- WINTER – Yeshua (Jesus) left Nazareth and travelled down to Bethany beyond the Jordan to be baptised by Yochanan (John). Lesson 1
- Yeshua went into the Jordan wilderness for 40 days. Lesson 1
- Yeshua returned to Bethany beyond the Jordan in Holy Spirit power – some of Yochanan’s talmidim (disciples) followed Him, including first followers – Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip & Nathaniel (Bartholomew). Lesson 1
- Yeshua took these disciples to a wedding in Cana – water into wine. Lesson 2
- Yeshua went with His family and talmidim to Capernaum. Lesson 2
- SPRING – Yeshua took His talmidim to Jerusalem for Pesach (Passover) – cleansed the temple, miracles, spoke with Nicodemus about being born again. Lesson 3
- Yeshua took His disciples for them to baptise people – more came to them than to Yochanan. Lesson 3
- Yeshua took His disciples to Jacob’s Well in Samaria – spoke to woman at the well and whole city of Sychar came to him. Lesson 4
- Yeshua ministered in different villages in Galilee until He returned to Cana – officer of Herod’s court’s son healed in Capernaum at His word. Lesson 5 & Lesson 6
- Talmidim went back to their families in Capernaum and Bethsaida while Yeshua returned to Nazareth alone – loved His preaching, then hated it and tried to throw Him off the cliffs. Lesson 6
- Yeshua travelled to Jerusalem for Shavu’ot (Feast of Weeks / Pentecost) – healed lame man at Pool of Bethesda and taught in the temple, ‘John’ was there. Lesson 7
- SUMMER – Moved to Capernaum, set up house, taught in the synagogue every sabbath, called Simon Peter & Andrew, James & John from their fishing to follow Him, delivered unclean spirit from man, healed Simon’s mother-in-law and everyone else brought to Him. Lesson 8
- Yeshua went to a lonely spot to pray, and then ministered in different towns throughout Galilee. Lesson 8
- Yeshua walked up Mt Eremos with large crowd – Sermon on the Mount, Beatitudes. Lessons 9, through to 14 .
- AUTUMN (FALL) – Large crowds followed, healed leper and made a practice of withdrawing to remote places to pray. Lesson 15 Yeshua returned to Capernaum – forgave and healed paralysed man lowered through the roof, called the tax collector Matthew (Levi) to follow, ate with Levi and his friends, healed a withered hand in the synagogue on Shabbat – Pharisees plotted against Him – so taught the multitudes from a boat at the shore. Lesson 16
- Yeshua went up a mountain to pray, then chose the 12 and also named them apostles. Lesson 17 Then came down with them to a level place – Sermon in the Plain. Lesson 18
- Yeshua returned to Capernaum, relatives came to take custody of Him thinking He had lost His senses, delivered and healed blind and mute man, accused of using Satan’s power to drive out demons, taught sign of Jonah – will be three days and nights in tomb, mother & brothers outside. Lesson 19 Yeshua went out of the house and sat by the Sea, then in a boat, to teach the multitude in parables. Lesson 20
- Yeshua gave orders to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee – storm while He sleeps, wind and waves obey Him, delivers “Legion” and another man, all the people ask Him to leave. Lesson 21
- Yeshua returned by boat to Capernaum – healed woman with issue of blood and resurrected the daughter of Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. Lesson 22
- Yeshua continued travelling and teaching in all the towns of Galilee and came to the town of Nain where He resurrected the widow’s son, Yochanan‘s talmidim bring his question to Yeshua, dinner at Simon the Pharisee’s home and anointed by sinful woman. Lesson 22
- WINTER – Yeshua returns to Nazareth with His talmidim.
Please read Matthew 14:13-36; Mark 6:30-55; Luke 9:10-17 & John 6:1-25
When Jesus heard what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed Him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick. Matthew 14:13-14 NIV
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He began teaching them many things. Mark 6:30-43 NIV
“Sheep without a shepherd” is an Old Testament picture of Israel without spiritual leadership (Numbers 27:15-21, 1 Kings 22:17). Then, in Ezekiel 34 God condemns the shepherds of Israel, those where were meant to be caring for His flock and leading them in His ways, concluding in Vs 5&6: “So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.” Ezekiel then went on to prophesy God’s solution to this problem:
“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.” Ezekiel 34:11-16 ESV
When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then He took them with Him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed Him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. Luke 9:10-11 NIV
Bethsaida means “house of fishing“. How appropriate that in the region of this village Yeshua so effectively ‘fished for men’ with His talmidim. Bethsaida was a fishing village east of the Jordan River and close to where it enters the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret). The shore of the Sea of Galilee that was east of the Jordan River was, to the Galileans, the far side of the Lake. History records the village of Bethsaida in Lower Gaulonitis being raised to the rank of a city by the Tetrarch Philip, and called Julias, in honour of Julia, the daughter of Augustus (Ant., XVIII, ii, 1; BJ, II, ix, 1; III, x, 7; Vita, 72). Ruins of a city have been found on rising ground, fully a mile from the sea, so this is the place allocated to Bethsaida on many maps of the region during Jesus’ time. As this is too far from the sea for a fishing village, Schumacher (The Jaulan, 246) suggests that el-`Araj, “a large, completely destroyed site close to the lake,” connected in ancient times with et-Tell “by the beautiful roads still visible,” may have been the fishing village, and et-Tell the princely residence.
The “green grass” of Mark 6:39, and the “much grass” of John 6:10, point both to the time of year – early Spring, just before Passover, when the grass is green from the winter rains, and to the place being on the plain of el-BaTeichah, which has rich soil producing plentiful green grass compared with the scanty herbage on the higher slopes.
Some time later, Yeshua went over to the far side of Lake Kinneret (that is, Lake Tiberias), and a large crowd followed him, because they had seen the miracles He had performed on the sick. Yeshua went up into the hills and sat down there with His talmidim. Now the Judean festival of Pesach was coming up John 6:1-4 CJB
Spring had begun, the beginning of the Jewish month of Nisan. Many were getting ready to make their pilgrimage down to Jerusalem for the annual festival of Pesach (Passover). For the first time in ten months the author of John’s Gospel re-joins the commentary. There were even more people gathering around Yeshua and His talmidim now than before. Some had come from Jerusalem for solace after hearing of Yochanan’s beheading, desperate to know that all was not now lost for them and their nation after this crime had been committed against God’s prophet. Had the author of John’s Gospel been one of these? Others came because they had seen Yeshua, or His apostles, do healings and miracles as they had gone out in pairs to all the surrounding towns. Some came because they needed a miracle. Some were hungry to learn more of the kingdom of heaven. Some had begun their pilgrimage from more northern regions to Jerusalem for the Feast and detoured to see this ‘miracle man’ whose fame was spreading far and wide. When they saw Yeshua and His talmidim leave by boat this multitude followed, traversing the well worn shoreline route. Some even made it to Bethsaida before Yeshua and His crew. When Yeshua landed He went to a solitary place, and sat down there with His talmidim. The multitude followed. So He welcomed them and spoke to them all about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.
The 12 had just returned from seeing God do miracles through them as they ministered 2 by 2, but they were not prepared for Yeshua’s next instruction: “You give them something to eat”.
As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
“Bring them here to me,” he said.
And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:15-21 NIV
By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”
They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
“How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”
When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”
Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand. Mark 6:35-44 NIV
Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”
He replied, “You give them something to eat.”
They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.)
But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.”
The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. Luke 9:12-17 NI
Philip’s home town was Bethsaida. James & John and Peter & Andrew had also been born in Bethsaida but had moved to Capernaum before they met Yeshua. So Philip was the only one who still called Bethsaida home. Maybe this had something to do with why Yeshua asked Philip where the best place to buy bread was…
...so when Yeshua looked up and saw that a large crowd was approaching, He said to Philip, “Where will we be able to buy bread, so that these people can eat?” (Now Yeshua said this to test Philip, for Yeshua himself knew what He was about to do.)
Philip answered, “Half a year’s wages wouldn’t buy enough bread for them — each one would get only a bite!”
One of the talmidim, Andrew the brother of Shim‘on Kefa, said to Him, “There’s a young fellow here who has five loaves of barley bread and two fish. But how far will they go among so many?”
Yeshua said, “Have the people sit down.”
There was a lot of grass there, so they sat down. The number of men was about five thousand.
Then Yeshua took the loaves of bread, and, after making a b’rakhah (giving thanks), gave to all who were sitting there, and likewise with the fish, as much as they wanted.
After they had eaten their fill, He told His talmidim, “Gather the leftover pieces, so that nothing gets wasted.”
They gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. John 6:5-13 CJB
This miracle brought to remembrance a miracle that God had done through the prophet Elisha:
A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain.
“Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said.
“How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked.
But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’”
Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord. 2 Kings 4:42-44 NIV
In both instances the amount of bread was inadequate for the number of people. In both instances everyone ate their fill and there were leftovers. Elisha had fed 100 men with 20 loaves, and now Yeshua had fed 5,000 men with just 5 loaves. All Israel recognised Elisha as a prophet, how could they not recognise Yeshua? In Deuteronomy 18 Moses states, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers – it is to him you shall listen”. (verse 15). And later in verse 18 God declares; “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers . And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” Those who ate the bread had memorised these verses from childhood.
There were many ways in which they could see that Yeshua was a prophet like Moshe (Moses):
- Both were sent to bring salvation after 400 years of ‘silence’ from God – the Israelites had been enslaved for 400 years in Egypt with no leader or prophet, and the 400 years before Yeshua came had been notably without any prophet from God.
- Both fasted for 40 days and nights – Moses while on Mount Sinai, and Yeshua in the Judean desert after His baptism.
- Both spent time in Egypt as children (as Yeshua had to be hidden there for a while as a baby to escape Herod).
- Both were born at a time when evil kings pronounced death to all Jewish baby boys in the area – Pharaoh had commanded all Hebrew baby boys to be drowned at birth, and Herod had issued a command to kill all baby boys under the age of two. Both were miraculously rescued from that threat.
- Both did miracles to testify to their God-given authority.
- Both were given God’s public stamp of approval with an audible voice from heaven, heard by the crowd – Moses at Sinai, and Yeshua at his baptism.
- Both miraculously provided the people with bread to eat – manna was sent from heaven for the Israelites and Yeshua had just fed a multitude, with 12 baskets of food left over – one for each of the tribes of Israel.
When the people saw the miracle He had performed, they said, “This has to be ‘the prophet’ who is supposed to come into the world.” Yeshua knew that they were on the point of coming and seizing Him, in order to make Him king; so He went back to the hills again. This time He went by Himself. John 6:14-15 CJB
The people were still in shock over John the Baptiser’s murder. Anger, shock and grief mingled. Religious and nationalistic fervour was high. John had pointed to this Man, and He’d just fed all of them abundantly, out of next to nothing, and with one full basket of food left over for each of the 12 tribes of Israel. Surely this was the One they had been waiting for, the One who would set their nation free, the son of David, the righteous Branch, their rightful ruler and national leader as Jeremiah had prophesied:
“I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’ ” Jeremiah 23:4-6 ESV
Yeshua’s kingdom is not of this world and “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17) – He sent them away and withdrew to pray.
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. Matthew 14:22-23 NIV
Through the night He prayed.
