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Yeshua in Context » Applying the Gospels

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

Video at the Musings Blog: What Was New for Jews in Yeshua?

At the Musings blog, and as a third video for my class on Introduction to the Apostolic Writings (New Testament), I discuss the significance of what Yeshua did in a Jewish context. What was so revolutionary? See “What Was New in Yeshua for First Century Jewish People?”. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Background to Gospels, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present, Resurrection of Yeshua, Video

The Purpose of Parables

As part of a presentation I gave on September 18 at a “Studying the Jewish Gospels” event here in Atlanta, I developed an outline of “20 Ways to Read the Life of Yeshua.” Among my twenty pointers were things like, “Forget that you know the end of the story,” followed by examples in which onlookers and disciples can only be understood within the story as confused, as people who don’t know for a second that Yeshua is to be the dying savior and rising lord. And another of my pointers, which forms the basis for this post: “Understand the genre of parables in rabbinic literature.” And the golden text for learning about this subject: David Stern, Parables in Midrash (note: this is not the David Stern who is famous in the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Background to Gospels, Beginners, Community in Yeshua, Discipleship - Formation, Erasing Anti-Judaism, General, Gospel Genres, Literary Features, Parables, Study Tips, Teaching of Yeshua

DHE Nuggets: Whole Eye vs. Evil Eye

DHE stands for Delitszsch Hebrew English Gospels, which you can see here. The “whole eye vs. evil eye” is a reference to Matthew 6:22-23. Here is how the RSV (Revised Standard Version) translates this saying of Yeshua: The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! For reasons I will argue below, this translation is definitely substandard. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, DHE (Delitzsch Gospels), Idioms, Spectacular Commentary, Study Tips, Teaching of Yeshua

Yeshua On Repentance

When he came to his senses he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!” -Luke 15:17 Yeshua dined with sinners. Those of us who eat bread with him today are infinitely thankful for this. It is not, contra E.P. Sanders, that Yeshua offered the kingdom without repentance or light without trial. Those who dined with Yeshua did not think this is what he was offering. One said, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I give to the poor” (Luke 19:8). Yeshua is at once inviting and imposing, welcoming and formidable. You may be to him the hundredth sheep, the one rejoiced over that was lost, or a whitewashed tomb. You may hear from him, “your faith has made you … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, Forgiveness of Sins, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Preachable Points, Teaching of Yeshua

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

Explaining the Paraclete Passages

The Paraclete. The Counselor. The Advocate. The Comforter. “If I do not go away,” said Yeshua, “the Counselor will not come to you.” Who is the Paraclete? You think it’s as easy as saying, “The Spirit.” Not so fast. There is more to it. Raymond Brown, in Appendix V in Volume II of his exceptional commentary (The Gospel According to John (XII-XXI), The Anchor Yale Bible, original edition 1970) discusses the five Paraclete passages in the larger context of the fourth gospel and the themes of Yeshua going away (being lifted up — on a cross, from the tomb, to the throne). The Paraclete theme in John has bearing on our view of the Spirit, the Presence of Yeshua (as Brown says it, “the presence of the absent Jesus”), and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Ascension of Yeshua, Community in Yeshua, Discipleship - Formation, Preachable Points

The Son Who Has Spoken

Last week in “Why Yeshua? A Jewish Question #1″ and in the Podcast “Mosaic Revealer,” I began to explain nine benefits of knowing Yeshua for those who already know God through Judaism. I’m still mining the very first benefit of the nine, which goes like this: 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. As you can see from the wording, I am using language from the gospels themselves to describe the benefits of knowing Yeshua. But this is not just theory or theology. Each one of these nine benefits concerns practical matters, things that weigh upon us and are of consequence to everyone on a daily basis. They concern the normal and universal … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, General, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Teaching of Yeshua

Discipleship and Message

At the Messianic Jewish Musings blog today I wrote a post about “The Way to Have a Message.” It is an outgrowth of this week’s discussion at Messianic Jewish Musings about representing Yeshua-faith to the Jewish community. I thought it appropriate to repost the blog here on Yeshua in Context because it deals with practical matters of discipleship. Studying the gospels and the life of Yeshua should not be merely about history or theory. As John 7:17 indicates, Yeshua expected that doing his kingdom teaching was the way to know it is true. After the jump you will find the full text of “The Way to Have a Message.” … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Community in Yeshua, Discipleship - Formation, Kingdom Present, Preachable Points, Teaching of Yeshua

Kingdom Winners (Podcast Notes)

I sometimes type up some notes or a script for the Yeshua in Context podcast. Last week’s podcast on “Penitent Disciples” generated a lot of email. I should have typed up notes. In today’s podcast, my topic is still within the same general range of subject matter: practical application of Yeshua’s teaching. I will start by referencing the same books I mentioned last podcast (which many emailed to ask more about), one a Jewish book on ethical responsibility and the other a Christian book on the practical implications of Yeshua’s kingdom teaching. I also have a blog series on my main blog called “Life of Loving Deeds” which builds on these same themes and draws from Jewish and Christian sources. REFERENCE: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, Kingdom Present, Podcasts, Preachable Points, Teaching of Yeshua

