Kefa Learns the Lesson of the Withered Fig Tree

In my last post, we learned that Kefa Asks Yeshua, “What Is in It for Us?” Continuing in our chronological journey of Kefa in this post, Kefa learns the Lesson of the Withered Fig Tree.

The lesson is contained in passages from both Mathew and Mark. I have combined them, so we get a bigger picture of what Yeshua is teaching to the talmidim. The order is contained in the “Narrated Bible in Chronological Order” by F. LaGard Smith. The lesson was taught on Tuesday morning of Passion week as Yeshua and His talmidim were going to Yerushalayim from Beit-Anyah (Bethany).

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!” ~ Mark 11:20-21 (CJB)

This fig tree that Yeshua had cursed the previous day (see Mark 11:12-14). In twenty-four hours, it had dried up from root to branch! Kefa was stunned. How could this have happened – and so quickly? The answer lies in Mark 11:22, which we will get to momentarily.

This is the second time Mark recorded Kefa addressing Yeshua as Rabbi (see 9:5). By now, Kefa is serving as spokesperson for the talmidim (see Mark 8:29,32; 9:5; 10:28).

Typically, by this time of year, fig trees near the Mount of Olives would have leaves, but only green fruit with an unpleasant taste appeared this early; edible figs appeared around early June. Often the green fruit would fall off so that only leaves remained.

Considering Micah 5:7, the fruitless fig tree symbolized Yerushalayim’s moral barrenness. The cursing of the tree forewarned of God’s coming judgment against Jerusalem and its Temple.

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.” ~ Matthew 21:20-22 (CJB)

Throwing a mountain into the sea was a figure of speech for doing what was virtually impossible. From where Yeshua and His talmidim are standing, the Dead Sea would probably have been visible; thus, Yeshua’s illustration would have been vivid to His talmidim.

Yeshua’s talmidim overlooked the symbolic significance of Yeshua’s miracle and focused on the power of His command. Although this mountain could be a reference to the Mount of Olives or the Temple Mount, it probably referred to God’s power to do humanly impossible things in response to prayer (see 1Cor. 13:2).

In contrast to the impotent, barren state of the fig tree, here, Yeshua speaks of the power of prayer and the potency of trust.

22 He responded, “Have the kind of trust that comes from God!

The answer to Kefa’s earlier question above, according to Yeshua, boiled down to trust in God. The proper object of trust is God, not the Temple.

23 Yes! I tell you that whoever does not doubt in his heart but trusts that what he says will happen can say to this mountain, ‘Go and throw yourself into the sea!’ and it will be done for him. ~ Mark 11:22-23 (CJB)

Some Jewish texts speak of “removing mountains” as an infinitely long or virtually impossible task, accomplished only by the most pious (later Rabbis applied it to mastering studies that appeared humanly impossible to master). [1]

Yeshua’s saying on trust and impossibilities began with His solemn formula, Yes! I tell you. He gave a negative condition (does not doubt in his heart) and a positive condition (but trusts) for the fulfillment of this promise (cp. James 1:6).

How do we satisfy the hunger of our Lord? How do we keep the hidden part of our life from becoming dry? The root of the answer is trust.

In my next post, we continue our chronological journey of Kefa and learns about the Destruction of the Temple.

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[1] Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

Kefa Asks Yeshua, “What Is in It for Us?”

In my last post, we learned that Kefa asked Yeshua About Forgiveness. Continuing in our chronological journey of Kefa in this post, Kefa Asks Yeshua, “What Is in It for Us?”

The teaching in this passage occurs after the raising of El’azar (Lazarus) as Yeshua, and the talmidim continue their journey to Yerushalayim for the final time together. This passage is also recorded in Mark 10:28-31 and Luke 18:28-30.

The following four verses are presented to set the context for Kefa’s question:

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.”

There is a lot of meat in those four verses, but I will leave that for a later time.

27 Kefa replied, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. So, what will we have?”

“We’ve left everything to follow You,” Kefa says. “What the rich young ruler (see Matt. 19:16) wasn’t willing to do, we’ve done. How will our faithfulness be rewarded? What’s the payoff for our commitment to you?”

