rich Young Man

16 A man approached Yeshua and said, “Rabbi, what good thing should I do in order to have eternal life?”

Eternal life describes life in the kingdom of the Messiah, which starts now but extends forever (compare John 3:16–17).

He said to him, 17 “Why are you asking me about good? There is One who is good! But if you want to obtain eternal life, observe the mitzvot.” 18 The man asked him, “Which ones?” and Yeshua said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t give false testimony 19 honor father and mother and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Yeshua names the sixth – ninth, and fifth of the Ten Commandments. These deal with interpersonal relationships, as does “Love your neighbor as yourself,” which subsumes the others (see Romans 13:8–10).

20 The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; where do I still fall short?” 21 Yeshua said to him, “If you are serious about reaching the goal, go and sell your possessions, give to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me!” 2But when the young man heard this, he went away sad because he was wealthy. [2]

If you are serious about reaching the goal. Usually, and with equal justification, rendered, “If you want to be perfect.” Yeshua sees the young man’s attachment to his possessions as a hindrance to faith. He commands the man to rid himself of whatever prevents him from committing to the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the only instance of someone declining to follow Yeshua after a direct invitation.

In our next, we will continue to explore Yeshua’s Final Journey.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Mattityahu 19:13–15.
[2] Mattityahu 19:16–22.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 124

Yeshua’s Final Journey ~ Part 1

In our last post, we conclude our examination of His Raising of Lazarus and saw Yeshua withdraw to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim. In this post, we begin a new chapter dealing with the final days of Yeshua’s life and ministry to count down.

Introduction

What occurs during this period, probably between January and March, is a microcosm of His entire ministry. There is more teaching to be done and more confrontations with the P’rushim. He once again blesses little children and reminds His followers of the burdens they must bear. As He has done twice before, Yeshua tells of His impending death.

More parables are taught, and still, more people are to be healed. He even has to admonish His closest talmidim of the spiritual nature of His kingdom and the need for humility and service. 1

P’rushim Question Yeshua on the Issue of Divorce

3 Some P’rushim came and tried to trap Him by asking, “Is it permitted for a man to divorce his wife on any ground whatever?” 4 He replied, “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, 5 and that he said, ‘For this reason, a man should leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two are to become one flesh’? 6 Thus they are no longer two, but one. So then, no one should split apart what God has joined together.”

7 They said to him, “Then why did Moshe give the commandment that a man should hand his wife a get and divorce her?” 8 He answered, “Moshe allowed you to divorce your wives because your hearts are so hardened. But this is not how it was at the beginning. 9 Now what I say to you is that whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery!” 2

The only text in the Five Books of Moshe dealing with divorce is Deuteronomy 24:1–4, and its discussion of grounds is perfunctory. Yeshua, in recalling Scripture, harks back to the beginning, in Gan-Eden (Mattityahu 19:4–5), to support His view that marriage must not be dissolved for anything less than the most direct insult to its one-flesh integrity, adultery. Verse 9 may imply that divorce without remarriage is allowable for lesser offenses.

The Talmidim Question Yeshua

10 The talmidim said to Him, “If that is how things are between husband and wife, it would be better not to marry!” 11 He said to them, “Not everyone grasps this teaching, only those for whom it is meant. 12 For there are different reasons why men do not marry – some because they were born without the desire, some because they have been castrated, and some because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever can grasp this, let him do so.” 3

Judaism has always considered marriage both normal and desirable – “The unmarried person lives without joy, without blessing, and without good …. An unmarried man is not fully a man” (Talmud: Yevamot 62b–63a). On the other hand, some branches of Christianity came to grant abnormally high status to celibacy.

Depending on the calling and preferences of the individual, Yeshua allows that either the married or the single life can be one of service to God and humanity; and He takes care to minimize needless guilt on the part of those making a choice.

In our next, we will continue to explore Yeshua’s Final Journey.

Click here for the PDF version.

1 F. LaGard Smith, The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order.
2 Mattityahu 19:3-9.
3 Mattityahu 19:10–12.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 123

Return to Judea to Raise Lazarus ~ Part 4

In this post, we conclude our examination of His Raising of Lazarus. Note: There are no Red Letter Words in this post, but I thought it provided the needed background for what is to follow.

The Sanhedrin Plots to Kill Yeshua

Let’s pick up the story where we left off in the last post. El’azar has been raised to life. 45 At this, many of the Judeans who had come to visit Miryam and had seen what Yeshua had done trusted in him.

