Kefa Denies His Knowledge of Yeshua

In my last post, we learned that Kefa, Ya’akov, and Yochanan could not stay awake while Yeshua prayed in Gat-Sh’manim. In this post, Kefa Denies His Knowledge of Yeshua three times before the rooster crowd, as Yeshua had predicted.

We pick up our story immediately after Yeshua has been arrested in the Gat-Sh’manim.

15 Shim’ on Kefa and another talmid followed Yeshua. The second talmid was known to the Cohen HaGadol, and he went with Yeshua into the courtyard of the Cohen HaGadol; 16 but Kefa stood outside by the gate. So, the other talmid, the one known to the Cohen HaGadol, went back out and spoke to the woman on duty at the gate, then brought Kefa inside.

Mattityahu tells us Kefa followed at a distance (Matthew 26:58). The unnamed talmid was Yochanan, the author of the Gospel. Yochanan never identifies himself by name but typically calls himself “the talmid Yeshua loved” (see John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2). Since Yochanan knew the Cohen HaGadol, he was able to get himself and Kefa into the Cohen HaGadol’s courtyard.

I like Kefa because, although now all but Yochanan had scattered, he continued to follow Yeshua. But at the same time, we learn from Kefa that if we follow Yeshua from a distance, we are going to get into trouble.

17 The woman at the gate said to Kefa, “Aren’t you another of that man’s talmidim?” He said, “No, I’m not.” 18 Now the slaves and guards had lit a fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it, warming themselves; Kefa joined them and stood warming himself too. ~ John 18:15-18 (CJB)

Although the Cohen HaGadol undoubtedly had many servants, similar cases from antiquity show that the slave girl would have recognized that Kefa was not from the Cohen HaGadol’s household. Kefa would also be clothed differently from the guards. As a servant in an aristocratic household near the Temple, this woman had perhaps been at the Temple and could have seen Yeshua’s talmidim there.

Recall that earlier, Kefa had declared emphatically that he would lay down his life for Yeshua, but Yeshua predicted that he would deny him (see John 13:36-38). This was the time of reckoning. Yochanan then tells us that the slaves and guards were warming themselves. Why was Kefa, not only following Yeshua at a distance but now you are warming yourself at the fires of His enemies?

25 Meanwhile, Shim’ on Kefa was standing and warming himself. They said to him, “Aren’t you also one of his talmidim?” He denied it, saying, “No, I am not.” 26 One of the slaves of the Cohen HaGadol, a relative of the man whose ear Kefa had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you with Him in the grove of trees?” 27 So again Kefa denied it, and instantly a rooster crowed. ~ John 18:25-27 (CJB)

Mattityahu records that: Kefa remembered what Yeshua had said, “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times”; and he went outside and cried bitterly. ~ Matthew 26: 75 (CJB)

For a talmid to repudiate a teacher was a great humiliation for the teacher. Kefa’s denials here contrasts with Yeshua’s courage (see John 18:20-24). Three denials and the rooster crows!

We learned back in Matthew 26:34 that Yeshua essentially said: “You will hear the cock crow, Kefa because you’re going to mess up.” But we will learn in future posts that Yeshua meant: “Yes, Kefa, you’ve blown it. You have cursed and sworn and denied Me not once but thrice. But a new day is dawning. I’m not through with you, yet.” Following His Resurrection, Yeshua sought out Kefa individually and specifically. He dealt with Kefa in John 21 and commissioned him back into ministry. On Shavuot, it was Kefa who stood up and preached the Word, and three thousand were saved. Kefa became the most prominent emissary in Yerushalayim.

When push comes to shove, will you be a Kefa and deny our Lord? He realized that he had been disloyal to the Messiah and went out and wept bitterly.

Interestingly, this is the last mention of Kefa in the Gospels before he is told of Yeshua’s Resurrection. Was he in the crowd that demanded Barabbas release? Did he walk the Via Dela Rosa to Golgotha? We do not know, but my guess is that he was so ashamed that he dared not show his face in public.

In my next post, Kefa Learns of Yeshua’s Resurrection.

