LIFE OF THE MESSIAH – 007
DR. ARNOLD G. FRUCHTENBAUM
THE CONTROVERSY OVER THE KING - Paragraphs 57-71
A. The Rejection of the Herald
Paragraph 57 – Matthew 11:2-19; Luke 7:18-35
Now we come to the third major division of His life which is the controversy over the King; that comprises paragraph 57-71. In capital A which involves paragraph 57 we have the rejection of the herald. Now John has been in prison for some time; he has his own disciples reporting to him and he could tell the leaders of Israel are not responding to Him and even many of the people are not responding, at least they are failing to conclude His Messiahship, though they want to grant him the office of a prophet. And so having been in that situation, as often happens with believers, even mature ones, a measure of doubt sets in and the point of his doubt is that he may at some point (?) doubt the wrong Messiah.
So he sends his disciples to raise the question of Matthew 11:3, “are you He that comes, or do we look for another?” The reason He refuses to answer because when they arrive in Luke’s account, verse 21, it’s the context of curing many of diseases and plagues, many miracles were performed, including healing of lepers and so on. So He tells the disciples simply go back to John and tell him about two things: number one, what you hear, and what they hear is the message that He claims to be the Messiah. And secondly, go back them and tell him about what you observe, the works being done, and the works that they’ll see is including both Messianic and non-Messianic miracles and these miracles authenticate His Messianic claims.
Now when the disciples of John leave to report to John we have Jesus evaluating His forerunner. Notice the five points He makes. First of all, in Matthew’s account, verse 7, he was not “a reed shaken by the wind.” He was not wishy-washy; he always knew where he stood on specific issues, he did not mince words. Secondly, in verse 8 of Matthew, he’s not a man clothed in linen, He was not accustomed to luxurious living. He lived just like Elijah, living in the wilderness and so on. Thirdly, he was a prophet; his prophetic office was authenticated by the fact that he did receive direct revelation from God.
But fourthly, he was more than just a prophet; he was the forerunner of the Messiah in fulfillment of Malachi 3:1, which He quotes. He was the Messiah’s forerunner. Then fifthly, He says that John is the greatest of the Old Testament saints. It’s hard for us to really appreciate what He says here because the Gospel writers rightfully spend most of their time on Jesus and only mention John in the early stage of His ministry, but John had a rather effective ministry throughout the land. While he stayed mostly in one place people from all over the land came to him. And many made a commitment in their baptism by John to believe whomever John points out the Messiah to be.
In fact, much later, as in Acts 19, Paul runs into believers who are baptized by John the Baptist, yet had not heard that the Messiah whom John was announcing had been identified; they came into the land, were baptized and left the land before John says “Behold, the Lamb of God.” And therefore even a couple of decades later you’ve got people still following the baptism of John that have to be told about Jesus. And in the land of Syria, even today, there are only two towns that still speak the language of Aramaic; Aramaic is spoken only by two villages where they still honor John the Baptist as the prophet, not yet recognizing the Messiahship of Jesus. So we may not have all of the facts involved, we simply have to take Jesus’ word that of all of the Old Testament saints, John is the greatest of the Old Testament saints.
Then He points out in Luke 7:28, “I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there is none greater than John: yet he that is little in the kingdom of God is greater than” he. He now makes the contrast that although John was the greatest of the Old Testament saints, superceding people like Abraham, like David and others, yet the least member of this new body is greater than John. And the Church is not equivalent with the Kingdom of heaven, the Kingdom of God, but the Church is part of God’s Kingdom program. And that’s the focus here. And those who are members of the body of the Messiah have a higher position than the greatest of the Old Testament saints. And this is what He indicates, that John will die before the Church comes into being.
Now Matthew is concerned for the Jewish details, he says in Matthew 11:12, “the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and men of violence take it by force.” From the time that John began preaching in Jesus the proclamation of the kingdom has been suffering violence, violence primarily from Pharisees and others like Sadducees and Herodians. They are trying to block individual Jews from entering the Kingdom by believing in Jesus.
Then in Matthew 11:13 “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” And John is the last of the Old Testament style prophets, the last of the prophets of the Old Testament category. After this will come New Testament prophets which are of a different category. And he is the last of the Old Testament style prophets. And the prophets previous to John, who preceded him by centuries, announced the coming of the Messiah and John was the last of those prophets of the Old Testament that he identified who that Messiah was. Again, all prophets previously merely proclaimed the coming of the Messiah; John identifies who that Messiah is.