And immediately Jesus had His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He Himself dismissed the crowd. And after saying goodbye to them, He left for the mountain to pray. Mark 6:45-46 NASB
All three gospels that mention this journey are in agreement that it involved getting into a boat and going across to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret). There is an apparent discrepancy, however, with Luke having said that they withdrew “to a town called Bethsaida“, from whence the feeding of the 5,000 took place, and John having written that they went “to the far side of the Lake” – ie the eastern shore, of which Bethsaida is the most northerly point, and Mark’s account here of them leaving the place of feeding the 5,000 and getting into a boat to go “to the other side, to Bethsaida.” Over the centuries Bible scholars have proposed different theories to try to explain this – including the suggestion that there were two Bethsaidas – Bethsaida Galilee (John 12:21 refers to Bethsaida in Galilee) on the western shore and Bethsaida Julias on the eastern shore.
Then, there is dispute over which Bethsaida the feeding of the 5,000 was near to. The answers to these questions were probably obvious in the 1st Century, but the passage of time has hidden some of the evidence from us, leaving it impossible to know the exact locations now. Those uncertainties, however, don’t diminish our understanding of the message.
- Multitudes came to hear Yeshua speak and see Him heal the sick.
- After a day of teaching and healing, He miraculously fed 5,000 men, plus all the women and children, with just 5 loaves and 2 fish.
- There were 12 baskets of food left over, indicating that Yeshua is the bread of life for all 12 tribes of Israel.
- Yeshua rejected all attempts to make Him an earthly king and raise up an army of men around Him – His kingdom is not of this world.
- Yeshua prioritised times of private prayer – He spent the night in prayer.
- Sometimes when we are obeying God and attempting to do what He has told us, “go to the other side”, everything seems to fight against us and all our work doesn’t get us very far. Yeshua has not abandoned us at those times, He is watching over us and will enter into our boat and we will reach our destination with Him.
- Yeshua can walk on water – He rules over the laws of physics and over the basic elements of life.
When evening came, his talmidim went down to the lake, got into a boat and set out across the lake toward K’far-Nachum (Capernaum) . By now it was dark, Yeshua had not yet joined them, and the sea was getting rough, because a strong wind was blowing.
They had rowed three or four miles when they saw Yeshua approaching the boat, walking on the lake! They were terrified; but He said to them, “Stop being afraid, it is I.” John 6:19-20 CJB
They had spent most of the night straining at the oars and yet had only gone 5-6 kms. It was not a long journey across that northern section of the Sea, about 8km. They had managed most of it through their nocturnal strenuous efforts, yet still the shoreline seemed to allude them. God lets us struggle so that we might be humbled by our struggle. He lets us struggle so that we might see that we have nothing. He lets us struggle so that we might have faith; and God lets us struggle so that we might see the reality of who He is.
Suddenly there was Yeshua, striding across those 5-6kms as though they were nothing, coming straight to them, even about to go past them, walking on the sea that had been buffeting them so badly!
After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:23-27 NASB
Shortly before dawn He went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought He was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw Him and were terrified. Immediately He spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Mark 6:48b – 50 NIV
It is significant that Job 9:8 declares of God: “He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.” This was another sign specifically of Yeshua’s divinity.
Peter responded and said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command (keleuo) me to come to You on the water.”
And He said, “Come!”
And Peter got down out of the boat and walked (peripateo) on the water, and came toward (pros) Jesus. But seeing (blepo) the wind (anemos), he became frightened (phobeo), and when he began to sink, he cried out (krazo), saying, “Lord, save (sozo) me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out with His hand and took hold (epilambanomai) of him, and said to him, “You of little faith (oligopistos), why did you doubt (distazo)?” Matthew 14:28-31 NASB
Only Matthew tells us that someone else walked on water that night. Someone who was bold enough to want to do what his Rabbi was doing. Yeshua had not long ago given them authority over sickness and demons – and it had worked! Could He also give this authority over the laws of nature? Knowing that spiritual authority only operated through obedience Peter asked Yeshua: “command me to come to you on the water.” Keleuo = to command, to give the order. In the Greek aorist imperative it commands the action to reach completion. Yeshua spoke the word. It is written in the Greek aorist imperative. It only took one word, “come” to transfer that authority and enable Peter to walk on the water.
This is one of those passages of scripture that yields more insights when we delve into the meaning of key words in the Greek.
Peripateo = walked comprehensively around; walked around in a complete circuit; walking with God in the complete circuit of faith.
Pros = moving towards a goal or destination with contact and reaction; in living relationship with the goal; the cycle of initiation and response.
Blepo = physically observe to spiritually perceive; conveys the spiritual impact of physically seeing; grasping the spiritual realities which play out in the physical world.
Anemos = a gust of air / wind; something with gusting, storm-like force like someone bent in a particular direction.
Phobeo = wanting to flee, feeling overwhelmed and inadequate to meet the situation.
Krazo = an onomatopoetic term imitating the sound of a raven’s piercing cry; to cry out loudly with an urgent scream or shriek; an exclamation of fear or pain, using inarticulate sounds that express deep emotion; it was also a technical, rabbinic term to refer to the loud summons of a prophet, needing to be heard.
Sozo = to deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin and into His shalom.
Epilambanomai = lay hold of something by showing personal initiative, focused resolve; lay hold in the way that is needed and doing so with resolve.
Oligopistos = oligos little in number and low in quality + pistis faith; infrequent faith; inconsistent faith.
Distazo = double stance; to go two ways at once; be double-minded; to vacillate / waver between two opinions or beliefs.
Peter climbed down out of the boat and peripateo – walked comprehensively around in a complete circuit of faith that included fear, phobeo – feeling overwhelmed and inadequate to meet the situation – and doubt, distazo – being doubleminded – but ultimately cried out with everything within him, krazo, to Yeshua to save him. What caused the double-mindedness was blepo anemos – seeing the storm-like force of the wind stirring up the Sea and perceiving that the sea of humanity would likewise be stirred up against them and it would be difficult to make any real headway. If he kept following Yeshua the road ahead would be full of difficulty and struggle. Peter was overtired, he was exhausted from struggling against the wind all night and the thought of further struggle was just too much for him. He started to sink. Yeshua epilambanomai – laid hold of Peter with focused resolve, He was not going to let Peter drown, He was determined to keep Peter from sinking too low, and to present him faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24).
Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
When they had crossed over they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored at the shore. And when they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, and ran about that entire country and began carrying here and there on their pallets those who were sick, to wherever they heard He was. Mark 6:51-55 NASB
When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are truly God’s Son!”
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent word into all that surrounding region and brought to Him all who were sick; and they pleaded with Him that they might just touch the border of His cloak; and all who touched it were cured. Matthew 14:32-36 NASB
Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and instantly the boat reached the land they were heading for.
The next day, the crowd which had stayed on the other side of the lake noticed that there had been only one boat there, and that Yeshua had not entered the boat with his talmidim, but that the talmidim had been alone when they sailed off.
Then other boats, from Tiberias, came ashore near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had made the b’rakhah (given thanks). Accordingly, when the crowd saw that neither Yeshua nor his talmidim were there, they themselves boarded the boats and made for K’far-Nachum (Capernaum) in search of Yeshua. When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” John 6:21-25 CJB
While both Matthew and Mark record the talmidim in the boat as being overwhelmingly amazed from seeing Yeshua walk on water and then the wind stopping the moment He climbed into their boat, Mark’s perception was that their hearts were still hardened and unable to perceive the fullness of who Yeshua was, while Matthew’s was of them worshipping Him as God’s Son. As Yeshua spoke of them having oligopistos – inconsistent faith – it is possible that both were true and they were still oscillating between faith and unbelief, even as we can find ourselves doing.
Capernaum was known as Yeshua’s ministry base, so it is not surprising that is where the crowds headed in search of Him. It was just a 3 mile (under 5km) walk from there to the wide open plains of Gennesaret where Yeshua was already healing the multitudes who were being brought to him from all the surrounding region. The crowds were now so big that wide open plains were needed to accommodate them all. Still they had no time to rest.
1. HELPS Ministries. The Discovery Bible. [Online] https://thediscoverybible.com/.
2. Zakian, Christopher H. WALKING ON WATER: A RESCUE ON THE SEA OF DESPAIR. Armenian Church. [Online] February 26th, 2019. https://armenianchurch.us/2019/02/26/walking-on-water-a-rescue-on-the-sea-of-despair/.
3. Miller, Stephen M. Casual English Bible Maps For Mark. Casual English Bible. [Online] https://www.casualenglishbible.com/casual-english-bible-maps-for-mark/.
4. Zyl, Jacob M. Van. Where did Jesus feed the 5000? Near Bethsaida Galilee / Near Bethsaida Julias? Messiah Study. [Online] https://www.messiah-study.net/Feeding5000.htm.
5. Phillips, J B. An Outline of the Story of Jesus Using Maps. J B Phillips New Testament. [Online] https://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/CP051GOSPELMAPS.htm.
6. Atlas, Bible. Bethsaida. Bible Hub. [Online] https://bibleatlas.org/bethsaida.htm.
7. Rogers, Kevin. Is the feeding of the 5000 historical? Reasonable Faith. [Online] March 25, 2018. https://reasonablefaithadelaide.org.au/the-feeding-of-the-5000/.
8. Rushlive, Omar. Where did the feeding of the five thousand happen? RZIM Connect. [Online] April 19, 2019. https://connect.rzim.org/t/where-did-the-feeding-of-the-five-thousand-happen/15837.
9. Licona, Michael R. WAS MARK CONFUSED PERTAINING TO THE LOCATION OF THE FEEDING OF THE 5,000? Risen Jesus. [Online] August 22, 2016. https://www.risenjesus.com/mark-confused-pertaining-location-feeding-5000.
10. Collins, Martin G. What the Bible says about Feeding of 5000. Bible Tools. [Online] https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/15518/Feeding-5000.htm.
11. Pratt, Bill. COMMENTARY ON MARK 6 (JESUS FEEDS 5,000 AND WALKS ON WATER). Tough Questions answered. [Online] November 28th, 2016. https://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2016/11/28/commentary-on-mark-6-jesus-feeds-5000-and-walks-on-water/.
12. Commentaries, Matthew. Matthew 14:25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. Bible Hub. [Online] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/14-25.htm.
13. Coles, Fr. James. Why Does Jesus Sometimes Wait Until the 4th Watch of the Night – 9th Sunday of Pentecost. Scholé. [Online] August 9th, 2009. https://frjamescoles.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/why-does-jesus-sometimes-wait-until-the-4th-watch-of-the-night-9th-sunday-of-matthew/.
14. One for Israel. 21 PROOFS THAT YESHUA IS THE “PROPHET LIKE MOSES”. ONE for ISRAEL. [Online] May 30th, 2016. https://www.oneforisrael.org/bible-based-teaching-from-israel/21-ways-yeshua-is-a-prophet-like-moses/.
15. Bivin, Davin N. Gennesaret According to Josephus. Jerusalem Perspective. [Online] September 6th, 2012. https://www.jerusalemperspective.com/579/.
In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…
*Sending the 12 out to minister in pairs seemed to just increase the work load instead of reducing it – so many more people were now coming to Jesus. How do you deal with it when the demands of ministry become too much?
* Jesus took them away to rest, but the crowds followed – thousands of them! How do you deal with it when your attempts to rest are interrupted by the needs of others?
* It is easy to burn out in ministry with the constant pressure of people’s needs. How did Jesus deal with this, what did He do to get refreshed and able to keep giving to others?
* What are the evidences in this passage that Jesus is the Son of God and the “prophet like Moses” that the Jewish people were waiting for?
