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.

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[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.


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.

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[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 100

Ministry from Galilee to Judea ~ Part 1

In our last post, we completed our series on In Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles). In this post, we transition to Ministry from Galilee to Judea.


After the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah), Yeshua returns to Capernaum for the final two months of His Galilean ministry. He not only feels growing opposition from the people there who want a political leader but also knows it is nearing the time for Him to be delivered. From this time forward, Yeshua resolutely faces His final suffering. This is a time of transition for the Master. Initial excitement among the masses is followed by doubt and even hostility as He refuses to accept the role most people want Him to play, that of a conqueror over the Romans. 1

Galilean Ministry Ends

51 As the time approached for Him to be taken up into heaven, He made His decision to set out for Yerushalayim. 52 He sent messengers ahead of Him, who went and entered a village in Shomron to make preparations for Him. 53 However, the people there would not let Him stay because His destination was Yerushalayim. 54 When the talmidim Ya‘akov and Yochanan saw this, they said, “Sir, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy them?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them. “You don’t know what Spirit you are of;  for the Son of Man did not come to destroy people’s lives, but to save.” 56 And they went on to another village.2

The people there would not let him stay because his destination was Yerushalayim. Arab nations today will not admit tourists whose passports show that they have been in Isra’el. The conflict between the people inhabiting Shomron (Samaria) and the people of Isra’el was as sharp then as it is between the Isra’eli and some of the Arab inhabitants of Samaria today (see Yochanan 4:9). Often, accommodation, and friendship can be arranged privately between people who publicly are enemies, but the publicity surrounding Yeshua’s proposed trip made this impractical. Shomron is part of the current Palestinian West Bank.

Fire from heaven to destroy them. Yeshua had given His talmidim power (see Luke 9:1), and they were eager to duplicate Elijah’s feat (1 Kings 1:10, 12).

Ten Lepers Healed

11 On his way to Yerushalayim, Yeshua passed along the border country between Shomron and the Galil. 12 As He entered one of the villages, ten men afflicted with tzara’at (commonly referred to as leprosy) met Him. They stood at a distance

They stood at a distance because the Torah requires people with severe skin diseases to separate themselves from the rest of the people (see Leviticus 13:45–46, Numbers 5:2).

13 and called out, “Yeshua! Rabbi! Have pity on us!” 14 On seeing them, He said, “Go and let the cohanim examine you!” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, as soon as he noticed that he had been healed, returned shouting praises to God, 16 and fell on his face at Yeshua’s feet to thank Him. Now he was from Shomron. 17 Yeshua said, “Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found coming back to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And to the man from Shomron, He said, “Get up, you may go; your trust has saved you.” 3

This is an interesting story; here is one way to understand it. All ten trusted Yeshua enough to obey his command, Go and let the cohanim examine you(v. 14), knowing that examination by a priest was necessary after healing, and they had not been healed yet. All ten had enough trust in Yeshua to be healed, but only one showed gratitude to Yeshua and praise to God; his kind of trust healed him and saved him.

The lack of gratitude by the other nine was typical of the rejection of His ministry by the Jewish nation. He alone had the power to cleanse the nation and make it ceremonially clean. However, the nation did not respond appropriately to Him. The nation accepted the things that Yeshua could do (such as heal and feed them), but it did not want to accept Him as Messiah. However, those outside the nation (such as this Samaritan leper – a person doubly repulsive to the Jews) were responding.

In our next post, we continue to learn about Yeshua’s Ministry from Galilee to Judea.

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1 Paraphrased from F. LaGard Smith’s “The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order.
2 Luke 9:51–56.
3 Luke 17:11-19.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 97

In Yerushalayim for Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) ~ Part 11

In our last post, we learned that Yeshua Declares His External Existence. In this post, we continue to learn about The Healing of the Man Born Blind.

As in our last several posts, Yeshua is still speaking on the last day of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah.

The Healing of the Man Born Blind ~ Part 2

The P’rushim Question the Blind Man

13 They took the man who had been blind to the P’rushim. 14 Now, the day on which Yeshua had made the mud and opened his eyes was Shabbat. 15 So the P’rushim asked him again how he had become able to see, and he told them, “He put mud on my eyes, then I washed, and now I can see.”

The blind man’s first response is precisely what we need to do when we give our testimony. He gave them the facts. (We will learn more about his testimony in the next post.) We were spiritually blind to our own sin, but now we see through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.

16 At this, some of the P’rushim said, “This man is not from God because He doesn’t keep Shabbat.” But others said, “How could a man who is a sinner do miracles like these?” And there was a split among them.

He (Yeshua) doesn’t keep Shabbat. A false accusation, which the accusers take as a fact. So there was a split among them, as before in Yochanan 7:43.

