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Yeshua in Context » Aims of Yeshua

Applying Messiah’s Kingdom Parables, Part 2

. . . birds came along and devoured it . . . it withered away . . . it yielded no grain . . .” -Mark 4:4, 6, 7. Parables are usually connected to a scripture text or several of them. They often explain something puzzling about God and his relation to his people, or something unstated or mysterious in a text. Yeshua understood a startling truth found in Isaiah 6, one that naturally leads any thoughtful reader to ask questions. Modern readers of the Sower parable (Mk 4; Mt 13; Lk 8) tend not to realize that the parable is commenting on a text. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Applying the Gospels, Besorah/Gospel/Good News, Discipleship - Formation, Gospel Genres, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present, Literary Features, Parables, Paradox, Teaching of Yeshua

Applying Messiah’s Kingdom Parables, Part 1

To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables. -Mark 4:11 “Kingdom” is not “afterlife” exactly and it is not “people of Israel” or “people of the Church.” The modern reader tends to inject meanings into Yeshua’s words that are not there. Looking in the words of Messiah for a message on how to qualify for a good afterlife, it is natural for many to see in the word “kingdom” a code word for “going to heaven.” This is a problem compounded by the fact that Matthew, the best-known gospel for many Bible readers, uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” instead of “kingdom of God.” But, as many will rightly point out, “heaven” here stands for “God.” It is a euphemism, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Applying the Gospels, Besorah/Gospel/Good News, Discipleship - Formation, Gospel Genres, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present, Parables, Teaching of Yeshua

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; … Read entire article »

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

List: Exorcisms by Yeshua.

There are no exorcisms in the Bible before Yeshua (note: unless you are in a church that reads the Apocrypha as scripture, in which case Tobit has the first exorcism). The few exorcisms in Acts seem to be about the Presence of Yeshua validating the movement in the early days. I take it that exorcism is primarily a sign of the kingdom (reign of God) brought to the fore in the clash between the “Holy One of God” and the forces of evil who ruin creation. There are only six exorcisms in the gospels: The Man in the Capernaum Synagogue, Mark 1:23-27 (Lk 4:33-36). The Gerasene Demoniac, Mark 5:1-20 (Mt 8:28-34; Lk 8:26-39). The Syro-Phoenician Woman’s Daughter, Mark 7:25-30 (Mt 15:21-28). The Deaf and Mute Spirit, Mark 9:14-29 (Mt 17:14-20; Lk 9:37-43). The Blind and … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Aims of Yeshua, Divinity of Yeshua, Gospel Genres, Kingdom Present, Miracles

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 … Read entire article »

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

Greece, Rome, Israel #3

And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and sought a way to destroy him; for they feared him, because all the multitude was astonished at his teaching. –Mark 11:18 The gospel did not just happen. The events which marked the onset of a new stage in the world’s redemption happened in a time and place with three main cultural backdrops. Parts 1 and 2 introduced Greek and Roman influences on these events, both in Yeshua’s time and the later time the gospels were written. What about conditions and social structures in Israel itself? What are some basics readers need to know about conditions and groups in Israel? What about Jewish concerns in the times of the evangelists? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Background to Gospels, Beginners, Formation of the Gospels, Gentiles, Ideal Israel Theme, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Law, Torah

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 … Read entire article »

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

Poor in Spirit

How important is it to interpret a biblical text well? Obsession with details of theology, which is at least close to the same thing as obsession with a good interpretation of a sacred text, has been compared to speculating about how many angels fit on the head of a pin. Cliches like splitting hairs, chopping logic, quibbling over details, or making fine distinctions come to mind as the probable result of insisting on a good interpretation of a few words from an ancient saying. After all, do the differences really amount to much? Well, I think they do. Take the phrase “poor in spirit” for example. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Applying the Gospels, Beatitudes, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present, Paradox, Teaching of Yeshua

Kingdom as Social, Economic, Communal Resistance

I wrote on my main blog today about “Discipleship in [Coming] Hard Times.” See it here. The following is some evidence for the notion that Yeshua intended more than simply waiting for the World to Come, that the future kingdom is in some sense already here and disciples are to bring its realities into the here and now. Kingdom at Hand? What did Yeshua mean about the kingdom of God being at hand (soon to appear) in Mark 1:15? He followed this proclamation up by calling disciples, defeating evil spirits, and making people well. In the world to come there will be no evil, people will be well, and all will be as a family in union with each other and God. Yeshua was bringing future realities into the present. Note that … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Applying the Gospels, Besorah/Gospel/Good News, Discipleship - Formation, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Kingdom Present, Teaching of Yeshua