* What storms in your life have caused you to start to sink, and how did Jesus lift you out of that?
Please read Matthew 10, 11:1, 25-30, 13:53-14:13a; Mark6:1-32; Luke 9:1-10
It was winter once more. Last winter Yeshua had set out from His home village of Nazareth, travelling south to ‘Bethany beyond the Jordan’ to be baptised by Yochanan. There was nothing remarkable in this, many from this pious region of Galilee were making the same pilgrimage. But something remarkable had occurred when Yeshua was baptised, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove from heaven, He was revealed as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), and His ministry began. He had returned to teach in the Nazareth synagogue once since then, just before heading south to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage festival of Shavu‘ot – the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost). After initially welcoming His teaching, they had turned on Him and tried to throw Him off the cliffs. Now He was back again, this time with His talmidim who had been following Him from town to town throughout the Galilee region.
Coming to His hometown, He began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed.
“Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary (Miryam), and aren’t his brothers James (Ya‘akov), Joseph (Yosef), Simon (Shim‘on) and Judas (Y’hudah)? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”
And they took offense at Him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own town and in his own home.”
And He did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. Matthew 13:53-58 NIV
Then Yeshua left and went to His home town, and His talmidim followed him. On Shabbat He started to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were astounded.
They asked, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom He has been given? What are these miracles worked through Him? Isn’t He just the carpenter? the son of Miryam? the brother of Ya‘akov and Yosi and Y’hudah and Shim‘on? Aren’t His sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at Him.
But Yeshua said to them. “The only place people don’t respect a prophet is in his home town, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”
So he could do no miracles there, other than lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of trust.
Then He went through the surrounding towns and villages, teaching. Mark 6:1-6 CJB
Once again the congregation in Nazareth were impressed with the wisdom of Yeshua’s teaching. They were impacted by the miracles He did. Yet, instead of responding in faith, instead of accepting the evidences that He was their long awaited Messiah, they became offended at Him. They had known Him as one of their own. They had known Him as Yosef (Joseph) and Miryam (Mary)’s son. Some elders whispered about Miryam having become pregnant with Him before she and Yosef had come together as man and wife. There was a hint of scandal in His background. They had known Him as Ya‘akov (James), Yosef (Joseph), Shim‘on (Simon) and Y’hudah (Judas)’ elder brother. His sisters had married their sons and were raising their own families in Nazareth. He was part of a normal family in Nazareth, how could He possibly claim to be anything more than that? Surely Messiah, surely the Lamb of God, surely the son of David, had to be someone other than a member of a normal family in their village! This lack of faith that Yeshua was sent to them from God meant that few came to Him with their needs, so there were few miracles for Him to do.
Yeshua, and His talmidim, continued on to the surrounding towns and villages.
12 Apostles Sent Out
These twelve had been following Yeshua for about a year now. During that time they had learnt so much and seen so much. Every time they saw a miracle it aroused a fresh sense of awe and wonder. No matter how many they witnessed there was still something amazing about each one. No matter how much of Yeshua’s teaching they memorised and meditated upon, there were still meanings that they were trying to grasp, still something surprising each time He shared with them. They had so much more to learn, yet they were ready. The time had come for them to put what they had been learning into practice – to go out and do what they had seen Yeshua do this past year.
And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power (eksousia) over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease… …
These twelve Jesus sent (apostéllō) out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
“Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.
“Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” Matthew 10:1,5-15 NKJV
And He summoned the twelve and began to send (apostéllō) them out in pairs, and gave them authority (eksousia) over the unclean spirits; and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belt— but to wear sandals; and He added, “Do not put on two tunics.”
And He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.”
They went out and preached that men should repent. And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them. Mark 6:7-13 NASB
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power (dynamis) and authority (eksousia) to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent (apostéllō) them out to proclaim (kerysso) the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.
Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”
So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere. Luke 9:1-6 NIV
None of these twelve had preached (kerysso) before. None had ever done a miracle before. None of them had healed the sick or cast out demons before. Yeshua did not have them do their first preaching or their first miracles under His careful guidance and watchful gaze – instead He simply gave them the spiritual power and authority and sent (apostéllō) them out ahead of Him.
Kerysso = to preach publicly and with conviction, preaching by a herald sent from God, proclaiming the gospel (good news) that all should repent because “the kingdom of heaven is at hand“.
Apostéllō = to commission, be sent on a defined mission by a superior, as an intensified form of ‘stéllō‘, ‘apostéllō‘ focuses back on the source – the one sending – to strongly connect the sender to the one sent.
Dynamis = ability to perform, power to achieve through God’s inherent ability – God sharing His inherent ability, empowered with God’s ability to do as He directs.
Eksousia = authority, delegated power, empowerment to operate decisively in a designated jurisdiction.
First Yeshua called them together. They came as one to Him. Then He imparted His ability into them and authorised them to publicly preach the kingdom of God, to heal the sick and to drive out demons. Then He sent them to go as an extension of Himself. Yeshua sent them out in pairs, so they could provide encouragement and accountability for one another. Interestingly, the scriptures do not tell us who was paired with whom.
Instructions for Short Term Missions
- Go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Even though Yeshua had already taken them to witness Him ministering to Samaritans and to Gentiles, for this first mission trip Yeshua apostéllō them only to their own people of their own culture. The Great Commission to all the world would come later.
- Publicly preach, “repent because the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.
- Take nothing for the journey—neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt, nor two tunics – for a worker is worthy of his food. Freely you have received, freely give. While charging nothing and making no profit from their ministry, they were to expect those they ministered to would provide for their basic needs on the road as per the Jewish laws of hospitality.
- Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons – all of which could only be done because Yeshua had just imparted to them His ability to do so.
- Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay in their house until you leave that town. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.
The Apostle’s Response
They went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and preaching that men should repent. And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them. Possibly to their own amazement, these twelve found themselves empowered to do just what Yeshua commissioned them to do. Just as He had said, people were healed and delivered at their word. His empowering really was enough to make it all happen. They followed His instructions and saw His miracles taking place at their hands.
Preparations for What Lies Ahead
Matthew then records Yeshua giving advise to help prepare them for the troubles that will accompany their triumphs. It was winter, the breeding season for Israel’s wolves.
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves;
so be as wary as serpents, and as innocent as doves. But be on guard against people, for they will hand you over to the courts and flog you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings on My account, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given you in that hour. For it is not you who are speaking, but it is the Spirit of your Father who is speaking in you.
“Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.
“But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he may become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they insult the members of his household!
“So do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim on the housetops.
“And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Are two sparrows not sold for a copper coin? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not fear; you are more valuable than a great number of sparrows.
“Therefore, everyone who confesses Me before people, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before people, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a person’s enemies will be the members of his household.
“The one who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and the one who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And the one who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
“The one who has found his life will lose it, and the one who has lost his life on My account will find it.
“The one who receives you receives Me, and the one who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. The one who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and the one who receives a righteous person in the name of a righteous person shall receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones just a cup of cold water to drink in the name of a disciple, truly I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” Matthew 10:16-41
Yochanan the Immerser Beheaded
After Yeshua had finished instructing the twelve talmidim, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns nearby. Matthew 11:1 CJB
Now the work was multiplied. Six pairs of talmidim had been sent out in six different directions to spread the good news, heal the sick and cast out demons, and still a seventh, Yeshua Himself, went out to spread the word of the kingdom of heaven. There was an urgency, the time was short. People needed to see and hear for themselves, not just rely on the rumours spreading around Galilee about this radical new Rabbi. Everyone needed to have the chance to encounter the truth and power of God.
Meanwhile, Yochanan the Immerser’s talmidim had returned to him with all they saw Yeshua doing, and His words of encouragement. All was well. Yochanan had not run his race in vain. He had fulfilled what God had called him to do.
All was not well in the palace above him, however. Herodias continued to burn with anger and indignation at Yochanan calling out her husband’s sin in joining with her. A party was being prepared for Herod’s birthday and in the midst of all the drinking and boasting came the opportunity for Herodias to have her murderous way.
For Herod had arrested Yochanan, put him in chains and thrown him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip; since Yochanan had told Herod, “It violates the Torah for you to have her as your wife.” Herod had wanted to put Yochanan to death; but he was afraid of the people, in whose eyes Yochanan was a prophet.
However, at Herod’s birthday celebration, Herodias’ daughter danced before the company and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of Yochanan the Immerser.”
The king became deeply upset; but out of regard for the oaths he had sworn before his dinner guests, he ordered that her wish be granted, and sent and had Yochanan beheaded in prison. The head was brought on a platter to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. Matthew 14: 3-11 CJB
For Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death and could not do so; for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him.
A strategic day came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his lords and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee; and when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom.”
And she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?”
And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.”
Immediately she came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
And although the king was very sorry, yet because of his oaths and because of his dinner guests, he was unwilling to refuse her. Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded him to bring back his head. And he went and had him beheaded in the prison, and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.
Mark 6:17-28 NASB
Herod continued to be tormented by what he had done. Unlike Herodias, he conscience was not yet completely seared. It troubled him. He was haunted by the memory of that holy, innocent head on the platter. Oh, he had ordered many deaths before, but somehow this one was difference, this one would not let him sleep at night, this one kept invading his thoughts through the day. News reached him of all that Yeshua was doing, and how His talmidim were now also doing the same.
Around that time, Herod, the regional governor, heard of the fame of Yeshua and said to his attendants, “This must be Yochanan the Immerser. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” Matthew 14:1-2 CJB
And King Herod heard of it, for His name had become well known; and people were saying, “John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why these miraculous powers are at work in Him.”
But others were saying, “He is Elijah.”
And others were saying, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.”
But when Herod heard of it, he kept saying, “John, whom I beheaded, has risen!” Mark 6:14-16 NASB
Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life.
But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he tried to see Him. Luke 9:7-9 NIV
Yochanan’s talmidim came, took the body and buried it; then they went and told Yeshua. On hearing about this, Yeshua left in a boat to be by himself in the wilderness. Matthew 14:12-13a CJB
The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught.
And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves. Mark 6:30-32 NASB
When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida. Luke 9:10 NIV
It was a time of both great joy and sorrow. This had been the apostles’ first ministry trip and they were excited to report back to Yeshua all that they had done and taught. Miracles had taken place on their command, just like they did for Yeshua. They had boldly proclaimed the kingdom of heaven. They had preached repentance even as Yochanan used to preach repentance. The news that he had been so pointlessly executed hung heavily and their hearts were grieved at this horrible injustice and terrible loss. Yet, they could see in their own actions that all Yochanan had told them about Yeshua was true, and they were getting to live his dream. There was so much to think through, so much to process. It was good to withdraw and have time by themselves.
1. HELPS Ministries. The Discovery Bible. [Online] https://thediscoverybible.com/.
2. Commentary, Ellicott’s. Matthew 10:16. Bible Hub. [Online] [Cited: November 20th, 2020.] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/10-16.htm.
3. Commentary, Meyer’s NT. Matthew 10:16. Bible Hub. [Online] [Cited: November 20th, 2020.] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/10-16.htm.
4. Testament, Expositor’s Greek. Matthew 10:16. Bible Hub. [Online] [Cited: November 20th, 2020.] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/10-16.htm.
In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…
*When Jesus returned to Nazareth with His disciples what the Nazarene’s response to His teaching and miracles, and why do you think they reacted like that?
