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Yeshua in Context » Aims of Yeshua, Applying the Gospels, Cross, Discipleship - Formation, Identity of Yeshua, Reading Strategies » Yeshua Musterion

Yeshua Musterion

This is a transcript for today’s podcast. Musterion is the word for “secret” or “mystery,” which is found in Mark 4:11. Find the Yeshua in Context podcast in the iTunes Store and at DerekLeman.com.

“Love has ever in view,” says George MacDonald, “the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds.” This, I think, is some of what is going on with Yeshua’s kingdom mission. “Where loveliness is incomplete, and love cannot love its fill of loving,” he goes on, “it spends itself to make more lovely, that it may love more.”

The disciples were constantly misunderstanding Yeshua. And even this was part of Yeshua’s method. He was willing to defer much of their learning to the moments after the great crisis of his death and the great revelation of his resurrection. Meanwhile he gave them perplexing lessons, exposed them to contradictions at every turn, and he was ambiguous. He refused to be defined in straightforward categories.

The kingdom of God is at hand, he said. To you, he told the disciples, has been given the secret of the kingdom.

Really? What is that secret? How is it given to the disciples? It seems they, rather, had to read between the lines. Or, better yet, they had to pursue a path which Mark 4 hints at.

For those outside, it’s all parables. What does this mean? What does that mean?

But those inside have come for a private explanation. They dig deeper. They ask questions. They hear the teaching repeatedly and through questioning and repetition begin to understand. They follow and see the teaching in action, so that they come to understand what he means by things like fruit and seed.

Yet Yeshua is a mystery. He often has to be read between the lines. Is he campaigning to be Israel’s king or not? Will he put the critics in their place and oppose power with power? Will he speak plainly and name the times and upcoming events clearly?

Not at all. Instead, he will sleep on the boat during the storm, unconcerned. When the disciples wake him he will ask, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” It is as if he is saying, “Are you not grasping yet who I am? Have you seen beyond the Elijah-figure, the prophet working wonders with fish and bread?”

“Are you without understanding?” Yeshua asks three times in Mark.

Important people from Judea come and say to him, “Show us a sign from heaven.” The same Yeshua who talked to a storm and stilled it says to them, “Your generation is looking for signs.” He refuses to give them one.

In Nazareth, the people said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” And Yeshua, Mark tells us, could do no miracle there.

Peter got a glimpse of the higher truth about who Yeshua was, a far better understanding than the wonder-worker idea. “You are the Messiah,” he said. But moments later he was rebuking Yeshua for talking about dying and being taken prisoner. That will never happen, Peter thought, not to the king of Israel.

James and John said, “Let us sit at your right and left in your glory.” After all, Yeshua said the kingdom was near. He said the disciples were the inner circle, the ones who had the secret. In another place he even said they would sit at his table and judge the tribes of Israel. James and John just wanted to claim the first spot in all this glory.

“Can you drink my cup? Can you be baptized the way I will?” Yeshua asks.

People come to him from all over Galilee, Judea, and even Samaria and Perea. He heals them and demons, who were hidden beforehand, start speaking and revealing their presence.

Yeshua takes people away to private places and heals them. He says, “Tell no one.” The demons call him the Holy One of God and he says, “Shut up.”

He is everything the disciples think he is and more. They barely begin to grasp his exalted identity. King of Israel hardly does it justice. “All things have been given over to me by my Father,” he says in one place. “I thank you, Father . . . that you have hidden these things from the wise and have revealed them to babes.”

He will do nothing the way the disciples think he will. There will be no power showdowns with the Judean leaders. There will be no public signs from heaven. There will be no taking command, leading the nation in a popular movement, making the Sadducees and chief priests bow. Pilate and the Roman garrison in Jerusalem will not see any movement of resistance or power to match power.

This powerlessness confuses disciples even today. The risen Yeshua did not appear to Caesar or even Pilate. The sign of messiahship is still lacking.

If we believe in Yeshua, we must admit the divine plan is not like the methods we are used to. Our distorted understanding of true goodness is bound to interfere with the right unfolding of the messianic age. If people planned the kingdom it would be a sad substitute for the infinitely wise outworking of pure love God has planned.

Our vision of the kingdom is corrupted by our violent nature. Our lack of depth in the understanding of love holds us back. Even those who claim to see the grace and suffering of Yeshua too easily become religious movements seeking personal gratification. He becomes merely “my savior” and “my afterlife” and “my blessing.”

The cross would never be our guess and the idea of it still makes little sense to disciples today. Is it more about God punishing sin or is it something else? Is it God sharing in the suffering of this world?

In the fourth gospel, Yeshua says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” The way of Yeshua’s messianic mission is hidden in the mystery of something larger, a love that predates creation, that is the essence of our nature but is veiled by corruption. The way Yeshua loves us comes from the Father, from God in his Direct Being, the Infinite One and his ways.

It is no wonder, then, that mere disciples were in danger of misunderstanding and needed to be warned, “Tell no one that I am Messiah.” It is no wonder that we face the danger of misunderstanding the messianic mission.

So, as readers of the gospels, we, like the disciples, need to assume that our understanding is not yet deep enough. Like the disciples, we might be warned not to act too quickly, not to assume we fully understand, not to be dismayed when the thing we expect does not happen, not to dismiss the suffering, and not to desire retribution on God’s enemies and ours.

Yeshua is a mystery, not least, sometimes, to us, his own disciples. The secret to knowing the meaning of Yeshua is in the act of discipleship, of being in the inner circle, of remaining close, hearing the words of Yeshua again and again to allow them to penetrate, of watching him be Messiah in acts of healing and victory over powers of evil, of forgetting about domination and matching power with power, but being servants to all as he was.

“Love has ever in view the loveliness of that which it beholds.” Yeshua spent himself to make us more lovely. Yeshua sees the whole picture, of the world as it will be, of people as they will be. We who follow him should walk in his footsteps.

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Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Applying the Gospels, Cross, Discipleship - Formation, Identity of Yeshua, Reading Strategies

3 Responses to "Yeshua Musterion"

  1. Rey says:

    Shalom Derek,

    Wow This was a great post!!! Can i repost it on my Facebook page? Good Shabbos to you my friend!

  2. yeshuain says:

    Absolutely, Rey. Thanks for the kind word.

    Derek Leman

  3. Rey says:

    R.Derek,

    Yes this really spoke to me, keep up the good work!

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