46 But some of them went off to the P’rushim and told them what He had done. 47 So the head cohanim and the P’rushim called a meeting of the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do? – for this man is performing many miracles.

The head cohanim and the P’rushim, the two focal points of opposition to Yeshua in the Judean establishment, called a meeting of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council, but it was an illegal meeting. This nighttime meeting was illegal; some scholars believe this particular Sanhedrin was not even official. Nevertheless, there seems to be little doubt that this body, whomever it consisted of, included important establishment figures and, in condemning Yeshua, carried out an action that expressed the desire of many P’rushim and Tz’dukim. [1]

48 If we let Him keep going on this way, everyone will trust in Him, and the Romans will come and destroy both the Temple and the nation.”

The establishment had a working relationship with Rome even though it was an oppressing foreign power. This relationship was perceived as threatened by anyone whom Rome might regard as intending to lead a revolt and set up an independent government. Everyone will trust in Him as the longed-for Messianic king who would restore Israel’s national glory.

49 But one of them, Kayafa (Caiaphas), who was cohen gadol that year, said to them, “You people don’t know anything! 50 You don’t see that it’s better for you if one man dies on behalf of the people so that the whole nation won’t be destroyed.” 51 Now, he didn’t speak this way on his own initiative; rather, since he was cohen gadol that year, he was prophesying that Yeshua was about to die on behalf of the nation, 52 and not for the nation alone, but so that He might gather into one the scattered children of God. 53 From that day on, they made plans to have Him put to death. 54 Therefore, Yeshua no longer walked around openly among the Judeans but went away from there into the region near the desert to a town called Efrayim and stayed there with His talmidim. [2]

On behalf of the people. Kayafa’s intended sense is “instead of the people.” That is, “Better for us to ensure that Yeshua is put to death than that thousands of our people die at the hands of Romans suppressing a rebellion.” But Kayafa … was cohen gadol that fateful year, and for this reason, even though he was an evil man, God used him to prophesy. As v. 51 explains, his words carried more profound significance than Kayafa’s intended sense. The deeper significance involves exchanging Kayafa’s meaning for one, implying that Yeshua would fulfill Isaiah 53:6,

“All of us, like sheep, have gone astray;
we have turned everyone to his own way;
and Adonai has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.”

Yeshua would pay the death penalty for sin instead of on behalf of the people of Isra’el and on behalf of non-Jews. For a discussion of how this works, see Romans 5:12–21.

In our next, we will begin to explore Yeshua’s Final Journey to Yerushalayim.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Mark 14:55.
[2] Yochanan11:45–54.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 122

Return to Judea to Raise Lazarus ~ Part 3

In our last post, we explored Yeshua’s Returns to Judea to Raise Lazarus. In this post, we continue to examine His Raising of Lazarus.

Yeshua Talks to Miryam

28 After saying this, she went off and secretly called Miryam, her sister: “The Rabbi is here and is calling for you.”

The Rabbi was a natural way of referring to Yeshua for any disciple before his resurrection.

29 When she heard this, she jumped up and went to Him. 30 Yeshua had not yet come into the village but was still where Marta had met Him; 31 so when the Judeans who had been with Miryam in the house comforting her saw her get up quickly and go out, they followed her, thinking she was going to the tomb to mourn there. 32 When Miryam came to where Yeshua was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Yeshua saw her crying, and also the Judeans who came with her crying, He was deeply moved and also troubled. 34 He said, “Where have you buried him?” They said, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Yeshua cried;

The Greek word underlying deeply moved (embrimaomai) means to feel something deeply and intensely. Yeshua was moved with profound sorrow at His friend’s death and the grief that His other friends had suffered. In addition, this sorrow was intermixed with anger at the evil of death (the final enemy) and also with a deep sense of awe at the power of God that was about to flow through him to triumph over death (in anticipation of His voice summoning the whole world to the resurrection on the last day).

Yeshua cried. Yeshua joins His friends’ sadness with heartfelt sorrow, yet underlying it is the knowledge that resurrection and joy will soon follow. Yeshua’s example shows that genuine mourning in the face of death does not indicate a lack of faith but honest sorrow at the reality of suffering and death. Whoever said, “big men don’t cry,” never read the Scriptures.

