Brit Hadashah Reflections 35
Torah portion Numbers 18 : 1 – 22 : 1
Haftarah portion Judges 11 : 1 – 33
Brit Hadashah John 11 : 1 - 12 : 50
Hebraic understanding of the Gospel of Yeshua
A little background here! Yeshua and His disciples were down in the region of Qumran in the Jordan Valley. Probably about 30 Km from Bethany, and uphill all the way! They were there because we learned in John 10 that the Jews had asked Him to tell them plainly whether or not He was their Messiah. (they were looking for the strong man who would deliver them from the Roman occupation and the oppression that came with it). His answer infuriated them. “I and My Father are One”. He was saying “Yes I am your Messiah and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is My Father. It is He who has sent Me. I am in Him, and He is in Me”. (They had earlier asked for a sign, and in Matthew 12 and 16 He gave them the sign of the Prophet Jonah) At that they took up stones to kill Him because His answer was received as blasphemous. So He fled with His disciples from Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley.
Our reading today opens with news that His friend Lazarus had died, and by the time Yeshua got there Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. He was as dead as dead could be! The sisters, Martha and Miriam were grief stricken at the loss of their brother. And Yeshua wept with them! Then, reinforcing His identity as the Son of Almighty God before those present (the very thing that had caused Him to flee from Jerusalem some days earlier) He called the very dead Lazarus to come out of the tomb. It is a well-known event, which resulted in many of those present joining the ranks of believers. But the sceptics (there are always sceptics aren’t there?) went and told the Pharisees. What they had seen was beyond dispute, but the religious leaders saw it as yet another challenge to their own authority. Incredible. So what did they do? They conspired, not only to do away with Yeshua, but to get rid of Lazarus too!
John chapter 12 gives the clue to the timeline of events during the last week Yeshua spent on this earth. By my calculation it starts on the sixth day of the week (a Friday by our calendar). On Sunday (universally known as Palm Sunday in our calendar) Yeshua rode in triumph on a donkey’s colt down the hill to the garden of Gethsemane. Spending the next four days being ‘examined’ by various authorities and found to be ‘without blemish’ (the prime qualification required of the Passover Lamb). Crucified on Wednesday afternoon, in the grave for the three full nights and three full days, and resurrected after sundown on the sixth day of the week (at the very commencement of Sunday, which is Saturday night in our calendar). Now it is not a ‘hanging offence’ to disagree with my timeline, but it is the only one which I find consistent with Yeshua’s sign, given to the Pharisees, which He called the ‘sign of the Prophet Jonah’. If that ‘sign’ were not fulfilled (which a Good Friday crucifixion does not) then the Pharisees would have another reason to reject Him as the Son of God, and His disciples would have had as much difficulty explaining it as we do today!
But in our passage, Yeshua fulfils the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 by riding on a donkey’s colt. Perhaps a bit of a disappointment to the crowds of people who cried out the words of Psalm 118 “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” as they welcomed their long awaited Messiah whom they expected would rid them of Roman oppression.
It is our great privilege to know that His mission was much greater than eliminating Roman oppression. And in less than two months, many thousands of them would know it too. But Yeshua had to teach them the unthinkable. He was there to be put to death.
“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified”
“.. a grain of wheat which falls into the ground and dies, produces much fruit”
“.. for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name”.
“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to myself”
“While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become ‘sons of light’”.
“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness”.
Our reading opened with Yeshua declaring that “I and My Father are One” It got Him into big strife with the religious leaders in the community. We end our ‘reflection’ re-iterating the truth of that confession. Reminding ourselves that what began there as an act of human injustice, has become, in our lifetime, the beacon of hope for our world. In fact the ONLY hope. We put our trust in Him who died, or we remain in darkness.