Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Where I am Going - Yeshua's Last Teaching

By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
The video version of this teaching is available at:
The scripture reading for this teaching is: John 14:1-17, 15:1-8
Yeshua and His disciples gathered in a private room and celebrated the Passover together with a traditional Seder meal.  As they proceeded through the Seder, Judas Iscariot made the fateful decision to betray Yeshua and arranged for Him to be handed over to the corrupt High Priest who was looking for an opportunity to arrest and kill Yeshua in secret.
It was just six months earlier that Yeshua made the unprecedented statement that He would soon be leaving them.  While speaking to the gathered crowds in the outer courts of the Temple during the feast of Sukkot, the leaders and the Chief Priests attempted to take Yeshua away.
John 7:32-34 NKJV 32 The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him. 33 Then Jesus said to them, "I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me. 34 "You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come."
At the time, the disciples did not understand Yeshua’s statement about His going away.  Now, here at their last night together, still not completely understanding, Yeshua gave them their final instructions. His mission was nearly complete, and His disciples were as ready as they would ever be to take up the gospel message of repentance and the kingdom of God!

The Master Yeshua’s words about departing from them and going where they could not follow, frightened and disturbed the Disciples.  After all, they had made the commitment to drop everything and follow Him!  For the last three years they had left everything behind; their livelihood and their families.  If they could not now follow their Master, what would they do and where would they go?
Yeshua’s long dissertation is recorded in somewhat disjointed detail in John’s gospel chapters 13 through 17.  Yeshua’s last journey would be one to the cross of crucifixion.  The disciples did not comprehend this end for their Master!  The disciples following Him immediately was not in keeping with the Master’s plan for them.
All this teaching takes place following the defection of Judas Iscariot and before the remaining eleven disciples and Yeshua retreat to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray later that evening. Yeshua understood their fears about His impending departure and opens his teaching with words of encouragement.
John 14:1-4 NKJV 1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 "And where I go you know, and the way you know."
These words of encouragement acknowledge their belief in God and their belief in Yeshua as the promised Messiah and perhaps brings to mind a passage in Exodus where the people also believe in the one God sent to redeem them from slavery.
Exodus 14:31 NKJV 31 Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses.
The Children of Israel proved their faith in God by believing and following the one God sent, Moses.  Yeshua, being a prophet like Moses, points the way to the Father.  Belief in Yeshua is belief in the Father.  Yeshua pointed it out earlier in John 12:44-45
John 12:44-45 NKJV 44 Then Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 "And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.
Yeshua restates this again on this last night with His closest disciples.  Philip asks Yeshua to show him the Father.
John 14:8-9 NKJV 8 Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." 9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
Yeshua encourages them by explaining that He is going to prepare a place for them as we read in verses 2 and 3 of John chapter 14.  The Biblical Hebraic concept is that this is a dwelling place, specifically a “Beit Av”, which means “house of the Father.”
Unlike in our modern society and culture, especially here in the United States, families in Yeshua’s day and culture did not separate to entirely separate households.  In Yeshua’s day, and in much of the near Eastern cultures even to this day, sons usually did not leave their homes when they took a bride.  They built additions onto their father’s house as they began a new life with their bride.  When Yeshua spoke of mansions in His Father’s house, he invoked this image of building an addition to His father’s house specifically for them as would a son for his bride.
The popular Christian interpretation of these “mansions” is that of heavenly dwelling places for the faithful disciples who depart this life.  This theology is derived directly from the apocryphal book of Enoch which speaks of a heavenly dwelling place for the righteous.
Enoch 39:3-4 And in those days a whirlwind carried me off from the earth and set me down at the end of the heavens. And there I saw another vision, the dwelling places of the holy, and the resting places of the righteous. Here mine eyes saw their dwellings and His righteous angels, and their resting places with the holy.
But there is another aspect of this dwelling place contained in Yeshua’s words to His disciples when He says in verse 3 that when He returns, He will come and retrieve us.  This is a direct allusion to His physical return to the earth and the establishment of His kingdom in Jerusalem!  When He returns, He will have prepared a place for us in His earthly kingdom in the Messianic age!  That place prepared will be here on earth!
Yeshua then told them that they would do greater things than He had done since the beginning of His ministry.
John 14:12-14 NKJV 12 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
Yeshua was preparing His disciples to carryout and continue His work as His agents here on earth.  He had accomplished many signs and wonders throughout His ministry.  Now that He was returning to the Father, He could now multiply His work through the disciples.  He would no longer be limited to one man in one place at one time.  His disciples would soon be given the same authority and power that He had received from the Father.  In this way, Yeshua was preparing a place, the kingdom of God on earth, for them to dwell with Him.
Yeshua told the disciples to pray to the Father and ask in His name.  In Judaism, to pray in the name of someone is to invoke the merit and virtue of that righteous person.  In Chasidic circles to this day, prayers are often said in the name of their righteous Rabbi.  We see a Biblical example of this with Eliezer, the servant of Abraham.
Genesis 24:12 NKJV 12 Then he said, "O LORD God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham.
Moses also prayed in the name of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and even modern-day Jewish prayers often invoke the names of the patriarchs.
The sages of old transmitted the teachings of the Torah in the name of previous sages, that is, on the authority of their teaching.  The disciples did the same thing; they baptized in Yeshua’s name, they cast out demons, they healed the sick, and performed other miracles in the name of, or authority of Yeshua!  Yeshua did not tell them to pray to Him, but to pray to the father “in His name” or His authority and He, Yeshua, would act on the request.  Yeshua would intercede with the Father on behalf of the disciples.
John 14:13-14 NKJV 13 "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
