The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 60

Performing Miracles ~ Part 4

In our last post, we examined Yeshua healing a Synagogue ruler’s daughter and a woman’s issue of blood. This post examines more of His healing powers and being rejected once again.

Yeshua Heals Two Blind Men

27 As Yeshua went on from there, two blind men began following Him, shouting, “Son of David! Take pity on us!”

By shouting, “Son of David! the blind men were publicly acclaiming Yeshua as the Messiah.

28 When He entered the house, the blind men came up, and Yeshua said to them, “Do you believe that I have the power to do this?” They replied, “Yes, sir.” 29 Then He touched their eyes and said, “Let it happen to you according to your trust,” 30 and their sight was restored.

The men also showed great trust (faith) and initiative.

Yeshua warned them severely, “See that no one knows about it.” 31 But instead, they went away and talked about Him throughout that district. ~ Mattityahu 9:27-31

Despite Yeshua’s apparent desire to keep a low profile, His call for secrecy is not obeyed. Once these men experience the good news, they cannot keep it to themselves.

Yeshua Heals Two Blind Men

32 As they were going, a man controlled by a demon and unable to speak was brought to Yeshua. 33 After the demon was expelled, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Isra’el,” they said. 34 But the P’rushim said, “It is through the ruler of the demons that He expels demons.”  ~ Mattityahu 9:32-34

Yeshua again asserts His authority over the spirit realm (compare Mattityahu 8:28–32) and causes all Isra’el to marvel at His deeds. It is through the ruler of the demons that He expels demons. Yeshua later shows the absurdity of this statement (see Mattityahu 12:22–32).

Yeshua Is Rejected In His Hometown

Messianic Jews today often find these verses poignantly relevant to their own families and hometowns. But they can take comfort from the fact that although Yeshua Himself encountered opposition, indifference, and skepticism, in the end, His family believed in Him (Acts 1:14, Galatians 1:19; contrast 12:48–50, Yochanan 7:3–5), and His hometown became a center of New Covenant faith.

53 When Yeshua had finished these miracles, He left 54 and went to His hometown.

Yeshua’s ministry base was Capernaum, but He had grown up in Nazareth.

 There He taught them in their synagogue in a way that astounded them so that they asked, “Where do this man’s wisdom and miracles come from?

The people know that, unlike their Rabbis, Yeshua has no formal training; He was raised as a craftsman. They express astonishment at the educated things He says and the attesting signs He performs.

55 Isn’t He the carpenter’s son? Isn’t His mother called Miryam? and His brothers Ya‘akov, Yosef, Shim‘on, and Y’hudah?

The language implies that the answer should be a plain “Yes.” But the honest answer is not so simple, as Luke’s careful language reveals: “It was supposed that He was a son of the Yosef who was of Eli, of Mattat (etc.) ” (see Luke 3:23–38). Yosef, the carpenter, raised Yeshua and accepted Him as his son even though He had no natural human father since Miryam the virgin was caused to become pregnant by God supernaturally.

56 And His sisters, aren’t they all with us? So where does He get all this?” 57 And they took offense at Him. But Yeshua said to them, “The only place people don’t respect a prophet is in His hometown and His own house.” 58 And He did few miracles there because of their lack of trust. ~ Mattityahu 13:53-58 (compare with Mark 6:1-6a)

In our next post, we interrupt our look at Yeshua’s Miracle Ministry as He Sends Out His Emissaries beginning in Mattityahu 9:35.

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The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 59

Performing Miracles ~ Part 3

In our last post, we examined Yeshua healing a demon-possessed man. This post will examine Yeshua healing a Synagogue ruler’s daughter and a woman’s issue of blood.

The narrative about Ya’ir’s’ daughter (vv. 21–43) frames the interrupting story of a hemorrhaging woman (vv. 25–34). Both stories show Yeshua’s incredible and surprising power.

[Because this story includes miraculous healings tied together, this post is a little longer than I like to post. You may want to download the PDF version.]

Performing Miracles ~ Part 3

21 Yeshua crossed in the boat to the other side of the lake, and a great crowd gathered around him. 22 There came to Him a synagogue official (head or president of a synagogue), Ya’ir (Jarius) by name, who fell at his feet 23 and pleaded desperately with Him, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Please! Come and lay your hands on her so that she will get well and live!”

