The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 4

Yeshua Calls His First Talmidim

The early ministry of Yeshua is reported solely by the Apostle Yochanan. His account shows the Yeshua’s teaching quickly appeals to ordinary people and results in many faithful talmidim.

35 The next day, [1] Yochanan (the Immerser) was again standing with two of his talmidim. 36 On seeing Yeshua walking by, he said, “Look! God’s lamb!” 37 His two talmidim heard Him speaking, and they followed Yeshua. 38 Yeshua turned and saw them following Him, and He asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi!” (which means “Teacher!”) “Where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” So, they went and saw where He was staying and remained with Him the rest of the day – it was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two who had heard Yochanan and had followed Yeshua was Andrew, the brother of Shim’on Kefa. 41 The first thing he did was to find his brother Shim’on and tell him, “We’ve found the Mashiach!”(The word means “one who has been anointed.”)

Mashiach …. The word means one who has been anointed. This is one of the two places in the Brit Hadashah where the Hebrew word for Messiah is transliterated into Greek as Messias (the other is at 4:25). It shows that the author wanted to reflect the Jewish or Hebraic character of the speaker’s words. [2]

42 He took him to Yeshua. Looking at him, Yeshua said, “You are Shimon Bar-Yochanan; you will be known as Kefa.” (The name means “rock.”)

43 The next day, having decided to leave for the Galil, Yeshua found Philip and said, “Follow Me!” 44 Philip was from Beit-Tzaidah, the town where Andrew and Kefa lived. 45 Philip found Natan’el and told him, “We’ve found the one that Moshe wrote about in the Torah, also the Prophets – it’s Yeshua Ben-Yosef from Natzeret!”

The one that Moshe wrote about in the Torah. See Deuteronomy 18:15–18 and Acts 3:22, which quotes this passage. Yeshua fulfills Moshe’s prophecy. Also the Prophets wrote about Yeshua.

It has always amazed me that all Yeshua had to say to Philip was Follow Me! He said the same thing to Mattityahu. In both narratives, there is no indication that Yeshua had any prior exposure to these two talmidim. According to my Logos software, thirty-nine times Follow Me is used by Yeshua in the Gospel’s.

Natan’el is not mentioned as one of the Twelve in the Synoptic Gospels but is usually identified with Bartholomew (whom Yochanan never mentions by name). Natan’el means “God has given.”

46 Natan’el answered him, “Natzeret? Can anything good come from there?” “Come and see,” Philip said to him. 47 Yeshua saw Natan’el coming toward him and remarked about him, “Here’s a true son of Isra’el – nothing false in him!” 48 Natan’el said to him, “How do you know me?” Yeshua answered him, “Before Philip called you when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Natan’el said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Isra’el!” 50 Yeshua answered him, “you believe all this just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than that!” 51 Then He said to him, “Yes indeed! I tell you that you will see heaven opened and the angels of God going up and coming down on the Son of Man!”  ~ ~ Yochanan 1:35-51

Yeshua Performs His First Miracle

In chapter 2, Yochanan (the Apostle) presents a series of signs or miracles designed to prove Yeshua’s identity as the Messiah and Son of God. In this first sign, Yeshua turns water into wine at a wedding in Kanah attended by His family and talmidim.

On Tuesday, there was a wedding at Kanah in the Galil; and the mother of Yeshua was there. Yeshua too was invited to the wedding, along with His talmidim. The wine ran out, and Yeshua’s mother said to Him, “They have no more wine.” Yeshua replied, “Mother, why should that concern me? – or you? My time hasn’t come yet.”

My time (literally, “my hour”) hasn’t come yet. Yochanan’s Gospel often has Yeshua speaking about His time (7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; 17:1), and each occasion has a reason. Here the reason is that Yeshua’s mother had been informed, even before He was born, that He was meant for greatness (Luke 1:35, 43); she had heard others prophesy about Him (Luke 2:25–38); she had observed His development (Luke 2:40, 51), although not always with understanding (Luke 2:41–50); and she had known that future generations would bless her (Luke 1:48). Yeshua’s comment is meant to aid her in the transition from seeing Him as her child to seeing Him as her Lord, to keep her from undue pride, and to indicate that He as Lord sovereignly determines when He will intervene in human affairs. He does not perform miracles on demand merely to impress His friends. [3]

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”

From Miryam’s response, Do whatever he tells you, it is evident that she was neither dissatisfied nor put off by her son but received his communication in the right spirit.

Now, six stone water jars were standing there for the Jewish ceremonial washings, each with a capacity of twenty or thirty gallons. Yeshua told them, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. He said, “Now draw some out, and take it to the man in charge of the banquet,” and they took it. The man in charge tasted the water; it had now turned into wine! He did not know where it had come from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew. So, he called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone else serves the good wine first and the poorer wine after people have drunk freely. But you have kept the good wine until now!” 11 This, the first of Yeshua’s miraculous signs, (emphasis added) He did at Kanah in the Galil; He manifested His glory, and His talmidim came to trust in Him.

