The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 137

Passion Week ~ Tuesday (continued)

In our last post, we examined the final days of Yeshua’s life and ministry. In this post, we walk with Yeshua as He returns to Yerushalayim for the final time. As we will see in this and several more posts, Tuesday is hectic.

Religious Leaders Angered

45 As the head cohanim and the P’rushim listened to His stories, they saw that He was speaking about them. 46 But when they set about to arrest Him, they were afraid of the crowds; because the crowds considered Him a prophet. ~Mattityahu 21:45-46.

Parable of the Wedding Banquet

Yeshua again used parables in speaking to them: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son,

Festivities for such an event would have lasted several days. In this parable, Yeshua alludes to the great end-times feast (compare 8:11), when God’s people will enjoy fellowship with the Messiah in His fully inaugurated Kingdom (compare Revelation 19:6–10).

but when he sent his slaves to summon the invited guests to the wedding, they refused to come.

Refusing such an invitation from the king was a shocking insult. These invited guests represent those who respond to the message of the Kingdom of Heaven with indifference (v5) and hostility (v. 6).

So he sent some more slaves, instructing them to tell the guests, ‘Look, I’ve prepared my banquet, I’ve slaughtered my bulls and my fattened cattle, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding!’ But they weren’t interested and went off, one to his farm, another to his business; and the rest grabbed his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was furious and sent his soldiers, who killed those murderers and burned down their city.

Verse 7 foreshadows the Romans’ destruction of Yerushalayim in 70 CE.

“Then he said to his slaves, ‘Well, the wedding feast is ready; but the ones who were invited didn’t deserve it. So go out to the street corners and invite to the banquet as many as you find.’ 10 The slaves went out into the streets, gathered all the people they could find, the bad along with the good; and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “Now when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who wasn’t dressed for a wedding; so he asked him,

This man accepted the king’s invitation but, on his terms, – which the king found improper. Kings sometimes give banquets for their subjects and invite them all, regardless of status, providing suitable clothing for those unable to afford it. Therefore the one not wearing what the king had provided was without excuse.

12 ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him outside in the dark!’ In that place, people will wail and grind their teeth, 14 for many are invited, but few are chosen.” [1]

Verse 14 summarizes the theme of the preceding parables (21:28–22:14). God invites many people into His Kingdom, as seen in this parable Yeshua has just told. However, as the man thrown out of the wedding feast illustrates (vv. 11–13), not all who consider themselves part of God’s Kingdom are genuine members (compare 7:13–14, 21–23). Those who hear and respond favorably to God’s invitation can join Him in celebration (compare 25:31–46).

In our next, we continue to follow Yeshua into Yerushalayim for His Crucifixion by the end of the week.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Mattityahu 22:1–14.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 136

Passion Week ~ Tuesday (continued)

In our last post, we examined the final days of Yeshua’s life and ministry. In this post, we walk with Yeshua as He returns to Yerushalayim for the final time.

The Parable of Two Sons

28 “But give me your opinion: a man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29 He answered, ‘I don’t want to’; but later, he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to his other son and said the same thing. This one answered, ‘I will, sir,’; but he didn’t go. 31 Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they replied. “That’s right!” Yeshua said to them. “I tell you that the tax collectors and prostitutes are going into the Kingdom of God ahead of you! 32 For Yochanan came to you showing the path to righteousness, and you wouldn’t trust him. The tax collectors and prostitutes trusted him, but you, even after you saw this, didn’t change your minds later and trust him. [1]

The first son symbolizes repentant sinners (i.e., the tax collectors and prostitutes (v. 32). The second son represents the religious leaders, who ultimately reject Yeshua (vv. 45–46).

