Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for the PDF version.

 

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

Be Ministers of Reconciliation ~ Rosh Hashanah – 5781

In this post, we take a break from our series on Kefa to observe the first of the fall Jewish feasts of Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashanah: The key is Repentance, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation

Biblical References: B’midbar (Numbers) 29:1–6 and Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:23 – 25 ~ Yom Teruah (The Feast of Trumpets). In 2020, the appointed time begins at sundown on September 18th.

Rabbinic Change: Since this is a Shabbat of the Fall Appointed Times, it has been considered as the “spiritual” New Year. Hence, the name changed to Rosh Hashanah, “the head of the year.” It is also seen as the anniversary of creation; the sacrifice of Yitz’chak; the release of Yosef from Pharaoh’s prison; and, the birth of Sh’mu’el, the prophet.

The purpose and traditional observance of the Holy Day is summed up in one word – regathering. Since the Fall Appointed Times call us to regather to pure faith in Adonai, Rosh Hashanah has come to represent the Day of Repentance. It is the day when people of Isra’el take stock of their spiritual condition and make the necessary changes to ensure that the upcoming New Year will be pleasing to Adonai.

The shofar is sounded daily to alert the faithful that the time of repentance is near. The observance takes on a somber character, yet always with a hint of hope because of Adonai’s forgiveness.

The traditional challah is shaped in a circle to symbolize Adonai’s Kingship and the coming of the Messiah. Sweet honey cakes and apples dipped in honey are a real treat and express the hope of a new fresh year.

Tradition tells of three books that are opened in the heavenly courts during the feast of Rosh Hashanah; one for the thoroughly righteous, one for the thoroughly wicked, and one for the average person. The thoroughly righteous are immediately inscribed in the Book of Life. The completely wicked are directly written in the book of death. The average person is kept in suspension from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). If they deserve well, they are inscribed in the Book of Life; if they do not deserve well, they are written in the book of death. Consequently, the Ten Days of Awe are a time of solemn self-examination with time spent in seeking reconciliation and doing good works in the Jewish tradition.

Since the 15th Century, the ceremony of Tashlich is celebrated in the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah. The congregation meets at a river or stream. Special prayers of repentance are recited, and a portion of Micah is read. People then take breadcrumbs and cast them into the water symbolizing that our sins are carried away by the water.

Rosh Hashanah has profound Messianic significance! The rabbis have taught that one day the shofar would sound, and the Messiah would come. According to Rabbi Sha’ul, in the future, all true believers in Yeshua will be gathered to meet Him in the clouds. The dead in Messiah will rise first, to be followed immediately by those believers alive at the time. “For the Lord, Himself will come down from heaven with a rousing cry, with a call from one of the ruling angels, and with God’s shofar, those who died united with the Messiah will be the first to rise; then we who are left still alive will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we will always be with the Lord. So, encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) That day will indeed be characterized by joy, delight, and sweetness for those who are called home! As we observe Rosh Hashanah, we should anticipate the time of Yeshua’s return.

The traditional greeting during Rosh Hashanah is, “L’shanah tovah tikatevu!” May your name be inscribed in the book of life! As Messianic Believers, we can rightly say, “L’shanah tovah tikatevu b’shem Yeshua!” May your name be inscribed in the book of life, in the name of Yeshua!

Read 2 Corinthians 5:17 – 21. Rosh Hashanah: repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Rabbi Sha’ul wrote to the Corinthians about these key ingredients in our annual observation of this holy appointed time. Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the new spiritual year, so it is that we become new creations when we are united with Yeshua as our Messiah.

The fundamental idea in this passage is reconciliation. Because of our rebellion, we are the enemy of Adonai and out of fellowship with Him. Through the work of the execution stake, Yeshua has brought Adonai and us together again. Adonai has been reconciled and has turned His face in love toward the lost world. The essential meaning of the word reconcile is “to change thoroughly.” It refers to a restored relationship with Adonai and the lost world. “And it is all from God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18a)

Adonai does not have to be reconciled to man because Yeshua accomplished that on the execution stake. It is the sinful man who must be reconciled to Adonai. “Religion” is man’s feeble effort to be reconciled to Adonai, efforts that are bound to fail. The Person who reconciles us to Adonai is Yeshua, and the place where He reconciles us is His execution stake. He not only reconciles us to Himself, but he gives us the task of reconciling other people to Him. We have been entrusted with the message of reconciliation.