* How do you think the twelve felt when Jesus sent them out, and how do you think the people responded to them as they came to each town?
* Describe the training that Jesus gave them before sending them out, and how this compares with the training people in your nation receive before being sent out to minister to others.
*What directions did Jesus give the twelve when He sent them out and how do these compare with the expectations of missionaries in your nation?
* What message did the apostles preach when Jesus sent them out?
* What was it that enabled the twelve to heal and deliver people?
* Which of the teachings that Jesus gave “Preparations for What Lies Ahead” is most important for people in your congregation now, and why is that?
* What was the significance of John the Baptiser’s death?
Please read Matthew 9:18-26, 11:2-19, Mark 5:21-43 & Luke 8:40-56, 7:11-50
Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying. Luke 8:40-42 NIV
Yeshua crossed in the boat to the other side of the lake, and a great crowd gathered around him. There came to him a synagogue official, Ya’ir (Jairus) by name, who fell at his feet and pleaded desperately with him, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Please! Come and lay your hands on her, so that she will get well and live!” Mark 5:21-23 CJB
While he was talking, an official came in, kneeled down in front of him and said, “My daughter has just died. But if you come and lay your hand on her, she will live.”
Yeshua, with his talmidim, got up and followed him. Matthew 9:18-19 CJB
Yeshua had returned from the Gentile territory of the Decapolis to Capernaum by boat. No storm this time. The new gentile believer left to share his story with all his people. One would expect the religious leaders to have even more accusations against Yeshua after He had chosen to go into Gentile territory, but something had changed. Great personal loss and pain sent one of the synagogue officials running to Him and falling at His feet.
The last time Yeshua had been in the Capernaum synagogue He had healed a man’s withered hand on Shabbat. This had filled the religious leaders, likely including this synagogue official, with such fury that they began plotting against Him (Luke 6:6-11). So He had left the synagogue and began travelling through many towns and villages sharing the good news, only returning to Capernaum for one day of healings, deliverances and teaching before crossing the border by boat to the Decapolis to deliver a gentile from a legion of demons. Now He had returned. All this synagogue official‘s religious pomp and ceremony, all his self-righteous judgment of Yeshua’s healing miracles, had been demolished by the impending tragic loss of his beautiful daughter. Jairus had gone from standing to denounce and expel Yeshua, to falling at his feet pleading with Him to come. In his hour of need Jairus found that he had faith: “if you come and lay your hand on her, she will live.”
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, and she had spent all she had on doctors, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Luke 8: 42b-48 NIV
A woman who had had a haemorrhage for twelve years approached him from behind and touched the tzitzit on his robe. For she said to herself, “If I can only touch his robe, I will be healed.”
Yeshua turned, saw her and said, “Courage, daughter! Your trust has healed you.”
And she was instantly healed. Matthew 9:20-22 CJB
He went with him; and a large crowd followed, pressing all around him. Among them was a woman who had had a haemorrhage for twelve years and had suffered a great deal under many physicians. She had spent her life savings; yet instead of improving, she had grown worse. She had heard about Yeshua, so she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his robe; for she said, “If I touch even his clothes, I will be healed.”
Instantly the haemorrhaging stopped, and she felt in her body that she had been healed from the disease.
At the same time, Yeshua, aware that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
His talmidim responded, “You see the people pressing in on you; and still you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”
But he kept looking around to see who had done it.
The woman, frightened and trembling, because she knew what had happened to her, came and fell down in front of him and told him the whole truth.
“Daughter,” he said to her, “your trust has healed you. Go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Mark 5:24-34 CJB
This woman of faith reached out and touched the “tzitzit on his robe“. ‘Tzitzit’ were fringes that God commanded the Jews to make on the corners of their garments to remind them to meditate on, and obey, all His commandments.
Adonai (The Lord) said to Moshe (Moses), “Speak to the people of Isra’el, instructing them to make, through all their generations, tzitziyot (fringes) on the corners of their garments, and to put with the tzitzit (fringe) on each corner a blue thread. It is to be a tzitzit for you to look at and thereby remember all of Adonai’s mitzvot (commandments) and obey them, so that you won’t go around wherever your own heart and eyes lead you to prostitute yourselves; but it will help you remember and obey all my mitzvot and be holy for your God. I am Adonai your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt in order to be your God. I am Adonai your God.” Numbers 15:38-39 CJB
As we have seen continually throughout the Gospels, Yeshua obeyed all that God had commanded the Jewish people. So He had these tzitzit, fringes with a blue thread in them, on the corners of His garment. Visual reminders of the need to obey all the Torah. Blue representative of God’s kingdom that He had come to proclaim in word and deed. It was this that the “unclean”, unwell, bleeding woman had secretly touched from behind in desperate faith that this last hope of being whole would not disappoint her as every other hope had done.
The halug or kethōneth was an inner garment made of wool or linen. The earliest of these garments were made from two rectangular pieces of cloth sown together at the top with a hole for the head, and sown down each side under the arms. The kethōneth of the wealthier extended to the wrists and ankles. Anyone dressed only in the kethōneth was described as naked (1Samuel 19:24, Isaiah 20:2, 2Kings 6:30, John 21:7)
The simlāh, שִׂמְלָה , was the heavy outer garment or shawl. It consisted of a large rectangular piece of rough, heavy woollen material, crudely sewed together so that the front was unstitched and with two openings left for the arms. It had a tzitzit (fringe) at each corner. During the day it was protection from rain and cold, and at night it served as a blanket, wrapped around the body to keep them warm.
Leather sandals (na’alayim) were worn to protect the feet. Some sandals had wooden soles and leather straps.
The belt (also called a cincture or girdle) was a band of cloth, cord, or leather that could be loosened or tightened. It was worn around the inner and/or outer garment. Its use prevented the flowing robes (often long) from interfering with movement. The biblical expression “to gird up the loins” meant to put on the belt, thus freeing the lower legs to permit work and easy walking. The expression signified that the person was ready for service.
For women, the inner garment was largely identical to that for men. However, the outer garment was longer, with enough border fringe to largely cover the feet (Isaiah 47:2; Jeremiah 13:2). The outer garment was cinched with a belt similar to that used by men, but it was ornamented differently (and usually more elaborately).
The tallit (prayer shawl) is perhaps the most recognizable and universal Jewish ritual object. Originally, the tallit may have appeared as an outer garment bearing the fringes commanded by God. After the Jewish people were exiled from Israel, their style of dress was influenced by their Gentile neighbours, and the tallit became a special garment worn for prayer instead of normal attire.
The moment she touched His tzitzit the bleeding stopped. For the first time in 12 years it stopped. Strength started returning to her body. It had been a daring thing to do, go out in public, reach out to touch the holy One when her illness had her in a perpetual state of ritual uncleanliness. “If a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even. And everything that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean” (Lev. 15:19-20 KJV). So you can understand her fear when Yeshua asked “who touched me?” She knew the condemnation that the pulsating crowd would heap upon her, the unclean one. But there was no hiding from Messiah. He had felt the power of God go out from Him in healing her, and knew she needed to be brought to shalom, brought to the peace of full healing and wholeness emotionally and socially too. When she confessed all to Him, His response brought her shalom, and everyone else just marvelled.
While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house came, saying, “Your daughter has died. Why bother the rabbi any longer?”
Ignoring what they had said, Yeshua told the synagogue official, “Don’t be afraid, just keep trusting.”
He let no one follow him except Kefa (Peter), Ya‘akov (James) and Yochanan (John), Ya‘akov’s brother. Mark 5:35-37 CJB
While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”
Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”
When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. Luke 8:49-51 NIV
The news was devastating. Too late, too late. Dealing with that unclean woman had delayed Yeshua’s walk to his house, and now it was too late, his beautiful daughter was dead. Before Jairus could get too overwhelmed by the news a still, calm voice interrupted his thoughts: “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” Words of promise, words of hope, words of life.
They continued on, but the thronging crowd was dismissed. Even most of the 12 were dismissed. Only Peter, James and John were allowed to follow Yeshua on this assignment. The family did not need to be overwhelmed by curious onlookers at this time.
When Yeshua arrived at the official’s house and saw the flute-players, and the crowd in an uproar, he said, “Everybody out! The girl isn’t dead, she’s only sleeping!”
And they jeered at him. But after the people had been put outside, he entered and took hold of the girl’s hand, and she got up.
News of this spread through all that region. Matthew 9:23-26 CJB
When they came to the synagogue official’s house, he found a great commotion, with people weeping and wailing loudly. On entering, he said to them, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead, she’s just asleep!”
And they jeered at him. But he put them all outside, took the child’s father and mother and those with him, and went in where the child was.
Taking her by the hand, he said to her, “Talita, kumi!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).
At once the girl got up and began walking around; she was twelve years old. Everybody was utterly amazed. He gave them strict orders to say nothing about this to anyone, and told them to give her something to eat. Mark 5:38-43 CJB
When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her.
“Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”
They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead.
But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!”
Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened. Luke 8:51-56 NIV
Still the fourth gospel account, that attributed to the apostle John who was one of the three allowed to go with Yeshua and witness this miracle, remains silent on this year of Yeshua’s ministry following His attendance at the pilgrimage festival of Shavu‘ot (Feast of Weeks / Pentecost). (See http://blog.renewal.asn.au/2020/06/20/healing-at-the-pool-of-bethesda/)
This 12yo girl was likely the first of three people whom Yeshua is recorded as having raised from the dead, the other two were a widow’s only son in the village of Nain and His friend Lazarus. It is likely that there were others whom Yeshua raised, but these are the only three specifically recorded for us in the gospels. Yeshua could have ordered Jairus to go back to all the synagogue officials who were plotting against Him and convince them to cease scheming and to allow Him to teach in their synagogue once more, Yeshua could have ordered Jairus to spread the news to all the synagogues in the region so they would open their pulpits to Him, instead Yeshua ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened, to say nothing about this incredible miracle to anyone, but instead care for their daughter’s needs by giving her something to eat.
Yet, such a miracle would not stay hidden. All those who had gathered in the house to mourn now saw the girl they were mourning was alive. All who had been pressing in on Yeshua when Jairus came desperately to Him saw his daughter alive and well in the following days as she returned to her normal activities with her mother in Capernaum.
The next day Yeshua, accompanied by his talmidim and a large crowd, went to a town called Na‘im. As He approached the town gate, a dead man was being carried out for burial. His mother was a widow, this had been her only son, and a sizeable crowd from the town was with her.
When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her and said to her, “Don’t cry.”
Then He came close and touched the bier, and the pallbearers halted. He said, “Young man, I say to you: get up!”
The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Yeshua gave him to his mother.
They were all filled with awe and gave glory to God, saying, “A great prophet has appeared among us,” and, “God has come to help his people.”
This report about him spread throughout all Y’hudah (Judea) and the surrounding countryside. Luke 7:11-17 CJB
Yeshua did not stay in Capernaum, where He had raised the synagogue official’s daughter, but continued leading His Talmidim to share the Good News in all the villages and towns of the Galilee region. “ After Jesus had finished instructing His twelve disciples, He went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.” (Matthew 11:1) Now they had travelled a full day’s journey south from Capernaum to Nain. All this distance traversed for an unnamed widow. The last resurrection had been for a man of some power and influence in his community. Now the Father led Yeshua on a long journey to an insignificant town, mentioned no where else in scripture, to meet the need of a powerless woman who was considered so unimportant in her community that her name is not even recorded for us. Yet, the plight of this godly woman who had already suffered so much had aroused the sympathies of many in her town and a large crowd accompanied her in this funeral procession.
