What the Bible says about Jesus

The True Light "In him, (the Lord Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world,…the world didn’t recognize him." John 1:4,9.
The Good Seed and the Weeds The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seeds in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. Matthew 13:24,25.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hear, O Israel

Reblogged from Prophecy in The News

By on March 27, 2014
Hear O Israel
In this season, we contemplate the amazing series of events given in the narrative of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. The dramatic story of His crucifixion began in the dark of night, when He was arrested and tried. A strange occurrence is mentioned in connection with this incident. Taken by itself, it seems almost superfluous. But its message is laden with deep meaning. It is the confrontation between Peter and Malchus, servant of the High Priest.
Deuteronomy 6:4 is a pivotal verse in the life and history of Israel: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord.” This command to “hear” signifies the hearing of the heart, not merely that of the ears. This verse is deemed so important that it is affixed to the doorposts of the Jewish faithful.

Jews refer to this verse as the “Shema,” from its first Hebrew word: “Shema Israel,” meaning “Hear, O Israel…” These strong words are a direct command to the twelve tribes to listen carefully to the message that follows them. They are a constant reminder to Israel that it must never forget the proclamations of the Lord, even to the point of attaching them to their doorposts and wearing them on their bodies, in the form of tefillin.

On the right side of the main entrance to a home or building, a few of the key verses from this section of Scripture are attached in place. They are rolled up as a miniature scroll and inserted into a small case called a “mezuzah,” which happens to be the Hebrew word for “doorpost.” Thus, they are upheld as one of the most important parts of the Torah. When passing through such a doorway, Jews pay respect to the presence of the Word of God by lightly kissing their fingers, then touching the mezuzah. Its presence there is considered to be a blessing to the household. But its key Scriptural admonition is for those who live there to “hear,” that is, to remember and understand.

God requires the faithful to “hear” Him, but hearing requires more than mere exposure to the Word. The interpretive power of the Holy Spirit must be present in the believer before the full meaning of the Word becomes clear.
Jesus illustrated this to His disciples following His rejection by the leaders of national Israel, as told in Matthew 12. There, we find the narrative of the Pharisees attributing the power of Jesus’ work to Satan, rather than the Holy Spirit. In the chapter which follows — Matthew 13 — He began to speak of the Kingdom in parables. His disciples wondered why He did this, instead of speaking plainly. His answer is quite clear in its implications:
“11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand” (Matt. 13:11-13).

Jesus here announces that He has acted judicially against the House of David — in effect cutting off their hearing because of their unbelief. In fact, Scripture is full of pictures of the hearing of faith versus the deafness and blindness of unbelief.

The Ear Is Cut Off

Later in the book of Matthew, a remarkable event takes place. It illustrates not only the principle of spiritual hearing, but may also present a prophetic picture of Israel’s spiritual future.
The event in question comes as Jesus is betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane. As Judas approaches with an assorted band of soldiers and Temple officials, he comes before Jesus and greets Him with the infamous kiss of betrayal.
Making no resistance, Jesus announces His identity to the crowd, uttering His authoritative, “I am.” But one of His disciples, in a burst of zeal, draws his sword and lunges at the servant of the high priest. This is first mentioned in Matthew 26:51:
“51 And behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.”
Virtually the same account is given in Mark 14:47. Here, however, the swordsman is described simply as a bystander:
“47 And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.”

Again in Luke 22:50 and 51, the brief narrative of this event is given. This time, however, even more new detail is added:
“50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. 51 And Jesus answered and said, suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.”
Now we see that after the ear is cut off, Jesus, in some miraculous way, restores it fully — in the end, it is completely healed. Again, in the book of John, the record of this event is given, now in its most complete form. Here, we find Simon Peter named as the swordsman and Malchus identified as the servant of the High Priest. It tells us, “10 Then Simon Peter having a sword, drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it” (Jn. 18:10, 11).
Jesus clearly states that His mission is not to make war against the political and religious system of the world, but to do the will of His heavenly Father. This is but one of many times that Christ must rebuke Peter, who is both quick to hear and quick to forget. But the event is a beautiful prophetic foretelling of the healing of Israel that will come in the Kingdom Age.
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As he had often done before, Peter impulsively lunged forth to do what he thought was right at the moment. No doubt, he felt that attacking the High Priest’s representative would give him the best chance at forestalling Jesus’ arrest. Since he attacked with a sword, he probably meant to leave Malchus with a mortal wound.
But Peter was a fisherman, not a trained swordsman. Malchus must have dodged at the last moment. Instead of his throat or chest, Peter took only an ear. Significantly, however, it was the ear of the servant of the High Priest.