17 So once more, they spoke to the blind man: “Since you’re the one whose eyes he opened, what do you say about him?” He replied: “He is a prophet.”  [1]

He is a prophet and more – see the man’s response to additional information about Yeshua (vv. 35–38).

The P’rushim Question the Blind Man

18 The Judeans (identified in verse 13 as the P’rushim), however, were unwilling to believe that he had formerly been blind but now could see until they had summoned the man’s parents.

They summoned the parents to verify the identity of the man and corroborate that he had, in fact, been born blind. It is unlikely their investigation was conducted on the Shabbat.

19 They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind; 21 but how it is that he can see now, we don’t know; nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him -he’s old enough; he can speak for himself!” 22 The parents said this because they were afraid of the Judeans, for the Judeans had already agreed that anyone who acknowledged Yeshua as the Messiah would be banned from the synagogue. 23 This is why his parents said, “He’s old enough; ask him.”  [2]

He will speak for himself! The parents try to excuse themselves from a further inquiry by disclaiming legal responsibility for their son. They feared they would be expelled from the synagogue, equivalent to being excluded from the community. The synagogue was the community gathering place.

In our next post, we continue with our new series on Yeshua’s Journey to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot. In our next post, we continue to explore: The Healing of the Man Born Blind.

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[1]  Yochanan 9:13–17.
[2]  Yochanan 9:18–23.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 96

In Yerushalayim for Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) ~ Part 10

In our last post, we learned that Yeshua Declares His External Existence. In this post, we will learn about The Healing of the Man Born Blind.

As in our last several posts, Yeshua is still speaking on the last day of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah.

The Healing of the Man Born Blind ~ Part 1

As I shared in my last post, this is one of my favorite chapters in Yochanan. Not only because of the fantastic miracle but later also because of the blind man’s testimony before the P’rushim.

As Yeshua passed along, He saw a man blind from birth. His talmidim asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinnedthis man or his parentsto cause him to be born blind?”

Yeshua’s talmidim were not the first to attribute all human misfortune and disability to immediately traceable sin: the entire book of Job is devoted to combatting this misunderstanding of how sin has come to affect the present world. Verses 1–5 of this chapter correspond to chapters 1–2 of Job; both set the scene for teaching about sin.

Yeshua answered, “His blindness is due neither to his sin nor to that of his parents; it happened so that God’s power might be seen at work in him. As long as it is day, we must keep doing the work of the One who sent Me; the night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said this, He spits on the ground, makes some mud with the saliva, puts the mud on the man’s eyes,

He … makes some mud with the saliva. Any kind of building is one of the thirty-nine kinds of work prohibited on Shabbat according to Mishna Shabbat 7:2; Mishna Shabbat 24:3 also says that on Shabbat, “it is permitted to put water into the bran” of animals, “but they must knead it.” It requires kneading to make clay, and clay is a building material, so there are two possible violations of Shabbat, according to P’rushim’s understanding – building and kneading. Put the mud on the man’s eyes. If this was done as a means of healing and with the intention of healing, this, too, would have been regarded as a violation of Shabbat.

and said to him, “Go, wash off in the Pool of Shiloach!” (The name means “sent.”) So he went and washed and came away seeing.

Hebrew shiloach means “sent,” as Yochanan says. The Pool of Shiloach still exists in the neighborhood of East Jerusalem called Silwan (the Arabic transliteration of “shiloach”). It marks the end of Hezekiah’s Tunnel, constructed by the Judean king around 700 BCE. to bring water from the Gichon spring in the Kidron Valley to the Pool of Shiloach in the City of David.

His neighbors and those who previously had seen him begging said, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “Yes, he’s the one,”; while others said, “No, but he looks like him.” However, he himself said, “I’m the one.” 10 “How were your eyes opened?” they asked him. 11 He answered, “The man called Yeshua made mud, put it on my eyes, and told me, ‘Go to Shiloach and wash!’ So I went, and as soon as I had washed, I could see.” 12 They said to him, “Where is He?” and he replied, “I don’t know.” [1]

In our next post, we continue with our new series on Yeshua’s Journey to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Sukkot. In our next post, we continue to explore The Healing of the Man Born Blind.

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1 Yochanan 9:1-12

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 82

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

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

Yeshua Heals A Demon-Possessed Boy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 58

Performing Miracles ~ Part 2

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

Yeshua Heals A Demon-Possessed Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 5

In my last post, we continued with the aftermath of Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 4. In this post, we conclude the mini-series of the Disabled Beggar when Kefa and Yochanan Are Warned and Freed.

13 When they saw how bold Kefa and Yochanan were, even though they were untrained ‘am-ha’aretz, they were amazed; also, they recognized them as having been with Yeshua.