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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 Asks Where Yeshua Is Going ~ Part 2

In my last post, we looked at both Yochanan’s and Luke’s reporting on this topic, while the emissaries were still in the Upper Room. In Part 2, we will look at substantially the same conversation between Kefa (and the other emissaries) while they are on the Mount of Olives later that evening, as reported by Mattityahu and Mark.

30 After singing the Hallel, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Yeshua then said to them, “Tonight, you will all lose faith in Me, as the Tanakh says, ‘I will strike the shepherd dead, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you into the Galil.” 33 “I will never lose faith in you,” Kefa answered, “even if everyone else does.” 34 Yeshua said to him, “Yes! I tell you that tonight before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” 35 “Even if I must die with you,” Kefa replied, “I will never disown you!” And all the talmidim said the same thing. ~ Matthew 26:30-35 (CJB)

Jewish tradition suggests that after the meal, it was customary for two groups of worshippers to alternate singing verses of the psalms from the Hallel, which consisted of Psalms 113-118. The walk to the Mount of Olives took at least fifteen minutes.

Many Jews regarded Zechariah 13:7, which Yeshua refers to in verse 31, as a prophecy about Messiah. Yeshua’s quote implied that the Father Himself would strike Him. Although His crucifixion involved the conspiracy of religious leaders, Roman officials, and the betrayal of a friend, Yeshua viewed His death ultimately as the fulfillment of God’s righteous plan.

(See Part 1 for a discussion on the rooster crowing.)

29 Kefa said to Him, “Even if everyone else loses faith in you, I won’t.” 30 Yeshua replied, “Yes! I tell you that this very night before the rooster crows twice, you will disown me three times!” 31 But Kefa kept insisting, “Even if I must die with you, I will never disown you!” And they all said the same thing. ~ Mark 14:29-31 (CJB)

Quick-tongued Kefa declared his steadfastness, but Yeshua infallibly foreknew that Kefa would cower in the face of opposition. But Yeshua informed Kefa that not only would he fall away like the rest, he would also disown Him three times that very night. Though his motives may have been good, Kefa was not as spiritual as he thought he was. His pride and spiritual weakness would give HaSatan something to take advantage of. When we pridefully exalt our abilities and fail to depend on God, we become bait for the evil one.

While the accounts of the four Gospel writers are somewhat different, I do not view any differently as I would listening to four different witnesses describe the accident that they observed on the corner of Faith and Main Street. Not to mention that Luke was actually not a witness himself.

In my next post, Yeshua asks Kefa, Ya’akov, and Yochanan to accompany Him to the Garden of Gethsemane.

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Kefa Asks Where Yeshua Is Going ~ Part 1

In my last post, Kefa Asked Yet Another Question. We continue in our chronological journey of Kefa; in this post, we learn that his inquiring mind wants to know Where Yeshua Is Going ~ Part 1. In this post, we will first look at both Yochanan’s and Luke’s reporting on this topic, while the emissaries were still in the Upper Room. In Part 2, we will look at substantially the same conversation between Kefa (and the other emissaries) while they are on the Mount of Olives later that evening, as reported by Mattityahu and Mark.

36 Shim’ on Kefa said to Him, “Lord, where are you going?” Yeshua answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow later.” ~ John 13:36

In these verses, Yeshua addressed Shim’on Kefa as the leader of the emissaries and their spokesperson.

31 “Shim’ on, Shim’ on, listen! The Adversary demanded to have you, people, for himself, to sift you like wheat! 32 But I prayed for you, Shim’ on, that your trust might not fail. And you, once you have turned back in repentance, strengthen your brothers!” ~ Luke 22:31-32

Wheat would be sifted to separate the whole wheat from other items that had gotten mixed in with it. The background for HaSatan‘s (the Adversary) presumably refers to Job 1:6-12, where HaSatan tries to prosecute Job before the heavenly court. The plural you indicates HaSatan wanted to sift all the emissaries like wheat, a rough action that symbolizes tempting them to spiritual ruin.

Strengthen your brothersKefa fulfilled this commission gloriously in the early Messianic Community as we will learn when we study Kefa in Acts 1-15.