Kefa was quick to see the contrast between the wealthy ruler and the poor disciples. Yeshua detected in Kefa’s question the possibility of a wrong motive for service. Yeshua gave them a marvelous promise of rewards in this life and the next. They would even have thrones when He established His kingdom. In other words, they were not making sacrifices – they were making investments. But not all of the dividends would be received in this life.

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. 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.

“Regeneration” was a term used for the future renewal of the world in Greek circles and naturally applied to Jewish expectations of a new world order. 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. That the twelve tribes would be restored was one of the standard Jewish beliefs about the end times.

You… will also sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Isra’el. A vital verse confirming God’s promises to national Isra’el, e.g., Isaiah 1:26, I will restore your judges as at first.” This verse gives a rationale for choosing twelve emissaries (10:2-4) and maintaining that number.

All Believers who genuinely identify with Yeshua and forsake worldly gain to obtain heavenly gain through serving Him 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. ~ Matthew 19:23-30 (CJB)

Because of Kefa’s wrong motive, Yeshua added the warning that some who were first in their own eyes would be last in the judgment, and some who were last would be first. This truth was amplified in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (see Mathew 20:1ff.)

In my next post, we continue our chronological journey of Kefa and learns the Lesson of the Withered Fig Tree.

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Kefa Asks About Forgiveness

In my last post, we learned that Yeshua asks Kefa to Go Fishing Again. He put his line in the Sea of Galilee and miraculously caught a fish with a gold coin in its mouth to pay the Temple tax for Yeshua and himself. Continuing in our chronological journey of Kefa in this post, the talmidim were sitting at Yeshua’s feet as He was teaching them by asking several questions dealing with humility and honesty.

Immediately after teaching about the subject on the discipline of a wayward member of the kehilah, Kefa asks his question on the number of times they should forgive.

21 Then Kefa came up and said to Him, “Rabbi, how often can my brother sin against me, and I have to forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 “No, not seven times,” answered Yeshua, “but seventy times seven! ~ Matthew 18:21-22 (CJB)

To further set the context of Yeshua’s teaching, this event happens after Yeshua had taught them how they should pray in Matthew 16 and immediately follows by saying:

14 For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours. ~ Matthew 6:14-15 (CJB)

Because true repentance should involve turning from sin, some rabbis limited opportunities for forgiveness for a given sin to three times. So Kefa may have thought he was being generous by suggesting that he forgive his brother seven times.

Interpreters and translators dispute whether Yeshua demanded forgiving one’s brother seventy-seven times or seventy times seven (four hundred and ninety times). I am not a Greek scholar, but what difference does it really make? Who would keep track of either one? Yeshua’s point is that forgiveness should be unlimited when true repentance is present.

When we start living in an atmosphere of humility and honesty, we must take some risks and expect some dangers. Unless humility and honesty result in forgiveness, relationships cannot be mended and strengthened.

Kefa recognized the risks involved and asked Yeshua how he should handle them in the future. But Kefa made some serious mistakes. To begin with, he lacked humility himself. He was sure his brother would sin against him, but not he against his brother! Kefa’s second mistake was in asking for limits and measures. Where there is love, there can be no limits or dimensions.

4 Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful, 5 not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (CJB)

Love keeps no record of wrongs. By the time we have forgiven a brother that many times, we are in the habit of forgiving.

In my next post, we continue our chronological journey of Kefa and learn he asks Yeshua what is in it for him?

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Kefa Rebukes Yeshua

In my last post, we learned that Kefa Learns Why Yeshua Teaches in Parables. In this post, we see that Kefa Rebukes Yeshua.

Yeshua Predicts His Death and Resurrection

Immediately after Yeshua warned the talmidim not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah, He 21began making it clear to His talmidim that He had to go to Yerushalayim and endure much suffering at the hands of the elders, the head cohanim and the Torah-teachers; and that He had to be put to death; but that on the third day, He had to be raised to life.