This verse states the purpose of Yeshua’s miracle: to anchor the trust of His new talmidim in the glory of God as manifested through Him.

12 Afterwards, He, His mother and brothers, and His talmidim went down to K’far-Nachum and stayed there a few days. ~ Yochanan 2:1-12

Our next post will examine Yeshua’s Driving Merchants for the Temple, and He Has an Encounter with Nicodemus.

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[1] The day after His Baptism.

[2] Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary.

[3] Ibid.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 3

Yeshua’s Baptism

13 Then Yeshua came from the Galil to the Yarden to be immersed by Yochanan. 14 But Yochanan tried to stop him. “You are coming to me? I ought to be immersed by you!”

I ought to be immersed by you! This is the first recorded public encounter between Yochanan the Immerser and Yeshua. Yochanan – recognizing the more powerful one – attempts to dissuade Yeshua from being baptized.

15 However, Yeshua answered him, “Let it be this way now because we should do everything righteousness requires.” Then Yochanan let him.

We should do everything righteousness requires. Yeshua Himself did not have to be immersed for His sins because He committed none (Messianic Jews 4:15). Some have suggested He was fully identifying with sinful humanity, who did need purification (Romans 8:3, Philippians 2:6–8). On what it is that God’s righteousness requires, turn to Romans 3:24–26.

16 As soon as Yeshua had been immersed, he came up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, He saw the Ruach of God coming down upon Him like a dove,

Many believed that the Ruach was no longer available in their time; others believed that the Ruach simply did not work as forcefully as in the prophets’ days until the time of the end. That the Ruach comes on Yeshua indicates the inauguration of the Messianic Era and marks Yeshua out as the Ruach-bearer and hence Messiah (3:11).

17 and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; I am well pleased with him.” [1] ~ Mattityahu 3:13-17

The Temptation of Yeshua

Then the Spirit led Yeshua up into the wilderness to be tempted by the Adversary. [2] After Yeshua had fasted forty days and nights, He was hungry. The Tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, order these stones to become bread.” But He answered, “The Tanakh [3] says,

‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of Adonai'” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

Then the Adversary took Him to the holy city and set Him on the highest point of the Temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “jump! For the Tanakh says,

He will order his angels to be responsible for you.…
They will support you with their hands
so that you will not hurt your feet on the stones.'” (Psalm 91:11-12)

7 Yeshua replied to him, “But it also says, ‘Do not put Adonai your God to the test.'” (Deuteronomy 6:16)

Once more, the Adversary took Him up to the summit of a very high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in all their glory, and said to Him, “All this I will give you if you bow down and worship me.”

10 “Away with you, Satan!” Yeshua told him, “For the Tanakh says, ‘Worship Adonai your God and serve only him.'” (Deuteronomy 6:13-14)

11 Then the Adversary let him alone, and angels came and took care of him. ~ Mattityahu 4:1-11 (see also Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:1-13)

Oh, that we can be as prepared as Yeshua was to cite Scripture back to HaSatan as Yeshua was able. One of many reasons why we need the Ruach in our daily lives.

In our next post, we will examine Yeshua Calls His First Talmid and Performs His First Miracles.

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[1] Where appropriate, I will highlight the Father’s Words in Purple.

[2] The Adversary. Greek diabolos (usually transliterated “devil”) translates Hebrew satan, “adversary, opponent, rebel.” In Isaiah 14:11–15, between the lines of a taunt against the king of Babylon, can be read the downfall of a creature who was once both powerful and beautiful but who in pride rebelled against God and came to oppose him; Ezekiel 28:11–19 is similar. (JNTC)

[3] The Tanakh, the Old Testament – rendered “Scripture” or “it is written” in most translations. The Hebrew word Tanakh is an acronym formed from the first letters of the three parts of the Hebrew Bible:

  • Torah (“Teaching”) – the Five Books of Moshe or Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy).
  • N’vi’im (“Prophets”) – the historical books (Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings), the three Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel), and the twelve Minor Prophets.
  • K’tuvim(“Writings”) – Psalms, Proverbs, Job, the “five scrolls” (Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther), Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 2

Rather than just copying what He says, I want to set the stage when He does speak.