Future Hope vs. Present Distress

Mark tells the story of Yeshua focused on future hope. Luke tells the story of Yeshua focused on present distress. What I mean is this: in Mark’s gospel, we see the theme of the identity of the veiled Son of Man. He is much more than he appears to be. Those who remain close to him see this gradually more and more. The coming Son of Man (Yeshua in his Second Coming) will bring all of that future hope to reality. So Mark is apocalyptic (interested in showing how the Eternal breaks through into the Present). In Luke’s gospel, the reality of a disciple-community spread throughout the empire dealing with the problems of an absent Lord and an unbelieving Roman populace, is more obviously in the background. So Luke emphasizes the present … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present, Literary Features

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

Applying the Outer Circle Idea in the Gospels

I wrote a post today on “Messianic Jewish Musings” in which I try to apply the idea of the outer circle, which we find as a theme in Mark especially (and Mark 4 is the central place where this theme develops). Applications of gospel texts abound and there are infinite numbers of articles that could be written on gospel themes applied to life. In this post I am trying to take on one of the major problems in modern religion: crowd thinking and shallow affirmations of problem-free and populist faith. This is a nearly identical parallel to the outer circle phenomenon in Yeshua’s time. Click here to read “The Outer Circle Around Yeshua.” … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation

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

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

Faith Obstacle

In some recent commentary I prepared on the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30) I commented on the idea that Yeshua often put obstacles in the path of faith. A friend gave me some feedback. This observation is helpful in understanding a number of Yeshua’s interactions with people and it is also helpful in considering our own path of discipleship with Yeshua. In what follows, I will cite a little of that commentary on Mark 7:24-30 and also give other examples of Yeshua putting faith-obstacles in the path of people trying to figure him out. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, Teaching of Yeshua

Applying Yeshua Communally, Part 2

See Part 1 here (and an explanation of these notes, which I will develop into a more fleshed out series or publication later). SINCE . . . Yeshua called insiders who would remain close to him, form community, live out his teaching and example, and bring outsiders into community . . . WHAT . . . are some overarching categories in Yeshua’s instruction for disciple communities? …….(1) Shared resources in the new family. …….(2) Union with God. …….(3) The new mission. More after the jump. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Community in Yeshua, Discipleship - Formation, Teaching of Yeshua

Applying Yeshua Communally, Part 1

This series is based on an attempt to apply some major themes in Yeshua’s teaching and example in our context. It combines concepts from Yeshua’s context with practical and theoretical ideas about what it means to be a person, to be in community, to have faith, to follow Yeshua together with others, and so on. I make no claim to perfection, but I do try to source my principles in Yeshua’s context and to be transparent. STARTING POINT: To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, Mark 4:11. How should this inform our model of Yeshua-community, of following Yeshua, and of being disciples? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Community in Yeshua, Discipleship - Formation, Teaching of Yeshua

Notes on the Sabbath Grain-Field Controversy

Mark 2:23-28 is a passage worthy of an entire book and much has been said about it. It is a riddle wrapped in a riddle smothered in enigma. Questions include everything from the mundane to the mysterious. Did Yeshua’s disciples actually break the Sabbath? Did they merely break an interpretation of the Sabbath rules according to some Pharisees? Is this ultimately about the Peah or corners of the field issue in Jewish law? Since the example of David is not a perfect match for what happens with the disciples, why does Yeshua use it? What does it mean, in the context of Second Temple Judaism, that the Sabbath is made for humankind? Is the Son of Man in vs. 28 Yeshua or humanity in general? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Background to Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Law, Torah, Teaching of Yeshua

The Danger of Messianic Misunderstanding

Readers of the gospels are repeatedly confronted with Yeshua’s ambiguity, his commands to secrecy, his constant refusal to be defined in straightforward categories. What strategy can we, as readers, employ to absorb the meaning of Yeshua’s identity and his instruction for us in carrying on the messianic mission? The story of the good confession and Yeshua’s warning to be secret about it is instructive. Why, when Peter confesses accurately who Yeshua is, must Yeshua follow the revelation with a warning? What the disciples encountered in personal involvement with Yeshua is analogous to what we as readers of the gospels encounter. The warning is the same. What do we learn from this story about the danger of messianic misunderstanding? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Identity of Yeshua, Reading Strategies, Study Tips

Reasons for Faith in Yeshua

This post is a bit less about the background of the gospels and more about theology and apologetics. But its basis is a theological reading of the gospels and it should help readers see themes to look for. 1) The foreshadowing of the Great Coming Resurrection in Yeshua’s resurrection. Resurrection (the bodily raising of the dead at the end of the age) is an idea only referred to in later passages in the Hebrew Bible, but the idea became a staple of classical Jewish faith (not just Christian faith). Pinchas Lapide’s famous book (The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective) concludes that Yeshua truly rose but then reinterprets this in a way that denies he is Messiah. Lapide, in my opinion, overlooks what occurred to Paul on the road to Damascus (where … Read entire article »

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

Transforming Aspects of the Gospels, #1

This will be a series of posts and you can click the category “Applying the Gospels” on the right sidebar to see all in this series and more. Faith Deepening as we enter more into the story. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Identity 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