As we have learned earlier in Mathew 16:16, Kefa had previously divulged Yeshua’s secret identity yet retained a flawed concept of what that identity entailed. Yeshua teaches His talmidim what must happen to Him as Messiah and is completely misunderstood, both here and on two later occasions (Matthew 17:22-23, 20:17-19), so different is His scenario from that popularly expected. Even at the Last Supper (Yochanan 14:28) and after his resurrection (Acts 1:6-7), they did not comprehend God’s plan for the Messiah.

Even most of the prophets in the Tanakh sought to avoid martyrdom insofar as possible and complained about their sufferings (1 Kings 19:3-4; Jer. 20:7-18). Although martyrdom was associated with the prophets, it was not their goal; but it seems to be Yeshua’s goal here. Yeshua foreknows His death as a prophet. Still, He also orchestrated it in a sense: no one could stir a commotion in the Temple and defy its officials as Yeshua did, then remain in the city unarmed, without expecting martyrdom.

22 Kefa took Him aside and began rebuking him, “Heaven be merciful, Lord! By no means will this happen to you!” 23 But Yeshua turned His back on Kefa, saying, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path because your thinking is from a human perspective, not from God’s perspective!” ~ Matthew 16:21-23 (CJB)

However, Kefa could not accept the warning because his messianic expectations did not include a suffering, executed Messiah.

Jewish tradition in this period emphasized a triumphant Messiah; only a century after Yeshua’s teaching did Jewish teachers begin to accept the tradition of a suffering Messiah in addition to a triumphant one. One of the first rules of ancient discipleship (with noticeably rare exceptions) was: Never criticize the teacher, especially publicly. Here Kefa breaks that rule, even on standard cultural grounds. [1]

Talmidim sometimes walked behind their teachers to signify submission. The term obstacle (stumbling block in many translations) is referring to something over which people tripped, and came to be used figuratively for things that led people to sin or stumble in their faith. Kefa here offers the same temptation as Satan, the Kingdom without the cross.

Your thinking is from a human perspective means Kefa’s viewpoint was warped. He saw things from a merely human perspective, not a divine perspective. His words were flawed because his thinking was flawed. He had aligned himself with Satan’s program without realizing it.

How often do we follow Kefa in our thinking? How often do we make decisions without consulting with Yeshua first?

In my next post, we continue our chronological journey of Kefa and learn that he accompanies Yeshua, Ya’akov, and Yochanan Up to the Mount of the Transfiguration.

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[1] Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

Kefa  Learns Why Yeshua Teaches in Parables

In my last post, we learned that Kefa once again acknowledges that Yeshua is the Messiah. In this post, we were going to lean that Kefa RebukesYeshua. However, that all changed after listening to our Pastor preach this past Sunday on the Parable of the Soils from Mark 4:1-20. I realized that I had missed this teaching to Kefa and his fellow emissaries in going through our chronological journey.

I initially searched for all instances of Kefa in the Brit Hadashah. Kefa is not mentioned by name in this passage from Mark, but he is by reference: When Yeshua was alone, the people around Him with the Twelve asked Him about the parables. Mark 4:10 (CJB)

So why is this important? Because this teaching comes after the Parable of the Watchful Servant and when Kefa asks Yeshua to explain another parable. I previously wrote on the parallel passage in Mathew here four years ago.

1 Again Yeshua began to teach by the lake, but the crowd that gathered around Him was so large that He got into a boat on the lake and sat there while the crowd remained onshore at the water’s edge. 2 He taught them many things in parables. In the course of His teaching, He said to them: 3

“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he sowed, some seed fell alongside the path; and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Other seed fell on rocky patches where there was not much soil. It sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow; 6 but when the sun rose, the young plants were scorched; and since their roots were not deep, they dried up. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked it; so that it yielded no grain. 8 But other seed fell into rich soil and produced grain; it sprouted, and grew, and yielded a crop — thirty, sixty, even a hundred times what was sown.”