In Matthew 11:14, “If you are willing to receive it, this is Elijah, which is to come.” Here’s another correlation between John and Elijah. Now previously we learned that John came in the spirit and power of Elijah. Secondly, he dressed like Elijah, but thirdly, when he was asked are you Elijah he denied being Elijah; He says Elijah I am not.
We have a fourth point, there will be one more point later that we will discuss next week in the context of the transfiguration, but for now the point is this: if they’re willing to receive the message that John proclaimed, then John would have fulfilled Elijah’s function. Again, if the Jewish people had accepted Jesus the Messiah, the Messianic Kingdom, then John would have fulfilled Elijah’s function, but they did not accept the Kingdom, did not accept the Messiah and therefore John did not fulfill Elijah’s function; that’s why Elijah is yet to come. So again, if the Kingdom offer had been accepted John would have fulfilled Elijah’s function; because it was rejected he did not fulfill Elijah’s function. There will be one more correlation and I’ll tie with it together next weekend.
This does not mean that John’s ministry was a failure because as we saw initially, his call was to have a people prepared to accept the Messiahship of Jesus and again those who are baptized by John are making a commitment to believe on him whom John points out the Messiah to be.
Now look at Luke’s account in Luke 7:29, “And all the people” that heard, “and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John,” and notice though that those who were baptized by John have no trouble identifying Jesus to be the Messiah; when they come in contact with Him they usually accept Him. And indeed John did have a body of people ready to accept the Messiah once He became public.
But in verse 30, “But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected for themselves the counsel of God, not being baptized of him.” And the Pharisees who’d rejected the baptism of John now also are rejecting the testimony of Jesus.
Now Matthew 11:16, “But whereunto shall I liken this generation,” he makes a comparative statement. And he makes a difference between the given reason and the real reason why John was rejected. The real reason in Matthew 11:16-17 is he would not play to their tune. He would not uphold Pharisaism and so while they played John refused to dance. So the real reason why John was rejected is because he would not support Pharisaism. But the given reason is in verse 18 of Matthew, the given reason is that he was demon possessed; “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, He hath a demon,” that John was characterized by fasting and by total abstention from alcoholic beverages and they used that to teach that he was demonized.
On the other hand in Matthew 11:19, Jesus came neither abstaining from alcohol nor practicing frequent fasting and they reject Him on the same reasons; so regardless of how you live your life, if you don’t support Pharisaism they’ll reject you on the basis of demonism anyway.
Now again, note this carefully; the real reason why John was rejected is because he would not support Pharisaism, but the given reason was he was demon possessed. And now we’ll see again what happens to the herald will happen to the King.
B. Curses on Cities of Galilee
Paragraph 58 – Matthew 11:20-30
Now Paragraph 58, curses upon the cities of Galilee. Now in Matthew 11:20-24 He condemns three cities because most of His miracles were performed within these three cities. He performed miracles elsewhere but the majority of His miracles were performed within these three cities; (?) all of these miracles, both Messianic and non-Messianic, they chose to reject Him. The first of these are Chorazin in verse 21; Bethsaida in verse 21 and Capernaum in verse 23.
Now we have records of what He did in Bethsaida, what He did in Capernaum, and by the way, there is no record of any miracle performed in Chorazin; there is not even a record of Him going there or leaving there. And yet based upon this verse He must have been there many times to perform many miracles there. This again verifies what John writes at the end of his Gospel, it would have been impossible for anyone to record all that He said and did and the Gospel writers have to be selective as to what they would choose to report on and to record and to write on.
Also this passage shows there’s going to be degrees of punishment in the lake of fire; while all unbelievers end up in the lake of fire, not all suffer the same degree. So verse 22, “it is more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in [the day of] judgment, than for you.” The end of verse 24, “it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” And so what we have is the fact that there will be degrees of punishment and those who had the most exposure to light and rejected the light will suffer greater degrees of punishment. In some case the judgment is do to degree of sinfulness but in other places, like here, the amount of light that they had they chose to reject.
Then in Matthew 11:25-27 He gives the explanation of their unbelief, in that those who saw themselves to be wise, saw themselves to be full of understanding, are the ones who ended up failing to see the truth, and those who are more in ignorance, they were the ones who recognized the truth, and the simple responded.
And then finally in Matthew 11:28-30 you have an invitation to believe in discipleship. He begins in verse 28 with the phrase, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” That involves believing upon Him which will result in salvation. And then in verse 29, “Take My yoke upon,” notice the footnote in your Harmony, that’s correct, the phrase “take my yoke” was a rabbinic figure of speech meaning to come and learn, come to a school. And so rabbis would often pick certain people and say “take my yoke,” come to my rabbinic school and learn my teachings. And He’s used the same rabbinic expression, “take My yoke,” and after becoming believers we have to learn of Him, we have to learn what He expects of us, “ upon you, and learn of me.” So following salvation there should be an act of faith, (?) that requires a level of study and commitment.