Nain, in Hebrew נעם , means green pastures, lovely, pleasant, delightful or sweet. This may, indeed, describe the character of the widow, as her loss attracted the sympathies of many from her home town. Nain is approached by a steep ascent, and on either side of the road the rock is full of sepulchral caves. The funeral procession would have been on its way to one of these when Yeshua, His talmidim, and the large crowd following Him from Capernaum, met them coming out the town gate. How perfect God’s timing is.
We may reasonably infer that the miracle that followed was one which, from its circumstances, had specially fixed itself in the memories of the “devout women” of Luke 8:1, and that it was from them that Luke obtained his knowledge of it. The fact that the other gospel accounts did not record this resurrection lends credence to the idea that there could have been other miracles and resurrections not specifically recorded in the gospel accounts – what we receive is a sampling of the miracles Yeshua did, not a full account of them all. This too, concurs with John 21:25 KJV: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.“
Yeshua was moved by compassion. There is no mention of this woman having the faith to believe that her son could or would be raised from the dead. She did not ask Yeshua to raise him, she may not have even taken any notice of this man being followed by the crowds, her eyes were filled with tears as she focused on her dead son, on her loss of everything. Before she even had time to comprehend what was happening, Yeshua had spoken the word and her son was alive and back in her arms once more. Her grief was overtaken by joy. God responds to our faith, but He is not limited by it. He has a bigger agenda that will be fulfilled.
Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist) Questions
News of all that Yeshua had been doing travelled far and wide throughout Galilee and Judea. It travelled all the way down to the Fortress of Machaerus where Yochanan the Immerser had been imprisoned by Herod Antipas. Yochanan had been kept in a dark, damp, rat infested cell below Herod’s lavish palace for about 10 months now. Something about Yochanan’s courage and purity attracted Herod, who would eagerly listen to him but kept refusing to repent (Mark 6:20). Ten months is a long time in such horrid conditions with no hope of release.
Meanwhile, Yochanan the Immerser, who had been put in prison, heard what the Messiah had been doing; so he sent a message to him through his talmidim, asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for someone else?”
Yeshua answered, “Go and tell Yochanan what you are hearing and seeing — the blind are seeing again, the lame are walking, people with tzara’at are being cleansed, the deaf are hearing, the dead are being raised, the Good News is being told to the poor — and how blessed is anyone not offended by me!” Matthew 11:2-6 CJB
Yochanan’s talmidim informed him of all these things. Then Yochanan called two of his talmidim and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are You the one who is to come? Or should we look for someone else?”
When the men came to Him, they said, “Yochanan the Immerser has sent us to You to ask, ‘Are You the One who is to come? Or should we keep looking — for someone else?’”
Yochanan (John the Baptist) had undertaken the ministry of immersing (baptising) the Jewish people in water so that the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world could be revealed to Israel (John 1:29-31). When G-d had sent Yochanan to baptise with water He had instructed: “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” Yochanan had seen the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Yeshua. Yochanan had testified that Yeshua was God’s Chosen One, the Son of God, who would baptise with the Holy Spirit. Now, in this dark place of trial and torment, he started questioning if he had really heard God right. Had he really pointed Israel to the true Messiah, or had he been the failure that he was now feeling like? The reports of Yeshua’s miracles, even raising the dead, seemed to confirm his hopes, but still the dark, depressive clouds of doubt weighed heavily upon Yochanan. He needed reassurance, he needed to know for sure, so he sent two of his most trusted talmidim to ask Yeshua the question his heart needed settled.
Right then He was healing many people of diseases, pains and evil spirits, and giving sight to many who were blind. So He answered them by saying, “Go, tell Yochanan what you have been seeing and hearing: the blind are seeing again, the lame are walking, people with tzara‘at are being cleansed, the deaf are hearing, the dead are being raised, the Good News is being told to the poor — and how blessed is anyone not offended by Me!” Luke 7:18-23 CJB
It was a long walk from the Fortress of Machaerus up to Galilee where Yeshua continued ministering from town to town. It would have taken several days for Yochanan’s talmidim to travel up to the Galilee region, and then find where Yeshua was now ministering. Here, again, we find more evidence that Yeshua did a lot more miracles than the ones detailed for us in the gospels. None of the many miracles Yochanan’s talmidim witnessed that day are detailed for us.
“Faith is fashioned in the workshop of doubt” (Allan R. Bevere). Yochanan’s doubt did not disqualify him. Yeshua answered with the evidence of His ministry – the blind are seeing again, the lame are walking, people with tzara‘at are being cleansed, the deaf are hearing, the dead are being raised, the Good News is being told to the poor. Then He encouraged Yochanan, “And blessed (happy—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favour and salvation, apart from outward conditions—and to be envied) is he who takes no offense in Me and who is not hurt or resentful or annoyed or repelled or made to stumble [whatever may occur].” (Luke 7:23 AMPC) Yochanan’s circumstances were dire, but his life was not, his life was fulfilled, his life was blessed in God’s favour and salvation, regardless of the dungeon of his imprisonment, as long as he kept his heart attitude right. It is easy to get offended at God when our circumstances are difficult and painful, it is easy to allow doubt to overcome us when our prayers don’t seem to be answered, yet even when God is not rescuing us from our painful trial we can still see the evidence of His goodness and grace in the works of His hand and what He is doing for others.
The Hebrew word צרעת tzara‘at is translated into the Greek λέπος lepros, which in English is leper. Leprosy, medical name ‘Hansen’s disease’, was common in the ancient world, and still is today in some nations. However, the skin disease that the Greeks and Romans called ‘leprae’ is NOT the same disease that appears in Leviticus 13-14. These two chapters of the Book of Leviticus are devoted to the regulations for tzara’at – any defiling skin disease, for a sore, for defiling moulds in fabric or in a house, and for a swelling, a rash or a shiny spot, “to determine when something is clean or unclean.” (Leviticus 14:54-57).
Leviticus 13:1. “The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “When anyone has a swelling or a rash or a bright spot on his skin that may become tzara’at, he must be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons who is a priest. The priest is to examine the sore on his skin, and if the hair in the sore has turned white and the sore appears to be more than skin deep, it is tzara’at. When the priest examines him, he shall pronounce him ceremonially unclean.”
The symptoms of tzara’at listed above are very different to those of leprosy. Leprosy symptoms are: discoloured patches of skin, usually flat, that may be numb and look faded (lighter than the skin around); growths (nodules) on the skin.; thick, stiff or dry skin; painless ulcers on the soles of feet; painless swelling or lumps on the face or earlobes; and loss of eyebrows or eyelashes.
The ancient Rabbis argued that tzara’at referred not to a bodily disease but to a physical manifestation of a spiritual and social malaise, a spiritual punishment designed to show a malefactor that they must mend their ways. The tzara’at white skin was a sign of sin, visible to all and confirmed by the priest’s examination. The Talmud states that it is an affliction meted out directly from God as a result of sin, particularly anti-social sins such as murder, lying for selfish ends, sexual immorality, false oaths, pride, and especially lashon hara (slander). The social issue underlying tzara’at is implied by its very name. A person who has tzara’at is called a מצורע metzora. According to rabbinic tradition, this word is a contraction of the Hebrew words motzi and ra, which loosely means “one who spreads slander”, or an acronym for מוציא שם רע ‘MoTZi Shem RA’ – which means in English ‘to muddy someone’s name’.
The first person mentioned in the Torah as being afflicted with tzara’at was Miriam, Numbers 12:9-13. It was her punishment from God for committing the sin of lashon hara, or evil tongue, speaking against her brother Moshe (Moses). Thus, the Rabbis suggest, a person becomes “unclean”, afflicted with tzara’at, as a consequence of spreading slander. In Matthew 15:18-20, we find Yeshua in agreement: “The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’.” Leviticus 19:16 teaches: “Do not go about as a talebearer among your people.” James 4:11 repeats this commandment: “Speak not evil one of another.” Proverbs 16:27-28: “An ungodly man digs up evil, and in his lips is a scorching fire. A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” Matthew 12:35-36: “I say unto you, For every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” 2 Cor 12:20 lists the sins of “quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.” Proverbs 6:16-19: “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” How we speak about others is not a small, insignificant thing – lashon hara, in all its forms, is detestable to Him.
The prescribed treatment for tzara’at in Leviticus was social exclusion – the person was to live outside the camp, cloak themselves up to their lips, and cry out, “Unclean, unclean!” Even after Moshe pleaded with God to heal his sister, Miriam still had to remain outside the camp for seven days before she could re-join her community healed. This social exclusion was aimed at bringing repentance, and thus healing.
Another midrash from the Talmud suggests that tzara’at is a punishment for selfishness. 1 Kings 7:3-20 is thus viewed as showing four men afflicted with tzara’at due to previous acts of selfishness, punished by being isolated from their community (put outside the city) which motivates them to cease acting selfishly and begin to put the needs of the community ahead of their own. As a result of their “rehabilitation” the four men are redeemed, the enemy is scattered and the city of Samaria is saved from attack.
Once a person was healed of their tzara’at they had to undergo detailed ceremonial cleansing rites, including ritual bathing, a sin offering, a burnt offering and a grain offering, over eight days with the priest making atonement for them before the Lord. Only then could they return to their home and once again be accepted as part of the community of Israel (Leviticus 14:1-32).
One of the aspects of Yeshua’s ministry was that people with tzara‘at were being cleansed.
Yeshua honoured Yochanan
Yeshua taught His talmidim to honour. He spoke truth and rebuked when rebuke was needed, but He also honoured where honour was due. When Yeshua spoke about Yochanan to the crowd He did not rebuke or make example of Yochanan’s doubting, but rather declared: “among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!”
As these disciples of John were going away, Jesus began speaking to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: ‘Behold, I am sending My messenger ahead of You, Who will prepare Your way before You.’ Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!
Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has been treated violently, and violent men take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. The one who has ears to hear, let him hear. Matthew 11:7-15 NASB
When the messengers from Yochanan had gone, Yeshua began speaking to the crowds about Yochanan: “What did you go out into the desert to see? Reeds swaying in the breeze? No? then what did you go out to see? Someone who was well dressed? But people who dress beautifully and live in luxury are found in kings’ palaces. No, so what did you go out to see? A prophet! Yes, and I tell you he’s much more than a prophet. This is the one about whom the Tanakh says,
‘See, I am sending out my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.’
I tell you that among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than Yochanan the Immerser! Luke 7:24-28a CJB
Yeshua honoured Yochanan’s rugged strength and fortitude. He honoured Yochanan’s prophetic call. He honoured Yochanan’s unique role in fulfilling scripture and preparing the way for Him.
Like commendations of faithfulness to God could not be said for most of the religious leaders of His day. Nor, even for the populace of the towns where He had performed most of His miracles. Yeshua’s miraculous healings and deliverances were not a sign of God’s favour on the people, but a sign of their need to repent, even as Yochanan had preached to them: “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Most people enjoyed the spectacle of the miracles but failed to heed their message. Yet, still the religious leaders thought themselves qualified to judge what was from God or not, and in their judgment they rejected both God’s messenger, Yochanan, and the One he had pointed them to, the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, Yeshua.
“Yet the one who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he!”
All the people who heard him, even the tax-collectors, by undergoing Yochanan’s immersion acknowledged that God was right; but the P’rushim (Pharisees) and the Torah-teachers, by not letting themselves be immersed (baptised) by him, nullified for themselves God’s plan.