9 And He concluded, “Whoever has ears to hear with, let him hear!”

10 When Yeshua was alone, the people around him with the Twelve asked Him about the parables. 11 He answered them, “To you, the secret of the Kingdom of God has been given, but to those outside, everything is in parables, 12 so that they may be always looking but never seeing; always listening but never understanding. Otherwise, they might turn and be forgiven!”
13 Then Yeshua said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How will you be able to understand any parable? 14 The sower sows the message. 15 Those alongside the path where the message is sown are people who no sooner hear it than the Adversary comes and takes away the message sown in them. 16 Likewise, those receiving seed on rocky patches are people who hear the message and joyfully accept it at once; 17, but they have no root in themselves. So they hold out for a while, but as soon as some trouble or persecution arises on account of the message, they immediately fall away. 18 Others are those sown among thorns — they hear the message; 19 but the worries of the world, the deceitful glamor of wealth and all the other kinds of desires push in and choke the message; so that it produces nothing.20 But those sown on rich soil hear the message, accept it and bear fruit — thirty, sixty or a hundredfold.” ~ Mark 4:1-20 (CJB)

This is one of my favorite parables from our Lord. Understanding it is fundamental to our evangelism. We need to learn what soil we are planting our seeds in.

Ok, so why is it important to backtrack in our chronological journey of Kefa? Because I missed it, and it brings up an interesting question when we examine why Kefa asks Yeshua to explain another parable.

Yeshua is clear in the Parable of the Soils why it is essential to use parables as a teaching method. Parables are nothing more than using one thing next to something else to teach a fundamental principle. Yeshua taught in parables to reveal the truth to the humble, to cancel truth from the arrogant; and, to fulfill prophecy.

So, having listened to the Parable of the Soils before hearing Yeshua uses a parable to discuss the tradition of the leaders, why did Kefa have to ask Yeshua again to explain the parable? Truthfully, I do not know the answer. But I do think it is vital for Kefa and us to understand what the Teacher was telling them thoroughly. The Gospel message is a heart issue. To understand Yeshua, we must focus on our hearts.

Here is the illustration Pastor Doug Long used to explain the Parable of the Soils:

In my next post, we will pick up our chronological journey of Kefa and learn that he Rebukes Yeshua.

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Kefa Again Acknowledges that Yeshua is the Messiah

In my last post, we examined another parable of Yeshua’s that Kefa needed to be explained. In this post, we learn that Kefa once again acknowledges that Yeshua is the Messiah.

13 When Yeshua came into the territory around Caesarea Philippi, he asked His talmidim, “Who are people saying the Son of Man is?”

Caesarea Philippi was pagan territory, near a cave devoted to the worship of the Greek woodland deity Pan; Herod had also dedicated a temple for the worship of Caesar there. Few Jewish people would have expected it as a site for a divine revelation. The city was some twenty-five miles from the Sea of Galilee and about seventeen hundred feet higher. Caesarea Philippi, the present-day town of Banyas, sits at the foot of Mount Hermon, where the Yarden River springs forth. Herod Philip refurbished this town and renamed it in honor of the Emperor and himself. [1]

14 They said, “Well, some say Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist), others Eliyahu (Elijah), still others Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) or one of the prophets.”

All these answers about who Yeshua falls into the “prophets” category, though many members of the Jewish elite held that prophets had ceased, a widespread expectation of end-time prophets remained strong. Eliyahu was expected to return (Malachi 4:5), and many of Yeshua’s miracles resembled Eliyahu’s. His judgment oracles (Mt 11:20-24) or downplaying the Temple (cf. Mt 12:6; 24:1-2) may have evoked the comparison with Yirmeyahu.

 15 “But you,” He said to them, “who do you say I am?” 16 Shim ‘on Kefa answered, “You are the Mashiach, the Son of the living God”(emphasis added). 17 “Shim ‘on Bar-Yochanan,” Yeshua said to him, “how blessed you are! For no human being revealed this to you, no, it was my Father in heaven.

Kefa announces for all to hear the Yeshua is the Mashiach (Messiah), the Son of the living God. Because he recognized who Yeshua was, he is blessed by Yeshua with an insight into who he will become.