Yeshua’s very next statement in His answer to Philip is both a call to action on the part of the disciples, as well as a reassurance that God would always be with them.
John 14:15-21 NKJV 15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-- 17 "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 "A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 "At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."
The common Christian theological construct of Yeshua’s statement in verse 15 is limited to His “new commandment” of love for one another or His summary of the Torah of loving God and one’s neighbor. However, since Yeshua only speaks the words the Father gives Him, the full range of the Father’s revelation given in the Torah is also reiterated in Yeshua’s words. First Fruits of Zion in their work The Chronicles of the Messiah make this observation:
“According to the Targums, the commandments of the Torah entered into the world and were spoken to Moses through the divine word of the LORD (the Logos/Memra). The commandments of Yeshua, the Logos made flesh, (John 1:1) are the commandments of the Torah.”[1]
Yeshua had often said during His ministry that he only spoke the words of the Father and did what the Father told Him.  Yeshua spoke to His disciples in the agency of the Father.  He did not speak on His own initiative, He spoke as a prophetic voice on behalf of the Father and in complete unity with the Father. We see this concept further expanded later in Yeshua’s teaching recorded in John chapter 15
John 15:8-12 NKJV 8 "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. 9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. 11 "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
All of Yeshua’s teachings were explanations and expansions on the Father’s Torah commandments. John explained this when he said that every disciple of Yeshua is obligated by their love for God to walk in obedience to the Torah!
1 John 5:1-3 NKJV 1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
Next Yeshua reveals that when He returns to the Father He would send another advocate or comforter to guild them and be with them. We previously read this in John 14:16-17.  Let’s take a closer look.
John 14:16-17 NKJV 16 "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-- 17 "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
Yeshua reassured His disciples that, after He departed from them, the Father would send them another.  The Greek word used in the text is “paraklaytos”, number 3875 in the Strong’s lexicon meaning intercessor, consoler, advocate, comforter.  In five different saying of Yeshua, He uses this word in reference to the Holy Spirit.
The sixteenth century theologian John Lightfoot argues that the Greek paraklatos is used to translate the Hebrew Menachem meaning comforter.
“The rabbis used the word Menachem as a title for the Messiah. They derived the title from Isaiah’s prophecies about the consolation of Zion (Isaiah 40:1)”[2]
The Septuagint, the third century BCE Greek translation of the Hebrew Tanach, uses the Greek paraklatos many times to translate the Hebrew Menachem.
This fits very well with the context of John chapter 14.  Yeshua promised them another “Menachem”, another comforter.  He promised them the Holy Spirit.  The Father sent them another Menachem that the world does not see or know, but the disciples do see and know the Spirit because He abides with them and will dwell in them.  The Menachem abided with them in the person of the Master Yeshua and will abide in them in the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit.
As the disciples reclined around the Passover table, Yeshua continued to teach them using a parable about the true vine and branches. We can imagine that Yeshua gave this teaching as they prepared to drink the final cup of wine at the Seder, The cup of acceptance.
John 15:1-8 NKJV 1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
This seems more of an explanation of a parable than being the parable itself.  First Fruits of Zion in the Chronicles of the Messiah speculate that the actual parable may have been something like this:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a man who planted a vine in his vineyard. When the year for the harvest had come, he examined the branches. Those branches that did not bear fruit he cut from the vine and tossed aside where they withered and died until they were picked up and thrown into the fire as fuel.  Those branches that did bear fruit he left to remain on the vine, but he pruned them back that they might yield abundant fruit”[3]
Yeshua declared Himself the true vine!  In rabbinic parables, the vine represents Israel.  As the Messiah and the king of Israel, Yeshua stands in the place of the nation of Israel. Psalm 80 contains a description of Israel as the vine with Messianic implications.
Psalms 80:14-17 NKJV 14 Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts; Look down from heaven and see, and visit this vine 15 And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted, And the branch that You made strong for Yourself. 16 It is burned with fire, it is cut down; They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance. 17 Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.
Yeshua does not replace the nation of Israel, but as the true vine, he provides the nourishment that feeds the fruit bearing branches.  If branches are not attached to the vine, the Messiah, then they cannot bear fruit.
The Father, the vinedresser, cuts off every branch that does not bear fruit and prunes those that do so that they can bear even more fruit. The “pruning” of the branches is akin to a purging of sin from our lives. Philip Levertoff in his book Love in the Messianic Age explains:
“If the disciples do not bring forth fruit they are separated from Him; if they do, He “purges” them.  The “purging” means the freeing from sin; it will be removed because it disturbs the growth of love. Love is thus the aim, freedom from sin only a means to an end.”[4]
In the midst of the imagery of the vine and branches, Yeshua says that the disciples were “… already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”  How is this statement connected to the vine and branches?  When a new vine is planted, any fruit which the branches bear is not used for the first three years and is considered unclean.  Yeshua’s disciples have been with Him for the past three years and it was now time for them to bear clean fruit!
The fruit that we as disciple are to bear is love.  Love for one another, love for the Master Yeshua, love for the Father through obedience to His commandments, and advancing the kingdom of heaven by producing and training up disciples as Yeshua commissioned us to do.  Whether we are of the true branch, or the wild branch grafted into the vine as the apostle Paul spoke about, we must remain attached to the vine, the Master Yeshua, the king of Israel, then the world will know that we are true disciples of Yeshua by the love that we have for each other.
Study Questions:
1. The Greek word translated as “mansion” in John 14:2 is #3538 mone (mon-ay’) which means a staying, i.e. residence (the act or the place):--abode, mansion.  According to the prophets Ezekiel and Zechariah, what are the “additions” that will be made to the Father’s house?  What is the Father’s house and what are it’s boundaries?