36 so, the Judeans there said, “See how He loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “He opened the blind man’s eyes. Couldn’t He have kept this one from dying?”  [1]

Yeshua Raises El’azar (Lazarus)

38 Yeshua, again deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying in front of the entrance. 39 Yeshua said, “Take the stone away!” Marta, the sister of the dead man, said to Yeshua, “By now, his body must smell, for it has been four days since he died!”

Due to the local custom of the time, the grave would have been checked for three days to ensure that death had occurred. Marta’s remark confirms that she has given up all hope that her brother is still alive – the three-day period has passed.

40 Yeshua said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you keep trusting, you will see the glory of God? 41 So they removed the stone. Yeshua looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I myself know that you always hear me, but I say this because of the crowd standing around so that they may believe that you have sent me.”

Yeshua looked upward. He prayed with His eyes open, as Jewish people do today. Gentile Believers usually pray with their eyes closed; the reason most often given is to screen out visual distractions and concentrate on God. Which to do is a matter of individual choice; the Bible does not require either.

43 Having said this, He shouted, “El’azar! Come out!” 4The man who had been dead came out, his hands and feet wrapped in strips of linen and his face covered with a cloth. Yeshua said to them, “Unwrap him, and let him go!” 45 At this, many of the Judeans who had come to visit Miryam and had seen what Yeshua had done trusted in him. [2]

In our next, we will conclude our exploration of Yeshua’s Return to Judea to Raise Lazarus.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Yochanan 11:28–37.
[2] Yochanan 11:38–45.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 121

Yeshua Returns to Judea to Raise Lazarus ~ Part 2

In our last post, we explored Yeshua’s Returns to Judea to Raise Lazarus. In this post, we continue to examine His Raising of Lazarus.

Yeshua Talks to Marta

17 On arrival, Yeshua found that El’azar had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 No Beit-Anyah was about two miles from Yerushalayim, 19 and many of the Judeans had come to Marta and Miryam in order to comfort them at the loss of their brother. 20 So when Marta heard that Yeshua was coming, she went out to meet him; but Miryam continued sitting shiv’ah  [1]  in the house.

El’azar had already been in the tomb for four days and had already begun to decay (see v. 39). Yeshua raised others from the dead – Ya’ir’s daughter (Luke 8:41–42, 49–56) and the son of the widow in Na’im (Luke 7:11–17). The Tanakh reports that Elijah and Elisha had raised people from the dead (1 Kings 17:17–24, 2 Kings 4:17–37). And indeed, doctors today bring back people who have been “clinically dead” for many minutes, perhaps hours. But nowhere in biblical or secular history is there an instance of anyone medically dead for four days – to the point where there would be an odor – being physically raised from the dead.

This incident is reported in such a way that no one misses its significance: Yeshua has physically brought back to life a four-days-dead, cold, stinking corpse, and this miracle crowns Yeshua’s career before His own death and resurrection. This produced a profound reaction among the populace and authorities, as reported in the rest of this and the following chapter.

21 Marta said to Yeshua, “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now, I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” 23 Yeshua said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Marta said, “I know that he will rise again at the Resurrection on the Last Day.25 Yeshua said to her, I AM the Resurrection and the Life! Whoever puts his trust in me will live, even if he dies; 26 and everyone living and trusting in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

I AM the Resurrection and the Life. In addition to Yeshua’s absolute I AM” statements, Yochanan reports seven predicated “I AM” statements: I AM the bread of life (6:35), the light of the world (8:12, 9:5), the gate (10:7), the good shepherd (10:11, 14), the resurrection and the life (here), the way and the truth and the life (14:6), and the real vine (15:1). The book of Revelation adds that Yeshua similarly spoke of Himself after the resurrection as the “A” and the “Z” (Revelation 1:8) and as the first and the last (Revelation 1:17).

27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

Yeshua Talks to Miryam

28 After saying this, she went off and secretly called Miryam, her sister: “The Rabbi is here and is calling for you.” 29 When she heard this, she jumped up and went to him. 30 Yeshua had not yet come into the village but was still where Marta had met him; 31 so when the Judeans who had been with Miryam in the house comforting her saw her get up quickly and go out, they followed her, thinking she was going to the tomb to mourn there32 When Miryam came to where Yeshua was and  saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

My brother would not have died. Miryam, like Marta, is convinced that Yeshua could have saved El’azar from dying if there had been an opportunity for Him to come (compare Yochanan 11:22). They are both unaware that Yeshua intentionally waited for El’azar to die so He could perform the miracle of raising him from the dead.