Shim’ on Bar-Yochanan, Aramaic for “Shim’ on, Son of Yochanan.” How blessed you are is a standard form of blessing. A human being, literally, “flesh and blood” corresponding to Hebrew basar v’dam, a common expression stressing human limits and weakness. [2]

18 I also tell you this: you are Kefa,” [which means ‘Rock,’] “and on this rock, I will build my Community, and the gates of Sh’ol will not overcome it.

Kefa is an Aramaic word equivalent to Greek “Petros,” which means rock.

I want to pause for a moment and concentrate on the use of the word Community. In Hebrew, it is Kehilah, which means “assembly, congregation, community.” In Greek, it is Ekklesia, which means “called-out ones.” Unfortunately, most English translation of Ekklesia is “church,” and from it comes the word “ecclesiastical,” meaning “having to do with the church.” However, what is being spoken about here is a spiritual community of people based on trust in God and His Son, the Messiah Yeshua. This can be all people throughout history who so commit themselves, or a group of such people at a particular time and place, such as the Messianic Community in Corinth or Yerushalayim. Unlike “church,”Ekklesia never refers either to an institution or to a building. [3] Personally, I don’t go to church. I go to worship God and fellowship with my congregation (Community) of Believers, where I live.

19 I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

The keeper of the keys was one of the most critical roles a household servant could hold. Because keys were bulky and might be carried by only a single person, they also symbolized authority; a high official held the keys in a royal kingdom and God’s house, the Temple. Keys here may signify the authority to admit into the Kingdom (Mt 23:13), based on the knowledge of the truth about Yeshua. The Qumran community also had officials deciding whether to admit members; the decision was made based on the prospective member’s acceptance of the Community’s rule of life. [4]

In consequence of his confession, Yeshua makes Kefa both (1) Shammash (steward) with the keys, and (2) Dayan (judge), who, as the one who can prohibit and permit, establishes new covenant halakhah (to make authoritative decisions). From this passage, the tradition of St. Peter standing at the Pearly Gates originated.

20 Then He warned the talmidim not to tell anyone that He was the Messiah. ~ Matthew 16:13-20 (CJB)

In my next post, we pick up our chronological journey of Kefa and lean that he rebukes Yeshua.

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[1] Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

[2] Jewish New Testament Commentary.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

Kefa Asks Yeshua to Explain Another Parable

In my last post, we learned that Kefa Gets Wet and Declares His Loyalty. In this post, we examine another parable of Yeshua’s that Kefa needs to be explained.

Let me briefly set the stage from Matthew 15 and Mark 7. We pick up the story right after Kefa has declared his loyalty to Yeshua by proclaiming that He is the Holy One of God.

1 Then some P’rushim and Torah-teachers from Yerushalayim came to Yeshua and asked him, 2 “Why is it that your talmidim break the Tradition of the Elders? They don’t do n’tilat-yadayim before they eat!” ~ Matthew 15:1-2 (CJB)

N’tilat-yadayim is the rabbinical hand-washing ritual done by observant Jews even today. Yeshua banters back and forth with the P’rushim and Torah-teachers about what God has said in His Word and what they have established as tradition. (I can’t write or say that word without remembering “The Fidler on the Roof.”)

10 Then He called the crowd to Him and said, “Listen and understand this! 11 What makes a person unclean is not what goes into his mouth; rather, what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him unclean!”

12 The talmidim came to Him and said, “Do you know that the P’rushim were offended by what you said?” 13 He replied, “Every plant that my Father in heaven has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Let them be. They are blind guides. When a blind man guides another blind man, both will fall in a pit.”

15 Kefa said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 So He said, “Don’t you understand even now? 17 Don’t you see that anything that enters the mouth goes into the stomach and passes out into the latrine? 18 But what comes out of your mouth is actually coming from your heart, and that is what makes a person unclean. 19 For out of the heart come forth wicked thoughts, murder, adultery and other kinds of sexual immorality, theft, lies, slanders…. 20 These are what really make a person unclean, but eating without doing n’tilat-yadayim does not make a person unclean.” ~ Matthew 15:10-20 (CJB)

Don’t you understand even now? It is not clear from the context if this was solely directed towards Kefa alone or to all His remaining talmidim. When Kefa asked Him to explain His comments about being defiled, Yeshua answered. When you eat food, it enters the mouth goes into the stomach and passes out into the latrine. No harm is done. Eating with unwashed hands might make you sick, but it can’t defile you.