24 He went with Him, and a large crowd followed, pressing all around Him. 25 Among them was a woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years 26 and had suffered a great deal under many physicians. She had spent her life savings, yet instead of improving, she had grown worse.

Who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years likely describes ongoing vaginal bleeding? According to Leviticus 15:19–33, it would have made the woman ceremonially unclean – preventing her from worshiping in the Temple or joining her people in everyday activities.

 27 She had heard about Yeshua, so she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His robe;

In contrast to others who approach Yeshua directly, this woman is cautious and hesitant – perhaps because her condition makes her ritually unclean (as noted above). Alternatively, this might be the only way the woman could reach Yeshua through the crowd.

28 for she said, “If I touch even His clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Instantly, the hemorrhaging stopped, and she felt in her body that she had been healed from the disease. 30 At the same time, Yeshua, aware that power had gone out from Him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

This story and the story of Ya’ir’s daughter focus on the relationship between power and faith. Belief gives people access to Yeshua’s life-giving power; unbelief blocks it.

31 His talmidim responded, “You see the people pressing in on you; and still you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 But He kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 The woman, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, came and fell down in front of Him and told Him the whole truth.

If she admitted to the healing, she would acknowledge that she had compromised the ritual purity of Yeshua as well as members of the crowd. The woman likely feared reprisal for violating religious law. She may also be afraid because she has just experienced divine power, and without permission, and is concerned about how Yeshua will respond.

 34 “Daughter,” He said to her, “your trust has healed you. Go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” 3While He was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house came, saying, “Your daughter has died. Why bother the rabbi any longer?” 36 Ignoring what they had said, Yeshua told the synagogue official, “Don’t be afraid, just keep trusting.” 37 He let no one follow Him except Kefa, Ya‘akov, and Yochanan, Ya‘akov’s brother.

Yeshua likely brings this select group of talmidim along with Him because He has already decided that He will heal Ya’ir’s daughter – He does not want word about this to spread.

38 When they came to the synagogue official’s house, He found a great commotion, with people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 On entering, He said to them, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s just asleep!” 40 And they jeered at Him. But He put them all outside, took the child’s father and mother and those with Him, and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand, He said to her, “Talita, Kumi!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 At once, the girl got up and began walking around; she was twelve years old. Everybody was utterly amazed. 43 He gave them strict orders to say nothing about this to anyone and told them to give her something to eat.  ~ Mark 5:21-43 (see Mattityahu 9:18-26 and Luke 8:40-56).

Talita, kumi! is Aramaic. It is sometimes asked whether Yeshua spoke Hebrew or Aramaic. Though Aramaic and Greek were the international languages in use in the Middle East in the first century, Hebrew was a common household language among Jews at that time and continued to be spoken until the third century CE. After that time, it was used for prayer but rarely for daily communication. In the nineteenth century CE, it was revived for secular literary purposes and consciously developed as a modern language by Eli‛ezer Ben-Yehuda and others after 1879. Most people in Yeshua’s day probably spoke all three languages to some degree. [1]

Yeshua intends to continue to keep His identity secret until the appropriate time (compare Mark 8:31–38). If He revealed His identity at this stage as the Son of God (Mark 1:10–11), it could result in Him being prosecuted and executed immediately.

In our next post, we continue to focus on Yeshua Performing Miracles beginning in Mattityahu 9:27.

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

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 57

As I have stated previously, I am following F. LaGard Smith’s “The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order” for the outline of this series and his introductions to the topics. As usual, Scripture quotations are from the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) by David Stern. Since the CJB is not a Red-Letter edition, I double-checked the red versus green with the English Standard Version (ESV).

Performing Miracles ~ Part 1

It is one thing for a man to teach what he claims is truth; it is another thing to demonstrate one’s authority to claim the truth. [Think Moshe and Aharon before Pharoah.] That is why Yeshua’s miracles are such a vital part of His ministry. They are not being performed to entertain, show off His divine power, or even convince skeptics. The miracles are a means of confirming the message that the Kingdom of God is now being established with power!