33 When Yeshua saw her crying, and also the Judeans who came with her crying, he was deeply moved and also troubled. 34 He said, Where have you buried him?” They said, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Yeshua cried; 36 so the Judeans there said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “He opened the blind man’s eyes. Couldn’t he have kept this one from dying?”  [2]

Although Yeshua intended to use this situation as an example to glorify God, it still disturbs Him. Yeshua feels the hurt emotions of one who has lost a friend, and He is sympathetic toward others who grieve.

I highlighted verse 35 not only because it is the shortest verse in the Bible but also because it displays His humanity.

In our next, we conclude (hopefully) our exploration of Yeshua’s Return to Judea to Raise Lazarus.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  Shiv’ah means “seven,” and the phrase, “sitting shiv’ah,” refers to the Jewish custom of sitting in mourning for seven days following the death of a deceased parent, spouse, sibling, or child.

[2]  Yochanan 11:27-37.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 120

Return to Judea to Raise Lazarus ~ Part 1

In our last post, we came to the end of His Perean Ministry as He Concluded Teaching in Parables.

In this post, Yeshua Returns to Judea to Raise Lazarus.

Introduction

Yochanan records one of the most poignant events in all the Gospel accounts. While Yeshua is still in Perea, He learns that His friend Lazarus is seriously ill in Bethany. [1] Yeshua wants to be with Lazarus. But because Bethany is so close to Yerushalayim, His talmidim counseled against returning there. What follows is a touching account of Yeshua meeting Lazarus’s sisters, Mary and Martha, and being moved to tears. Yeshua arrives four days after Lazarus has died.

Yeshua Learns El’azar (Lazarus) Is Ill

Like a number of the incidents Yochanan reports, the events of this chapter presume knowledge of material found in the Synoptic Gospels. Beit-Anyah is mentioned in Mark 11:11–12, where Yeshua and His talmidim stayed after their triumphal entry into Yerushalayim. Miryam and Marta are introduced in Luke 10:38–42.

There was a man who had fallen sick. His name was El’azar, and he came from Beit-Anyah, the village where Miryam and her sister Marta lived. (This Miryam, whose brother El’azar had become sick, is the one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent a message to Yeshua, “Lord, the man you love is sick.” On hearing it, He said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may receive glory through it.”

In fact, El’azar did die (v. 14), but Yeshua raised him so that the illness did not “end” in death.

The Talmidim Fear Yeshua’s Return So Close to Yerushalayim

5 Yeshua loved Marta and her sister and El’azar; so when He heard he was sick, first He stayed where He was two more days; then, after this, He said to the talmidim, “Let’s go back to Y’hudah.” The talmidim replied, “Rabbi! Just a short while ago, the Judeans were out to stone you—and you want to go back there?” Yeshua answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? If a person walks during daylight, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world.

Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? Yeshua refers to the average hours of sunlight in the summer in Yerushalayim. The light of this world refers to Yeshua. The light was a common Jewish metaphor for God’s providence and guidance.

10 But if a person walks at night, he does stumble; because he has no light with him.”

No light with him refers to God’s power to guide a person’s life through the Ruach. In this setting, He is referring to Himself as their guide.

11 Yeshua said these things, and afterward, He said to the talmidim, “Our friend El’azar has gone to sleep, but I am going in order to wake him up.” 12 The talmidim said to Him, “Lord if he has gone to sleep, he will get better.”13 Now Yeshua had used the phrase to speak about El’azar’s death, but they thought he had been talking literally about sleep. 14 So Yeshua told them in plain language, “El’azar has died.15 And for your sake, I am glad that I wasn’t there so that you may come to trust. But let’s go to him.” 16 Then T’oma (Thomas which means “twin”) said to his fellow talmidim, “Yes, we should go so that we can die with him!”  [2]

T’oma shows enthusiasm to follow Yeshua, a point that later becomes ironic (see Yochanan 20:27).

In our next, we continue our exploration of Yeshua’s Return to Judea to Raise Lazarus.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  This Beit-Anyah is located about a mile and one-half due east of Yerushalayim.

[2]  Yochanan 11:1–16.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 119

The Perean Ministry ~ Part 13

In our last post, we have been following Yeshua as He left Yerushalayim to go to Perea. In this post, we come to the end of His Perean Ministry as He Concludes Teaching in Parables.