Yeshua was teaching that the human heart is innately corrupt, but He also described His followers as pure in heart in the Beatitudes. From this, we conclude that following Yeshua results in a transformation of the heart that dramatically diminishes our love of sin.

You can engage in endless religious habits, but these don’t have the power to make you a better man or woman because following external traditions can’t change a wicked heart. But Yeshua can because he’s a heart specialist. Through a relationship with Him, your heart can be transformed so that you love God and love people.

In my next post, we pick up our chronological journey of Kefa in the Gospels when he once again acknowledges that Yeshua is the Messiah.

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Kefa Gets Wet and Declares His Loyalty

In my last post, we looked at Kefa’s Involvement with Yeshua’s Healing of a Woman and Ya’ir’s (Jarius’s) Daughter. In this post, we learn that Kefa Gets Wet and Declares His Loyalty.

Immediately following the feeding of the five thousand, Yeshua had the talmidim get in the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. 23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up into the hills by Himself to pray. Night came on, and He was there alone. 24 But by this time, the boat was several miles from shore, battling a rough sea and a headwind.

Harsh storms often arise suddenly on the Sea of Galilee.

25 Around four o’clock in the morning, He came toward them, walking on the lake! 26 When the talmidim saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said and screamed with fear. 27 But at once, Yeshua spoke to them. “Courage,” He said, “it is I. Stop being afraid.”

Belief in ghosts or disembodied spirits was common on a popular level in antiquity, even though the idea of ghosts contradicted popular Jewish teachings about the resurrection from the dead. [1] It is I is the equivalent of saying I Am.

28 Then Kefa called to him, “Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come!” He said. So Kefa got out of the boat and walked on the water toward Yeshua. 30 But when he saw the wind, he became afraid; and as he began to sink, he yelled, “Lord! Save me!” 31 Yeshua immediately stretched out His hand, took hold of him, and said to him, “Such little trust! Why did you doubt?” 32 As they went up into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 The men in the boat fell down before Him and exclaimed, “You really are God’s son!” ~ Matthew 14:22-33 (CJB)

Such little trust! Kefa has, even though a moment before he had much to get out of the boat. Faith is only present-tense; it does not build up like a bank account (see James 1:6-7). Yeshua’s rebuke restored it and Kefa walked back to the boat holding Yeshua’s hand.

Despite Kefa’s failure to follow through, by beginning to walk on water, he had done something that not even the greatest prophets of the Tanakh had done. Would you or I have faith to get out of the boat in the middle of a storm?

Walking on water might remind readers of Isra’el passing through the Red Sea or the Yarden, but this was a greater miracle. Faith to step into the water could also evoke Joshua 3:13-17.

The talimidim’s confession of Yeshua as God’s Son is not surprising. The title Son of God often serves as a messianic title in the Brit Hadashah, but here it also implies Yeshua’s deity. The talmidim likely interpreted the miracle in light of Job 9:8, which states that Adonai walked on the sea as if it were dry land. Their worship of Yeshua also confirmed their growing recognition of His divine nature.

After they had crossed the Sea of Galilee, Yeshua gave His famous discourse that He was the Bread of Life. Many of the talmidim found this saying too hard to understand or accept. We learn 66 From this time on, many of his talmidim turned back and no longer traveled around with him. 67 So Yeshua said to the Twelve, “Don’t you want to leave too?”

