Brit Hadashah Reflections 39
Torah portion Deuteronomy 1 : 1 – 3 : 22
Haftarah portion Isaiah 1 : 1 – 27
Brit Hadashah John 18 : 1 - 19 : 42
Hebraic understanding of the Gospel of Yeshua
So we enter the last day of Yeshua’s earthly mission, the restoration of “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” to be a light to the nations. So the final chapter began to unfold. He went, with His disciples, to the Garden of Gethsemane in the Kidron Valley between the Temple and the Mount of Olives. Every Christian who has ever visited modern day Israel will have spent time there, pondering, praying and remembering.
It was dark, the very early hours of the morning, lanterns and torches, with weapons drawn, a detachment of soldiers, led by Judas Iscariot, came to the place where Yeshua was. Following them were officers from the office of the Chief Priest and the Pharisees, Quite a crowd. But they were expected. So Yeshua stepped forward. “Whom are you seeking?” They said they were looking for Yeshua of Nazareth. He declared “I am He”. Thus establishing His identity as the Son of God, consistent with His earlier statements about Himself, (see John 14:6 and other places) and probably for the Pharisees benefit. They were astonished, even fearful, as they retreated and fell to the ground. Then He asked again, “Whom are you seeking?” The main reason for this second question was to clearly establish that they were looking ONLY for Him, and that His disciples were not in trouble and would not be taken. This was consistent with His prayer in John 17:12, that none of those the Father had given to Him would be lost.
The impetuous Peter, seeking to defend His Master, cut off the ear of Malchus, one of the servants of the high priest, which, Luke tells us, Yeshua immediately restored. Then Yeshua, again emphasizing the voluntary nature of His death on a Roman cross which would shortly follow, reminded His disciples that there were legions available for His defence if that were considered necessary. So Yeshua was arrested, bound, and eventually taken to the high priest, the instigator of the false charges of which He was accused.
What followed His arrest, was a series of “trials”. Examinations of sorts, designed to establish His guilt. It was during these “trials” that Peter denied His association with Yeshua. I often wonder how I might have behaved in Peter’s position, faced, as he was, with the real prospect of losing his own life because of that association!! How about you? It is worth pondering the thought. One which could even be a real faith strengthener. We should all consider the possibility that we might have to face that very situation one day. Many Christians today (like the Coptic Christians in Egypt) are called upon to make such a declaration. It is not hypothetical, it is very real.
The ‘examinations’, before Annas, Caiaphas and eventually Pilate, who pronounced that he could find NO fault in Him. Without blemish. Just like the Passover Lamb was to be! And which He voluntarily became for our sakes.
John chapter 19, contains the harrowing account of Yeshua’s last hours. It is horrible. I have a friend who was asked to read this chapter one Friday morning in the church of which I was then a member. He was unable to read beyond verse 3, breaking down in uncontrollable sobbing. That such wanton cruelty and injustice could be perpetrated on an innocent man was too much to contemplate. And to think that it was voluntarily accepted by Him for my sake! .. and yours!!
But when we get to John 19:30, we read those triumphant words of Yeshua. “It is finished”. We could paraphrase that into modern idiom. “Mission accomplished”. The blood of the sacrifice, acceptable to the Father, had been shed. The debt of sinful man fully paid. But still there were chapters to be written. Remember Yeshua’s prayer in John 17:20. That sacrifice was valid ONLY for those who believe. Think about that. It is available to ALL, but few there be who accept it. Tragic.
My final ‘reflection’ relates to the extremely “Hebraic” nature of this event. It was the restoration of the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” which was finished on that Roman Cross. God had promised Abram in Genesis 12 : 3 that through him “all the families of the earth shall be blessed”. ALL the early believers were Jewish. They were the ones who became the evangelists. They were the ones who kept “the Word” and preserved it in written form. They were the ones through whom we, centuries later, are privileged to have knowledge of Him who died. God entrusted His written word to the Jews. His own “special treasure”.
The Apostle Paul has an admonition for we who are Gentiles in Romans 15. Read it. And take special note of verse 27.