33 Shim’ on said to him, “Lord, I am prepared to go with you both to prison and to death!” ~ Luke 22:33

Kefa protested that nothing would cause him to deny Yeshua, but Yeshua knew better.

37 “Lord,” Kefa said to Him, “why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you!” ~ John 13:37

Kefa, enthusiastic as always, makes a rash promise, also reported at Matt. 26:33-34 and Mark 14:29-30.

Although Kefa is sure that he will follow Yeshua to death, he does not understand that death is precisely where Yeshua is going.

38 Yeshua answered, “You will lay down your life for me? Yes, indeed! I tell you before the rooster crows, you will disown Me three times. ~ John 13:36-38 (CJB)

Yeshua poured cold water on this fiery emissary. He said before the rooster crows, you will disown Me three times.  Yeshua wanted Kefa to put his pride to death. He was talking a good game, but he wouldn’t be able to back it up with action, as we will learn in a future post.

The first rooster to crow in Yerushalayim occurred by about 0030 [1], though only night guards were typically awake to hear it (most people went to sleep at sundown, except on special nights like Pesach). Other crowing’s also occurred during the night. That the rooster crowed to mark the advent of dawn is more widely reported in ancient sources because this was the cock crowing most people knew. In either case, the point is that Kefa’s denial will follow almost immediately after his promise not to deny Yeshua. [2]

Tony Evans has opined:

“Too often we’re exactly like Kefa. In our minds, we envision ourselves as better disciples than we actually are. Pride will cause us to think too highly of ourselves and then fall flat on our faces.”, [3]

In my next post, we conclude the topic in Kefa Asks Where Yeshua Is Going ~ Part 2.

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[1] Yes, I use military time. No, I didn’t serve, but my wife was a nurse and I got used to it.

[2] Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

[3] The Tony Evans Bible Commentary: Advancing God’s Kingdom Agenda.

Kefa Asks a Question Again

In my last post, Kefa Had His Feet Washed. We continue in our chronological journey of Kefa; in this post, Kefa Asks a Question Again. This time he wants to know what Yeshua meant by “but not all of you” in verse 10 in our last post when He repeats the accusation here in verse 21.

21 After saying this, Yeshua, in deep anguish of spirit, declared, “Yes, indeed! I tell you that one of you will betray Me.” 22 The talmidim stared at one another, totally mystified – whom could He mean?

Betrayal by one’s talmid would be a cause of embarrassment and blame in the ancient system of honor and shame. Although the Yochanan’s Gospel stresses Yeshua’s deity, it also stresses and frequently illustrates his humanity (John 1:14).

23 One of his talmidim, the one Yeshua particularly loved (Yochanan), was reclining close beside him. 24 So Shim ‘on Kefa motioned to him and said, “Ask which one he’s talking about.” 25 Leaning against Yeshua’s chest, he asked Yeshua, “Lord, who is it?”

Once again, Kefa asks the Lord for an explanation, this time through an intermediary. To set the staging, Kefa was sitting on Yochanan’s right, who was sitting on Yeshua‘s right, and Y’hudah was sitting on Yeshua‘s left.

26 Yeshua answered, “It’s the one to whom I give this piece of matzah after I dip it in the dish.” So he dipped the piece of matzah and gave it to Y’hudah Ben-Shim ‘on from K’riot. 27 As soon as Y’hudah took the piece of matzah, the Adversary went into him. “What you are doing, do quickly!” Yeshua said to him. ~ John 13:21-27 (CJB)

The Lord’s reply to Yochanan was undoubtedly not heard by all the men; in fact, they were carrying on discussions among themselves about who the traitor might be (see Luke 22:23). When Yeshua gave the bread to Y’hudah, it was interpreted as an act of love and honor.

For the host to dip a piece of bread in the shared bowl and hand it to someone was usually a sign of honor to the person who received it. Y’hudah took the bread, but he rejected the offer of friendship.