C. The Reception by a Sinner
Paragraph 59 – Luke 7:36-50.
Paragraph 59, the reception by a sinner: Here a woman plays a role and notice therefore Luke is the only one that gives us the account of this. And now a Pharisee invites Jesus over to eat with him and how nice it is for this Pharisee to invite Jesus over for dinner. But the context shows he had an ulterior motive, to find out the reasons for rejecting Him. And that’s when a sinner, and again you have a euphemism for a prostitute, a woman comes and she begins to shed her tears and wiping His feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair, and the Pharisee says in verse 39, well, if this man were really a prophet, not just the Messiah, only a prophet, He would know what kind of woman this is and would not allow her to touch Him. And so Jesus prefers to give him a parable to show why the woman happens to be so lavish in her love, because those who are forgiven for a little, love little; those who are forgiven for much love that much more. He reminds this Pharisee that while He was invited to eat in the home of the Pharisee the Pharisee failed to even give Him the minimums of common hospitality of that day.
So in Luke 7:44 “I entered into thine house, you gave me no water for My feet,” that would be a normal practice, while this woman is washing My feet with her tears. You failed to give Me any anointing oil to refresh Me, which was also a common practice; this woman’s been anointing His feet with her tears. You gave Me no kiss and she kisses My feet.
And so He tells this woman Matthew 7:48, your sins are forgiven, again claiming authority to forgive sin in the salvation sense, which again creates a negative attitude upon the Pharisees in verse 49, “Who is this that even forgives sin?” And in verse 50 He tells her, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Again notice that Luke alone provides some of these details about one of the woman in his ministry and life that the others do not mention; but Luke has the concerns of Jerusalem, Gentiles and women.
D. The Witness to the King
Paragraph 60 – Luke 8:1-3
Now one more paragraph for today, the witness to the King in paragraph 60. Here we have the third preaching to around the country, the last one before Israel’s rejection will come up in paragraph 61. And again He goes about city to city and about synagogue to synagogue, proclaiming His Messianic claims and offering Israel the establishment of the Kingdom but the prerequisite is to accept Him as the Jewish Messiah. This time, notice, He travels with the twelve apostles; they weren’t with Him all of the time. But now we read of “certain women,” again this is Luke and Luke always bring in the female role, and Luke mentions certain women that have been previously healed by Him or had demons cast out of them also follow Him, among these is Mary Magdalene. Then He mentions Joanna, and he mentions Susanna, in Hebrew it would be Shoshanna; notice the last phrase, “which ministered unto them of their substance.” And here we notice how the ministry of Jesus was financed; it was financed by several wealthy women. It was financed by several wealthy women. And so it’s biblical for a woman to finance ministries and Ariel Ministries has been helped more than once by certain women in our ministry over the last 30 years.
Now at this point in paragraph 61 we come to a really major turning point in His public ministry and I’m not going to deal with it today; I’m going to pick it up next week because there’s so much detail here I don’t a bunch of days to transpire in the middle of this paragraph. And so we’re going to hold off. Those of you who have the Harmony I recommend you read from paragraph 61 until paragraph 127, that will be my goal for next weekend. When you come to a passage where there are parallel columns, for example, don’t just take one to read and pick the shortest one at that, it there are two columns, read both columns, if there are three, read three, if there are four read four because as I’ve been trying to show using the Harmony there are things a certain Gospel has to state about an event, others leave out and so on, to give a complete picture we will need to look at all of the accounts together. So I encourage you to read ahead and be better prepared.
I’ll take questions. Anybody have the question about the material from either Thursday, Friday or Saturday?
[Can’t hear question] To have a right evaluation of ourselves, a right evaluation of ourselves being (?) being conscious that we don’t have the righteousness of ourselves, that we have the righteousness of God in us.
[Question something about the oral tradition, it eventually (?) out, is that correct?] In the year AD 220 they wrote it out, but it was oral until then.
[my next question is, did they ever canonize any of the oral tradition?] It is canonized, that’s what the Mishnah and Gemera those are both canonized texts, they make up the Talmud, so the Mishnah is the canonized segment of these oral traditions and you another work called Teshuvot tosephtah, which all of the traditions of that period which were not incorporated in the Mishnah, but added traditions later but not quite as authoritative as the Mishnah, s it was canonized by Judaism.