Yeshua succeeded in winnowing out those who were not sincere or who found too high the cost of eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Literally, this sounds very cannibalistic. Many must have recalled their history when their ancestors were forced to become cannibals to survive. Fortunately, we now know that He was speaking symbolically of giving up His body and blood on the execution stake to cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

68 Shim’on Kefa answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the word of eternal life. 69 We have trusted, and we know that You are the Holy One of God.” 70 Yeshua answered them, “Didn’t I choose you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is an adversary.” ~ John 6:66-70 (CJB)

Kefa’s confession of Yeshua as the Holy One of God anticipates later references to Yeshua being set apart for Adonai. In the Tanakh, Adonai was called “the Holy One of Israel” (Ps 71:22; Isa. 43:3; 54:5). Kefa’s confession of faith in Yeshua may be compared with Matt. 16:16, Mark 8:29, and Luke 9:20.

In my next post, we pick up our chronological journey of Kefa in the Gospels when he once again asks Yeshua to explain a parable.

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[1] Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

Kefa’s Involvement with Yeshua’s Healing of a Woman and Ya’ir’s Daughter

In my last post, we looked at Kefa’s appointment as an Emissary and his inquiring mind from the Parable of the Watchful Servants. In this post, I will turn to Kefa’s Involvement with Yeshua’s Healing of a Woman and Ya’ir’s (Jarius’s) Daughter.

Most of us a familiar with this account of Yeshua healing the woman who had had a hemorrhaging of blood for twelve years. Under Jewish law, because of that, she was considered unclean and had to live apart from her family and community. She was obviously desperate for healing after consulting with multiple physicians. Rather than quoting the entire passage, I want to focus in on Kefa’s involvement.

The woman came up behind Him and touched the tzitzit on His robe; instantly, her hemorrhaging stopped. 45 Yeshua asked, “Who touched me?” When they all denied doing it, Kefa said, “Rabbi! The crowds are hemming you in and jostling you!” 46 But Yeshua said, “Someone did touch me because I felt power go out of me.” ~ Luke 8:44-46 (CJB)

A couple of thoughts on this portion of the story:

  • Kefa was close to Yeshua when this incident occurred. He, too, was probably being pushed and shoved by the crowd as made its way towards Ya’ir’s
  • Kefa gave the response to Yeshua that I assume most of us would have also given. I can recall many times when I have been in a crowd to get into a concert or football game where I have been jostled by some unknown person. Pastor Tony Evans has this fascinating insight:

When He asked who had touched Him, Peter was astonished. Jesus was being accosted from every side. Everyone was touching him! But the Son of God knows when someone has reached out to him in faith.[1]

We pick up our account with Yeshua and the crowd continuing their journey to Ya’ir’s home to health his daughter. By now, however, they had learned that his little girl had died, and the mourners [2] were on their way. Again, rather than quoting the entire passage, I want to focus in on Kefa’s involvement.

51 When he arrived at the house, he didn’t allow anyone to go in with him except Kefa, Yochanan, Ya’akov and the child’s father and mother 52 All the people were wailing and mourning for her; but he said, “Don’t weep; she hasn’t died, she’s sleeping.” ~ Luke 8:51-52 (CJB)

The timing of this passage is still early in Yeshua’s ministry, and Kefa being called to be an emissary. Here we see the beginning of the triumvirate of Kefa, Yochanan, and Ya’akov as the leaders of the pack. We will see them later at the Mount of Transfiguration and the Mount of Olives on Yeshua’s last night before His crucifixion.

I am not going to speculate on any significance or the lack thereof in the order of the listing of their names.

In my next post, we will look at Kefa Getting Wet.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Tony Evans Bible Commentary, Advancing God’s Kingdom Agenda.

[2] At least two or three professional mourners (two flute players and a mourning woman) were required at the funeral of even the poorest person; the funeral for a member of a prominent family like this one would have many mourners. Because bodies decomposed rapidly in Palestine, mourners had to be assembled as quickly as possible, and they had gathered before word even reached Jairus that his daughter had died. ~ Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

Kefa’s Appointment As An Emissary & His Inquiring Mind

In my last post, we looked at Kefa’s calling by Yeshua to follow Him. In this post, will turn to Kefa’s appointment as an Emissary and his inquiring mind from the Parable of the Watchful Servants.