The Parable of the Vineyard Workers

Many of Yeshua’s parables describe the Kingdom of Heaven. He uses experiences common to the people of His day to help them understand the coming and growth of the Kingdom. I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to work on my Grandfather’s date and citrus ranches in the Coachella Valley of California while completing my college degrees. It taught me so much about working under scorching heat to bring in a crop. On one ranch, there was even a vineyard of table grapes. But he had let it go fallow due to the low rate of return.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who went out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard.

In Isra’el, a landowner typically woke early in the morning and went to the marketplace, where day laborers gathered. (I’ve seen that myself when I went to Home Depot early.) He would select a few workers to tend his fields or harvest his crops and pay them their wages at the end of the day. In the parable, the owner returns to the marketplace every few hours to hire more workers.

After agreeing with the workers on a wage of one denarius [the standard daily wage,] he sent them off to his vineyard. Then, on going out at about nine in the morning, he saw more men standing around in the market square doing nothing, and said to them, ‘You go to the vineyard too – I’ll pay you a fair wage.’ So they went.

These day laborers probably assumed they would be paid less because of their late start.

At noon, and again around three in the afternoon, he did the same thing.

The owner adds even more workers at midday and midafternoon, even though they will only put in a partial day’s work.

About an hour before sundown, he went out, found still others standing around, and asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day, doing nothing?” They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ ‘You too,’ he told them, ‘go to the vineyard.’

The fact that the owner recruited workers this late in the day might indicate the urgency of the harvest (compare Mattityahu 9:37–38). It also shows the desperation of these workers who have been waiting all day for someone to hire them.

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last ones hired and ending with the first.’

According to the law, hired workers had to be paid at the end of the day (see Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:15). Starting with the last ones hired and ending with the first. This wording associates the workers in the parable with Yeshua’s statements in Mattityahu 19:30 and 20:16.

The workers who came an hour before sunset each received a denarius, 10 so the workers who came first expected they would get more, but each of them also received just a denarius.

So, the workers who came first expected they would get more. This a reasonable conclusion since those hired at the end of the day received a full day’s wage. I know that I would have thought that myself.

 11 On receiving their wages, they began grumbling to the farmer, 12 ‘These latecomers have worked only one hour while we have borne the brunt of the day’s work in the hot sun, yet you have put them on an equal footing with us!’

Yeshua’s audience probably agreed that the owner was unfair: Those who worked more should be paid more.

13 But he answered one of them, ‘Look, friend, I’m not being unfair with you. Didn’t you agree to work today for a denarius? 14 Now take your pay and go! I choose to give the last worker as much as I’m giving you.

By ignoring when the workers started, the owner demonstrates grace – giving some more than they deserve.

15 Haven’t I the right to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 Thus, the last ones will be first and the first last.”  (see Mattityahu 19:30)  [1]

In our next post or two, Yeshua Returns to Judea to Raise Lazarus.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  Mattityahu 20:1–16.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 118

The Perean Ministry ~ Part 12

In our last post, we followed Yeshua as He left Yerushalayim to go to Perea. In this post, we continue to examine His Perean Ministry as He Continues to Teach in Parables.

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

In this parable, Yeshua depicts an Oriental judge who can be approached without the bureaucratic entanglements of the modern West, a man without conscience but with a human weakness that ultimately leads him to grant genuine justice despite himself. If a corrupt judge finally gives in to a widow’s pestering, how much more will God, who is altogether just, respond to His chosen people’s continual prayers (as opposed to the widow’s occasional visits), such as “Adonai, how long will you look on? Rescue me from their destructions, my only one from the lions” (Psalm 35:17), or, “O God, how long will the adversary insult? Will the enemy blaspheme your name forever?” (Psalm 74:10).

Then Yeshua told His talmidim a parable in order to impress on them that they must always keep praying and not lose heart.“In a certain town, there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected other people. There was also in that town a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me a judgment against the man who is trying to ruin me.’ For a long time, he refused; but after a while, he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God, and I don’t respect other people; but because this widow is such a nudnik, I will see to it that she gets justice—otherwise, she’ll keep coming and pestering me till she wears me out!’”