Challenging Followers

 MT 18 When Yeshua saw the crowd around him, He gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 A Torah-teacher approached and said to Him, “Rabbi, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 Yeshua said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds flying about have nests, but the Son of Man has no home of his own.”

Son of Man. One of the titles of the Messiah is based on Daniel 7:13–14, where the text has bar-enosh(Aramaic). Bar-enosh,” like Hebrew ben-adam, can also mean “son of man,” “typical man,” “one schooled to be a man,” or simply “man.”. Yeshua is all of these: the Messiah, a typical (ideal) man, and one schooled both in heaven and on earth to be a man. Yeshua refers to Himself by this title frequently, stressing His complete identification with the human condition. [1]

LK 59 To another, He said, Follow me!” but the man replied, “Sir, first let me go away and bury my father.” 60 Yeshua said, “Let the dead bury their own dead; you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God!”

The call to discipleship takes precedence over all other duties.

61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, sir, but first let me say goodbye to the people at home.” 62 To him, Yeshua said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and keeps looking back is fit to serve in the Kingdom of God.”~ Mattityahu 8:18-22 (see Luke 9:59-62).

Followers of Yeshua must have a singular focus on the work of God’s Kingdom.

Yeshua Calms the Sea

 23 He boarded the boat, and his talmidim followed. 24 Then, without warning, a furious storm arose on the lake so that waves were sweeping over the boat. But Yeshua was sleeping. 25 So they came and roused him, saying, “Sir! Help! We’re about to die!” 26 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? So little trust you have!”Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and there was a dead calm.

Yeshua uses this phrase at the beginning of verse 26 to respond to His talmidim doubt that God would care for them. Their weak faith contrasts with the centurion’s great faith (v. 8:10).

27 The men were astounded. They asked, “What kind of man is this that even the winds and sea obey him?” ~ Mattityahu 13:44

In our next post, we continue to focus on Yeshua Performing Miracles in Mattityahu 8:28-34.

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

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 55

Teaching Through Parables ~ Part 4

In our first post in this mini-series on the Parables of Yeshua, we looked at why He spoke in parables. In Part 2, we examined the Parable of the Sower and its explanation. In Part 3, we examined The Parable of the Weeds and its explanation. Now, we come to Mark 4:21, The Parable of the Lighted Lamp.

The Parable of The Lighted Lamp

21 He said to them, “A lamp isn’t brought in to be put under a bowl or under the bed, is it? Wouldn’t you put it on a lampstand? 22 Indeed, nothing is hidden, except to be disclosed; and nothing is covered up, except to come out into the open. 23 Those who have ears to hear with, let them hear!” 24 He also said to them, “Pay attention to what you are hearing! The measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you—and more besides! 25 For anyone who has something will be given more; but from anyone who has nothing, even what he does have will be taken away.”~ Mark 4:21-25 (see also Luke 8:16-18).

The Parable of the Lamp following Mark’s Parable of the Sower (4:13-20) – and Yeshua’s teaching about who can receive His message and who is not – implies that the mystery of the Kingdom of God is already revealed by Yeshua. Those willing to embrace it can receive it.

The Parable of The Seed Growing

Yeshua has already associated the Kingdom with a seed that grows (Mark 4:20), and He repeats that motif here (v. 28).

26 And he said, “The Kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seed on the ground. 27 Nights he sleeps, days he’s awake; and meanwhile, the seeds sprout and grow – how, he doesn’t know. 28 By itself the soil produces a crop – first the stalk, then the head, and finally the full grain in the head. 29 But as soon as the crop is ready, the man comes with his sickle, because it’s harvest-time.”  ~ Mark 4:26-29.

The Parable of The Mustard Seed

30 Yeshua also said,With what can we compare the Kingdom of God? What illustration should we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when planted, is the smallest of all the seeds in the field; 32 but after it has been planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all the plants, with such big branches that the birds flying about can build nests in its shade.” ~ Mark 4:30-32 (see also Mattityahu 13:31-32 and Luke 13:18-19).