The Parable of Murderous Tenants

Yeshua continued to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a tower; then he rented it to tenant farmers and left. When harvest time came, he sent a servant to the tenants to collect his share of the crop from the vineyard. But they took him, beat him up, and sent him away empty-handed. So he sent another servant; this one they punched in the head and insulted. He sent another one, and him they killed; and so, with many others – some they beat up, others they killed. He had still one person left, a son whom he loved; in the end, he sent him to them, saying, ‘My son they will respect.’ But the tenants said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’ So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come, destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others! [2] When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” [3]

A man planted a vineyard recalls the imagery of Isaiah 5:1–2 (compare Isaiah 5:7). Yeshua modifies this image by focusing on the role of the tenant farmers rather than the vineyard itself (compare Isaiah 5:12, Matt. 21:33-46, Luke 9-19). They killed… In the Tanakh, God condemns the people of Isra’el for rejecting His prophets.

The Rejected Stone

42 Yeshua said to them, “Haven’t you ever read in the Tanakh,

‘The very rock which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone!
This has come from Adonai,
and in our eyes, it is amazing’?

43 Therefore, I tell you that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to the kind of people that will produce its fruit!” 44 Whoever falls on this stone will be broken in pieces, but if it falls on him, he will be crushed to powder!” [4]

The rock is a quotation from Psalm 118:22–23; the rejected rock is Yeshua, who comes from God.

In our next, we continue to follow Yeshua into Yerushalayim for His Crucifixion by the end of the week.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  Mattityahu 21:28–32.
[2]  Mark 12:1–9.
[3]  Luke 20:16b.
[4]  Mattityahu 21:42-44 (Some manuscripts omit verse 44.)

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 135

Passion Week ~ Tuesday

In our last post, we examined the final days of Yeshua’s life and ministry. In this post, we walk with Yeshua as He returns to Yerushalayim for the final time.

Introduction

Tuesday is a long day of great confrontation with the religious leaders assembled in Yerushalayim. By way of parables, Yeshua points out that the leaders’ predecessors have always rejected God’s messengers and that now they are rejecting even the Son of God. The P’rushim are angry and attempt to trap Yeshua into making statements by which they can arrest Him. The Tz’dukim (Saducees) join with the P’rushim as they adamantly reject any resurrection of the dead. Yeshua once again responds with superior spiritual insight.   [1]  

Lesson from the Fig Tree

20 In the morning, as the talmidim passed by, they saw the fig tree withered all the way to its roots. 21 Kefa remembered and said to Yeshua, “Rabbi! Look! The fig tree that you cursed has dried up!” [2]  20 The talmidim saw this and were amazed. “How did the fig tree dry up so quickly?” they asked. 21 Yeshua answered them, “Yes! I tell you, if you have trust and don’t doubt, you will not only do what was done to this fig tree but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Go and throw yourself into the sea!’ it will be done. 22 In other words, you will receive everything you ask for in prayer, no matter what it is, provided you have trust.”  [3] 25 And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him; so that your Father in Heaven may also forgive your offenses.” [4]

Yeshua’s Authority Questioned

27 They went back into Yerushalayim; and as He was walking in the Temple courts, there came to Him the Head Cohanim, the Torah-teachers, and the elders; 28 and they said to Him, “What s’mikhah (ordination) do you have that authorizes you to do these things? Who gave you this s’mikhah authorizing you to do them?” 29 Yeshua said to them, I will ask you just one question: answer me, and I will tell you by what s’mikhah I do these things. 30 The immersion of Yochanan—was it from Heaven or from a human source? Answer me.” 31 They discussed it among themselves: “If we say, ‘From Heaven,’ He will say, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘From a human source, … ‘ – they were afraid of the people, for they all regarded Yochanan as a genuine prophet. 33 So they answered Yeshua, “We don’t know.” “Then,” He replied, “I won’t tell you by what s’mikhah I do these things.” [5]

Hebrew s’mikhah, rendering Greek exousia (“authority”), means “leaning” or “laying” on of hands in the ordination ceremony for a judge, elder or rabbi. Laying on of hands is, in the Tanakh, a symbolic act that confers or transfers an office and its duties and privileges by dramatizing God’s bestowal of the blessings and giftings needed for the work. The practice in Judaism is traced back to Moshe’s ordination of Y’hoshua and the seventy elders.