The Young Yeshua at the Temple

41 Every year Yeshua’s parents went to Yerushalayim for the festival of Pesach (Passover). 42 When He was twelve years old, they went up for the festival, as custom required. 43 But after the festival was over when His parents returned, Yeshua remained in Yerushalayim. [Think back when you were twelve. Would you have been that brave?] They didn’t realize this; 44 supposing that He was somewhere in the caravan, they spent a whole day on the road before they began searching for Him among their relatives and friends. 45 Failing to find Him, they returned to Yerushalayim to look for Him. 46 On the third day they found Him – He was sitting in the Temple court among the rabbis, not only listening to them but questioning what they said; 47 and everyone who heard Him was astonished at His insight and His responses. 48 When his parents saw Him, they were shocked; and His mother said to him, “Son! Why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been terribly worried looking for you!” 49 He said to them, “Why did you have to look for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be concerning myself with my Father’s affairs?”50 But they didn’t understand what He meant. 51 So He went with them to Natzeret and was obedient to them. But his mother stored up all these things in her heart. 52 And Yeshua grew both in wisdom and in stature, gaining favor both with other people and with God. ~ Luke 2:41-52

This single incident from Yeshua’s“silent years” (see Matt. 2:16 & Luke 3:23) took place near the age at which a Jewish boy today undergoes his bar-mitzvah ceremony and becomes a “son of the commandment,” personally responsible for keeping the Torah given by God to Moshe on Mount Sinai. At this time, he dons t’fillin [1] for the first time officially, and for the first time, he is given an aliyah (call-up) to come to the bimah (lectern) and read from the Sefer-Torah (Torah scroll) in a synagogue service. Verses 46–47 suggest a comparable “coming out” for Yeshua, but there the parallel ends. Bar-mitzvah did not start to become a major ceremonial event in the Jewish life-cycle until the Middle Ages, and only in modern times has it become the focus of grandiose celebrations. Moreover, the age for bar-mitzvah is not twelve but thirteen. [2]

According to John MacArthur: Yeshua’s reply was in no sense insolent but reveals a genuine amazement that they did not know where to look for Him. This also reveals that even at so young an age, He had a clear consciousness of His identity and mission.[3]

In our next post, we will examine Yeshua’s Baptism and The Temptation of Yeshua.

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[1] T’fillin are small leather boxes containing parchment scrolls on which are written excerpts from the Tanakh (specifically, Deuteronomy 6:4–9, 11:13–20, Exodus 13:1–16).

[2] Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur Study Bible: NASB.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 1

Introduction to the Series

In this series, we will be focusing on the words that Yeshua spoke while He was with us and after His Ascension. We will be looking at His words as best we can in chronological order using “The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order” by F. LaGard Smith. [1] While going through the Synoptic Gospels, I will focus more on Mattityhu’s version with appropriate references to Mark and Luke. As usual, I will be using the “Complete Jewish Bible” by David Stern for the actual quotes, unless otherwise noted. Please permit me to set the stage.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was unformed and void, darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water. ~ B’resheet 1:1-2

The Hebrew phrase translated unformed and void connotes a desolate, uninhabitable place. Why would the author describe God’s new universe like this? Some believe God intended to show us His progressive approach through creation. The following verses certainly do show God using a process.

But it seems that something else has happened between verses 1 and 2 because disorder and darkness do not reflect the character of God. Someone else arrived on the scene, and his name is HaSatan. We get few details of HaSatan in this chapter (Ezekiel 28:12-19; Isaiah 14:12ff, and Revelation provide more), but it appears that his rebellion plunged the earth into darkness (see Luke 10:18). Fortunately for humanity, even when HaSatan is active, God has a plan to save. The Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water, ready to bring order out of chaos.

In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things came to be through him, and without him, nothing made had being. In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not suppressed it. ~ Yochanan 1:1-5

I confess that I get chills every time I read these verses. In his prologue to the Good News, Yochanan sets forth both the Messiah’s divine and human origin and nature. Contrary to modern Jewish opinion, which holds that the Messiah is to be human only, numerous Jewish sources speak of the supernatural features of the Messiah. The Messiah existed before all creation (compare Yochanan 17:5). In fact, He was involved in creation (Colossians 1:15-17, Messianic Jews 1:2-3). The Talmud also teaches the Messiah’s preexistence.

The beginning of the Good News of Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of God. ~ Mark1:1

Rather than emphasizing the events leading up to Yeshua’s public ministry in terms of genealogy and family roots (as so Mattityahu and Luke) or in terms of its theological foundation (as does Yochanan), Mark focuses on its actual beginning. The good news is the gospel of the fulfillment of God’s promises. In the Tanakh (Isaiah 40:9, 52:7; and Nahum 1:15), the good news is connected with the saving intervention of God to help His people. Yeshua HaMashiach proclaims the gospel, but the good news is the report about Yeshua in a secondary sense. Mark communicates both at the beginning and the end of his Gospel (Mark:1-2 and 15:39) that Yeshua is the Son of God.

In our next post, we will start our journey by examining the actual Red-Letter Words of Yeshua.

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[1] Copyright 1984 by Harvest House Publishers. I highly recommend this edition as it tells the story of all 66-books of the Bible in the order they were written. It’s like reading a non-fiction novel from beginning to end. Citations are placed in the margins so as not to disrupt your reading.