Mustard is a tiny seed that grows into a 10-foot-high shrub. The shrub grew along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and may have been immediately in view of Yeshua hearers. But it is not the world’s smallest. Scripture, to be inspired by God, does not require that every facet of nature be woodenly reported. For Yeshua’s hearers, mustard might well have been the smallest seed frequently encountered. God used the culture of the age to convey spiritual truth.

In our next post, we continue to focus on Yeshua’s Teaching Through Parables by returning to Mattityahu 13:31.

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The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 54

Teaching Through Parables ~ Part 3

In our first post in this mini-series on the Parables of Yeshua, we looked at why He spoke in parables. In Part 2, we examined the Parable of the Sower and its explanation. Now, we come to Mattityahu 13:24, The Parable of the Weeds.

The Parable of The Weeds

Yeshua returns to addressing the crowd (as opposed to His talmidim in the boat) and offers them a second parable. Yeshua later offers His talmidim an explanation (vv. 36–43).

24 Yeshua put before them another parable. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while people were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, then went away.

Many of Yeshua’s parables describe the Kingdom of Heaven. He uses experiences common to the people of His day to help them understand the coming and growth of the Kingdom (vv. 11, 33, 44, 45, 47; 20:1; 18:23; 22:1; 25:1).

Weeds, Greek zizanion, transliterating Hebrew zonin, and poisonous ryegrass looks like wheat until the heads appear. Judaism understands zonin to be not a different plant from wheat but a degenerate form. In the light of the fact that when Isra’el turns away from God, the Tanakh repeatedly describes her with a related word, zonah (prostitute), this understanding of zonin has implications for understanding the parable. [1]

26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads of grain, the weeds also appeared. 27 The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants asked him, ‘Then do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No because if you pull up the weeds, you might uproot some of the wheat at the same time. 30 Let them both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest-time, I will tell the reapers to collect the weeds first and tie them in bundles to be burned, but to gather the wheat into my barn.’”  ~ Mattityahu 13:24-30.

The Parable of The Weeds Explained

(Once again, we skip over another parable to which we will come back in my next post.)

There will be non-Believers among those who profess to be Believers. Conclusion: Yeshua puts critics of Messianic Judaism on notice that not everything done within the Kingdom is a product of Believers.

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. His talmidim approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world. As for the good seed, these are the people who belong to the Kingdom; and the weeds are the people who belong to the Evil One.

The Kingdom of God is to involve all of humankind, and this was a change of emphasis from what was usually taught.

39 The enemy who sows them is the Adversary, the harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up in the fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send forth his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all the things that cause people to sin and all the people who are far from Torah; 42 and they will throw them into the fiery furnace, where people will wail and grind their teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let him hear!” ~ Mattityahu 13:36-43.

In our next post, we continue to focus on Yeshua’sTeaching Through Parables by returning to Mark 4:21-25.

Click here for the PDF version.

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

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 53

The Parable of The Sower

In our first post in this mini-series on the Parables of Yeshua, we looked at why He spoke in parables. Speaking to His talmidim, He said: 10 Because it has been given to you to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but it has not been given to them…13 Here is why I speak to them in parables: they look without seeing and listen without hearing, or understanding…in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Yesha’yahu (6:9-10) (Mattityahu 13:10-14)

Mattityahu 13 consists of eight parables. The first – the parable of the sower – describes four different responses to the message of the Kingdom of Heaven that Yeshua and His talmidim preach. Yeshua interprets the parable in vv. 18–23 below. Now, let’s come back to Mattityahu 13:1.

The Parable of The Sower

That same day, Yeshua went out of the house and sat down by the lake; but such a large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there while the crowd stood on the shore.

Yeshua may have gone out on the water a short distance to improve people’s ability to hear Him, as sound travels better over the water. If He remains surrounded by the crowd, His words may not be heard.

 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.

In His parables, Yeshua compares the Kingdom of Heaven, or certain aspects of it, to everyday situations of His day (such as farming and fishing).

As he sowed, some seed fell alongside the path; and the birds came and ate it up. Other seeds fell on rocky patches where there was not much soil. It sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow;

The birds scooped up the seeds so quickly that they did not have time to sprout. The soil above the bedrock warms quickly, so seeds readily sprout, but the shallow soil cannot sustain growth.

