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Yeshua in Context » 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Aims of Yeshua, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Gospel Genres, Identity of Yeshua, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present, Miracles, Son of Man » Symbolic Actions and Kingdom Enactments

Symbolic Actions and Kingdom Enactments

Isaiah spent most of his career in sackcloth, but for three years went about barefoot and in his undergarments as a sign of what was to come (Isa 20:1-3). Ezekiel laid on his side for three hundred and ninety days (Ezek 4:4-5). Zechariah broke two staffs over his knee and threw thirty shekels into the treasury of the house of the Lord (Zech 11:7-14).

These are symbolic actions, a kind of prophetic message in and of themselves. Yeshua also engaged in symbolic actions and what I call kingdom enactments.

Symbolic Actions Declaring High Authority

  • The Triumphal Entry (Mk 11:1-11; Mt 21:1-11; Lk 19:29-44; Jn 12:12-19) – Riding deliberately into the city as per Zechariah 9 with crowds hailing him, Yeshua is making a claim of messianic identity.
  • The Temple Cleansing (Mk 11:15-17; Mt 21:12-13; Lk 19:45-46; Jn 2:13-17) – Perhaps Malachi 3:1 is in the background (after the messenger — Elijah, John the Baptist) the Lord comes suddenly to his Temple. Yeshua quotes Isaiah 56 and Jeremiah 7. This action largely contributed to his arrest and execution.
  • Forgiving Sins (Mk 2:5; Mt 9:2; Lk 5:20 and another incident in Lk 7:48) – In even the most skeptical interpretation, Yeshua is claiming to know when God forgives a sinner. Since he says in Mk 2:10; Mt 9:6; Lk 5:24 that the Son of Man has authority to forgive, evidence is strong Yeshua is claiming more. He is claiming to be the divine Son of Man with authority in such matters as per Daniel 7 and the dominion given him by the Ancient of Days.
  • Sending the Twelve (Mk 6:7-13; Mt 10:5-42; Lk 9:1-6) and Sending the Seventy (Lk 10:1-16) – Even more so that Yeshua’s own mission of proclaiming the kingdom (Mk 1:15; Mt 4:17), sending disciples to proclaim it suggests starting a renewal movement (a prophetic or even messianic role).

Symbolic Actions as Identity Stories

  • The Baptism of Yeshua (Mk 1:9-11; Mt 3:13-17; Lk 3:21-22) – Yeshua’s participation in John’s movement already connects him to the role of prophet. The heavenly voice affirms Yeshua’s identity.
  • The Temptation of Yeshua (Mk 1:12-13; Mt 4:1-11; Lk 4:1-13) – Yeshua is tested for worthiness for a role of high authority (prophet, messiah). Satan affirms Yeshua’s identity in an ironic manner.
  • The Transfiguration (Mk 9:2-10; Mt 17:1-9; Lk 9:28-36) – Yeshua ascends a mountain with three as witnesses and experiences a prefiguring of coming glory and a visit from Moses and Elijah. A heavenly voice affirms his identity.

Kingdom Enactments
In these Yeshua demonstrates that he has partially brought the kingdom with him (the rest to come later).

  • Healings, for in the world to come there will be no illness, disability, or death.
  • Exorcisms, for the forces of spiritual evil are due to be defeated by God.
  • Banquets, which foreshadow the banquet to come, a messianic promise.

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Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Aims of Yeshua, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Gospel Genres, Identity of Yeshua, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present, Miracles, Son of Man

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