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.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 115

The Perean Ministry ~ Part 9

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 Law and the Kingdom of God

Some commentators regard verses 15 to18 as disconnected remarks by an editor – Yeshua’s response to the P’rushim reaction (v. 14) to His parable of the Dishonest Manager. Verses 15–18 are therefore all connected and connected with the following story (vv. 19–31); note especially that vv. 16 and 31 deal with the Torah and the Prophets. Thus, there is a cumulative effect to what Yeshua is saying, with v. 18 presenting a telling example of how the Torah cannot become void, more when the Kingdom of God, God’s active present rulership, is so near. [1]

14 The P’rushim heard all this, and since they were money lovers, they ridiculed him (literally, “they turned up their noses at Him.) 15 He said to them,You people make yourselves look righteous to others, but God knows your hearts; what people regard highly is an abomination before God! 16 Up to the time of Yochanan, there were the Torah and the Prophets. Since then, the Good News of the Kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is pushing to get in.

Up to the time of Yochanan the Immerser, the Torah and the Prophets were giving their prophetic and predictive witness to the coming of the Kingdom of God. The verse does not mean that the authority of the Torah and the Prophets ended when Yochanan appeared. But since then, in addition to their witness, the Good News of the Kingdom of God, which is now “near,” has been proclaimed directly, first by Yochanan (Mt 3:1–2) and now by Yeshua (Mt 4:17, Mk 1:15), with the result that everyone is pushing to get in.

17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter in the Torah to become void. 18 Every man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and a man who marries a woman divorced by her husband commits adultery. [2]

See Mattityahu 19:3–9 on Yeshua’s position on divorce, but this pronouncement of Yeshua’s is not primarily a teaching on divorce. Instead, it demonstrates that the Torah and the Prophets continue to have authoritative force, as v. 17 has explicitly stated. The P’rushim are not to use their position of power to interpret Scripture in ways that contradict its intent.

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

Click here for the PDF version.

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

[2]  Luke 16:14-18.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 114

The Perean Ministry ~ Part 8

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 Dishonest Manager

In the previous parable, the wayward son squanders his inheritance; now, Yeshua delivers a parable about the use of resources. The main character is a household manager who appears to win the respect of his master by acting dishonestly. Yeshua explains the parable in vv. 10–13. This parable is unique to Luke’s Gospel. Yeshua no longer addresses the scribes (teachers of the law) and Prushim, as in the previous chapter (15:2–3). However, they apparently are still listening to Him (15:14).

1 Speaking to the talmidim, Yeshua said: “There was a wealthy man who employed a general manager. Charges were brought to him that his manager was squandering his resources. 2 So he summoned him and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Turn in your accounts, for you can no longer be the manager.’

3 “‘What am I to do?’ said the manager to himself. ‘My boss is firing me, I’m not strong enough to dig ditches, and I’m ashamed to go begging. 4 Aha! I know what I’ll do—something that will make people welcome me into their homes after I’ve lost my job here!’

5 “So, after making appointments with each of his employer’s debtors, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my boss?’ 6 ‘Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. ‘Take your note back,’ he told him. ‘Now, quickly! Sit down and write one for four hundred!’77To the next, he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ ‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. ‘Take your note back and write one for eight hundred.’

8 “And the employer of this dishonest manager applauded him for acting so shrewdly! For the worldly have more sekhel than those, who have received the light—in dealing with their own kind of people!

Sekhel means “common sense, practical intelligence, ‘smarts’” in Hebrew and Yiddish. Have more sekhel translates the Greek phronimôteroi eisin, “are more prudent.” Yeshua is not praising this corrupt manager’s goal of “looking out for Number One,” but his cleverness and intelligence in pursuing his mistaken goal. Further, his comment that the worldly are more creative in working toward their aims than those enlightened by trusting God are in following the plans God has set forth for them seems to be true today and then. A lack of imagination and freedom binds many well-intentioned people and grounding in reality when seeking solutions. 1

9 “Now what I say to you is this: use worldly wealth to make friends for yourselves, so that when it gives out, you may be welcomed into the eternal home.

Yeshua urges his followers not to use the materials of this world in a wicked way but for noble ends so that their friends, God the Father, and Yeshua the Son, may welcome them into the eternal home, just as the manager can expect his newly purchased “friends” to receive him into their worldly homes.