Spiritual Hearing

Here, it is important to make a connection between an action and a word. Simon Peter’s first name comes from the Hebrew, shamah, meaning “hearing.” Scripturally, the name is applied to the gift of spiritual hearing, as given by the Holy Spirit. His role, as one chosen by Jesus as a founding father of the church, is centered on the fact that he has spiritual ears to hear.
In the Old Testament, the same name appears as “Simeon,” who was Jacob’s second son through Leah. At his birth she names him on the basis that God had heard of her plight:
“And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the Lord hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon” (Genesis 29:33).

Simeon was named for the hearing of the Lord. In the New Testament, Simon Peter lives up to the meaning of his name. In Matthew 16:15 Jesus asks Simon, “But whom say ye that I am?” Of course, he then identifies Jesus as Messiah, the Son of God. The 17th verse then characterizes Simon’s spiritual hearing:
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
Here, Jesus acknowledges that Simon has ears to hear the revelation about Christ, which has come from heaven. Though he still has many tests ahead of him, Jesus takes this opportunity to surname him as Peter (meaning “rock”) signifying that he would become an immovable stone in the foundational structure of the church.
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

The Prophetic Picture

To complete the prophetic picture, we now come to the High Priest’s servant. His name—Malchus—is a linguistic variant of the Hebrew word melech meaning “king.” By the time this event took place, the leaders of national Israel had already rejected Jesus. The Jewish priesthood was under judgement. They were about to fully act out that judgment by wounding their true King. As Isaiah 53:5 says, “He was wounded for our transgressions …” But He was healed of those wounds, rising again to restore a world that sinned against Him.
Ultimately, He will even heal national Israel, itself. In their own land, He will bring the Jews a Kingdom under His leadership, and their hearing will be restored so that they may once again serve a righteous priesthood. In a way, the wounding of Malchus (king) is a picture of the wounding of the true King, Jesus.

But more than that. The wounding of Malchus’ ear is curiously symbolic of the people of Israel. As a servant of the High Priest, Malchus depicts Israel’s role. Like him, Israel served a corrupt priesthood. They listened to the wrong voices and would soon call for the death of their Messiah. Their hearing had been cut off.
But Jesus healed the ear of Malchus. In so doing, He was prophetically acting out that future day when He would heal the hearing of Israel. In that day, they will serve Jesus as their true High Priest.

Peter correctly believed that Jesus was the Messiah and that He would bring the Kingdom to earth in the very near future. In the flesh, he acted on that belief, attempting to protect his King, even if it meant giving up his own life. Of course, he was wrong.
Once before, shortly after publicly proclaiming Jesus as Messiah, Peter had acted in the flesh. This incident is recounted in Matthew, where we read, “21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matt. 16:21-23).
Jesus severely reprimanded Peter, even accusing him of acting in the spirit of Satan, rather than God. He knew that he must “suffer many things” in order to complete the plan of the ages.

Centuries before, Moses had spoken to his people about the power of the coming Messiah who would, in the end, avenge them for all that they would suffer at the hands of their enemies. In Deuteronomy 32, the Song of Moses opens with a ringing command: “Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear. O earth, the words of my mouth.”
The context of Moses’ prophecy concludes with the judgment of the nations gathered against Israel during the Tribulation. In verse 44, it concludes with these telling words: “And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people….”
Once again, there is a clear linkage made between prophetic utterance and the ear. The ear of Malchus was once healed and made complete. We are never told what happened to him after that.
It is possible that, having experienced the loving touch of the Savior, he went on to become a Messianic believer. In that future day when Israel’s hearing is healed, that is precisely what they will become.

Paul and the Gospel

This theme is carried out in many New Testament writings, but becomes especially clear in the life of Paul. During his first Roman imprisonment, at the end of the Book of Acts, we see the principle of spiritual hearing with absolute clarity:
“23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. 25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, 26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it” (Acts 28:23-28).

In many of his epistles, Paul asks his listeners whether they can fully hear what he has to say: Gal. 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Over and over again, Paul asks this basic question, based upon the premise so firmly enunciated by Jesus, that faith is a matter of spiritual hearing. Perhaps one of his most oft-repeated statements comes from the letter to the Romans:
“17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).

In this season, as we remember the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, we ponder the amazing fact that His own people couldn’t hear what He had to say. We should always remember that this is the perennial issue when we present the Gospel.
And we should always keep in mind that even the smallest details in the life of Christ are freighted with deep meaning.

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