Understanding Yeshua’s Temple Protest Action

The Temple protest action of Yeshua (a.k.a. the Temple cleansing, Mark 11:15-19) is poorly understood because few consider the details of this narrative and place Yeshua’s actions in the context of the Judaism of his time and the context of the Temple of Herod and the way it was run by the powerful Temple state. Mark’s account is the best of all four gospels to help us reconstruct what happened. This incident is of great importance, probably being what sealed Yeshua’s doom in the eyes of the Temple state and Rome. We should read Yeshua’s actions in the giant Temple complex as a commotion, not bringing the whole Temple activity to a standstill. Yeshua acted alone and did not ask his disciples to participate. In the comments that follow, I … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Background to Gospels, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Gospels as History, Temple and Torah

Discipleship and the Fig Tree

The following commentary is important for illustrating a key point of discipleship for Yeshua. To understand the basis for these comments on Mark 11:12-14 and 20-25, it is important for me to disclose what I think is the meaning of Yeshua’s resistance to the Temple state. I do not, as some commentators and historians, think Yeshua was against the Temple itself, but against the corrupt administration which turned the Temple state into an instrument of oppression of the lower classes and used it as an instrument for power and position for themselves. After the commentary, I will suggest a few points of application for discipleship in our time. MARK 11:12-14, 20-25 Yeshua curses a fig tree (vss. 12-14). In between is Yeshua’s Temple protest action (vss. 15-19). The next morning’s lesson from the fig tree … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Forgiveness of Sins, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present, Temple and Torah

Yeshua as Prophet of the Kingdom

It helps sometimes for us to forget that we know so many things about Yeshua, to back up and experience him from within the story and not from thousands of years after. I suspect that one reason the idea of Yeshua as prophet is neglected in religious talk is that it seems retrograde to some to consider his “lesser” roles in the divine plan. But it is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the idea that Yeshua was a prophet of the kingdom from within the story, from within the experience the disciples and crowds had of Yeshua. For them Yeshua was a potential prophet, a healer, an exorcist. How does Yeshua come across as a prophet in Mark? What sorts of things do we learn from this? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Identity of Yeshua, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present

What Defiles

This is a transcript of a podcast I did today. It is a bit of a sermon, but I think it accurately applies Mark 7 to our context. You can see the podcasts on iTunes or click here to go directly. Yeshua said in Mark 7:15, “there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him.” I have always thought that this passage was one of the most penetrating, well-phrased, to-the-heart-of-the-matter statements of what Yeshua stood for. It’s actually only part of what Yeshua had to say on the matter. It’s what he said to the crowds, the outsiders, the ones who did not get private instruction as part of the inner circle. Mark 7:15 … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Beginners, Community in Yeshua, Discipleship - Formation, Kingdom Present, Podcasts, Teaching of Yeshua

Storytelling in the Gospels: The Disciples’ Call

Are the stories in the Bible straightforward reporting of fact? It is possible that there is no such thing. Hopefully most readers (and movie viewers) understand that the way you tell a story shapes the message. That is, the same events can be told by different storytellers and different morals and themes can be emphasized. Everyone reporting an event or telling a story must choose things like what to include and exclude, what order to tell it in, what parts to emphasize, and how to comment on the story beyond simple reporting. The call of the first disciples is a perfect example of the difference the storytelling can make. You’d almost think Mark and the Fourth Gospel are telling of completely different events. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Disciples & Named Characters, Discipleship - Formation, Literary Features

The Misunderstood Kingship of Yeshua

The following commentary is on Matthew 21:1-11. I consider the larger context of Zechariah 9 and how it affects our reading of the Triumphal Entry. I’d say that even modern commentators have not given this sufficient attention in many cases. Zechariah’s prophecy of the king coming on a donkey is a critical view of kingship looking ahead to the messianic age when the ideas of dominion change into peace. In the early part of Zechariah 9, the warring peoples of the Mediterranean coast will become peaceful and submit to God’s authority in the messianic era. Then, in 9:9, Daughter Zion’s king (Jerusalem in the age when promises are fulfilled) comes not as a war-maker, but bringing peace, not on a warhorse, but a donkey like the Davidic kings of old. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Identity of Yeshua, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present