Another fundamental idea in this paragraph is that Adonai does not count our sins against us. In the KJV, the term used is imputing. This is a word borrowed from banking; it just means, “to put to one’s account.” When you deposit money in the bank, the teller puts that amount into your account. When Yeshua died on the execution stake, all our sins were imputed to Him – put into His account. Adonai treated Him as though He had committed those sins.

What was the result? All those sins have been paid for, and Adonai no longer holds them against us, because we have trusted Yeshua as our Messiah. But even more: Adonai has put into our account the very righteousness of Yeshua! “God made this sinless man be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with him we might fully share in Gods’ righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Reconciliation is based on imputation: because the demands of Adonai’s Torah have been fully met on the execution stake, Adonai can be reconciled to sinners. Those who believe in Yeshua, as their Messiah will never have their sins imputed to them again (see Psalms 32:1-2; Romans. 4:1-8). As far as their records are concerned, they share the righteousness of Yeshua!

How does this beautiful doctrine of reconciliation motivate us to serve Yeshua? We are ambassadors with a message. Adonai has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

Since we are the ambassadors of Yeshua, this means that the world is in rebellion against Adonai. He has sent His ambassadors into the world to declare peace, not war. “Be reconciled to God!” We represent Yeshua (see John 20:21; 2 Corinthians 4:5). If sinners reject our message and us, it is Yeshua who is rejected. What a great privilege it is to be heaven’s ambassadors to the rebellious sinners of this world!

Adonai has not declared war on the world; at the execution stake, He said peace. But one day, He will declare war; and then it will be too late for those who have rejected Yeshua (2 Thessalonians 1:3-10). Satan is seeking to tear everything apart in this world, but Yeshua and His Messianic community are involved in the ministry of reconciliation, bringing things back together again, and back to Adonai.

Ministry is not easy. If we are to succeed, we must be motivated by the fear of the Lord, the love of Yeshua, and the commission that He has given to us. It is indeed a privilege to serve Him!

During these next ten days before Yom Kippur, I encourage you to do some self-reflection. Is there any unconfessed sin in your life? Do you need to forgive someone who has hurt you? Are there any relationships that require reconciliation? As we enter the start of a new spiritual year, resolve to make a fresh start and be ambassadors of Yeshua HaMashiach, “so that in union with Him, we might fully share in God’s righteousness.”

In my next post, we will return to our study of Kefa.

Kefa’s First Public Sermon

In my last post, we examined Kefa Calls for the Replacement of Y’hudah. In this post, we examine Kefa’s First Public Sermon.

Some fifty days after Pesach when Yeshua was arrested, the Believers were gathered in Yerushalayim for Shavu’ot. Suddenly there came a sound from the sky like the roar of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each one of them. 4 They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh and began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. ~ Acts 2:2-4 (CJB) Now when the pilgrims heard the sound a crowd gathered; they were confused, because each one heard the believers speaking in his own language. Acts 2:5-6 (CJB)

14 Then Kefa stood up with the Eleven and raised his voice to address them: “You Judeans, and all of you staying here in Yerushalayim! Let me tell you what this means! Listen carefully to me! 15 “These people aren’t drunk, as you suppose – it’s only nine in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken about through the prophet Yo’el:

17 ‘Adonai says: “In the Last Days, I will pour out from my Spirit upon everyone. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my slaves, both men and women, will I pour out from my Spirit in those days; and they will prophesy. 19 I will perform miracles in the sky above and signs on the earth below — blood, fire and thick smoke. 20 The sun will become dark and the moon blood before the great and fearful Day of Adonai comes. 21 And then, whoever calls on the name of Adonai will be saved.”’ [1]

22 “Men of Isra’el! Listen to this! Yeshua from Natzeret was a man demonstrated to you to have been from God by the powerful works, miracles, and signs that God performed through Him in your presence. You yourselves know this. 23 This man was arrested in accordance with God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge; and, through the agency of persons not bound by the Torah, you nailed Him up on a stake and killed him! 24 “But God has raised Him up and freed Him from the suffering of death; it was impossible that death could keep its hold on Him. 25 For David says this about Him:

‘I saw Adonai always before me, for he is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. 26 For this reason, my heart was glad; and my tongue rejoiced; and now my body too will live on in the certain hope 27 that you will not abandon me to Sh’ol or let your Holy One see decay. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; you will fill me with joy by your presence.” [2]

29 “Brothers, I know I can say to you frankly that the patriarch David died and was buried – his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him that one of his descendants would sit on his throne, 31 he was speaking in advance about the resurrection of the Messiah, that it was he who was not abandoned in Sh’ol and whose flesh did not see decay. 32 God raised up this Yeshua! And we are all witnesses of it! 33 “Moreover, he has been exalted to the right hand of God; has received from the Father what he promised, namely, the Ruach HaKodesh; and has poured out this gift, which you are both seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into heaven. But he says,

35 ‘Adonai said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ [3]

36 Therefore, let the whole house of Isra’el know beyond doubt that God has made him both Lord and Messiah — this Yeshua, whom you executed on a stake!”  37 On hearing this, they were stung in their hearts; and they said to Kefa and the other emissaries, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Kefa answered them, “Turn from sin, return to God, and each of you be immersed on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh! 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for those far away — as many as Adonai our God may call!” 40 He pressed his case with many other arguments and kept pleading with them, “Save yourselves from this perverse generation!” 41 So those who accepted what he said were immersed, and there were added to the group that day about three thousand people. ~ Acts 2:14-41 (CJB)

Kefa disposes of the closed-minded skeptics and scorners before addressing the open-minded but bewildered remainder. In quoting from Yo’el, he explains that the Last Days have already begun. We know that they are continuing now, and they will culminate on the Last Day, here called the great and fearful Day of Adonai.

Men of Isra’el…you killed Him! Like a knife, the accusation pierced their hearts. But the Messiah’s death was in accordance with God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge. It was not an accident, not a miscalculation on the part of Yeshua and His talmidim. God knew and planned Yeshua’s death as atonement for humanity’s sins. But that provides the killers no excuse; they had free will and could have chosen to act differently. Also, Gentiles – Pontius Pilate and Roman soldiers – were directly involved in killing Yeshua. Kefa does not measure the degree of their guilt because he is not speaking to them.

But God has raised Him up. It is of the essence of Messianic faith that Yeshua is alive. If He were not, we could feel sorry but could do nothing to repair the relationship between Him and us, and Kefa would not have delivered this sermon.

The patriarch David died. According to Jewish tradition, he died on Shavu’ot, as Kefa’s Shavu’ot audience was undoubtedly aware, The Tanakh says he was buried in the City of David, southeast of the present Western Wall (1 Kings 2:10).

Kefa’s central point is that all Jews, the whole house of Isra’el, should acknowledge Yeshua as Lord and Messiah because God had made Him fulfill those roles in Jewish life and human history.

Verse 41 is a mindblower to me. Most preachers are grateful when a handful accepts the invitation, and I am sure none of them used the tactics Kefa used. I know that the late Billy Graham did use the same tactics, but do not know his stats for one message. My wife and I attended two of his meetings at Anaheim Stadium and saw many come forward. But his message was much more low-keyed than Kefa’s and the response was probably only in the high hundreds.

In my next post, we will learn that Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar.

Click here for the PDF version.

 

[1] Joel 2:28-32

[2] Psalm 16:8-11

[3] Psalm 110:1

Yeshua’s Final Instructions Before His Ascension

In my last post, we concluded our story in Kefa Goes Fishing One More Time ~Part 4. In this post, we examine Yeshua’s Final Instructions Before His Ascension. Although Kefa is only briefly mentioned in the following passages, I thought it beneficial to our understanding of his ministry as we begin to explore the Acts of the Emissaries of Yeshua, the Messiah in my next post.