The remarkable thing is that the others at the table with Yeshua did not know that Y’hudah was an unbeliever and a traitor. Up to the very hour of his betrayal, Y’hudah was protected by the Savior whom he betrayed. Had Yeshua openly revealed what He knew about Y’hudah, it is likely that the men would have turned on him.

In my next post, Kefa Asks Where Yeshua Is Going.

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Kefa Has His Feet Washed

In my last post, Kefa Prepared for the Pesach. We continue in our chronological journey of Kefa, in this post, Kefa Has His Feet Washed. For the next few posts, we will be exploring the Last Supper, as reported by Yochanan. Once again, I am only focusing on Kefa’s involvement.

Right before the meal began, Yeshua 4 rose from the table, removed His outer garments, and wrapped a towel around His waist. 5 Then He poured some water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the talmidim and wipe them off with the towel wrapped around Him.

The practice of foot-washing had a long tradition in the Tanakh (see Gen 18:4; 19:2; 24:32; 43:24; Judges 19:21; 1 Samuel 25:41). Foot-washing was a courtesy shown to guests in a home, usually performed by a servant or the host’s wife when the guests entered the house or while they were reclining at the table (see Luke 7:44, Mark 1:7). Here Yeshua acts out His teaching of Mark 10:43-44 that the greatest must be a servant.

By so serving, Yeshua prefigures His death as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 on behalf of the many. Yeshua overturns even positions of social status. If you have ever participated in a foot-washing as either the washer or the washed, you know what a humbling experience this can be.

6 He came to Shim’ on Kefa, who said to him, “Lord! You are washing my feet?” 7 Yeshua answered him, “You don’t understand yet what I am doing, but in time you will understand.” 8 “No!” said Kefa, “You will never wash my feet!” Yeshua answered him, “If I don’t wash you, you have no share with Me.”

Yeshua’s act violates cultural status boundaries so thoroughly that Kefa finds it unthinkable.

9 “Lord,” Shim’ on Kefa replied, “not only my feet but my hands and head too!”

Kefa essentially said, “In that case, forget the foot wash. Give me a shower!” With this statement, Kefa revealed his heart. He was willing to do anything to show Yeshua that he didn’t want to be disconnected from him.

As we will learn down the road, Kefa will recall this humbling incident as he pens: Likewise, you who are less experienced, submit to leaders. Further, all of you should clothe yourselves in humility toward one another, because God opposes the arrogant, but to the humble he gives grace. ~ 1 Peter 5:5 (CJB)

10 Yeshua said to him, “A man who has had a bath doesn’t need to wash, except his feet – his body is already clean. And you people are clean, but not all of you.” ~ John 13:4-10 (CJB)

In other words, if you are already saved, you don’t need to be saved again. It would help if you addressed the dirty areas in your life so that you can stay clean. To maintain fellowship with the Lord, we must regularly come to him in confession and repentance.

In my next post, Kefa Wants to Know What Yeshua Means by “But Not All of You.”

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Kefa Prepares for the Pesach

In my last post, Kefa learned About the Destruction of the Temple. We continue in our chronological journey of Kefa in this post, Kefa Prepares for the Pesach.

7 Then came the day of matzah, on which the Passover lamb had to be killed.

The day of matzah is not the day on which matzah is first eaten, but the day before Pesach begins, when chametz (“leaven”) must be removed from the house. On which the Passover lamb had to be killed in the Temple Court. The laws of Pesach then mandated slaughtering and eating a lamb to memorialize the lamb slain and consumed by each family the night of the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:3-14).

After the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE and it became impossible to slaughter a lamb there, the custom arose of placing a lamb shank bone on the Seder plate at each family table to recall the sacrifice. Today, some Sephardic traditions allow or even mandate a lamb entree at Pesach; but the Ashkenazic custom is to avoid eating lamb since it cannot be slaughtered at the Temple. [1]

8 Yeshua sent Kefa and Yochanan, instructing them, “Go and prepare our Seder, so we can eat.” 

9 They asked him, “Where do you want us to prepare it?”

Pesach was to be celebrated by families. Therefore, in celebrating Pesach with His talmidim, Yeshua looked at His talmidim as His family. I like that because, at this point, these men were not very spiritual. Judas would betray Him. Kefa would deny Him. Thomas would doubt Him. Yet Yeshua treated them like family. And if He did that with them, He’ll do it with us as well.