6, but when the sun had risen, the young plants were scorched, and since their roots were not deep, they dried up. Other seeds fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. But others fell into rich soil and produced grain, a hundred or sixty or thirty times as much as had been sown. Those who have ears, let them hear!”  ~ Mattityahu 13:1-9

An excellent – tenfold harvest would have been considered a good crop. Yeshua explains these three soils below.

The Parable of The Sower Explained

Yeshua explains one of His parables in a rare display – but only to His talmidim.

18 “So listen to what the parable of the sower means. 19 Whoever hears the message about the Kingdom, but doesn’t understand it, is like the seed sown along the path – the Evil One comes and seizes what was sown in his heart. 20 The seed sown on rocky ground is like a person who hears the message and accepts it with joy at once, 21 but has no root in himself. So, he stays on for a while; but as soon as some trouble or persecution arises on account of the message, he immediately falls away. 22 Now, the seed sown among thorns stands for someone who hears the message, but it is choked by the worries of the world and the deceitful glamor of wealth so that it produces nothing. 23 However, what was sown on rich soil is the one who hears the message and understands it; such a person will surely bear fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty times what was sown.” ~ Mattityahu 18-23.

All of us Believers have probably known someone or even ourselves who has fallen into one of these first three soils. Our hearts go out to those who have refused the rich soil.

In our next post, we continue to focus on Yeshua’sTeaching Through Parables by returning to Mattityahu 13:24.

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The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 52

Teaching Through Parables ~ Part 1

We are starting a new Section in our series on the Red-Letter Words of Yeshua. Between the many heated confrontations, Yeshua continues to teach His talmidim quietly about the Kingdom of God. As the Great Teacher, Yeshua uses numerous methods of instructing His talmidim. He employs hyperbole, warnings, laments, and denunciations. He presents truth through beatitudes, proverbs, and dialogue. However, of all His methods, perhaps the most exciting and distinctive teaching mode is His use of parables.

In my studies of God’s Word, and I assume in yours, I have always wondered why He taught this way.

The Purpose of Parables

10 Then the talmidim came and asked Yeshua, “Why are you speaking to them in parables?” 11 He answered, “Because it has been given to you to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but it has not been given to them.

Secrets, KJV “mysteries.” Greek mystêria means truths hitherto kept secret but now revealed. Both then and now, several religions claim to make available special knowledge or mysteries to an inner circle. Biblical religion is not so. Its truths are available to all who read and believe the Bible. While Yeshua walked the earth, there was an inner circle of talmidim who precisely received the knowledge necessary to disseminate God’s truth to all people. But nothing in Scripture supports the notion, found today in cultish, occult, and New Age circles, that true Christianity depends on teachings above or beyond the Bible.[1]

 12 For anyone who has something will be given more so that he will have plenty, but from anyone who has nothing, even what he does have will be taken away.

13 Here is why I speak to them in parables: they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding.”14 That is, in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Yesha’yahu (6:9-10), which says,

You will keep on hearing but never understand,
and keep on seeing but never perceive,
15 because the heart of this people has become dull—
with their ears, they barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
so as not to see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their heart,
and do t’shuvah,
so that I could heal them.’

16 But you, how blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear! 17 Yes indeed! I tell you that many a prophet and many a tzaddik longed to see the things you are seeing but did not see them and to hear the things you are hearing but did not hear them ~ Mattityahu 13:10-17

It should not be surprising that people look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding since Yesha’yahu predicts such a phenomenon, as do Jeremiah 5:21 and Ezekiel 12:2. If they were to see, hear, and understand, they would do t’shuvah (return to God), that is, “repent, and God would heal them.

Tzaddik means righteous one. In Jewish tradition, generally, a godly, holy, righteous man. The implication of vv. 16–17 is that nothing inherent in the talmidim earned them the privilege of seeing the things you are seeing; the prophets and tzaddikim may have been more worthy, but God reveals Himself not based on human merit by His own sovereign will. In this sense, since Yeshua had to be born at a particular time and place (Galatians 4:4–5), there necessarily had to be some to whom it was given (v. 11) and others to whom it was not.

In our next post, we continue to focus on Yeshua’sTeaching Through Parables by returning to Mattityahu 13:1.

