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Yeshua in Context » Kingdom Present

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

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 Symbolic Use of Abraham

I asked my congregation a test question. I said, “What does Abraham represent in the gospels?” The answer I got was, “Faith.” It’s not a bad answer considering that this was before we had read a few Abraham texts in the gospels. Yet, before we would jump to Paul’s explanation of Abraham (Rom 4:3; Gal 3:7), it is good to consider a step earlier than the realization that Abraham represents faith. It is eye-opening to re-read some of the Abraham texts in the gospels with an eye for first century Jewish ideas about election, covenant, and afterlife. Let’s begin with three texts: Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones … Read entire article »

Filed under: Abraham, Afterlife, Background to Gospels, General, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present, Teaching of Yeshua

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

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

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

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

Notes: Background to Yeshua’s Kingdom Talk

The following is not really a blog post, but more like notes or source information to help grasp the background of “kingdom of God” as it might have resounded in the ears of Yeshua’s generation. Anne Moore, “The Search for a Common Understanding of God’s Kingship,” in Wayne O. McCready and Adele Reinhartz, ed., Common Judaism: Explorations in Second Temple Judaism (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008). Marc Zvi Brettler, God is King: Understanding an Israelite Metaphor (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1989). What are the underlying beliefs of people in Israel in Yeshua’s time about God’s kingship that resonate when he speaks of the “kingdom of God”? What does Yeshua’s generation think of when God’s rule is raised as an issue? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Kingdom Present, Spectacular Commentary, Teaching of Yeshua

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

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