The effect of Yeshua’s words here is the same as when He sent two talmidim for the donkey on which He rode during the triumphal entry (see Luke 19:29-30). God had the details worked out in advance.

10 He told them, “As you’re going into the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house he enters,

A man carrying a jar of water is an unusual sight, as this was ordinarily women’s work. Consequently, he would be easy to spot at the well. Again, God had the details worked out in advance.

11 and say to its owner, ‘The Rabbi says to you, “Where is the guest room, where I am to eat the Pesach meal with my talmidim?”‘

Where I am to eat the Pesach with my talmidim, a rabbi’s follower would consider it an honor to have his rabbi request the use of his home for him and his students to observe Pesach.

12 He will show you a large room upstairs already furnished; make the preparations there.” 13 They went and found things just as Yeshua had told them they would be, and they prepared for the Seder. ~ Luke 22:7-13 (CJB)

Already furnished implies that the room is outfitted with what was needed for the Pesach meal.

Everything happened just as He had told them. Thus, Yeshua demonstrated His divine, detailed knowledge of the future.

In my next post, Kefa Has His Feet Washed.

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[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary.

Kefa Learns About the Destruction of the Temple

In my last post, Kefa learned the Lesson of the Withered Fig Tree. We continue in our chronological journey of Kefa in this post, Kefa Learns About the Destruction of the Temple.

This lesson taken from Mark was taught on Tuesday afternoon of Passion week as Yeshua and His talmidim were leaving Yerushalayim.

Mark may have risked severe trouble with the Roman authorities for writing this chapter. Jewish underground tracts about the time of the end usually included Isra’el’s exaltation, and Rome distrusted any threat to its power. Prophecies favoring Rome’s greatness were welcome, but not those implying its demise. But this chapter before Yeshua’s arrest climaxes Yeshua’s warnings to His talmidim. [1]

1 As Yeshua came out of the Temple, one of the talmidim said to Him, “Look, Rabbi! What huge stones! What magnificent buildings!”

The First Temple, built by King Solomon and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, was a building of great magnificence. The Second Temple, built under Z‘rubavel in 516 BCE, could not compare with it. King Herod, the Great, to ingratiate himself with the Jewish people, undertook its renovation and expansion. According to Yochanan 2:20, it took forty-six years, but it was successful, and the remodeled Second Temple dominated all Yerushalayim.

The Temple complex consisted of many buildings and was perhaps the most massive, most magnificent structure in the ancient world; it was twice the size of Solomon’s Temple. Construction had begun before Yeshua’s birth and was still continuing at this time.

Although unnamed, based upon what we have learned so far in our study in this series, the talmid that said, “Look, Rabbi! What huge stones! What magnificent buildings!” was in all likelihood Kefa.

2 “You see all these great buildings?” Yeshua said to him, “They will be totally destroyed – not a single stone will be left standing!”

This prophecy was fulfilled literally in 70 CE when Rome overwhelmed the First Jewish Rebellion by capturing Yerushalayim and sacking the Temple. Excavations made after the Six-Day War revealed enormous stones from the Western Wall of the Temple Court (of which the still-standing “Wailing Wall” is part) lying helter-skelter, not one left on another.

3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple, Kefa, Ya’akov, Yochanan, and Andrew asked Him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what sign will show when all these things are about to be accomplished?” ~ Mark 13:1-4 (CJB)

The Mount of Olives rose 300 feet above Yerushalayim, across the Kidron Valley. It provided a panoramic view of the temple complex and Yerushalayim. As Yeshua and his talmidim sat on the Mount of Olives, they asked him when these events would happen and about the sign of their accomplishment. They connected the events with the end of the age and the beginning of the Messianic kingdom (see Matt. 24:3).

Since we are only focusing on Kefa in this series, I am not going to address Yeshua’s complete response.

In my next post, Kefa is instructed to Make Preparations for the Pesach.

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[1] Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

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.

Click here for the PD version.