10 Someone who is trustworthy in a small matter is also trustworthy in large ones, and someone who is dishonest in a small matter is also dishonest in large ones. 11 So if you haven’t been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who is going to trust you with the real thing? 12 And if you haven’t been trustworthy with what belongs to someone else, who will give you what ought to belong to you?

What belongs to someone else is likely a reference to everything, ultimately belonging to God. Yeshua also seems to be emphasizing another point of His parable: His followers should be faithful when given any resources to steward.

13 No servant can be a slave to two masters, for he will either hate the first and love the second or scorn the second and be loyal to the first. You can’t be a slave to both God and money.” 2

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

Click here for the PDF version.

1 David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary.
2 Luke 16:113.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 113

The Perean Ministry ~ Part 7

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.

Parable of The Prodigal Son

The Parable of the Prodigal Son, who leaves his loving father with his fortune, squanders it, and then returns home in repentance, is so widely referred to that those unfamiliar with the Brit Hadashah are often surprised to learn that the story originates here. Some say its only point is that the love of the father (i.e., God) is so all-embracing that He joyfully welcomes anyone who turns to Him from sin. Indeed, the parable shares this theme with the previous two we examined in our last post.

But in vv. 25–32, we see the older son, who considers himself righteous but rejects his father’s generosity by resenting the reason it is offered. Some take them to be the Jews and the younger the Gentiles. Still, the context makes it more reasonable to think of the older son as anyone who supposes God owes him something and the younger as anyone who knows he has sinned and therefore throws himself on God’s mercy, accepting Yeshua as his only hope for salvation and forgiveness.

11 Again, Yeshua said, “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that will be mine.’ So, the father divided the property between them. 13 As soon as he could convert his share into cash, the younger son left home and went off to a distant country, where he squandered his money in reckless living. 14 But after he had spent it all, a severe famine arose throughout that country, and he began to feel the pinch. 15 “So he went and attached himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the carob pods the pigs were eating, but no one gave him any.

What is a nice Jewish boy doing, feeding pigs? Well, he’s not so friendly anymore, and, for that matter, not so Jewish either. He left his Jewish father and home and went to a distant country, where the people were Gentiles and therefore had no compunction about raising pigs. He assimilated into that culture, first living recklessly and now necessarily performing that society’s less pleasant tasks.

17 “At last, he came to his senses and said, ‘Any number of my father’s hired workers have food to spare, and here I am, starving to death! 18 I’m going to get up and go back to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired workers.”’ 20 So he got up and started back to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran and threw his arms around him and kissed him warmly. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son -’

The son began his prepared recitation confessing his sins, but the father, reading his heart, didn’t even wait till he was finished (Isaiah 65:24) before receiving him as fully his son once more.

22 but his father said to his slaves, ‘Quick, bring out a robe, the best one, and put it on him; and put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet; 23 and bring the calf that has been fattened up, and kill it. Let’s eat and have a celebration! 24 For this son of mine was dead, but now he’s alive again! He was lost, but now he has been found!’ And they began celebrating.

25 “Now his older son was in the field. As he came close to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked, ‘What’s going on?’ 27 The servant told him, ‘Your brother has come back, and your father has slaughtered the calf that was fattened up because he has gotten him back safe and sound.’ 28 But the older son became angry and refused to go inside. “So, his father came out and pleaded with him.

Pleaded. The father has not given up on his petulant and self-righteous older son but entreats him lovingly and courteously.

29 ‘Look,’ the son answered, ‘I have worked for you all these years, and I have never disobeyed your orders. But you have never even given me a young goat so that I could celebrate with my friends. 30 Yet this son of yours comes, who squandered your property with prostitutes, and for him, you slaughter the fattened calf!’ 31 ‘Son, you are always with me,’ said the father, ‘and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate and rejoice because this brother of yours was dead but has come back to life—he was lost but has been found.’”  [1]

The parable asks whether the older son will respond to his father’s appeal. In present-day reality, whether self-righteous people will respond to God’s salvation offer also remains open; “it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins”(2 Kefa 3:9).

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

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  Luke 15:11–32.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 112

The Perean Ministry ~ Part 6

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.

Parable of The Lost Sheep

The tax collectors and sinners kept gathering around to hear Yeshua, and the P’rushim and Torah teachers kept grumbling. “This fellow,” they said, “welcomes sinners – He even eats with them!” So He told them this parable:

This fellow … welcomes sinners …! All three parables in this chapter deal with God’s love for the open sinner who repents.