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

Happy Resurrection Day

Image courtesy of Pixaby.com

1On the next day, while it was still very early, they [1] took the spices they had prepared, went to the tomb, 2 and found the stone rolled away from the tomb! 3 On entering, they discovered that the body of the Lord Yeshua was gone! 4 They were standing there, not knowing what to think about it, when suddenly two men in dazzlingly bright clothing stood next to them. 5 Terror-stricken, they bowed down with their faces to the ground. The two men said to them, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has been raised. Remember how he told you while he was still in the Galil, 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be executed on a stake as a criminal, but on the third day be raised again’? 8 Then they remembered his words; 9 and, returning from the tomb, they told everything to the Eleven and to all the rest. ~ Luke 24:1–9 (CJB)

One of my favorite Easter songs is sung by The Second Chapter of Acts. Enjoy.

Click here for the Lyrics

He is Risen, He is Risen, Indeed!!!

[1] Miryam of Magdala, Yochanah (Salome), Miryam the mother of Ya‘akov.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 51

The Ministry Continues ~ Part 15

We continue our study of The Ministry Continues, beginning in Luke13:1.

Repent or Perish

Continuing the theme of judgment from chapter 12, Yeshua uses two calamities that befell certain Jews to illustrate the fate that awaits those who do not repent. This material is unique to Luke’s Gospel. These verses exemplify Pilate’s brutality (see Mattityahu 27:2, 16–24).

1 Just then, some people came to tell Yeshua about the men from the Galil whom Pilate had slaughtered even while they were slaughtering animals for sacrifice. 2 His answer to them was, “Do you think that just because they died so horribly, these folks from the Galil were worse sinners than all the others from the Galil? 3 No, I tell you. Rather, unless you turn to God from your sins, you will all die as they did! 4 “Or what about those eighteen people who died when the tower at Shiloach fell on them? Do you think they were worse offenders than all the other people living in Yerushalayim? 5 No, I tell you. Rather, unless you turn from your sins, you will all die similarly.” ~ Luke 13:1-5.

Unless you turn to God from your sins (repent, do t’shuvah [1]), you will all die as they did. The “Bad News” (Romans 1:18–2:8) is explicit, the Good News implicit (Romans 3:19–3:26). Then as now, people did not want to think about their evil ways, so they put their attention on current events to distract them. News is the opiate of the people. In today’s world, it is overwhelming. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, it is tough for me to take a break from the day’s news, but occasionally I have to. Most of us cannot affect world events very much, but all of us can worry about them and criticize the sins of others – instead of focusing on our own lives and our sins.

Yeshua’s Illustration Using A Barren Fruit Tree

Then Yeshua gave this illustration: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit but didn’t find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘Here, I’ve come looking for fruit on this fig tree for three years now without finding any. Cut it down -why let it go on using up the soil?’ But he answered, ‘Sir, leave it alone one more year. I’ll dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; if not, you will have it cut down then.’ ~ Luke 13:6-9

(As an aside, when I worked on my grandfather’s date ranches in the Coachella Valley of California, I learned it took at least five years for a newly planted date tree to bear fruit and at least a couple more years to bear a decent crop.)

Yeshua shows how patient God is with wayward humanity in general in these verses. However, the fig tree metaphor is frequently used in the Tanakh and also at Mattityahu 21:18–22 to represent the Jewish people, who were expected to bear fruit (v. 9) by leading righteous lives and by communicating God’s truth to the other nations of the world (Isaiah 49:6). So, has the one more year ended? – are the Jewish people cut down or set aside by God? Certainly not! (Jeremiah 31:34–36 (35–37)) Heaven forbid! (Romans 11:1–2, 11–12) Some Jews, having trusted in Yeshua HaMashiach and remained united with Him, bear fruit (Yochanan 15:1–8), while God patiently preserves the Jewish people until “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).

A Woman with a Disabling Spirit

In another passage unique to Luke, Yeshua again faces criticism after He performs a healing on the Sabbath (compare 6:6–11).

10 Yeshua was teaching in one of the synagogues on Shabbat. 11 A woman came up who had a spirit which had crippled her for eighteen years; she was bent double and unable to stand erect at all.