When they saw how bold Kefa and Yochanan were,… they were amazed. These “hicks” from the Galil dared to address the core of the establishment and tell them they were wrong! It was the Ruach HaKodesh at work in believers who gave such boldness, and He does the same today.

Untrained ‘am-ha’aretz, literally, “people of the land,” just ordinary folks, not systematically educated in the Scriptures and the traditions of either the P’rushim or the Tz’dukim (who together constituted the Sanhedrin’s membership). Jewish people have always had high regard for education, and “education” used to mean education in religious matters primarily. Thus, an untrained ‘am-ha’aretz would be guaranteed low social status, and little would be expected of him. The members of the Sanhedrin could easily spot these Galileans by their up-country accents as persons unlikely to be delivering religious truth. But the Galileans’ lack of training did not affect the truth of their message: there are uneducated pundits and educated fools.

14 Moreover, since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there beside them, there was nothing they could say to discredit the healing. 15 So they told them to step away from the Sanhedrin while they discussed the matter privately. 16 “What can we do with these men?” they asked each other. “Why, anyone in Yerushalayim can see that a remarkable miracle has come about through them – we can’t possibly deny that.

Both the talmidim and the Sanhedrin recognize that there is no valid basis for a legal charge. Still, as custodians of the Temple, they had the police power to control what they consider subversive teachings on what they consider their grounds. Yet rather than repent and believe they focused on damage control.

17 But to prevent it from spreading any further among the people, let’s warn them not to speak any more to anyone in this name.”

They sought to halt the spread of Messianic Judaism at all costs, so they warned them not to speak any more to anyone in this name. It seems they wished to guard their status as religious authorities even at the expense of undeniable truth.

Verse 17 raises an interesting question. How can Luke ( the author of the Book of Acts) know what went on behind locked doors? We know that Yosef of Ramatayim was both a Believer and a member of the Sanhedrin (Mk 15:43); Nakdimon, also a secret Believer, was probably in the Sanhedrin too (Jn 7:50). In all likelihood, in his research (Lk 1:3), he would have consulted them or other Sanhedrin members who came to faith later.

18 So they called them in again and ordered them under no circumstances to speak or teach in the name of Yeshua. 19 But Kefa and Yochanan answered, “You must judge whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than God. 20 As for us, we can’t help talking about what we have actually seen and heard.”

Kefa and Yochanan’s reference to what they had seen and heard included their experiences with Yeshua plus what they had witnessed since Shavuot. All told, they had been eyewitnesses to many of God’s revelatory acts.

21 They threatened them some more but finally let them go – they couldn’t punish them because of the people, for everyone was praising God over what had happened, 22 since the man who had been miraculously healed was more than forty years old. ~ Acts 4:13-22 (CJB)

Although the Sanhedrin backed down, they do not admit wrongdoing, which would be a matter of shame.

In my next two posts, we learn more about the last two of the fall High Holy Days.

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Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 4

In my last post, we continued with the aftermath of Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 3. In this post, we Kefa and Yochanan Are Arrested.

1 Kefa and Yochanan were still speaking to the people when the cohanim, the captain in charge of the Temple police, and the Tz’dukim [1] came upon them, 2 very annoyed that they were teaching the people the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead and offering Yeshua as proof. 3 The Temple police arrested them, and since it was already evening, they put them in custody overnight.

No longer dealing with someone overturning tables in the Temple, the aristocracy is content to follow the law and wait till the next day to try them (night trials were illegal, and most businesses of any regular sort stopped by sundown).

4 However, many of those who heard the message trusted; the number of men alone was about five thousand.

Repeated attempts to suppress the Messianic message only caused it to spread more quickly. On Pesach morning, the Believers in Yerushalayim only numbered 120. In response to Kefa’s sermon that day, another 3,000 were added. Now, with the healing of the disabled man, Kefa’s sermon, and their arrest, the community grew to about 5,000.

5 The next day, the people’s rulers, elders, and Torah-teachers (the Sanhedrin)assembled in Yerushalayim, 6 along with ‘Anan the Cohen HaGadol, Kayafa, Yochanan, Alexander and the other men from the family of the cohen HaGadol. 7 They had the emissaries stand before them and asked, “By what power or in what name did you do this?”

The parties listed in verses 5-6 represent all the most influential players in the Jewish religious establishment. They made Kefa and Yochanan stand before them, two men against all the powers of Isra’el. Ironic, therefore, that they asked them by what power they had performed the miracle and preached the Gospel.

8 Then Kefa, filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people!

Kefa was filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, a necessary prelude to his successful confrontation with the Jewish religious establishment. We need to get plugged into that same power source whenever we share the Gospel.

