The Baptism of John

I love how Mark starts off his letter. Short, sweet and straight to the point. He doesn’t leave much room to wonder what he’s writing about.

“The beginning of the Good News of Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of God” JNT

And then he jumps right in by quoting Isaiah and introducing us to one of the most interesting characters in the Scriptures, John the Baptizer.

John was an interesting man. Born miraculously to a priest, Zachariah and his elderly wife Elizabeth (see Luke 1), we know God had big plans for him from the beginning. But Mark introduces him as the messenger that was to prepare the way for the coming Messiah. The voice calling out “In the dessert prepare the way for Adonai!” He is a man who didn’t fit into the Jerusalem lifestyle. He lived in the wilderness, wore a Elijah costume (camel’s hair clothes and a leather belt, and ate locust and wild honey). And he went around preaching about this coming Kingdom of God and calling people to be baptized. Continue reading

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Converts or Disciples?

As we end the book of Matthew we have a chance to read some of Jesus’ last recorded words to his disciples. What are his final instructions for the eleven? How does he want them to carry on with the work he has been doing?

Matthew ends his letter with what has come to be known as the Great Commission.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

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The Curtain Was Torn

“But Yeshua (Jesus), again crying out in a loud voice, yielded up his spirit. At that moment the parokhet (veil, curtain) in the temple was ripped in two from the top to the bottom… Mt 27:50-51 (JNT)

The parokhet, or curtain, in the temple is described in Exodus 26:31-35:

“Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker. Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.  Put the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law in the Most Holy Place. Place the table outside the curtain on the north side of the tabernacle and put the lampstand opposite it on the south side.” NIV

This curtain was put in place in the Tabernacle in the dessert and it separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. When the temple was built, a curtain was put in place there as well. Only the Chief Priest was allowed to pass through the curtain into the Holy of Holies. And this only happened once a year on Yom-Kippur, when he would make an atonement sacrifice for his sins and the sins of the people of the Hebrew people. Continue reading

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Pressed and Anointed

Olive oil is a part of everyday life in Israel and it has many uses from practical to symbolic. As you walk the land of Israel you often see the shimmering leaves of the olive tree, some thousands of years old. The oil from these trees is a part of almost every meal eaten in the land, and the and that same oil has served ceremonial purposes throughout Israel’s history. We see the Priests being anointed with this oil in Leviticus, a symbol of the priesthood. Later we find David being anointed with oil, marking him as King. The use of olive oil to signify someone set apart for special work by God by anointing is part of the culture.  Even the word Messiah means anointed. And so we should expect to see Jesus anointed, identifying him as Messiah, as priest and king. Continue reading

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Separating the Sheep and Goats

In Matthew 25 we find Jesus still talking about this Kingdom of Heaven and the second coming of the Son of Man. Specifically, what the Kingdom of Heaven will be like when He comes. We find that when he comes he will be seated on a throne, in front of all the nations and that he will separate the people like a shepherd separates the sheep and goats.

An interesting picture and one very familiar to his audience. You see sheep and goats are very different. Sheep learn to trust the shepherd, to listen and follow. Goats, they tend to make their own paths. They ignore the shepherd and wander off. Continue reading

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Left Behind and the Days of Noah

Today’s post is about one of those passages of Scripture that I just don’t understand. Maybe I’m just over thinking it, or maybe we’ve been misunderstanding it. Either way, it’s one of those passages that bothers me, and the best way to deal with those passages is to share them and let it bother you too.

Matthew 24:36-42 is the passage. It reads:

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Continue reading

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Sitting In The Moses Seat

One day as Jesus was teaching his disciples and the crowds he began to talk about the Pharisees. He tells the crowd that the Pharisees “sit in the seat of Moses”. And then He says, “So whatever they tell you, take care to do.”

So what is the Moses seat?
Well, it was an actual, physical seat that was common in the synagogues of the first century. The person reading or teaching from the Torah would sit in the seat at the synagogue service. Here’s a photo I took of the Moses seat from the synagogue in Korazin.

Moses Seat from Korazin

Moses Seat – Korazin Synagogue

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