“If one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, doesn’t he leave the other ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he does find it, he joyfully hoists it onto his shoulders; and when he gets home, he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Come, celebrate with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who turns to God from his sins than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent.”  [1]

The sheep metaphor echoes Ezekiel 34. Righteous people who have no need to repent, literally, “who are such as to have no need to repent.” There is joy in heaven over an open sinner who obviously needs to repent and does so at last. But there is also joy over those who have maintained a condition of righteousness by always and regularly turning to God in repentance (1 Yochanan 1:9), who do not need the complete and soul-shaking experience of repentance which a lost person, a lost sheep, often goes through when he turns to God from a life pattern of sin. Yeshua does not regard the grumbling P‘rushim and Torah teachers to whom He is speaking (v. 2) as having maintained such a condition of righteousness; so He is trying to shake their mistaken supposition that righteousness can consist in following a set of rules apart from genuinely trusting God in one’s heart.

Parable of The Lost Sheep

“Another example: what woman, if she has ten drachmas and loses one of these valuable coins, won’t light a lamp, sweep the house and search all over until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Come, celebrate with me because I have found the drachma I lost.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy among God’s angels when one sinner repents.”  [2]

A Greek drachma was approximately equal to a Roman denarius, a laborer’s daily wage.

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

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Luke 15:1–7.

[2] Luke 15:8–10.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 110

The Perean Ministry ~ Part 4

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 Great Banquet

12 Yeshua also said to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives or rich neighbors; for they may well invite you in return, and that will be your repayment. 13 Instead, when you have a party, invite poor people, disfigured people, the crippled, the blind!

Invite poor people, disfigured people, the crippled, and the blind! The people Yeshua mentions would have been social outcasts. To their conditions, Jewish people often ascribed some sort of sinful behavior (Yochanan 9:2). Yeshua’s ministry is to these people (see Luke 4:18–19).

14 How blessed you will be that they have nothing with which to repay you! For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

The resurrection of the righteous is clearly distinguished from that of the unrighteous, both in the Tanakh (Daniel 12:2) and in the Brit Hadashah (Luke 16:26; Revelation 20:4–6, 12, 15).

15 On hearing this, one of the people at the table with Yeshua said to him, “How blessed are those who eat bread in the Kingdom of God!” 16 But He replied, “Once a man gave a banquet and invited many people. 17 When the time came for the banquet, he sent his slave to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come! Everything is ready!’ 18 But they responded with a chorus of excuses. The first said to him, ‘I’ve just bought a field, and I have to go out and see it. Please accept my apologies.’ 19 Another said, ‘I’ve just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to test them out. Please accept my apologies.’ 20 Still another said, ‘I have just gotten married, so I can’t come.’ 21 The slave came and reported these things to his master. “Then the owner of the house, in a rage, told his slave, ‘Quick, go out into the streets and alleys of the city; and bring in the poor, the disfigured, the blind, and the crippled!’ 22 The slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ 23 The master said to the slave, ‘Go out to the country roads and boundary walls and insistently persuade people to come in so that my house will be full.

Insistently persuade people to come in. KJV reads, “Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in.” The Greek word translated as “compel or“insistently persuade” isanangkason,” which has a range of meanings from physically forcing to verbally convincing; throughout this spectrum of significations is a tone of intensity and urgency.

In times past, this verse was used to justify forcing Jews to be baptized against their will. Yet nowhere in the Bible does God suggest that He wants people to be forced to accept His love and kindness. From the outset, in the Garden of Eden, where Adam could freely choose to obey God, there was only one message. It is a message of persuasion: “Turn from sin to God and trust in the Good News” (Mark 1:15). It is impossible to force people to repent or believe, for these things are matters of the heart. Thus “forced conversion” is a contradiction since true “conversion” means inwardly turning from sin to God through Yeshua, not outwardly transferring from one religious’ institution to another. Likewise, attempting to force “conversion” is not obeying God; quite the contrary, the coercion, and cruelty involved constitute gross disobedience. But insistent persuasion” that respects the hearer’s dignity is commanded and can produce good results.  [1]

24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet!’ [2]

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

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Luke 14:23.
[2]  Luke 14:12–24.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 109

The Perean Ministry ~ Part 3

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 Heals on the Shabbat and Continues to Teach in Parables.