Because this widow is such a nudnik, literally, “because this widow causes me trouble, bothers me.” The Yiddish word nudnik means “someone who persistently bores, pesters, nags.” It captures precisely the particular kind of bothering and trouble the corrupt judge experiences.

Then the Lord commented, “Notice what this corrupt judge says. Now, won’t God grant justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Is he delaying long over them?

Is He delaying long over them? It would seem so – the words were spoken nearly two thousand years ago, and the final vindication is yet to come. But 2 Kefa 3:8–9 sets things in the proper perspective: God is not slack in His dealings with humanity in the sense that people understand the term “slackness,” for with Him “one day is like a thousand years” (quoting Psalm 90:4). And God’s motive for delaying? It is to bring people to repentance (Romans 2:4–6).

I tell you that he will judge in their favor and quickly! But when the Son of Man comes, will he find this trust on the earth at all?”  [1]

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Because those who reject the Gospel sometimes accuse evangelists of acting “holier-than-thou,” it is noteworthy that it was Isaiah who first used that phrase, referring to Isra’el in rebellion against God: “They say, ‘Keep your distance, don’t come near me, because I am holier than you.’” (Isaiah 65:5). Unfortunately, God’s people are susceptible to this most offensive of sins, against which both the Tanakh and Brit Hadashah severely warn, religious pride.

Also, to some who were relying on their own righteousness and looking down on everyone else, he told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Parush (a person of high social status)  and the other a tax-collector. 11 The Parush stood and prayed to himself, ‘O God! I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, immoral, or like this tax collector!

He prayed to himself and not to God, despite his addressing God. He wasn’t in contact with God at all but merely boasted and justified himself. Alternatively, he “prayed about himself.”

12 I fast twice a week, I pay tithes on my entire income, … ’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes toward heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God! Have mercy on me, sinner that I am!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home right with God rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”  [2]

I fast twice a week. There is no evidence that the P’rushim as a group fasted twice a week. However, they did fast “frequently” (Mattityahu 9:14). The Talmud speaks of one who “undertakes to fast every Monday and Thursday throughout the year” as not unusual but not the norm. Within the framework of trusting God, fasting was and is a normal part of a Believer’s life (Isaiah 58:1–12, Mattityahu 6:16–18, 9:14–17). I confess that I don’t fast as often as I probably should.

I pay tithes on my entire income. The requirement to pay ten percent of income is based on Leviticus 27:30–33 and Numbers 18:21–26. In general, tithing, all of one’s income, was regarded as beyond the call of duty. I suppose this Parush felt he was doing something special and unique for God, for which God owed him thanks and reward. Such a mentality is, of course, neither peculiar to P’rushim in particular nor un-Believers in general; on the contrary, some who consider themselves Believers seem to be especially susceptible to this sort of false pride.

The tax collector stated Sinner that I am, literally, “the sinner.” He experienced the depth of his own sin and was utterly remorseful and repentant; as a result, God forgave him (v. 14).

In our next post, we will conclude our journey of Yeshua Continues to Speak in Parables in Perea.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  Luke 18:1-8.
[2]  Luke 18:9–14.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 117

The Perean Ministry ~ Part 11

In our last post, we followed Yeshua as He left Yerushalayim to go to Perea. In this post, we continue to examine His Perean Ministry as He Continues to Teach in Parables.

The Coming of the Kingdom

20 The P’rushim asked Yeshua when the Kingdom of God would come. “The Kingdom of God,” he answered, “does not come with visible signs; 21 nor will people be able to say, ‘Look! Here it is!’ or, ‘Over there!’ Because, you see, the Kingdom of God is among you.”

The P’rushim of v. 20 expects a physical kingdom whose beginning can be dated with some precision. Yeshua replies by noting that He brings a spiritual kingdom, a spiritual rulership consisting of new relationships among Believers. But to His talmidim, He expands on the subject of the Kingdom and points to a day when He will indeed rule (v. 24; compare Mattityahu 24:30–31). The Kingdom of God is among you, or “within you,” referring to the inner change when people trust in God.

22 Then he said to his talmidim, “The time is coming when you will long to see even one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.

The Son of Man is a title used frequently by Yeshua about Himself, and it comes from Daniel 7:13–14, where it describes an enigmatic figure associated with an everlasting kingdom. Yeshua indicates that the talmidim will not see His return at the time when they desire it. This does not necessarily refer to a postponement of Yeshua’s return but is likely related to His statement about God’s Kingdom arriving in ways that cannot be observed (Luke 17:20).