Yeshua Commissions the Emissaries

16 So the eleven talmidim went to the hill in the Galil, where Yeshua had told them to go. 17 When they saw Him, they prostrated themselves before Him; but some hesitated. 18 Yeshua came and talked with them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Therefore, go and make people from all nations into talmidim, immersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son, and the Ruach HaKodesh, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember! I will be with you always, yes, even until the end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:16-20 (CJB)

God often revealed Himself on mountains, especially in the narratives about Moshe. According to 1 Corinthians 15:6, this may have been the time when Yeshua appeared to the five hundred. In verse 18, Yeshua alludes to Daniel 7:13-14. Make people from all nations into talmidim must have shocked His hearers, who thought that the Messiah was only, or at least primarily, for Jews. Today the situation is reversed, for many Believers think it wrong to evangelize Jews. But their position is inconsistent, for if they respect Yeshua, they should obey His command to make people from all nations, including the Jewish nation, into talmidimImmersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son, and the Ruach HaKodesh would lead us down an extensive “rabbit trail,” so I will leave that for another day. Suffice it to say that this is the closest the Brit Hadashah comes to stating the proposition that the God of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, consists of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One final note, making talmidim, was the sort of thing rabbis would do, but Yeshua’s followers are to make talmidim for Him, not for themselves.

Yeshua’s Parting Instructions

45 Then He opened their minds so that they could understand the Tanakh, 46 telling them, “Here is what it says: the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day; 47 and in His name repentance leading to forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed to people from all nations, starting with Yerushalayim. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 Now I am sending forth upon you what My Father promised, so stay here in the city until you have been equipped with power from above.” ~ Luke 24:45-49 (CJB)

The Tanakh (the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms) represents the three major divisions of the Hebrew Bible. Yeshua now did for the broader group of talmidim essentially what He had already done for the two on the road to Emmaus. He explained the Scriptures. What my Father promised was the Ruach HaKodesh (see Joel 3:1-5; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 16-21). The Holy Spirit gives the power necessary for being witnesses.

Yeshua Ascends to Heaven

50 He led them out toward Beit-Anyah; then, raising his hands, He said a b’rakhah over them.  blessing them, He withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. ~ Luke 24:50 (CJB)

6 They asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore self-rule to Isra’el?” 7 He answered, “You don’t need to know the dates or the times; the Father has kept these under His own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Ruach HaKodesh comes upon you; you will be My witnesses both in Yerushalayim and in all Y’hudah and Shomron, indeed to the ends of the earth!” 9 After saying this, He was taken up before their eyes; and a cloud hid Him from their sight. 10 As they were staring into the sky after Him, suddenly they saw two men dressed in white standing next to them. 11 The men said, “You Galileans! Why are you standing, staring into space? This Yeshua, who has been taken away from you into heaven, will come back to you in just the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:6-11 (CJB)

Raising his hands, he said a b’rakhah. To this day, there is a portion of the synagogue service wherein a cohen raises his hands and pronounces over the congregation the Aaronic Benediction of Numbers 6:24-26.

Lord, are you at this time going to restore self-rule to Isra’el? Virtually all Jews expected that when the Messiah came, He would deliver Isra’el from Roman oppression and become king over the Jewish nation reunited and sovereign as it had been under Kings Saul, David, and Solomon. Yeshua’s answer to His talmidim was you don’t need to know the dates or the times; the Father has kept these under His own authority. From this, we learn (contrary to the teaching of Replacement Theology) that the kingdom indeed will be restored to Isra’el. The only question is when, and that still is not presently ours to know.

To be Yeshua’s witnesses in both word and deed means communicating the verbal content of the Gospel and living God’s way and not our own. This is the central task of the people of God, but it can be accomplished only with power from the Ruach HaKodesh. The talmidim are to start evangelizing where they are, in Yerushalayim, the center of the Jewish people. Then they are to move out into all Y’hudah (Judea, the Jewish countryside) and Shomron (Samaria, populated by half-Jews), and finally to go to the ends of the earth, that is, to reach Gentile peoples.

