Miracles & Yochanan the Immerser’s Question

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.

Jewish Clothing

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 simlāhשִׂמְלָה , 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.

צרעת tzara‘at 

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.

Jewish Hospitality

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.

Reference List

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?

Author: Anita

"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption." 1 Cor. 1:26-30 ESV These verses are the story of my life. A shy, introverted woman who didn't know how to relate to others and had a fear of anyone in authority - foolish, weak, low and despised. The most unlikely candidate for any position of leadership. But God delights to choose such, to take those who are not and make them something in Christ, to do the impossible through the unlikely. In 2006 Jesus sent me to the nations with His glorious gospel to set the captives free and prepare His bride for the wedding of the Lamb.

One thought on “Miracles & Yochanan the Immerser’s Question”

  1. * There are much to learn from Jairus coming to Jesus and pleading with Him to come and heal his only daughter:
    1. Jairus was a leader of the synagogue not just an ordinary member, therefore to come down without looking at his position with the Jewish law or how they will expel him from the synagogue gives us hope that we need not to be ashamed of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    2. He was not ashamed to be identified, we too need not to be ashamed to be identified with Christ Jesus.
    3. He did not mind what the Jewish will say about his leadership in the synagogue
    4. He was very bold in his faith towards Jesus Christ that apart from Him no one could heal his daughter.
    5. He humbled himself to Jesus by falling at Jesus’ feet in the public pleading with Him to come to his house because his only daughter at the age of twelve was at point of death, no Jewish leaders could humbled himself in public like this man,
    6. Even though some official came to him and told him about the death of his daughter, once he was with Jesus, he never gave up hope, we too need not to give up hope whatsoever conditions we find ourselves in we should not give up.
    7. The woman with the bleeding for twelve years might have delayed of Jesus going to his house, Jairus never complained of that, all he knows is that once the Messiah was with him everything was going to be alright.
    8. Marius reaching to the house saw the crowd mourning for his daughter, his mind did not go to them as long as he has Jesus with him everything was going to be alright, he might have said in his heart.
    * We learned from Jesus’ response to Jairus as a positive answer to a dying need request, and this apply to my ministry as anything I as of the Lord, He will do it according to His will.
    * In West Africa especially here in Liberia, we have similar clothing which is distinctive in our culture, mainly chiefs and elders always put on such special clothing for occasions. It call in Liberia “country cloth” while in Ghana and the Ivory Coast is called “Kente”
    * The differences between men’s and women’s clothing in Jesus time was that men’s clothing were the halug or kethoneth was inner garment made of wool or linen. The earliest of these garments were made from two rectangular pieces of cloth down together at the top with a hole for the head, and down down each side under the arm extended to the wrists and ankles. Anyone dressed only in the kethoneth was described as naked(1Samuel 19:24, Isaiah 20:2, 2 Kings 6:30, John 21:7)
    For women, the inner garment was largely identical to that of men. However, the outer garment was longer, with enough border fringe to largely cover the feet. The out garment was clinched with a belt similar to that used by men, but it was ornamented differently and usually more elaborately.
    There are vast differences in my culture and that of Jesus’ time when it comes wearing, as nobody in my culture will like to to wear such dress as many may consider it as foreign. The difference in my culture is that men’s clothing is quite different from women and no woman is dare to wear men’s clothing it is an abomination.
    * What I have learned from this woman with the bleeding of blood is so great that it gives me more hope to come to Jesus as sinful as I am without looking back to my past sins, even though this woman knew the condemnation that the pulsating crowd would heap upon her, the unclear one, she was not hiding from the Messiah, He had felt the power of God go out from Him in healing her. This woman was bold and confidence that by touching Jesus she was going to get her healing. She had an unshakable faith to go to Jesus for healing.
    * Jesus allowed Jairus, his wife, Peter, James and John to go with Him to witness to the girl’s resurrection because, 1. He does not want any public show, as some pastors and prophets do nowadays. 2. Jesus as God knows everybody’s heart and mind that these chosen people are the one that have much faith.
    * Jesus gave the girl’s parents “strict orders to say nothing about this to anyone, because He does not want popularity and again more people knowing about him will hamper His movements, and He may not be able to accomplish what He came to do.
    Food is essential to the body, therefore in order to be physically balanced, she needed food so Jesus order the parents to give her food.
    * We learned a lot from the widow’s son resurrected as a prove that Jesus indeed is the Messiah and has power over death. Jesus can bring our dead hope to live and rearrange our lives to make it new.
    * John the Baptist started having doubts about whether Jesus was the One he had been send to prepare the way for because he was an ordinary human being, not God and as human sometimes we have similar missed feeling, but when it happens we need to look at Jesus, for we live by faith, not by sight.
    * tzara’ at referred not to bodily disease but to a physical manifestation of 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, it is therefore important to our Christian walk by doing away with sin.
    * Not everyone that Jesus healed or who saw His miracle repented and get saved, this fit with the parable Jesus told about four different type of ground that seed falls on as some will hear but will not take it serious some will hear the cares of this world, and some will hear but with much love for the world, while some will hear and grow.
    * The Jewish culture of hospitality and my culture of hospitality are in similarity.
    * Jesus’ meal at Simon the Pharisee’s house shows us that Christ is always willing to accept everyone no matter what condition you may be in and this helped prepared the apostles to be sent out with the Gospel without discrimination.
    * To find rest with our souls is to be in Christ, to believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savoir, bring all your problems to Him, and trust that He will give you rest.

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