“Therefore,” said the Lord, “how can I describe the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces, calling to one another, ‘We made happy music, but you wouldn’t dance! We made sad music, but you wouldn’t cry!’ For Yochanan has come not eating bread and not drinking wine; and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking; and you say, ‘Aha! A glutton and a drunkard! A friend of tax-collectors and sinners!’ Well, the proof of wisdom is in all the kinds of people it produces.” Luke 7:28b-35 CJB
“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a song of mourning, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a heavy drinker, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ And yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
Then He began to reprimand the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that occurred in you had occurred in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades! For if the miracles that occurred in you had occurred in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment, than for you.” Matthew 11:16-24 NASB
It was coming to the close of the first year of Yeshua’s ministry. His talmidim had witnessed so much in this year, from His first miracle of wine at the wedding to cleansing the temple, to a whole Samaritan city repenting, to multitudes of healings and deliverances and even the dead being raised. The kingdom of heaven was powerful, but it was not an earthly power of soldiers and swords. They had seen religious leaders rebuked and sinners accepted, the proud brought low and the lowly exalted. The kingdom of heaven was an upside down kingdom and operated on principals which were opposite to those of worldly kingdoms. Twelve of Yeshua’s talmidim had been chosen as a foundation for the establishment of this kingdom on earth, soon they would be sent out to do what they had been witnessing Yeshua do. But, first, they needed one more lesson in what this was all about – saving sinners. The setting for that lesson was an unexpected place – the house of a Pharisee.
On the way Yeshua taught the people something so liberating that one of the women who was renown in this town for her sinfulness, one who had given up on ever being free or clean or acceptable, one who had suffered so much abuse, grasped hold of those words and would not let them go. The more she meditated on these words the more she just had to come to Him.
It was at that time that Yeshua said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You concealed these things from the sophisticated and educated and revealed them to ordinary folks. Yes, Father, I thank You that it pleased You to do this.”
“My Father has handed over everything to me. Indeed, no one fully knows the Son except the Father, and no one fully knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him.
“Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:25-30 CJB
This woman was not sophisticated or educated. She was ordinary, very ordinary. She was struggling and burdened, weighed down with burdens too heavy to carry. Life was hard and painful. She felt trapped and exhausted with life. Yeshua’s words pierced through all her defences with an invitation to receive what she thought she could never have, rest for her troubled soul. Everything within her cried out with the need to take His yoke upon her, to learn from Him, to find rest.
One of the P’rushim invited Yeshua to eat with him, and he went into the home of the Parush and took his place at the table.
Yeshua came to the home of this well-respected, fine religious man. He was an admired member of the community, a man who no doubt contributed to the Temple, dressed appropriately, and was considered a model of what Judaism should be. This pillar of the community had just done, he thought, Yeshua the tremendous favour of inviting him to dine. In so doing Simon also provided his other, more distinguished, guests the opportunity to examine this radical itinerant preacher more closely. Simon’s invitation was not motivated by the honoured Jewish practice of hospitality, as can be seen by how he treated Yeshua on His arrival.
A woman who lived in that town, a sinner, who was aware that he was eating in the home of the Parush, brought an alabaster box of very expensive perfume, stood behind Yeshua at his feet and wept until her tears began to wet his feet. Then she wiped his feet with her own hair, kissed his feet and poured the perfume on them.
Again it is Luke who shares with us this incident focused on a woman. She dared come into this house where she knew she would not be welcome. She was not refined. No one would consider her a fine religious woman. She risked open rejection, denouncement and rough expulsion. This woman was doing what all the good people of the cities where Yeshua had done most of His miracles failed to do – repenting. Her attitude in stark contrast to that of the multitudes. Her attitude in stark contrast to that of the Pharisees sitting at Simon’s table who felt it their job to stand in judgment over the Son of God. She came, stood humbly behind Him, and wept. The tears kept flowing. She was in desperate need of the rest for her soul that Yeshua had been teaching about. Tears ran down her cheeks and onto His feet below. She knelt down behind Him, wiped His feet with her hair to dry them, kissed these precious feet and lavished her expensive perfume on them. The scent filled the room.
When the Parush (Pharisee) who had invited Him saw what was going on, he said to himself, “If this man were really a prophet, He would have known who is touching Him and what sort of woman she is, that she is a sinner.”
Simon was inwardly outraged. Surely this was all the proof they needed that Yeshua was indeed no prophet from God. Fraud, obviously a fraud. If this man had any discernment He would know what a vile sinner that woman was and show her the same distain the rest of them were heaping upon her. Yeshua had discernment, a much higher level of discernment than any of the Pharisees there. He discerned repentance, He discerned love, He discerned faith. These are what He came for.
Yeshua answered, “Shim‘on, I have something to say to you.”
“Say it, Rabbi,” he replied.
“A certain creditor had two debtors; the one owed ten times as much as the other. When they were unable to pay him back, he cancelled both their debts. Now which of them will love him more?”
Shim‘on answered, “I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the larger debt.”
“Your judgment is right,” Yeshua said to him.
Then, turning to the woman, he said to Shim‘on, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house — you didn’t give me water for my feet, but this woman has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair! You didn’t give me a kiss; but from the time I arrived, this woman has not stopped kissing my feet! You didn’t put oil on my head, but this woman poured perfume on my feet! Because of this, I tell you that her sins — which are many! — have been forgiven, because she loved much. But someone who has been forgiven only a little loves only a little.”
Simon may have referred to Yeshua as “rabbi” out of some feigned respect, but his words were shallow. He had not offered the basics of hospitality to this invited guest. In ancient Israel, hospitality was not merely a question of good manners, but a moral imperative and highly esteemed virtue.
Among the ethical teachings of the Rabbis (the Oral Torah which the Pharisees followed fastidiously), the duties of hospitality occupy a very prominent position. Some regard hospitality more highly than the reception given to the Shekinah (Divine Presence); others make it superior to visiting the house of study; others, again, consider it as one of the six meritorious deeds whose reward is like a tree, the fruit of which man enjoys in this world, while the trunk remains for his enjoyment in the world to come (Shab. 127a). Special emphasis was laid upon the hospitality due to a scholar, so that it was said that one who shows hospitality to a Torah student is regarded as if he had offered the daily sacrifice (Ber. 10b, 63b, Ḳid. 76b; Gen. R. lviii. 12).
The traveller was expected to accept a host’s invitation to dine. To refuse such hospitality was an insult that only an enemy would inflict. When the guest arrived the host and guest would bow to greet each other. Then the host placed their right hand on their guest’s left shoulder and kissed his right cheek, and then reversing the action, placed their left hand on the guest’s right shoulder, and kissed his left cheek. Upon entering the house the guest would take off their sandals and be offered water for washing his feet. A servant would assist the guest by pouring the water upon his feet over a copper basin, rubbing the feet with his hands, and wiping them with a napkin. The custom of anointing the head of guests with oil is an ancient one, olive oil was often used, sometimes mixed with fragrant spices. Any lack of this etiquette was considered a profound insult that suggested hostility towards the guest.
Yeshua turned the tables on Shim‘on. According to the Pharisees’ own Oral Torah, providing the correct hospitality to a guest was a moral imperative, a divine law of utmost importance. This woman, whom Shim‘on had denounced as sinful, had fulfilled that law where he had broken it. Shim‘on too was a sinner, a law-breaker. His actions at this meal had exposed him. The woman’s sins may have been far more numerous than Shim‘on‘s, but he, too, was in need of forgiveness. The woman’s fulfilment of the laws of hospitality did not negate her numerous sins, but her coming to Yeshua in repentance put her in the position to receive that which would negate them – God’s forgiveness.
Then he said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.”
At this, those eating with him began saying among themselves, “Who is this fellow that presumes to forgive sins?”
But he said to the woman, “Your trust has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:36-50 CJB
The woman received her forgiveness, was saved and filled with the peace of God. Shim‘on and his fellow Pharisees were too busy judging Yeshua for declaring such forgiveness of sins to be able to receive it for themselves. They remained guilty lawbreakers.
1. HELPS Ministries. The Discovery Bible. [Online] https://thediscoverybible.com/.
2. Readers, Ellicott’s Commentary for English. Luke 7:11. Bible Hub. [Online] [Cited: November 14th, 2020.] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/7-11.htm.
3. Bengel, Johann. Luke 7:11. Bible Hub. [Online] 1759. [Cited: November 2020, 14.] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/7-11.htm.
4. Bevere, Allan R. Is Jesus the One? Ministry Matters. [Online] December 8th, 2011. https://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/2131/is-jesus-the-one.
5. Calahan, John. John the Baptist Has Doubts About Christ. Never Thirsty. [Online] [Cited: November 14th, 2020.] https://www.neverthirsty.org/bible-studies/life-of-christ-ministry-in-galilee-early-a-d-32/john-the-baptist-has-doubts-about-christ/.
6. Ariel. WHAT IS TZARA’AT? Hebrewversity. [Online] [Cited: November 14th, 2020.] https://www.hebrewversity.com/what-is-tzaraat/.
7. Fox, Tamar. Tzaraat–A Biblical Affliction. My Jewish Learning. [Online] [Cited: November 14th, 2020.] https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/tzaraat-a-biblical-affliction/.
8. Blank, Glenn David. The Hidden Meaning of Tzara’at (skin disease). Lehigh University. [Online] April 8th, 2000. https://www.lehigh.edu/~gdb0/simcha/tzaraat.htm.
9. Cohen, Rabbi Howard. Tzara’at and Selfishness. Reconstructing Judaism. [Online] [Cited: November 14th, 2020.] https://www.reconstructingjudaism.org/dvar-torah/tzaraat-and-selfishness.
10. Rosenfeld, Rabbi Dovid. Tzara’at versus Leprosy. Aish. [Online] [Cited: November 14th, 2020.] https://www.aish.com/atr/Tzaraat-versus-Leprosy.html.
11. Bratcher, Dennis. Travelers and Strangers: Hospitality in the Biblical World. The Voice – Biblical and Theological Resources. [Online] 2018. http://www.crivoice.org/travelers.html.
12. History, Bible. Hospitality. Bible History Maps, Images, Archaeology. [Online] [Cited: November 15th, 2020.] https://www.bible-history.com/links.php?cat=39&sub=407&cat_name=Manners+%26+Customs&subcat_name=Hospitality
13. Wight, Fred H. The Sa cred duty of Hospitality. Ancient Hebrew Research Centre. [Online] [Cited: November 15th, 2020.] https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/manners/the-sacred-duty-of-hospitality.htm.
In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…
* What do we learn from Jairus coming to Jesus and pleading with Him to come and heal his daughter?
* What do we learn from Jesus’ response to Jairus? How does this apply to your ministry?
* Even the Jew’s clothing was distinctive to remind them to focus on God and obey Him. Is there clothing in your culture that has special significance?
* What were the differences between men’s and women’s clothing in Jesus’ time? What are the differences in your culture? Compare the clothing in your culture to that in Jesus’ culture.
* What do we learn from the woman with the issue of blood?
* Why do you think Jesus only allowed Jairus, his wife, Peter, James and John to go with Him to witness the girl’s resurrection?
* Why do you think Jesus gave the girl’s parents “strict orders to say nothing about this to anyone, and told them to give her something to eat“?
* What do we learn from the resurrection of the widow’s son?