A cloud hid him…. Yeshua… will come back in just the same way, fulfills Daniel 7:13 and Yeshua’s predictions (Mt 26:64; Mk 14:62; Lk 21:27; Rev 1:7, 13; 14:14). In the Tanakh, a cloud often expresses God’s glory (Exodus 13:21), His Sh’khinah (“radiance,” Hebrews 1 3). The reply of the two men dressed in white, evidently angels, supports our hope (Titus 2:13) that Yeshua is coming back and at the same time implies a partial answer to the talmidim question in v. 6: Yeshua will restore self-rule to Isra’el and bring peace to the earth when He comes back to you in just the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

The Emissaries Return to Yerushalayim

52 They bowed in worship to Him, then returned to Yerushalayim, overflowing with joy. 53 And they spent all their time in the Temple courts, praising God. ~ Luke 24:52-53 (CJB) 12 Then they returned the Shabbat-walk distance from the Mount of Olives to Yerushalayim. 13 After entering the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. The names of the emissaries were Kefa, Ya’akov, Yochanan, Andrew, Philip, T’oma, Bar-Talmai, Mattityahu, Ya’akov Ben-Halfai, Shim’on “the Zealot,” and Y’hudah Ben-Ya’akov. 14 These all devoted themselves single-mindedly to prayer, along with some women, including Miryam (Yeshua’s mother), and his brothers.  ~ Acts 1:12-14 (CJB) 20 And they went out and proclaimed everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the message by the accompanying signs. ~ Mark 16:20 (CJB)

As Yeshua had requested (v. 49), the talmidim returned to Yerushalayim and stayed there until the events of the day of Shavuot (Acts 2). They bowed in worship to him because they now understood who He was, the Son of God, divine and worthy of worship. They spent all their time in the Temple courts praising God. The early Believers had a living faith and a close relationship with God; being Jews, they expressed that faith by praising God at His Temple. We pick them up praising God at Acts 1:14. Note that Kefa is mentioned first in the list of the eleven.

And they went out and proclaimed everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the message by the accompanying signs. Are you witnessing what the Lord has done for you – or are you expecting others to evangelize? Are you serving – or are you expecting others to serve you?

In my next post, we will examine Kefa Calls for the Replacement of Y’hudah.

Click here for the PDF version.

Kefa Goes Fishing One More Time ~ Part 1

In my last post, we examined when Kefa Learns of Yeshua’s Resurrection. In this post, we continue with the sightings of our resurrected Lord when Kefa Goes Fishing One More Time ~ Part 1.

Fair Warning: There is so much “meat” in this last chapter of Yochanan that it will take us several posts to digest it.

The Synoptic Gospels had mentioned that Yeshua would appear to the talmidim in the Galil (Mat. 28:7, 10; Mk. 16:7), and Mat. 28:16-20 reports one such appearance. Here Yochanan describes another earlier appearance. Yochanan is the only author of the Gospels to record this account of Yeshua’s appearance.

Jon Courson has this to say about this last chapter of Yochanan:

Seven of the twelve disciples were fishermen. I find it interesting that Jesus seemed to be inclined toward choosing fishermen to be His disciples. Fishermen, by nature, must know how to persevere through both calm seas and stormy weather. The same is true of ministry. If you want to serve the Lord, you must learn to serve Him, as Paul would tell Timothy, “in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). Whether the sun is shining or the trials abounding, we must be like fishermen, who, regardless of the weather, make their way to the sea. Working in teams, fishermen were those who could take commands. One would tell the other where to cast the net and when to draw it in. Certainly, those of us who want to be used by the Lord must be those who work as a team and take commands easily. Perhaps more than any other occupation, any other endeavor, fishing requires patience. So, too, those who minister for the Lord must be those who are exceedingly patient as they wait for the haul to come in.[1]

1 After this, Yeshua appeared again to the talmidim at Lake Tiberias (Gallilee or Galil). Here is how it happened: 2 Shim ‘on Kefa and T’oma (his name means “twin”) were together with Natan’el from Kanah in the Galil, the sons of Zavdai, and two other talmidim. 3 Shim ‘on Kefa said, “I’m going fishing.” They said to him, “We’re coming with you.” They went and got into the boat, but that night they didn’t catch anything.

The names of the sons of Zavdai are given in the Synoptic Gospels as Ya’akov and Yochanan (see Mathew 4:21). Luke mentioned that they were Shim’on’s partners in the fishing business before they were called to follow Yeshua as emissaries.