The cohanim and elders, who are also P’rushim (v. 45, 3:7N), are asking: “What kind of ordination did you receive that entitles you to teach as authoritatively as you do to decide points of halakhah  [6]  as you do and to disturb the peace in the Temple courts? And who dared give you such an ordination?” Yeshua does not answer their question but instead puts them on the defensive.

In our next, we continue to follow Yeshua into Yerushalayim for His Crucifixion by the end of the week.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] F. LaGard Smith, The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order
[2] Mark 11:20–21.
[3] Mattityahu 21:20–22.
[4] Mark 11:25.
[5] Mark 11:27–33.
[6] Refers to non-Biblical Jewish Law.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 133

Passion Week ~ Monday

In our last post, we examined the final days of Yeshua’s life and ministry. In this post, we walk with Yeshua as He returns to Yerushalayim for the final time.

Introduction [1]

On Monday, Yeshua’s popularity is still at a high peak, and the children sing His praises as if to thank Him for His continual remembrance of them. But, in contrast, Mattityahu, Mark, and Luke each record an incident almost identical to one recorded by Yochanan at the beginning of Yeshua’s ministry (Yochanan 2:13-21). Yeshua may be purifying the Temple one last time if these are two separate incidents.

Yeshua begins to speak freely of His pending crucifixion and makes a special effort to explain its purpose. Some multitudes still disbelieve in Him, but as Yochanan observes, even their disbelief is the fulfillment of prophecy.

The Unfruitful Fig Tree

12 The next day, as they came back from Beit-Anyah, he felt hungry. 13 Spotting in the distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if He could find anything on it. When He came up to it, He found nothing but leaves; for it wasn’t fig season. 14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His talmidim heard what He said. 

If Yeshua’s cursing and drying up the fig tree had been a petulant reaction to disappointment because He couldn’t satisfy His hunger, it would be unworthy of anyone, let alone the Messiah. But Yeshua is making a point utilizing prophetic drama, an acted-out parable (possibly Luke 13:6–9). Even out of season, a fig tree in leaf – it must have been in leaf to be seen in the distance (v. 12) – holds forth the promise of fruit. The typical early season for figs in Isra’el is June, but the early unripe fruit (Song of Songs 2:13) begins to show itself even before the spring leaves appear on the branches, often before Pesach.

Yeshua Cleanses the Temple

15 On reaching Yerushalayim, He entered the Temple courts and began driving out those who were carrying on business there, both the merchants and their customers. He also knocked over the desks of the money changers, upset the benches of the pigeon dealers,16 and refused to let anyone carry merchandise through the Temple courts. 17 Then, as He taught them, He said, “Isn’t it written in the Tanakh, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all the Goyim.” But you have made it into a den of robbers!”  [2]

The Plot to Kill Yeshua Delayed

18 The head cohanim and the Torah-teachers heard what He said and tried to find a way to do away with Him; they were afraid of Him because the crowds were utterly taken by His teaching. [3] But they couldn’t find any way of doing it because all the people were hanging onto his every word. [4]

In our next, we continue to follow Yeshua into Yerushalayim for His Crucifixion by the end of the week.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order by F. LaGard Smith
[2] Mark 11:12–17.
[3] Mark 11:18.
[4] Luke 19:48.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 131

Passion Week ~ Sunday

In our last post, we examined the final days of Yeshua’s life and ministry. In this post, we walk with Yeshua as He returns to Yerushalayim for the final time.

Background

It is now late March, and Pesach is near. The time has come for Yeshua to be delivered up as our Pesach Lamb. Both Pesach and Hag HaMatzah (Feast of Unleavened Bread) are tied to the remembrance of the exodus of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. The principal Scriptural reference for Pesach is in B’midbar (Exodus) 12:1-13 and Hag HaMatzah in Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:5-8. Yeshua is about to be slain for the salvation of all who would recognize and accept the power in His blood.