* Why do you think John the Baptist started having doubts about whether Jesus was the One he had been send to prepare the way for?
* How did Jesus respond to John’s doubts, and how does He respond to our doubts?
* What do we learn from tzara’at and how is it important in our Christian walk?
* Did everyone that Jesus healed or who saw His miracles repent and get saved? How does this fit with the parable Jesus told about the four different types of ground that seed falls on?
* Compare the Jewish culture of hospitality with hospitality in your culture.
* What do we learn from Jesus’ meal at Simon the Pharisee’s house and how would this help prepare the apostles to be sent out with the Gospel?
* What does it mean to find rest for our soul?
Please read Matthew 8:18-34, Mark 4:35-5:20 & Luke 8:22-39
Deep in the Jordan Great Rift Valley, a valley caused by the separation of the African and Arabian Plates, and surrounded by the hills of northern Israel, the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret – Hebrew: ים כנרת) is the lowest freshwater lake on earth at 209 meters (nearly 700 feet) below sea level. In places it plunges to depths of 60m. It is a relatively small lake, approximately 53 km (33 mi) in circumference, about 21 km (13 mi) long from north to south, and 13 km (8.1 mi) wide at its widest point, with a surface area of of 170 km². In comparison, Lake Victoria (Victoria Nyanza) in East Africa is 1,135 meters above sea level, 337 km long and 240 km wide, with a surface area of 68,800 km².
From any point on the Sea of Galilee’s rocky shore, all other locations along the shoreline are visible. Much of the Sea’s beauty comes from being nestled among the hills; green in the spring, brown during the dry season, which contrast with the deep blue of the water. Around the sea, the hills of Galilee reach nearly 1,400 feet (425m) above sea level, and the mountains of the Golan Heights (called the Decapolis in Jesus’ time) reach more than 2,500 feet (760m). These heights are a source of cool, dry air. The slopes of the Golan Heights on the east and Mount Arbel on the west drop sharply down to the Sea. The Sea’s location, so far below much of the country surrounding it, makes it subject to sudden and violent storms as the wind comes over the eastern mountains and drops suddenly onto the Sea. The large difference in height between surrounding land and the Sea causes large temperature and pressure changes. This results in strong winds stirring up the Sea, funnelling through the hills. Storms are especially likely when an east wind blows cool air over the warm air that covers the Sea. The cold air (being heavier) surges down as the warm air rises. This sudden change can produce surprisingly furious storms in a short time. Many of the 12, being fishermen, were used to such storms – but there was a storm to come that would have even them quaking in fear.
When Yeshua saw the crowd around Him, He gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Matthew 8:18 CJB
On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Mark 4:35 NKJV
One day Yeshua got into a boat with his talmidim and said to them, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” Luke 8:22 CJB
Mark lets us know this happened right at the end of the same day. “Evening”, from the Greek γίνομαι gínomai = to emerge, to become (come into being), transition from one point to another, signifies a change of condition, state or place; it often describes what is to be created, come into being, happen, or what is about to be produced. Evening was the beginning of a new day. The new day was about to be produced. This was right on the transition from one day to the next. It had been a very long day, with the steady flow of people needing miracles from when Yeshua had arrived back in Capernaum the previous evening, the teaching of parables to the gathered multitude from a boat just off shore, the explanations to His talmidim back in the house, and now down to the sea shore again.
Still, the people kept crowding around Him, eager to learn from Him, to see Him do more miracles and to receive their healing. Yeshua was not drawn to the crowds like they were drawn to Him. He only did what He saw His Father doing. Obeying the Father’s voice was more important that “building His ministry”. The Father had His eye on a despised Gentile across the other side of the Sea of Galilee, a man who had been so violently driven by the enemy that even his own family and community had cut off from him. So Yeshua climbed back into a boat and gave the command to cross over to the other side of the lake.
Still the people kept calling out to Him. These Jews who had come from all around wanted Him to stay with them and keep feeding their thirsty souls.
Then a scribe (Torah-teacher) came and said to Him, “Teacher (Rabbi), I will follow You wherever You go.”
Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Matthew 8:19-20 NASB
As they were traveling on the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Yeshua answered him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds flying about have nests, but the Son of Man has no home of his own.”
Luke 9:57-58 CJB
Was it exhaustion speaking? An overwhelming tiredness from constantly giving out and having no time to rest? Following Yeshua would not be an easy path. It was not the way to gain religious prestige nor earthly power or wealth. His was not the comfortable path. Was this Torah-teacher ready for the discomfort of such a self-sacrificing life?
Another of the talmidim said to him, “Sir, first let me go and bury my father.”
But Yeshua replied, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Matthew 8:21-22 CJB
To another he said, “Follow me!”
But the man replied, “Sir, first let me go away and bury my father.”
Yeshua said, “Let the dead bury their own dead; you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God!” Luke 9:59-60 CJB
Again we see the gospel tradition of not naming any of the male talmidim (disciples) except for the 12 foundational apostles. Those 12 had already been called and chosen for their unique role, but the call to discipleship, the call to “follow Me” kept being extended to others.
There are differing opinions among Bible commentators as to who this talmid was and whether his father was at this time still alive or had just that day died, or was awaiting his secondary burial a year after his death.
The traditional Jewish preference for prompt burial continued throughout the first century. In Mark 5:38, funeral preparations for Jairus’s daughter begin right away, and in John 11 Lazarus is buried on his day of death. According to Mishnah Sanhedrin 6.6, a corpse should not be kept unburied overnight except on rare occasions. The Jewish burial rite consisted of two parts – the primary burial on the day of death, and a secondary burial a year later.
As soon as death was certain, the deceased’s eyes were closed and the corpse was washed. Perfumes or ointments were used for this washing. The body was then wrapped and bound in strips of cloth. According to the third-century C.E. Jewish tractate Semahot, men could only prepare the corpse of a man, but women could prepare both men and women. John 11 has such preparations in view: Lazarus’s “hands and feet [were] bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth” (John 11:44). Thus prepared, male relatives and friends would carry the corpse in a procession toward the place of interment, accompanied by friends, neighbours, and relatives. Jewish funeral processions made their way from the family home to the family tomb that day, for the primary burial. Members of the immediate family took the corpse into the tomb while friends and relatives waited outside. The corpse would be brought into an outer room and laid on the floor, or in special slots in the wall. The ceremony of primary burial seems to have often included spoken words in appreciation for the dead and in sympathy for the bereaved.
After primary burial, the procession returned to the family home, where expressions of condolence continued. Rituals of death continued for several days thereafter. Literary sources, including John 11, agree that for the first seven days, the immediate family remained at home in mourning. If mourners left the house during this time, it was presumed that they would go to the tomb. After seven days, most aspects of ordinary life resumed.
The death of a parent was an exception: children mourned their parents for a full year, until the time of secondary burial.
The secondary burial would take place about a year after the primary burial. At that time, in a private ceremony, family members returned to the tomb, took the bones of the deceased from their resting place on a shelf or a niche, and placed them in another niche, pit, or ossuary, adding them to a pile of bones left by previous generations in an inner sanctum. The one thing expressed most clearly by Israelite burial practices is the common human desire to maintain some contact with the community even after death, through burial in one’s native land at least, and if possible with one’s ancestors. Jacob’s request, “bury me with my fathers,” (Gen. 49:29), was the wish of every ancient Israelite. This practice of family burial, was common enough to give rise to the Hebrew expressions “to sleep with one’s fathers” (e.g., I Kings 11:23) and “to be gathered to one’s kin” (Gen. 25:8; et al.) as synonyms for “to die.”
Regardless of the individual circumstances of the talmid who responded: “first let me go and bury my father”, Yeshua’s reply has echoed true down through to ages to so many of His followers in many different circumstances: “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
The Wind & Waves Obey
He boarded the boat, and his talmidim followed. Then, without warning, a furious storm arose on the lake, so that waves were sweeping over the boat. But Yeshua was sleeping. Matthew 8:23-24 CJB
So, leaving the crowd behind, they took him just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. A furious windstorm arose, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was close to being swamped. But he was in the stern on a cushion, asleep. Mark 4:36-38a CJB
And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep.
Luke 8:22b-23a NKJV
Yeshua had spoken the Father’s word: “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake” then, confident in the Father’s purposes and exhausted from all the ministry, He fell asleep in the boat. τὸ προσκεφάλαιον – “the pillow” was a part of the ship; no soft luxurious pillow but the leathern cushion of the steersman; the low bench at the stern on which the steersman sometimes sits, and the captain sometimes rests his head to sleep. None of the being tossed around in the boat, nor the water splashing over the sides and drenching Him could arouse Yeshua from this sleep of exhaustion.
We know that Andrew, Peter, James and John had all grown up on the Sea, being trained by their fathers’ as fishermen. Thomas, Nathaniel and Philip may have also worked as fishermen, for they were all together and fishing when Yeshua appeared to them in John 21:2-8, following His resurrection. This boat was being manned by an experienced crew who had plenty of practice handling a boat in stormy seas, yet something about this storm had even them worried and fearing for their lives.
So they came and roused him, saying, “Sir! Help! We’re about to die!”
Matthew 8:25 CJB
They woke him and said to him, “Rabbi, doesn’t it matter to you that we’re about to be killed?” Mark 4:38b CJB
And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Luke 8:23-24 NKJV
In the midst of their fear and panic they knew of only one place to turn for help. All their efforts were failing. All their strength, experience and ability were proving insufficient to save them. Each of us comes to this point when we realise our absolute need of what only He can do.
They knew Yeshua was their only hope, yet in their fear they doubted His love and care for them: “Rabbi, doesn’t it matter to you that we’re about to be killed?” They doubted God’s plan for them: “we are perishing!” Despite their doubts, they turned to Him. Despite their doubts they woke Yeshua and cried out for Him to help them. Despite their doubts, He arose and did what they could not believe. His nature and will for our lives is not confined to what we can believe for – even crying out to Him in our doubts is sufficient, because He is sufficient.
He said to them, “Why are you afraid? So little trust you have!”
Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and there was a dead calm.
The men were astounded. They asked, “What kind of man is this, that even the winds and sea obey him?” Matthew 8:26-27 CJB
And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.
And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” Mark 4:39-41 NASB
Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm.
But He said to them, “Where is your faith?”
And they were afraid, and marvelled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”
Luke 8:24-25 NKJV
Matthew gives us Yeshua’s first response, and it is to His talmidim: “Why are you afraid? So little trust you have!” Theirs was not a false fear, a phobia of something conjured by their imagination – they were facing a very real and dangerous situation, a boat that is filled with water does not stay afloat and this violent tempest was tossing them around and filling their boat faster than they could empty it. We can likewise face very real and dangerous situations – famine, flood, drought, war, disease, the children are crying because they have no food, our loved one is dying and we have no money for treatment, our house has been washed away and we are left with nothing, enemies are closing in and we can see no way of escape, the boat is filling with water and we are a long way from land. Like the 12, we can doubt God’s care and provision for us in the mist of situations when we feel that we are perishing. We call out to Jesus, try to arouse Him, but we don’t really believe He will do anything to save us because He hasn’t done anything yet and our situation has just kept getting worse. Then He speaks, and His first words are not to our situation but to us: “Why are you afraid? So little trust you have!”