2. Yeshua commanded His disciples to love one another as He loved them. (John 13:34, 15:12) This is a central theme to Yeshua’s evening of teaching His disciples and He repeats it several times through the course of the evening.  Using John chapters 14 and 15 as a basis, what is the hierarchy of love, and what does Yeshua say about putting this love into practice? 

3. As we saw in the teaching, Yeshua used a parable of the True Vine and the Branches.  In John 15:1 Yeshua says, “I am the true vine.”  What other places in John’s gospel does Yeshua use the phrase “I Am” and what is the accompanying metaphor?  For example, “I am the ___________” Fill in the blank.

4. Philip Levertoff said that, “freedom from sin is a means to an end of bearing the fruit of love.”  How does freedom from sin enable a person to produce the fruit of love?

© 2018 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved

[1] FFOZ, The Chronicles of the Messiah, Vol. 5 P1506
[2] John Lightfoot, Commentary in the New Testament from Talmud and Hebraica, vol 3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Press, 1997), 400
[3] FFOZ, The Chronicles of the Messiah, D. Thomas Lancaster, Vol 5 P1512
[4] Paul Philip Levertoff, Love in the Messianic Age (Marshfield, MO: Vine of David, 2009), 79

No comments:

Post a Comment

You must include your name, city and state at the end of your comment. I do not accept comments from any one who identifies themselves as anonymous. All comments are moderated prior to appearing on this blog.