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Yeshua in Context » Enactments and Symbolic Actions

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: Nature Miracles of Yeshua

In some cases these miracles are curiosities, like the coin from the fish (some think this may be a parable rather than a literal event). But in others, these are among the most majestic portion in the gospels. Yeshua calming the storm and walking on water is not like the miracles of Elijah and Elisha. These are unprecedented. The claim by eyewitnesses that such things happened is amazing. Against the idea that these are fictive tales devised by a movement to magnify the glory of their founder, the gospels are written in the style of Greco-Roman biographies (unlike the later rabbinic tales) and name their eyewitness sources according to the accepted style: Water to wine – Jn 2:9 Catch of fish – Lk 5:6 Calming the storm – Mk 4:39, Mt 8:26, Lk … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Divinity of Yeshua, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Gospel Genres, Miracles

Demons in Galilee

What sort of theology of unclean spirits existed in Yeshua’s time? We have a few hints and texts that can give us a picture. Pagan notions of demonic spirits were no doubt an influence on some, but devout Galileans like Yeshua would have looked to other sources for their beliefs. A few centuries before Yeshua, some unknown circles of apocalyptic scribes wrote some texts that are now known as part of 1 Enoch (which is really five books written at different times). The early part of 1 Enoch is the Book of the Watchers. Who are the watchers? The answer is found in Daniel 4:10 (4:13 in Christian Bibles; see also 4:14, 20 (4:17, 23)) : In the vision of my mind in bed, I looked and saw a holy Watcher coming … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Besorah/Gospel/Good News, Enactments and Symbolic Actions, Miracles

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

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