The woman’s distorted posture appears to be the result of demonic activity instead of a defect suffered from birth.

 12 On seeing her, Yeshua called her and said to her, “Lady, you have been set free from your weakness!” 13 He put His hands on her, and at once, she stood upright and began to glorify God. 14 But the president of the synagogue, indignant that Yeshua had healed on Shabbat, spoke up and said to the congregation, “There are six days in the week for working; so come during those days to be healed, not on Shabbat!”

The people were coming to Yeshua for healing without regard for the day. Yeshua was not bothered by this; indeed, His actions encouraged it. The religious leaders saw His healings as a violation of God’s command to honor the Sabbath by refraining from work.

 15 However, the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Each one of you on Shabbat – don’t you unloose your ox or your donkey from the stall and lead him off to drink?

Yeshua calls attention to the religious leaders’ willingness to make exceptions to the law to care for animals but not to care for God’s people.

16 This woman is a daughter of Avraham, and the Adversary kept her tied up for eighteen years! Shouldn’t she be freed from this bondage on Shabbat?” 17 By these words, Yeshua put to shame the people who opposed Him; but the rest of the crowd were happy about all the wonderful things that were taking place through Him. ~ Luke 13:10-17

In our next post, we will focus on Yeshua’sTeaching Through Parables beginning in Mattityahu 13.

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[1] Turning from sin to God.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 50

The Ministry Continues ~ Part 14

We continue our study of The Ministry Continues, beginning in Luke 12:49.

Not Peace but Division

49 “I have come to set fire to the earth! And how I wish it were already kindled!

Fire. Primarily the refining fire of holiness and the ultimate fire of judgment against sin (compare Isaiah 66:24; Malachi 3:2–3; 1 Cor. 3:13–15; Rev. 19:20, 20:14–15). Secondarily a fire of hostility between unbelievers and believers (see below in verse 53).

50 I have an immersion to undergo—how pressured I feel till it’s over!

This immersion involves Yeshua’s total identification with sinful humanity. He bears our sins and their punishment, in keeping with Isaiah 53:6, “Adonai has laid on him the iniquities of us all.” He thus becomes a sacrifice for our sins, giving up His very life and immersing Himself into death, paying the death penalty we owe for our sins “like a lamb brought for slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7).

51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace in the Land? Not peace, I tell you, but division!

Yeshua is not to rule in glory at His first coming; He is not at that time to fulfill the Messianic prophecies of world peace, e.g., “They shall beat their swords into plowshares …” (Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3). For this reason, He will bring … division: some will acknowledge Him as Messiah, while others will not so that families will be split down the middle over this issue (vv. 52–53).

52 For from now on, a household of five will be divided, three against two, two against three.

53 Father will be divided against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.[1] ~ Luke 12:49-53

Interpreting the Time

54 Then to the crowds, Yeshua said, “When you see a cloud-bank rising in the west, at once you say that a rainstorm is coming; 55 and when the wind is from the south, you say there will be a heatwave, and there is. 56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky – how is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time? ~ Luke 12:54-56

Once again, Yeshua speaks differently to the crowds than to His talmidim (vv. 22–53). To His own talmidim, He entrusted information about His ministry and about how to obey Him in a manner reflecting their already existing commitment to Him. His only task with the crowds was to awaken them to their need to commit their lives to Him, to become talmidim. As with the preceding sections, this one is oriented toward the final judgment.

Settle with Your Accuser

57 Why don’t you decide for yourselves what is the right course to follow? 58 If someone brings a lawsuit against you, take pains to settle with him first; otherwise, he will take the matter to court, and the judge will turn you over to the bailiff, and the bailiff will throw you in jail. 59 I tell you, you won’t get out of there till you have paid the last penny! ~ Luke 12:57-59

This section parallels Mattityahu 5:25–26, part of Yeshua’s teaching about anger in the Sermon on the Mount. Here, Luke incorporates the same material into Yeshua’s teaching about the final judgment.

In our next post, we will pick back up in Luke13:1. Hopefully, we will complete the section on The Ministry Continues to concentrate on Teaching Through Parables.

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[1] Micah 7:6