9 If we are being examined today about a good deed done for a disabled person, if you want to know how he was restored to health, 10 then let it be known to you and to all the people of Isra’el that it is in the name of the Messiah, Yeshua from Natzeret, whom you had executed on a stake as a criminal but whom God has raised from the dead, that this man stands before you perfectly healed. 11 “This Yeshua is the stone rejected by you builders which has become the cornerstone. (see Psalm 118:22) 12 There is salvation in no one else! For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by whom we must be saved!” ~ Acts 4:1-12 (CJB)

There is salvation in no one else! For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by whom we must be saved! Kefa, here addressing Jews, not Gentiles, and speaking by inspiration of the Ruach HaKodesh, asserts that Yeshua is the only person by whom we (the Jewish people, both individually and collectively) must (there is no alternative) be saved (from eternal destruction and God’s fury due us for our sins). And if there is no other salvation for Jews, who already have wonderful promises from God, how much more is there no other salvation for Gentiles (see Acts 13:47-48; Romans 1:16).

In my next post, we continue with the aftermath of the healing of the man disabled since birth when Kefa and Yochanan Are Warned and Freed.

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[1] Tz’dukim (Sadducees) who denied resurrection from the dead.

Kefa Heals A Disabled Beggar ~ Part 2

In my last post, we learned about Kefa Heals A Disabled Beggar. In this post, we continue with the aftermath of the healing. We pick up the story in Acts 3:11.

11 While he clung to Kefa and Yochanan, all the people came running in astonishment toward them in Shlomo’s Colonnade. 12 Seeing this, Kefa addressed the people: “Men of Isra’el! Why are you amazed at this? Or why do you stare at us as if we had made this man walk through some power or godliness of our own?

Recognizing that the onlookers were amazed, Kefa seized the moment to testify about Yeshua HaMashiach. Signs of God’s power can point to the truth about Yeshua.

I love this comment from David Stern regarding Men of Isra’el!:

A personal reaction: the start of Kefa’s speech is so Jewish! The crowd had just witnessed an unbelievable miracle, and he asks, deadpan, “What are you all so surprised about?” [1]

13 The God of Avraham, Yitz’chak, and Ya‘akov, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Yeshua — the same Yeshua you handed over and disowned before Pilate, even after he had decided to release him.

The phrase the God of Avraham, Yitz’chak, and Ya‘akov, the God of our fathers, is not accidental in Kefa’s sermon. Its two parts are found in the first paragraph of the ‘Amidah, the central section of the Minchah prayer service, which begins: Praised be to You, Adonai our God and God of our fathers, God of Avraham. God of Yitzchak and God of Ya’akov… and which Kefa’s hearers would just then have been reciting in their minchah prayers in minyans (groups of ten men required for corporate worship) throughout the Temple grounds, much as is done today at the Western Wall.

Kefa’s point is the very God to whom they were just now praying in these words has glorified. His servant is identified in Isaiah 42-43 as God’s suffering servant, Yeshua.

14 You denied the holy and innocent one, and instead asked for the reprieve of a murderer!

Holy and innocent one applied, especially to God in Jewish literature. Because the healing did not occur during Pesach, most of Kefa’s audience are residents of Yerushalayim. Still, the corporate accusation against his audience is no stronger than denunciations of the Tanakh prophets (see Amos 2:6-3:8). Calling a revolutionary (Barabbas), a murderer starkly distinguishes the emissaries from the sort of people who had revolutionary sympathies. Gee that sounds like our calling some protesters as “peaceful” versus the “anarchists” many are. Yes, many are peaceful and have a constitutional right to do so.

15 You killed the author of life! “But God has raised him from the dead! Of this, we are witnesses.

Wow, what an indictment to the average listener in the crowd! The P’rushim would probably shrug it off, but not your average worshipper who may not have been in the crowd, yelling, Crucify Him!”

16 And it is through putting trust (faith) [2]  in his name that his name has given strength to this man whom you see and know. Yes, it is the trust that comes through Yeshua, which has given him this perfect healing in the presence of you all. ~ Acts 3:11-16 (CJB)

Kefa and Yochanan had a chance to claim credit for the miraculous healing of the disabled man but instead insisted it was trust in His name that had given strength to this man. The emissaries were merely God’s chosen instruments for conveying the miracle.

In my next post, we continue with the aftermath of the healing of the man disabled since birth when Kefa Preaches Repentance.

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[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary.

[2] The Jewish New Testament generally uses the word “trust” instead of “faith” to translate the Greek “pistis” because “trust” more clearly signifies to English-speakers the confident reliance of God that generates holy deeds, as opposed to a mere mental acknowledgment of facts and ideas. I agree.