Even around Lake Tiberias, agriculture constituted the primary occupation; fishing was nevertheless a major industry there, and fishing there often provided an ample income. Fishing was often done at night. Some people have reported that fish are more easily caught at night than in the day on the Lake Tiberias; they could then be sold in the morning.

Shim’on Kefa said I’m going fishing. He was going back to his old way of life, apparently unaware of what Yeshua’s commission (20:21) meant. The others followed his example and went with him. The result of this self, rather than God, determined activity was that they didn’t catch anything. When they allowed the Messiah to determine what they should do, they caught a netful.

4 However, just as day was breaking, Yeshua stood on shore, but the talmidim didn’t know it was he. 5 He said to them, “You don’t have any fish, do you?” “No,” they answered him. 6 He said to them, “Throw in your net to starboard, and you will catch some.” So they threw in their net, and there were so many fish in it that they couldn’t haul it aboard.

Yeshua was standing on shore, but they didn’t recognize Him because it was only daybreak, and they were still some distance away. He called to them to throw in your net to starboard, and they caught so many fish in it that they couldn’t haul it aboard.

Kefa had been a fisherman all his life. Nevertheless, he had failed without the Lord’s enablement, something that Yeshua had shown him previously (see Luke 5:4-11). Kefa was not ultimately self-sufficient but entirely dependent on God, even to accomplish work that had been his whole life. As Yeshua told his emissaries, apart from me, you can’t do a thing (John 15:5). It appears that Kefa was a slow learner.

7 The talmid Yeshua loved (Yochanan) said to Kefa, “It’s the Lord!” On hearing it was the Lord, Shim ‘on Kefa threw on his coat, because he was stripped for work, and plunged into the lake; 8 but the other talmidim followed in the boat, dragging the net full of fish; for they weren’t far from shore, only about a hundred yards. John 21:1-8 (CJB)

This miraculous catch of fish opened the eyes of Yochanan. When he said, It’s the Lord!, Kefa threw on his coat, because he was stripped for work, and plunged into the lake. The impetuous talmid couldn’t wait. Then the rest of the talmidim followed, dragging the net full of fish behind them.

In my next post, we continue with Kefa Goes Fishing One More Time ~ Part 2.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary New Testament.

Kefa Learns of Yeshua’s Resurrection

In my last post, we learned that Kefa Denies His Knowledge of Yeshua three times before the rooster crowd, as Yeshua had predicted. In this post, Kefa Learns of Yeshua’s Resurrection.

1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Miryam from Magdala went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she came running to Shim’ on Kefa and the other talmid, the one Yeshua loved, and said to them, “They’ve taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him!”

Romans saw to it that those crucified were dead. Apart from a resurrection, which no one expected, Miryam could only imagine that the body had been stolen, that the authorities had confiscated it, or that owners of the site had moved it. It had also been dark when Miryam first reached the tomb. Still, they would, in any case, want to learn what happened to the body.

3 Then Kefa and the other talmid started for the tomb. 4 They both ran, but the other talmid outran Kefa and reached the tomb first. 5 Stooping down, he saw the linen burial-sheets lying there but did not go in.

The stooping suggests a tomb with a low entrance leading to a lower pit; the lighting or the positioning of Yeshua’s body would explain why the head veil was not visible before entering.

Yochanan did not go in, presumably in deference to Kefa, a leader among the Twelve.

6 Then, following him, Shim’ on Kefa arrived, entered the tomb, and saw the burial-sheets lying there, 7 also the cloth that had been around his head, lying not with the sheets but in a separate place and still folded up.

The burial clothes consisted of a shroud around the body and a head-cloth. Yochanan’s description of their undisturbed location, especially the separate position of the still folded headcloth, tells us that Yeshua’s body was miraculously loosed from the burial clothes so that they collapsed in place. Therefore, as we learn in verse 8, Yochanan saw, and he trusted.

8 Then the other talmid, who had arrived at the tomb first, also went in; he saw, and he trusted. 9 (They had not yet come to understand that the Tanakh teaches that the Messiah has to rise from the dead.)

The Tanakh teaches that the Messiah has to rise from the dead at Isaiah 53:9-12 and Psalm 16:10.