Even as He approached Yerushalayim, His enemies were plotting His death. Riding on a lowly colt, Yeshua is met by multitudes who shout praise to God for having sent this “great prophet” in whom they now believe. He knows that most of them still do not understand the true nature of His messiahship and deity. He is now given the most incredible welcome of His ministry. His enemies now let Him have His day of glory. [1]

12 The next day, the large crowd that had come for the festival heard that Yeshua was on His way into Yerushalayim. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting,

“Deliver us!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of Adonai, the King of Isra’el!”  [2]

29 As he approached Beit-Pagei and Beit-Anyah, by the Mount of Olives, He sent two talmidim, 30 instructing them, “Go into the village ahead; on entering it, you will find a colt tied up that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks why you are untying it, tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.'” [3]

This happened in order to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet,

“Say to the daughter of Tziyon,
‘Look! Your King is coming to you,
riding humbly on a donkey
and on a colt, the offspring of a beast of burden!'” [4]

16 His talmidim did not understand this at first, but after Yeshua had been glorified, then they remembered that the Tanakh said this about Him and that they had done this for Him. [5]

They went off and found a colt in the street tied in a doorway, and they untied it. The bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They gave the answer Yeshua had told them to give, and they let them continue. They brought the colt to Yeshua and threw their robes on it, and he sat on it. [6]

In our next, we follow Yeshua into Yerushalayim for His Crucifixion by the end of the week.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  F. LaGard Smith, The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order.
[2]  Yochanan 12:12–13.
[3]  Luke 19:29–31.
[4]  Mattityahu 21:4–5 (quoting Zechariah 9.:9).
[5]  Yochanan 12:16.
[6]  Mark 11:4–7.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 128

Yeshua’s Final Journey ~ Part 5

In our last post, we have been dealing with the final days of Yeshua’s life and ministry. In this post, Yeshua Visits Zacchaeus and Heals Blind Bartimaeus.

Yeshua Visits Zacchaeus (Zakkai)

Yeshua entered Yericho and was passing through, when a man named Zakkai (The name, ironically, means “innocent” in Hebrew.) appeared who was a chief tax collector and a wealthy man. He was trying to see who Yeshua was, but, being short, he couldn’t because of the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed a fig tree in order to see him, for Yeshua was about to pass that way. When He came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zakkai! Hurry! Come down because I have to stay at your house today!” He climbed down as fast as he could and welcomed Yeshua joyfully. Everyone who saw it began muttering, “He has gone to be the house guest of a sinner.” But Zakkai stood there and said to the Lord, “Here, Lord, I am giving half of all I own to the poor; and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.”

Four times as much. When a person confessed to fraud and made voluntary restitution, the Torah required him to return the amount stolen plus twenty percent (Leviticus 5:20–24(6:1–5), Numbers 5:5–7). An apprehended thief had to pay the victim double (Exodus 22:3, 6(4, 7)). But a man stealing what is essential and showing no pity was required to pay back fourfold (Exodus 21:37(22:1), 2 Samuel 12:6). Zakkai, fully repentant, not only acknowledged the heartlessness and cruelty of his behavior but voluntarily imposed upon himself the whole restitution required by the Torah for such acts.

 Yeshua said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, inasmuch as this man too is a son of Avraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.”  [1]

Salvation, Hebrew yeshu’ah, is the feminine form of Yeshua’s name. Thus, there is a wordplay: Yeshua/salvation has come to this house (compare 2:30, Mt 1:21). To seek … what was lost, as in chapter 15, and echoing Ezekiel 34:16, where God seeks His lost sheep.

Yeshua Heals Blind Bartimaeus (Bar-Timai)

46 They came to Yericho, and as Yeshua was leaving Yericho with His talmidim and a great crowd, a blind beggar, Bar-Timai (son of Timai), was sitting by the side of the road. 47 When he heard that it was Yeshua from Natzeret, he started shouting, “Yeshua! Son of David! Have pity on me!”