Mark gives us Messiah’s words of rebuke to the wind and waves: σιώπα = “hush! be silent!” and πεφίμωσο = “be muzzled!” be put to silence and made still. Yeshua rebuked the wind and the waves as though they were a raging monster, a force sent to hinder the Father’s will. The Greek perfect tense implies that before the word was uttered, the thing was done by the power of his will preceding the word. The wind ἐκόπασεν = grew weary, died down and stopped. The Sea sank to rest as if exhausted by its own beating. It changed from a state of dangerous turmoil to one of tremendous and immediate calm.
“Where is your faith?” A question for each one of us. Is our faith in our own ability? Is our faith in our faith? Is our faith in the boat? Is our faith in what we think we know? Is our faith in our circumstances? Is our faith in what we can see and taste and touch? Is our faith in the One who rules over all?
The talmidim had never seen anything like this before. Even though they’d memorised the stories of Moses and the Red Sea and the pillar of fire by night and pillar of cloud by day, they had never even imagined anything like this, that a man would command the wind and waves and they would obey Him. A whole new revelation began to dawn on them as to Who this was that they were following.
When Yeshua arrived at the other side of the lake, in the Gadarenes’ territory, there came out of the burial caves two men controlled by demons, so violent that no one dared travel on that road.
They screamed, “What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
Now some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged him, “If you are going to drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”
“All right, go!” he told them.
So they came out and went into the pigs, whereupon the entire herd rushed down the hillside into the lake and drowned. The swineherds fled, went off to the town and told the whole story, including what had happened to the demonized men.
At this, the whole town came out to meet Yeshua. When they saw him, they begged him to leave their district. Matthew 8:28-34 CJB
They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones.
Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; and shouting with a loud voice, he said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!”
For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”
And He was asking him, “What is your name?”
And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country.
Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain. The demons implored Him, saying, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.”
Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea.
Their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and in the country. And the people came to see what it was that had happened.
They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the “legion”; and they became frightened. Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine. And they began to implore Him to leave their region.
As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him. And He did not let him, but He said to him, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”
And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed. Mark 5:1-20 NASB
Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!”
For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.
Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?”
And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.
Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned.
When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed.
Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned.
Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.”
And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:26-39 NKJV
They left Capernaum and, after Yeshua had demonstrated His power as the Son of God over the elements by stilling the wind and waves, arrived at the other side of the lake, in the Gadarenes’ territory (Matthew); the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes (Mark); the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee (Luke).
The closest city of any significance was Gadara, hence Matthew and Luke describe the place of this encounter as in χώρα (chóra = the space lying between two places or limits/the region/country/territory) of the Gadarenes. Gadara lay 8km (5 miles) southeast of the shoreline, its territory certainly reached the Sea of Galilee and would have included port towns, for Josephus mentions the fact and its coins show a ship. Gadara was a centre of Greek culture, containing temples to idols, theatres, a hippodrome, an aqueduct, etc., and produced a string of poets, satirists and philosophers.
Mark’s description of the country of the Gerasenes could be the use of a Semitic designation, “land of the foreigners” (Heb gerûšîm; Gk Gerasenoi), as the name for an entire region, or it could refer to the land around a village on the eastern shore that some have identified as Gergesa. On the south of this village there is a cliff within forty meters of the shore and about 3km from there are cavern tombs. If this was the place of the encounter, as some early church father’s believed, then Hippos could have been the city that the herdsmen ran to.
We don’t have enough information to be confident of the exact location of their landing, but what we do know is that it was an area with a steep bank on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, in the Decapolis – Gentile territory of the ten independent cities to the east of the Sea of Galilee. We saw Yeshua go into Samaria to preach to the Samaritans at the beginning of His ministry, now He had crossed the boundary into Gentile territory to minister. Such a move would have horrified the Jewish religious leaders back in Galilee or Jerusalem. It may have been trepidation about doing something that they had always been taught was ungodly (going into Gentile territory) that had aroused the fears of the talmidim when the storm arose, thinking God had sent it to change their direction as He had to Jonah headed to Tarshish on a boat. Maybe they had not been trying to wake Yeshua to still the storm but in the hope that He would be convinced by the danger it posed to change direction and command they return back to the shore they had come from. Could this be where the charge of “you don’t care about us” came from, the belief that what was needed for their safety was a change in direction and Yeshua was not giving that command. But the storm was not heralding God’s displeasure, it was just hindering His will, until the Son of God arose and rebuked it so the Father’s purposes could be fulfilled.
What Yeshua met upon disembarking from the boat would have confirmed all the prejudices His talmidim had grown up with against Gentiles. This demon-possessed man was unclean in every sense of the word. Matthew, who was in the boat with Yeshua, records there actually being two demon possessed men. It appears that the fruit of one’s deliverance was much more significant than the other, so it is that one’s story which Mark and Luke share with us. Matthew describes them as: “so violent that no one dared travel on that road”. This major trading route, along the east coast of the Sea, was impassable because of the demonically controlled violence of these men. Mark and Luke describe the one who was going to be transformed as wearing no “himation” = outer garment, robe or cloak – often made of wool and also used as a blanket to keep warm at night – and as living in the tombs instead of a home. The people tried to keep him restrained under guard but he kept tearing the chains and shackles apart, self-harming and screaming day and night. These poor men were tormented, out of control, a danger to others, and a danger to themselves. Yet, their connection to the spirit realm also meant that they recognised Yeshua was the Son of God and, against the will of every demon inhabiting them, ran to Him.
Here we see the tremendous conflict within these men, running to Yeshua for deliverance and yet when Yeshua speaks that word of command for them to be set free, out of their mouths the demons speak, begging Him not to do so. The man Mark and Luke focus on was not possessed by just one unclean spirit, but rather he’s occupied by a host of them. In the Roman army “legion” designated 6,000 soldiers. His condition seemed hopeless, even as the talmidim had felt hopeless in the face of the fierce storm on the Sea. His pitiful condition had become his identity. When asked his name, this man replied “Legion”. He had no name, no identity left, except for what he was captive to. Increasingly today we hear people proudly proclaim their identity as what they are captive to. This man had been completely defined by what assailed him, by what robed him of joy and health, by what hindered him and kept him bound, by all those things that kept him from experiencing life in its abundance.
According to the superstitions of the time these demons had the upper hand over Yeshua – they knew His name and position: Jesus, Son of the Most High God, and they had evaded His questioning their names and instead tried to intimidate by replying: “legion, for we are many.” But Yeshua’s power over them was not in the use of the “right formula”, but in the very nature of His being as the Son of God. No demon could resist His command, so these powerful forces that had exerted such devastating control of the men were reduced to begging. This was Gentile country, they farmed and ate what were for the Jews unclean animals such a pigs and there was a herd close by. The scripture does not tell us why Yeshua allowed the demons to enter the swine, instead of sending them to the abys, maybe it was so all the people could see how many this man was being set free from – no matter how large the enemy’s army is, one word from the Son of God sends them all fleeing. These demons were self-destructive in the man, even as he struggled against their power, in the swine they found no such resistance and the whole herd ran violently down the steep slope into the Sea of Galilee and drowned. Both Yeshua’s talmidim and all the herdsmen saw the destructive force that had been cast out of this man. Soon everyone in the closest city knew about it too.
Now we come to the pivotal part in the narrative. Luke gives us the insight: “whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear.” Yeshua had explained to Nicodemus:
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:19-21 NIV
The people of this region loved darkness, they delighted in things that God abhorred. They wanted nothing to do with the holiness of God, with the Light that had come into the world. When the power of God’s holiness was displayed in expelling the demons they were seized with fear that their sin would likewise be exposed for what it was. Two men, whom everyone had pitied and looked down on, two men who had been cast out of their families and society, two men whose deplorable state illustrated the direction their community was headed, these two men longed to be free from it all and came running to Yeshua. These two were set free and that freedom challenged the philosophy this society had been built on. The people were seized with fear and wanted Yeshua gone from their shores. We might think the Jews were resistant to the gospel, but these Gentiles were much worse. They did not come running, as thousands of the Jews had done, to seek Yeshua’s healing and deliverance, and to listen to His teaching. They only came running to get rid of Him, to send Him away, “don’t come back again.”
One man, all alone among His people. One man longing for light. One man hungering and thirsting for righteousness. One man begged (deomai = made an urgent appeal out of a pressing need due to lack) to stay (eimi syn = be thereafter forever joined closely together in full identification) with Yeshua and follow Him wherever He went. One man had become a talmid. His deliverance is recorded in all three synoptic gospels. Yeshua sent (apolyo = released him from all obligation – this man did not need to leave his people and become a Jew like Yeshua) him to return to his own household, become one with his own people again, and prioritise telling them everything that God, the creator and owner of all things, had done for him. This man obeyed Yeshua. This man shared his testimony throughout his region, to all the Gentiles of the Decapolis. This man was the reason Yeshua had told the twelve to take Him to the other side of the lake. This man was the reason the storm tried to stop that journey. This man was in Yeshua’s thoughts as He rebuked the wind and waves, commanded them: “peace, be still.” This man, whose family and community had given up on him. This man became the first messenger of the Gospel to the Gentiles, the first one sent to them with good news.
1. HELPS Ministries. The Discovery Bible. [Online] https://thediscoverybible.com/.
2. Laan, Ray Vander. Sea of Galilee Geography. That The World May Know. [Online] [Cited: October 21st, 2020.] https://www.thattheworldmayknow.com/sea-of-galilee-geography.
3. Donald DeYoung, Ph.D. What’s Special About the Sea of Galilee? Christian Answers. [Online] 2003. https://christiananswers.net/q-eden/ednk-seaofgalilee.html.
4. Bolen, Todd. The Sea of Galilee. Jerusalem Pwerspective. [Online] October 31, 1989. https://www.jerusalemperspective.com/1476/.
5. Gilad, Elon. The History of Jewish Burial Rites. Haaretz. [Online] April 22nd, 2015. https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/.premium-the-history-of-jewish-burial-rites-1.5353617.
6. The Theological Implications of an Ancient Jewish Burial Custom. Meyers, Eric M. 2, Pennsylvania : University of Pennsylvania Press, October 1971, The Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. 62. DOI: 10.2307/1453302.
7. McCane, Byron R. Burial Practices in First Century Palestine. Bible Odyssey. [Online] [Cited: October 24th, 2020.] https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/people/related-articles/burial-practices-in-first-century-palestine.
8. Glenn. Questions on Mark’s Geographical Ignorance… Gadara versus Gerasa and the problem of the Long Trip Home. Christian Thinktank. [Online] March 23rd, 2008. https://www.christian-thinktank.com/giddygaddy.html.
9. [Online] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/8-28.htm.
10. [Online] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/mark/5-1.htm.
11. [Online] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/8-26.htm.
12. McArthur, Dr. John. Matthew 8–15. MacArthur New Testament Commentary. s.l. : The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago., 1987, p. p. 41.
13. Lose, David. Legion. Working Preacher. [Online] June 16th, 2013. https://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=2609.
*“The foxes have holes, and the birds flying about have nests, but the Son of Man has no home of his own.” What is some of the price that you have paid for following Jesus?
* Compare the burial customs in your region with the Jewish customs during Jesus’ time.
* Describe a time when you had to “let the dead bury their own dead” in order to follow Jesus, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.
* Describe a time when Jesus has said to you: “Why are you afraid? So little trust you have!”
* How do you answer people who define themselves in terms of their sin or deficiencies, setbacks, disappointments or failures?
* What was the significance of Jesus going to the other side of the Sea of Galilee?
* What stories of deliverance do you have from God setting people in your community free?
* What is the most important lesson for your people from this section of scripture?