The presence of two witnesses rendered the evidence admissible under Jewish law (see Deut. 17:6; 19:15). The Yochanan believed based on what he saw, not on an understanding from Scripture that Yeshua must rise from the dead. This lack of expectation of resurrection shows that the talmidim did not fabricate the resurrection story to fit their preconceived expectations. Instead, the resurrection shocked them and did not fit with what they understood from Scripture. As the saying goes, seeing is believing!

10 So the talmidim returned home. ~ John 20:1-10 (CJB)

Note: Because Kefa is not personally mentioned in either of the Upper Room appearances of Yeshua that night or the following week to T’oma, I will skip over those accounts. However, I do not doubt that he was there!

In my next post, Kefa Goes Fishing One More Time.

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Kefa, Ya’akov, and Yochanan Accompany Yeshua to the Garden of Gethsemane

In my last post, we looked at both Mattityahu’s and Mark’s reporting a conversation between Kefa (and the other emissaries) while they are on the Mount of Olives. In this post, Yeshua asks Kefa, Ya’akov, and Yochanan to accompany Him to the Garden of Gethsemane.

Because we are focusing on Kefa in this series, I will not be saying much about Yeshua’s actions.

36 Then Yeshua went with His talmidim to a place called Gat-Sh’manim and said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”

In the place today, called the Garden of Gethsemane, are very old, gnarled olive trees; they may have been alive when Yeshua was on earth.

They may have arrived at Gat-Sh’manim by 10 or 11 p.m. (which was well into the night in that culture). Because Pesach night had to be spent within the more significant boundaries of Yerushalayim, which did not include Bethany, they would not return to Bethany that night.

37 He took with Him Kefa and Zavdai’s two sons. Grief and anguish came over Him, 38 and He said to them, “My heart is so filled with sadness that I could die! Remain here and stay awake with Me.” 39 Going on a little farther, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me! Yet — not what I want, but what you want!” 40 He returned to the talmidim and found them sleeping. He said to Kefa, “Were you so weak that you couldn’t stay awake with Me for even an hour?

Note once again, that Yeshua addresses Kefa as the leader of the group.

The talmidim were asked to stay awake like the porters, slaves in charge of the door. It was customary to stay awake late on the Pesach night and to speak of God’s redemption. They should have been able to stay awake to keep watch. According to one Jewish teaching, if anyone in the Pesach group fell asleep (not merely dozed), the group was thereby dissolved. [1]

41 Stay awake, and pray that you will not be put to the test – the spirit indeed is eager, but human nature is weak.”42 A second time He went off and prayed. “My Father, if this cup cannot pass away unless I drink it, let what you want be done.” 43 Again He returned and found them sleeping; their eyes were so heavy. 44 Leaving them again, He went off and prayed a third time, saying the same words. 45 Then He came to the talmidim and said, “For now, go on sleeping, take your rest… Look! The time has come for the Son of Man to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up! Let’s go! Here comes my betrayer!” ~ Matthew 26:36-46 (CJB)

Romans appreciated loyalty to one’s sense of duty; Judaism stressed faithfulness to God’s law even to the point of dying for it. Thus, Yeshua’s intense faithfulness to his calling.

The Temple Guard for the Cohen HaGadol came to arrest Yeshua. Then they laid hold of Yeshua and arrested him; 47 but one of the people standing nearby drew his sword and struck at the servant of the Cohen HaGadol, cutting off his ear. [2]Then Shim’ on Kefa, who had a sword, drew it and struck the slave of the Cohen HaGadol, cutting off his right ear; the slave’s name was Melekh. Yeshua said to Kefa, “Put your sword back in its scabbard! This is the cup the Father has given me; am I not to drink it?” [3]

As a slave of the Cohen HaGadol, Melekh would be an influential person with much authority; it is possible that Melekh was leading the expedition. Kefa’s sword was short and could be hidden under his robe.

Once again, we see Kefa’s impetuous nature in full action. Yeshua’s remark to Kefa: This is the cup the Father has given me; am I not to drink it?” fits his prayers perfectly at Gat-Sh’manim.

In my next post, Kefa Denies His Knowledge of Yeshua.

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[1] Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

[2] Mark 14:46-47 (CJB)

[3] John 18:10-11 (CJB)

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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