Son of David, a Messianic title. Therefore, by his shout, Bar-Timai was identifying Yeshua as the Messiah.

4Many people scolded him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the louder, “Son of David! Have pity on me!” 49 Yeshua stopped and said, Call him over!” They called to the blind man, “Courage! Get up! He’s calling for you!” 50 Throwing down his blanket, he jumped up and came over to Yeshua.51 “What do you want me to do for you?” asked Yeshua. The blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me be able to see again.” 52 Yeshua said to him, “Go! Your trust has healed you.” Instantly he received his sight and followed Him on the road. [2]

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

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Luke 19:1–10.
[2] Mark 10:46–52.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 126

Yeshua’s Final Journey ~ Part 3

In our last post, we are now dealing with the final days of Yeshua’s life and ministry. Yeshua follows His discussion with the Rich Young Man in this post and explains The Love of Possessions.

The Love of Possessions

23 Then Yeshua said to His talmidim, “Yes. I tell you that it will be very hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 Furthermore, I tell you that it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” 25 When the talmidim heard this, they were utterly amazed. “Then who,” they asked, “can be saved?” 26 Yeshua looked at them and said, “Humanly, this is impossible; but with God, everything is possible.”

Yeshua’s image may be literal, a camel and a sewing needle, or He may refer to the narrow protective passage at the entrance to a walled city called a “needle’s eye.” Either dramatizes His point, essentially the same as in Mattityahu 6:19–24.

27 Kefa replied, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. So what will we have?”28 Yeshua said to them, “Yes. I tell you that in the regenerated world when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Isra’el.

The Tanakh speaks of a regenerated world at Isaiah 1:25–2:5, 11:1–16, 65:17; Jeremiah 23:3–8, 30:1–31:40; Micah 4:1–5:3; Zechariah 12:1–14:21; Psalms 2, 22, 89; Daniel 7–12. Also, note Romans 8:19–23 and Revelation 21:1–22:5. Rabbinic literature speaks of the ‘olam haba (“world” or “age to come”).

You … will also sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. An important Brit Hadashah verse confirming God’s promises to national Isra’el, e.g., Isaiah 1:26, “And I will restore your judges as at first.” See Ezekiel 48, Isaiah 9:5–6(6–7). This verse gives a rationale for choosing twelve emissaries (10:2–4) and maintaining that number (Ac 1:15–26); also, compare Revelation 21:10–14.

29 Everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children, or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times more, and he will obtain eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. [1]

Yeshua Foretells His Death for the Third Time

32 They were on the road going up to Yerushalayim. Yeshua was walking ahead of them, and they were amazed – and those following were afraid. So again, taking the Twelve along with Him, He began telling them what was about to happen to Him. 33 “We are now going up to Yerushalayim, where the Son of Man will be handed over to the head cohanim and the Torah-teachers. They will sentence Him to death and turn Him over to the Goyim (Gentiles), 34 who will jeer at Him, spit on Him, beat Him, and kill Him; but after three days, He will rise.” [2] 34 However, they understood none of this; its meaning had been hidden from them, and they had no idea what he was talking about.[3]

Passages such as Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 were understood by the early church as referring to the sufferings endured by Yeshua (compare Acts 3:18; 17:2–3; 26:22–23).

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

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  Mattityahu 19:23–30.
[2]  Mark 10:32–34.
[3]  Luke 18:34.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 125

Yeshua’s Final Journey ~ Part 2

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

Yeshua Blesses the Children

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

Yeshua Talks to A Rich Young Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for the PDF version.

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

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 124

Yeshua’s Final Journey ~ Part 1

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

Introduction

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

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

P’rushim Question Yeshua on the Issue of Divorce

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

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

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

The Talmidim Question Yeshua

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

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

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

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

Click here for the PDF version.

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

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 123

Return to Judea to Raise Lazarus ~ Part 4

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

The Sanhedrin Plots to Kill Yeshua

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for the PDF version.

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