[what year did they canonize it] Well it was always considered authoritative as it was come into being, it was put finally in final form in AD 220.
[? You’re talking about the oral law past the (?) era] Yeah, the oral law begins about 150 BC, by then the Old Testament was complete at the time of Malachi, and then continued all the way… approximately 500 AD so it covered a period of nine centuries; the Mishnah is the section that was relevant in Jesus’ day. Much of it is later and I’m not covering those; those would be a whole different area of study for Judaism but not for New Testament studies.
[can’t hear question, something about pool of Bethsaida] In the King James text you read about an angel coming down (?) that’s found in a minority of texts, and (?) texts we have don’t have that, you’ll find it in the King James texts but not in most texts like ours. But there was some kind of a turmoil, maybe it was an earthquake area or something that periodically would cause a turmoil and the ones going into the water would be healed, probably a superstition and it never really actually happened, and having an angel come was not part of the superstition per se. But probably when there was any kind of earthquake, a minor one, it would cause the water to shake because it was located and that’s when they believed if you got in the water you’d be healed, but there’s no record of that ever happening.
[can’t hear question] Able to duplicate the miracles, like turning water into wine, (?) what they could not do is remove a divine miracle; they could not remove the frogs that Moses brought up, all they could do was produce even more frogs which didn’t help the common Egyptians.
[something about someone that doesn’t believe in Messiah] Well, in Judaism the issue is not being obeying to go to heaven, the issue is believe the Kingdom and the resurrection and the reason for serving and being orthodox is to receive a greater reward in the Kingdom, so all Jews go in, not all Jews are equally rewarded. The motivation is to get a special reward and they believe that those who are really good rabbis and good servants and good orthodox, they’ll sit at Messiah’s table and they’ll eat of the leviathan.
[can’t hear] It’s two words, it’s kal bachomer, the word (?) is just the word “and” so it’s kal bachomer with the wav meaning “and.”
[With regard to the Sermon on the Mount, you said that that’s not the constitution for the church age believers, but there’s aspects of it that is and how do you differentiate] You differentiate based upon what’s repeated later in the Gospels (?) and then also (?) the apostles and the epistles, that’s how you know what’s continually applicable.
[can’t hear] Leviathan in Judaism is a big huge kosher fish, and those believers who sit at Messiah’s table get to eat of that delicacy.
[can’t hear] The transfiguration will be part of our study for next weekend because we’ll go through paragraph 127 and there will be one more major statement about Elijah and John, that’s where I’ll put everything together. So we’ll do it next week.
[something about you wouldn’t go to the doctor, you’d go to the priest if you’d break your leg or do something, were they the doctors at that time] No, you would go to a doctor, like Luke was a doctor for those medical problems but demonism was would be something that’s religious; leprosy was not curable and the purpose for going to a priest for leprosy was not for the sake of a cure but to see if you really have leprosy and if you do, then you would be ostracized from the community. Only a priest had the authority to declare somebody a leper, but no leper went to a priest for healing; he went to a priest to determine whether this really was leprosy or not.
Let me give you one rabbi story and we’ll call it a day. There was a rabbi that was having trouble with his teeth; I’ll give you some background. In the synagogue service after the reading of the Torah and the prophets the rabbi would get up and expound on some passage for about 45 minutes or so. And this rabbi was having trouble with his teeth, he went to the dentist and had it fixed but his problem kept coming back and after several visits the dentists says listen rabbi, we can continue doing it this way but it’s going to in the long term cost you a lot of money. A better deal for you, let me pull out your back teeth, let me fix you good set of dentures, it’s a big expensive on the front but in the long end it will save you some money. The rabbi agreed and had the procedure done. Now the first Sabbath after the procedure he got up to give his exposition and he spoke forty-five minutes and he suddenly quit. The second Sabbath he got up and spoke for ten minutes and suddenly quit. The third Sabbath he got up and he spoke for about three hours straight, he didn’t even stop to breathe, he just kept on talking. So afterwards the elders pulled him aside and said Rabbi, we’ve got to talk to you because we don’t understand what’s been happening to you; the last two Sabbaths you were way, way too short but this morning, boy, you were way, way too long. He said let me explain what happened. He said two weeks after my procedure after about five minutes my gums began to hurt, I just had to quit. Last week I was still getting used to my dentures, they weren’t quite fitting right and about ten minutes into my spiel they began getting loose and I had to quit. Now what happened this morning is I got up and I was not paying close attention and by accident I put in my wife’s dentures and I couldn’t stop talking.