God of Love, Pt. 2

What Is the Good News of Yeshua? (Part 21)

Yeshua would travel all across the Land of Israel proclaiming this Good News, gathering disciples to His revolutionary cause and displaying unusual feats of supernatural power never before seen on Earth. His closest friends would witness Him turn water into wine, calm storms with His words, and walk unwaveringly on deep, turbulent water as if upon dry ground. Among His throngs of followers, He would miraculously heal the afflicted of their disease, cure the crippled of their infirmity, and give once-blind eyes the ability to see. And everywhere that He walked, and talked, and healed, and wept, and confronted, and pursued and provoked, He would compellingly—and divinely—expound the word of God.

The Master Yeshua exalted and upheld the Torah, declaring that for all time not even its tiniest letter would fall or pass away (Matthew 5:17). He affirmed how Mo­ses taught obedience to the God of Commandments as a function of true love, citing the summary directives to be wholly devoted to Him, and to lovingly treat our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37ff). Yeshua proclaimed how the first Hebrew patriarch—who, at God’s word, was willing to put the life of his son at stake—had gazed through time and space to see the Creator of the Universe offer up His own (John 8:56ff). He professed how the God of Promise would ultimately bring His people into an undying land, where our Father Abraham is alive and well, and where those who believe in Yeshua will also live forever (Matthew 22:31f). He taught how the God of Judgment would give eternal life to the righteous, yet everlasting punishment to the wicked (Matthew 25:33ff). And Yeshua pointed to Himself as the living bread from Heaven (John 6:51), the light of the world (9:5), and the perfect rescue vessel from sin and death. He alone would be the last escape route long envisioned by the God of Salvation: the difficult road, the narrow door, the way, the truth, and the life (Matthew 7:13f).

God sent Yeshua “to the lost sheep of the house of [Israel]” (Matthew 15:24) to bring to His people the knowledge of this salvation and release from sins (Luke 1:77). He offered such forgiveness explicitly to His fellow Jews so that God might declare them righteous and fit to fulfill their covenantal, reconciliatory role to the world (as Yeshua declared in John 4:22, “salvation is of the [Jews]”). Yet such forgiveness could not come without a price. The costliness of sin would require far more than words.

And the God of Love was prepared to pay it… with the life of His only Son (1 John 4:10).

For three years, Yeshua continued His itinerant instruction and spiritual shepherding all throughout Roman-occupied Israel. As news of Him reached every corner of the Land, thousands of Jews would flock to hear His words and wisdom, as well as to receive both healing for their sicknesses and hope for themselves, their people and the future. This astonishing teacher was proclaiming a lost yet fresh message of life and deliverance, explaining to them with an authority that surpassed even that of the religious leaders. The people began to fill with anticipation that the Prophet promised by Moses had finally come to them (John 7:40). Many even professed that Yeshua was the Anointed One, the long-awaited Son of David (7:41). And many more dared to whisper—and then to cry aloud—that this Prophet… this Messiah… was Israel’s true and coming King.

With the masses enthralled by this ever-rising voice within Israel, Yeshua’s growing popularity quickly caught the attention of the skeptics—not to mention Israel’s religious elite. Yeshua often found Himself locked in theological debate with the clerics and scribes, confronting their customs and beliefs, and challenging them to return to the word of God as encoded in Israel’s sacred Scriptures. Yeshua’s call to national repentance and expectation of a new Kingdom was perceived by some as a threat—in part to the status quo of foreign occupation, but more to the power of Jewish civic and religious leadership. And His unusual, often inflammatory rhetoric did nothing to calm such concerns, but rather delineated a bright line for the people of Israel: whether they would accept or reject God’s ultimate salvation.

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Weaved throughout His speaking, Yeshua began to assert a unique relationship with the one He called “the Father”—His reference to God. He said the most curious things, such as, “he who is not honoring the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (5:23) and “no one comes to the Father unless through Me” (14:6) and “I and the Father are one” (10:30). On very few occasions, He was even somewhat less cryptic, going so far as to utter the shocking claim that He was, in fact, God’s own Son (10:36). Yeshua had already been stirring things up through His frequent conflicts with leadership and very public breaking of tradition, inciting an increasing number within Israel to persecute Him and seek His death. So when the crowds heard Him essentially “calling God His own Father, making Himself equal to God,” they were looking to kill Him all the more (5:18).

It would not be long before the plot to eliminate Yeshua would be executed.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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