Articles Comments

Yeshua in Context » Aims of Yeshua, Divinity of Yeshua, General, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Kingdom Present, Messiah, New Moses Theme » Revealed to Little Children

Revealed to Little Children

In “Why Yeshua? A Jewish Question,” I listed nine elements of Yeshua’s identity and purpose that add something new to Judaism (see it here). The first of these nine elements has captured my attention and been the source of my thoughts and searching for a few weeks now:

Yeshua is the Moses-like Prophet-to-Come, the New Moses, whose agency as the Voice of the Father reveals depths of God unknown or ambiguous in previous revelation.

I listed for readers the findings of Paul Anderson regarding the prophet-like-Moses theme in the fourth gospel, which is not a minor motif but a guiding principle of the entire Gospel of John (see my post “Moses-Like-Prophet in John” here).

In searching out examples of how Yeshua revealed greater depths of God than had previously been known, I first went down a path seeking in the teaching of Yeshua new revelation. I think to some degree I was on the wrong path. I came up with a list of nine existential questions about God and us that are addressed in Yeshua’s teaching and wrote a blog post about it (see “The Son Has Spoken” here).

Yet as I taught this material at our synagogue, a perceptive woman and friend said, “But, Derek, none of that is new. That’s all good interpretation of what’s already in the Hebrew Bible.”

I quickly realized she was right. In terms of Yeshua’s teaching about God’s nature, nearly all of it is accessible in the Hebrew Bible if you avoid certain pitfalls. Judaism has, like Christianity, fallen into a number of pitfalls in this area (e.g., the Saadian and Maimonidean ideas about God’s unity and transcendence in utter denial of real Presence).

Not long after realizing that I was searching in the wrong place — looking for Yeshua’s new revelation of the depths of God in his teaching — I came across some good thoughts on the New Moses theme in Matthew in a book by Darrell Bock (Jesus According to Scripture). His comments on Matthew 13:16-17, 52, made me realize that Yeshua’s purpose in teaching was often to clarify what was already in the old. The new wine was mostly new because the shepherds of Israel did not, in Yeshua’s time, understand the message of the prophets.

Those prophets, according to Matthew 13:16-17, desired to look into Yeshua’s time, to see in his identity and teaching the completion of what they envisioned. And the good scribe of the kingdom (the scribe who knows the King, Yeshua, and looks for his kingdom to come) brings forth both new and old. That is, the old (Hebrew Bible) is inextricably connected with the new, and the scribe brings forth the connections (but most writing about “messianic prophecy” has been terrible and has not followed scribal patterns at all).

Where I needed to be looking, to find the new revelation of the Sent-One, was not in Yeshua’s public teaching, per se. I needed to be looking more at his deeds (somewhat in combination with his teaching). It is more in the deeds and hints at the identity of Yeshua that we find the new things coming forth from the old.

I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children.
Matthew 11:25 (and Luke 10:21).

What are some of the things revealed to little children that may be referenced here?

The following list is subject to more evidence that I am planning to give here. I am not pretending that in listing these points I have demonstrated my case for them. This is an initial presentation of some themes and ideas presented in the gospels that cry out for closer scrutiny. Also, it is important to me not to simply draw from the fourth gospel, where the exalted identity of Yeshua is especially emphasized. Any meaningful portrait of what is new in Yeshua ought to draw from the synoptics as well as John.

  • The Way of Surrender. I was struck by a phrase in an essay by Marianne Meye Thompson: the path that God designates . . . giving power up in surrender of one’s life and service to others (“Jesus and His God” in The Cambridge Companion to Jesus, 2001). Yeshua not only described his own messianic career as being about surrender of his life and service, but said repeatedly that disciples were to lose their life, that the last was greatest, and that his followers should be servants to all. This is not simply social justice (the message of the Israelite prophets). It is a radical step beyond. It is Messiah killed being the real glory of Messiah. It is kingdom subjects not only working for justice, but selling everything for a pearl of great value. This is not an incidental theme, but is central in all four gospels (the messianic secret, the Sermon on the Mount, the kingdom for the poor, the lifted up Son of Man, and many other themes).
  • Ransom theology. This is an outgrowth of the first point. In surrendering all, Yeshua accomplishes a ransom. The famous ransom passage (Mk 10:45; Mt 20:28) is greeted with skepticism by many scholars (a late addition? it sounds too churchy, say some). Ransom theology goes beyond the way of surrender theme. Not only does Yeshua give up power in service to others, but his surrender to death, but this act of sacrifice is a necessary transaction for people to have life. This is cross theology. It grows out of the Exodus-Passover story.
  • Faith as inclusion in the kingdom. I do not think Yeshua in any way denies the election of Israel, which is a carnal election (via birth, not faith). I think, rather, he introduces a concept of a second requirement beyond election. The renewal movement of Yeshua suggests it is not enough to be Israel. God has not yet sent the messianic age because Israel has to go beyond being the Elect. Israel must believe and act according to belief. And in making belief the requirement for renewal, Yeshua opens the door for those in the Nations as well. This is where Yeshua’s universalism (that the divine covenant promises cover the whole world and not only Israel) comes through the door. Paul’s “works of the Law” equal presumption of rightness with God via birth as Jews (or conversion). Paul’s “salvation by faith” equals Yeshua’s call to “believe in me.” This is where Matthew 13:16-17 is really explained: the prophets called for faith and action, but the object of that faith and action was waiting to be seen. Yeshua claims to be that object of faith. And the action required is belief in his identity and message. The irrevocable election of Israel remains important, for in the fulness of time, Israel will also come to the renewal of faith, as the prophets had already foretold. And now that Yeshua has come, that faith can only be in the Messiah himself.
  • Word made flesh (incarnation). It is not only John, as some think, but all through the gospels, that we see Yeshua as the Exalted One, whose identity is more than a man. It is a mystery, because the nature of God as both transcendent (the Eternal, the Beyond-Knowing) and immanent (the Word-Glory-Presence) is mysterious. Yeshua is more than the Prophet-like-Moses, ultimately, but is the Prophetic-word incarnate. He is Living Torah. All things have been handed over to Yeshua by the Father. Even the wind and waves obey him. He comes in the Glory of his Father. He is greater than the Temple. He is before Abraham. Unless we know that he is, we will die in our sins.

Yeshua heals and those with faith are made well. Yeshua defeats evil powers and demons are drawn to oppose him, but they can only obey his greater authority. Yeshua criticizes the shepherds of Israel who have followed the pattern of domination and not surrender. Yeshua gathers disciples for his way of surrender. And Yeshua surrenders to the difficult will of the Father (“he will speak to them all that I command him,” “the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me”). And all these things are revealed not to the wise, the shepherds of Israel who deal in power, but to little children.

Written by

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Divinity of Yeshua, General, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Kingdom Present, Messiah, New Moses Theme

Leave a Reply


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>