1 Yeshua called His twelve talmidim and gave them authority to drive out unclean spirits and to heal every kind of disease and weakness. 2 These are the names of the twelve emissaries:

First, Shim’on, called Kefa, and Andrew his brother, Ya’akov Ben-Zavdai and Yochanan, his brother, 3 Philip and Bar-Talmai, T’oma and Mattityahu the tax-collector, Ya’akov Bar-Halfai and Taddai, 4 Shim ‘on the Zealot, and Y’hudah from K’riot, who betrayed Him. ~ Matthew 10:1-4 (CJB) [1]

These men had been traveling with Yeshua, listening to Yeshua, and hanging out with Yeshua. They were learners. Yeshua called them talmidim (disciples) and transformed them into emissaries (“apostles” or “sent out ones.”)

An emissary was a Hebrew term that was used for business agents, although the general concept is broader than that; a “sent one” acted on the full authority of the sender to the extent that one accurately represented the sender’s mission. [2]

I find it interesting that Mattityahu (Matthew), as well as the other Gospel writer’s list Kefa, first when it was his brother Andrew who was one of Yeshua’s first talmidim. Here we see that Yeshua does have leaders among leaders. And Kefa, indeed, was a leader amongst these leaders.

Nonetheless, Kefa was the apostle with the foot-shaped mouth, often saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Maybe you enjoy talking, and your heart is as big as the world, but you have a tendency to speak and to think later. Kefa was like that.

The Lord changed Shim’on from one who was shifting and unstable into Kefa or “Rock.” Yeshua renamed Kefa because He transformed him from one who was shifting and unstable to one who would become trustworthy and reliable.

Yeshua’s selection of 12 talmidim is also reminiscent of the 12 tribes of Isra’el. Moving on in chronological order, we come to the:

Parable of the Watchful Servants

As Yeshua is speaking to His followers, he says:

35 “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit, 36 like people waiting for their master’s return after a wedding feast; so that when he comes and knocks, they will open the door for him without delay. 37 Happy the slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes! Yes! I tell you he will put on his work clothes, seat them at the table, and come serve them himself! 38 Whether it is late at night or early in the morning, if this is how he finds them, those slaves are happy.

39 “But notice this: no house-owner would let his house be broken into if he knew when the thief was coming. 40 You too, be ready! For the Son of Man will come when you are not expecting him.”

41 Kefa said, “Sir, are you telling this parable for our benefit only or for everyone’s?”42 The Lord replied, “Nu,[3] who is the faithful and sensible manager whose master puts him in charge of the household staff to give them their share of food at the proper time? 43 It will go well with that servant if he is found doing his job when his master comes. 44 Yes, I tell you he will put him in charge of all he owns. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking his time coming,’ and starts bullying the men- and women-servants, and eating and drinking, getting drunk, 46, then his master will come on a day when the servant isn’t expecting him, at a time he doesn’t know in advance, his master will cut him in two and put him with the disloyal. 47 Now the servant who knew what his master wanted but didn’t prepare or act according to his will, will be whipped with many lashes; 48; however, the one who did what deserves a beating, but didn’t know, will receive few lashes. From him who has been given much, much will be demanded — from someone to whom people entrust much, they ask still more. ~ Luke 12:35-48 (CJB)

Talmidim often sought clarification from their teachers by asking questions, so Kefa’s question was not unusual. After all, inquiring minds want to know. Yeshua previously told His disciples that His parables held secrets that were only for His followers. Yeshua did not answer Kefa’s question directly. Instead, He told another story about a master and his manager. This story emphasized that the master’s servant should be watching, but this story made it clear that the servant must also be working.

The faithful servant of Yeshua is the one who is given a task, performs it, and is blessed by it. The reward that Yeshua will give to the faithful steward will be far greater than the challenges encountered in this service. Faithful believers will receive greater responsibility at His return.

In my next post, we will turn to Kefa’s involvement with the healing of a woman with a hemorrhaging of blood and Ya’ir’s (Jarius) daughter.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] See also Mark 3:16 & Luke 6:14.

[2] Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

[3]Nu is a general-purpose Yiddish word meaning variously, “Well?” “So?” “Indeed!” “I challenge you,” or, “If not that, then what?”—with many possible inflections and overtones.