The Perean Ministry ~ Part 3

One Shabbat, Yeshua went to eat in the home of one of the leading P’rushim, and they were watching him closely. In front of him was a man whose body was swollen with fluid. Yeshua spoke up and asked the Torah experts and P’rushim, “Does the Torah allow healing on Shabbat or not?” But they said nothing. So, taking hold of him, He healed him and sent him away. To them He said, Which of you, if a son or an ox falls into a well, will hesitate to haul him out on Shabbat?” And to these things they could give no answer.  [1]

“Is healing permitted on Shabbat?” The answer to modern halakhah (rabbinic law) is threefold:

  1. On Shabbat, healing to save a life is not only permitted but a duty.
  2. Caring for the seriously ill (e.g., those with a high fever or pain affecting the whole body) is allowed within certain constraints.
  3. Treating minor ailments is prohibited by g’zerah (rabbinical decree) – the reason being that most treatments require grinding to prepare medicine, and grinding is a banned form of work.

However, since Yeshua did not use medicine and hence no grinding was done, a case could have been made – in the fluid halakhic environment of the first century – that no violation had taken place.  [2]

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

When Yeshua noticed how the guests were choosing for themselves the best seats at the table, He told them this parable: “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, don’t sit down in the best seat; because if there is someone more important than you who has been invited,

Proverbs 25:6–7 gives the same advice, some of it in the same language.

the person who invited both of you might come and say to you, ‘Give this man your place.’ Then you will be humiliated as you go to take the least important place. 10 Instead, when you are invited, go and sit in the least important place; so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you, ‘Go on up to a better seat.’ Then you will be honored in front of everyone sitting with you.

In contrast to the shame of having to move from the place of honor to a lower place, a guest who chooses a less distinguished seat will be honored when the host elevates them to a better position. Yeshua’s discussion has little to do with dinner etiquette. He is calling for His followers to show humility in every aspect of life – to put the needs of others first and act as a servant to all.

11 Because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but everyone who humbles himself will be exalted. [3]

In our next post, Yeshua Continues to Minister in the Perean Province.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  Luke 14:1–6.
[2]  David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Luke 6:9.
[3]  Luke 14:7–11.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 108

The Perean Ministry ~ Part 2

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 Laments Over Yerushalayim.

Yeshua Laments Over Yerushalayim

31 Just at that moment, some P’rushim came up and said to Yeshua, “Get out and go away from here because Herod wants to kill you!” 32 He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Pay attention: today and tomorrow I am driving out demons and healing people, and on the third day I reach my goal.’ 33 Nevertheless, I must keep traveling today, tomorrow, and the next day; because it is unthinkable that a prophet should die anywhere but in Yerushalayim.

34 “Yerushalayim! Yerushalayim! You kill the prophets! You stone those who are sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children, just as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you refused! 35 Look! God is abandoning your house to you! I tell you; you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of Adonai!’”  [1]

Some interpreters believe these P’rushim were trying to frighten Yeshua into Judea so that the Sanhedrin could exercise control over Him. Compare the attempt of Amaziah, priest of the golden calf at Beit-El, to scare the prophet, Amos, out of Isra’el into Judea; he too failed (Amos 7:10–17). But such devious motivation need not have been present, for not all P’rushim wanted to do Him in; these may have thought enough of Him to warn Him. Some were “not far from the Kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34), and some came to faith in Yeshua and remained P’rushim (Acts 15:5), among them Sha’ul (Acts 23:6).

The threat of Herod Antipas (Mattityahu 14:1) was real. Although he wanted to see Yeshua perform a miracle (23:8), he regarded Him as a dangerous leader like Yochanan the Immerser (Mark 6:14–16), whom he had killed. Yeshua’s answer, like Sha’ul’s to Agav (Acts 21:13), is that negativism will not dissuade Him from following God’s plan.

To refute the theology developed later by the Church, which teaches that God is no longer interested in the Jewish people, Yeshua here gives the condition for the salvation of national Isra’el, as distinct from the salvation of individual Jews and Gentiles. In these verses, at the end of His ministry, He addresses the nation of Isra’el, speaking to its capital, Yerushalayim, and thus continues the Tanakh’s tradition of corporate salvation, which will come when Isra’el as a country blesses the Messiah, who comes in the name of Adonai. The fact that Yeshua will not return until Isra’el receives national salvation is a powerful motivator for evangelizing Jewish people; in fact, Jewish evangelism can hasten His coming.

In our next post, Yeshua Continues to Minister in the Perean Province.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  Luke 13:31–35 (see also Mattityahu 23:37-39).