Look for the Unusual in Yeshua’s Healings

There are twenty-six healing miracles recorded in the four gospels. The complete list will be included in the upcoming Yeshua in Context Sourcebook. One thing to look for to make sense of the life Yeshua lived in all its mystery and potential for meaning, is the unusual, the gaps in the story or the parts that don’t exactly fit. The following is not meant to be a complete list, but gathers examples of trends in these gaps in Yeshua healing stories. You may discover some of the layers of meaning of the healings in these: … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Identity of Yeshua, Miracles

Interpreting the Temptation

What is the main issue in the Temptation narrative? Is it about Yeshua’s messianic mission? Or is it something else? Aside from the many connections to Moses’ and Israel’s story, the temptation account definitely has a message about Yeshua’s identity. Is it what people think? R.T. France in the New International Commentary on the New Testament series is most helpful. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Divinity of Yeshua, Identity of Yeshua, Temptation

Why the Beatitudes Are Much Loved

The Delitzsch Hebrew-English version (DHE), a forthcoming translation of the gospels from the Hebrew version of Franz Delitzsch, renders Matthew 5:3 as follows: O the gladness of the poor in ruach, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Yeshua makes desirable what is commonly regarded as unpleasant or pathetic. Our emotions are stirred by such talk. The imaginations and hopes of peasants sitting on the Galilean grass were stirred. It is something greatly to be desired, a reversal so needed by those of us who deeply feel our poverty of spirit. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Beatitudes, Besorah/Gospel/Good News, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present, Teaching of Yeshua

The Kingdom Has Reached You

Luke 10:9 is variously translated “the kingdom of God has come upon you” or “has come near to you.” Luke Timothy Johnson (The Gospel of Luke, Liturgical Press: 1991) renders it “has reached you.” Yeshua indicated that in some ways the kingdom of God arrived with him and in others that there would be a delay. Luke 10:9 is one of the “now” aspects of the kingdom of God in the “now and not yet” duality. How does Luke 10:9 inform us of one of the senses in which the kingdom had already reached Yeshua’s generation? What does it tell us about the kingdom in our day and in the future? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Besorah/Gospel/Good News, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present

The Teacher, A Parallel in Chronicles

Adela Yarbro Collins (Mark: A Commentary. Fortress, 2007) discusses in her introduction some of the aspects of Yeshua’s identity. One of the identifying roles of Yeshua is teacher. In this comment, she uncovers a little known parallel from the Hebrew Bible, of teachers sent out to travel as itinerants through the land teaching the people: … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Background to Gospels, Identity of Yeshua, Spectacular Commentary, Teaching of Yeshua

Beatitudes as Sad Reality

In chapter 10 of Yeshua In Context, I detail the five things we should see in each of the Beatitudes from Matthew 5:3-12. One of the five things is “The Reality of the Present Age.” Yeshua’s audience, at least those who thought he might be the King, Messiah, expected him to bring the kingdom right away. Some modern scholars have said that Yeshua was a failed idealist. He taught an in-breaking of divine blessing that never came. Perish the thought! Yeshua clearly taught reality and nowhere more clearly than in the Beatitudes. Consider these thoughts . . . … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Beatitudes, Sermon on the Mount, Teaching of Yeshua

Reflections: Yeshua’s Band of Disciples and Us

I ask a question in chapter one worth reflecting on. The gospels are nothing if not resources for living a higher life. They raise a million questions about life here and now. I will raise some in the category “Applying the Gospels.” What is Yeshua planning to do with the band of disciples he is gathering? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Applying the Gospels

Yeshua and the Temple

Chapter 7 of Yeshua in Context is about the Temple Cleansing and chapter 14 is about Yeshua’s trial. In both of them I bring up the issue of Yeshua’s stance toward the Temple in Jerusalem. A number of excellent Christian scholars are in the habit of suggesting that Yeshua viewed the Temple as harmful or obsolete. I’d have hoped the progress of scholarship would have brought well-read people past such misinformation by now. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Erasing Anti-Judaism, Kingdom Future, Temple and Torah

Banquets, Luke, the Age to Come

You will find eight occasions in Luke with Yeshua teaching a group over a meal. The Messianic banquet theme is known from Jewish writings of the time (the Second Temple period). In The Yeshua in Context Sourcebook (upcoming), I include a list of Luke’s eight messianic banquets. Here is a list of “Banquets of the Age to Come” from the Hebrew Bible and Jewish literature (including Revelation) from the period. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Kingdom Future