23 People will say to you, ‘Look! Right here!’ or, ‘See! Over there!’ Don’t run off, don’t follow them, 24 because the Son of Man in his day will be like lightning that flashes and lights up the sky from one horizon to the other.

Yeshua’s coming will be sudden and apparent to everyone.

25 But first, he must endure horrible suffering and be rejected by this generation. 26 “Also, at the time of the Son of Man, it will be just as it was at the time of Noach. 27 People ate and drank, and men and women married, right up until the day Noach entered the ark; then the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, as it was in the time of Lot—people ate and drank, bought and sold, planted and built; 29 but the day Lot left S’dom, fire, and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 That is how it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.

Throughout the passage, Yeshua compares His future return in glory to the divine judgment carried out in the days of Noach and Lot (vv. 26, 28). The Son of Man’s revealing will be characterized by the destruction of evil and the salvation of Believers – factors that associate Yeshua’s return with the Day of the Lord envisioned by the Tanakh prophets.

31 On that day, if someone is on the roof with his belongings in his house, he must not go down to take them away. Similarly, if someone is in the field, he must not turn back—32 remember Lot’s wife!

Recall Lot’s wife looked back toward Sodom and became a pillar of salt in Genesis 19:26.

33 Whoever aims at preserving his own life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will stay alive. 34 I tell you, on that night, there will be two people in one bed—one will be taken, and the other left behind. 35 There will be two women grinding grain together—one will be taken, and the other left behind.” 36 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. [1] 37 They asked him, “Where, Lord?” He answered, “Wherever there’s a dead body, that’s where the vultures gather.”  [2]

In our next post, Yeshua Continues to Speak in Parables in Perea.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  Not all manuscripts including the CJB do not have this verse.

[2]  Luke 17:20–37.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 116

The Perean Ministry ~ Part 10

In our last post, we followed Yeshua as He left Yerushalayim to go to Perea. In this post, we continue to examine His Perean Ministry as He Continues to Teach in Parables.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

Obviously, this Lazarus is not the brother of Mary and Martha. We will come to him in a few more posts.

19 “Once there was a rich man who used to dress in the most expensive clothing and spent his days in magnificent luxury. 20 At his gate had been laid a beggar named El’azar who was covered with sores. 21 He would have been glad to eat the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table, but instead, even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 In time, the beggar died and was carried away by the angels to Avraham’s side; the rich man also died and was buried.

Avraham’s side. A rare phrase in early Jewish writing, but not unknown. The talmid whom Yeshua loved reclined at His side at the Last Supper (Yochanan 13:23–25). A Jewish work dating from around the time of Yeshua says, “After this suffering of ours, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya‛akov will receive us, and all our ancestors will praise us” (4 Maccabees 13:17). Thus, being at Avraham’s side suggests being in Gan-Eden (Paradise) and being present at the Messianic banquet (Mattityahu 8:11, Revelation 19:7–9).

23 “In Sh’ol (the realm of the dead [Hades]), where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Avraham far away with El‘azar at his side. 24 He called out, ‘Father Avraham, take pity on me, and send El‘azar just to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool my tongue because I’m in agony in this fire!’ 25 However, Avraham said, ‘Son, remember that when you were alive, you got the good things while he got the bad; but now he gets his consolation here, while you are the one in agony. 26 Yet that isn’t all: between you and us, a deep rift has been established so that those who would like to pass from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

A deep rift implies that no one can cross. Yeshua, like Daniel 12:2, teaches distinct fates after death for the wicked and the righteous. It indicates the permanence of the characters’ eternal destinies.

27 “He answered, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house, 2where I have five brothers, to warn them; so that they may be spared having to come to this place of torment too.’ 29 But Avraham said, ‘They have Moshe and the Prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30 However, he said, ‘No, father Avraham, they need more. If someone from the dead goes to them, they’ll repent!’ 31 But he replied, ‘If they won’t listen to Moshe and the Prophets, they won’t be convinced even if someone rises from the dead!’ ”  [1]

Moshe (the Torah) and the Prophets; the phrase means the entire Tanakh, which Yeshua says is sufficient to warn people to trust God. Later (Luke 24:25–27), Yeshua shows how the Tanakh points to Himself.

In our next post, Yeshua Continues to Speak in Parables in Perea.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  Luke 16:19–31.