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Yeshua in Context » Teaching 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

PODCAST: Rabbi Dust

Book Review: Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewish Words of Jesus Can Change Your Life, by Lois Tverberg. Zondervan: 2012. Lois Tverberg’s newest book is about Jesus in his Jewish context, or more specifically, how to understand the ethics of Jesus in Jewish context. Rabbi Dust … Read entire article »

Filed under: Podcasts, Teaching of Yeshua

List: Teachings Unique to Luke

Anointed to Proclaim to the Poor – Lk 4:18-21 Prophets and Gentiles – Lk 4:24-27 Two Debtors – Lk 7:41-43 Satan Falls as Lightning – Lk 10:18-20 Good Samaritan – Lk 10:25-37 One Thing – Lk 10:41-42 Judge at Midnight – Lk 11:5-13 Rich Fool – Lk 12:16-20 Watchful Servants – Lk 12:36-38 Faithful Manager – Lk 12:42-48 Barren Fig Tree – Lk 13:6-9 Lowest Place at the Banquet – Lk 14:7-11 Banquet for the Lowly – Lk 14:12-14 Great Banquet – Lk 14:15-24 Counting the Cost – Lk 14:25-33 Lost Sheep – Lk 15:1-7 Lost Coin – Lk 15:8-10 Prodigal Son – Lk 15:11-32 Dishonest Manager – Lk 16:1-13 Lazarus and the Rich Man – Lk 16:19-31 Humble Servants – Lk 17:7-10 Unjust Judge – Lk 18:1-8 The Pharisee and the Tax Collector – Lk 18:9-14 The Minas – Lk 19:11-27 … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Gospel Genres, Synoptic Relationships, Teaching of Yeshua

List: Teachings of Yeshua

Repent for the Kingdom is at Hand – Mt 4:17 (Mk 1:15). Beatitudes – Mt 5:3-12 (similar to Lk 6:20-26). Salt and Light – Mt 5:13-16 (similar to Lk 11:33-36, Mk 4:21-22) Law and Prophets – Mt 5:17-20 Antitheses (You have heard it said) – Mt 5:21-48 (similar to Lk 6:27-36) Righteousness, alms, and prayer in secret – Mt 6:1-8 The Lord’s Prayer – Mt 6:9-15 (Lk 11:2-4, shorter form) Fasting in Secret – Mt 6:16-18 Treasure in Heaven – Mt 6:19-24 (similar to Lk 12:33-34) Do Not Be Anxious (seek first the kingdom) – Mt 6:25-34 (similar to Lk 12:22-32) Judging Others – Mt 7:1-6 (similar to Lk 6:37-42, Mk 4:24) Ask, Seek, Knock – Mt 7:7-11 Golden Rule – Mt 7:12 (Lk 6:31) The Narrow Gate – Mt 7:13-14 (Lk 13:24) Good and Bad Fruit – Mt 7:15-20 (similar to Lk … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Gospel Genres, Teaching of Yeshua

Parables, Gospel by Gospel

What parables are in three gospels? In two? In only one? The following list will help you think about how the parables are distributed and also to find them easily. PARABLES IN ALL THREE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS New Cloth – Mk 2, Mt 9, Lk 5 New Wine – Mk 2, Mt 9, Lk 5 Mustard Seed – Mk 4, Mt 13, Lk 13 Sower – Mk 4, Mt 13, Lk 8 Wicked Tenants – Mk 12, Mt 21, Lk 20 Fig Tree – Mk 13, Mt 24, Lk 21 PARABLES IN TWO SYNOPTIC GOSPELS House on the Rock – Mt 7, Lk 6 Leaven – Mt 13, Lk 13 Lost Sheep – Mt 18, Lk 15 PARABLE IN ONLY ONE GOSPEL Barren Fig Tree – Lk 13 Net – Mt 13 Good Samaritan – Lk 10 Pearl of Great Price – Mt 13 Great Banquet – … Read entire article »

Filed under: 1a - Intro to the Gospels, Gospel Genres, Parables, Teaching of Yeshua

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

The Lamp-Measure-Seed-Mustard Sequence, Part 1

Could familiarity with Matthew cause you to miss a powerful sequence of meaning in Mark? Could some of Yeshua’s sayings be used in different contexts to mean very different things? Are they multi-use? Mark 4:21-34 is an important sequence of sayings whose meaning in the context of Mark is often obscured by readers who are more familiar with the sayings from Matthew. That is to say, the order in which we read the gospels sometimes affects our interpretation. How does this happen? The different synoptic evangelists (Mark, Matthew, Luke) often include the same sayings in different contexts. The context of the saying often influences interpretation. The modern reader might wonder if: (a) the sayings are all given in arbitrary contexts with the evangelists rarely if ever knowing what context they may have … Read entire article »

Filed under: Formation of the Gospels, Literary Features, Reading Strategies, Study Tips, Teaching of Yeshua

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

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

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

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

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

Yeshua’s Prayer

Popularly known as the Lord’s Prayer or the Pater or the Avinu. This article at my Messianic Jewish Musings blog includes audio-files of a new melody for liturgical use as well as commentary on the origin and intent of the prayer. See the article here. … Read entire article »

Filed under: 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

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 Narrow Road

Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it. –Matthew 7:13-14, NET The beauty of Yeshua’s teaching here is easily lost through a number of false assumptions: (1) Yeshua’s main concern is where people will dwell in the life to come (2) Yeshua teaches that few will ultimately find a good afterlife (3) Destruction and life are terms referring primarily to the afterlife Each of these assumptions can be shown false. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Discipleship - Formation, Life to Come, Teaching of Yeshua

Essentials for Discipleship (Formation)

This is a preliminary list which may be added to over time or modified. Replacement at the level of ideas (truths to replace falsehood and subtle errors). Example: Yeshua sought to replace his disciples’ notion that “Messiah’s coming is to bring retribution on Israel’s enemies and to glorify us nationally” with a different notion that “Messiah’s coming is about healing Israel and the nations and the path begins with suffering.” In our time, a notion that needs replacing is “Yeshua came to reward me with an opulent afterlife experience.” … Read entire article »

Filed under: Discipleship - Formation, Teaching of Yeshua