Yeshua was the greatest Moreh (teacher) who ever lived. Yet He was much more than that. As YHVH’s Son, His teachings were truth. His mission was to instruct others how to know YHVH. His main message was that YHVH wants to love us and to know us. He taught while He walked with His followers. He taught from a boat, a hillside, a home and the temple. He taught in sermons, but He preferred to use a story or parable. Many people have questions about what Yeshua said on a lot of topics. What did He teach about YHVH? What did He think about Himself? What did He mean when He spoke about the Kingdom? What was the meaning of His death? What did He say about the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit)? How did He describe human beings and their needs? What about the Christian church? Did He teach anything about the end of the world? What were the main features of His moral teaching? The following sections will seek to answer these important questions.

Anyone who comes to the teachings of Yeshua after reading the Old Testament will at once recognize that the teachings about YHVH are parallel. Yeshua taught that YHVH was the Creator, caring for His creation and watching over such small creatures as the sparrow (Matthew 10:29). There is no support in the teachings of Yeshua for the view that YHVH is uninterested in the world He made. Yeshua reminds us that He is YHVH of details; intimately concerned with our lives. One of the most characteristic titles Yeshua used for YHVH was Father. This was not new, for the idea occurs in the Old Testament, where YHVH is seen as Father of His people Israel. This kind of fatherhood was national rather than personal. In the time period between the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Jews came to regard YHVH as so Holy that He was removed from direct contact with human affairs. In fact, they believed there had to be mediators between YHVH and people. This exalted notion of YHVH contradicted the idea of YHVH as a personal, loving Father. This is why Yeshua’s teachings on the personal fatherhood of YHVH were so unique. There is some evidence in Jewish teachings that praying to YHVH as “Our Father” was mentioned.

However, what distinguishes Yeshua from His contemporaries is that the fatherhood of YHVH was central to what he taught. The Father-Son relationship is particularly vivid in John’s Gospel, where Yeshua as Son is seen to be in close communion with YHVH as Father. This comes out strongly in Yeshua’s prayer in John 17 and in the frequent assertions that the Father had sent the Son and that the Son was doing the will of the Father. It is this strong relationship between YHVH and Yeshua in terms of Fatherhood and Son-ship that led Yeshua to teach people to approach YHVH in the same way. The Lord’s Prayer at once recognizes this in its opening words. It is particularly important to note that “Our Father” comes before “Hallowed be Thy Name.” Yeshua never taught us to approach YHVH with terror. He wants us to come to Him as a respectful child would come to a loving Father. Yeshua addressed YHVH as Father and taught His disciples to approach YHVH similarly but with a distinction. Yeshua spoke of “My Father and your Father” when He appeared to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection (John 20:17), but He did not say “our Father.” His Son-ship was unique, for He claimed that He and the Father were one (10:30). In the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua assured His followers that their heavenly Father knew about their needs (Matthew 6:32; Luke 12:30). We should present our needs to YHVH to demonstrate our dependence on Him.

What Yeshua said about Himself is of great importance, for this is what the early Church came to teach about Him. Yeshua used certain titles to describe Himself or accepted them when others used them.

The most widely used is Son of Man. Sometimes he related this directly to His public Ministry, like the saying that the Son of Man was Lord of the Shabbat (Mark 2:28) or that the Son of Man had authority to forgive sins (2:10). Sometimes the sayings dealt with His sufferings, as when Yeshua said that the Son of Man must suffer many things (8:31; note that Matthew 16:21 has “He” instead of “Son of Man”). At other times, the reference is to a future appearance, as when Jesus declared to the high priest that He would see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of YHVH and coming on the clouds of heaven (Mark 14:62). What did Yeshua mean by the title and why did He use it? The title “Son of Man” occurs in Psalm 8:4, where it refers to man or humans. The expression is also used many times in Ezekiel to address the prophet, but here also it means man. A rather different use occurs in Daniel 7:13, where one like a son of man comes with the clouds before the Ancient of Days (YHVH Himself). There is a strong similarity between this passage and the words of Yeshua in Mark 14:62. But an important difference is that whereas Son of Man becomes a title in Mark, it is not so in Daniel. There is some evidence for the title in Jewish literature where it represents a pre-existent being that will come to judge and overthrow the enemies of YHVH. Yeshua’s use of Son of Man as a title is unique. The Son of Man sayings are distributed throughout the four Gospels and there are no significant differences in their uses. Yeshua used this title, but the early Christians did not commonly use it. In fact, only in Acts 7:56 does the title appear, in this case used by Stephen. It is clear, therefore, that it had a special meaning for Yeshua that it did not have for others. There is no doubt that He was referring to Himself and not to someone else, as a careful study of all the Son of Man sayings shows. Those who think that Yeshua was referring to someone else arrive at this conclusion only after first dispensing with some of the sayings. The most probable reason why He used the title Son of Man was because he wanted to avoid a term like Mashiach, which carried with it too many political overtones. But what did Son of Man mean to Yeshua? It is rich with the idea of humanness, possibly referring to Daniel’s “son of man” and perhaps a touch of the suffering servant idea from Isaiah 53. It is most likely that Yeshua saw it in terms of His mission in a way that His hearers could not fully appreciate. It is also probable that the early church preferred Mashiach because this title carried the meaning of a royal deliverer. Also, after the death of Yeshua, there would be no further fear of political misunderstanding.

The term “HaMashiach,” does not belong strictly to the teachings of Yeshua, since He Himself never used it. However, He accepted this title in Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi. All the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) record the confession “You are HaMashiach,” while Matthew adds a significant comment by Yeshua. He notes that YHVH Himself, “My Father Who is in heaven,” gave Peter this insight (Matthew 16:17). Yeshua certainly accepted the confession and regarded it as revelation. He also did not refute being the Mashiach in His answer to the high priest’s question “Are you the Mashiach?” (Mark 14:61). In John’s Gospel, Andrew tells Peter that he had found the Mashiach (John 1:41); the woman at Samaria also talks to Yeshua and He reveals that He is the Mashiach (4:25-26). There was a widespread expectation among the Jews that a deliverer would come to overthrow their political enemies, the Romans. There were various ideas about his origin (a military leader or a heavenly warrior) and his methods. The Zealots believed that deliverance could come only through armed revolution. No wonder Yeshua hesitated to broadcast His title as Mashiach.

The title “Son of YHVH” occurs mainly in John’s Gospel. Mark and John both regarded Yeshua in this light (compare to Mark 1:1; John 20:30-31). There are certainly passages where the Mashiach is linked with the Son of YHVH and where Yeshua rejects neither title (compare to Matthew 16:16). But in the teachings of Yeshua, one passage makes abundantly clear the special relationship that Yeshua had with YHVH as Son; namely, 11:27 (also Luke 10:22, a parallel passage), where Yeshua implies that He is the Son of the Father. Many similar passages in John’s Gospel are however, more explicit. The Son is unquestionably pre-existent; living before time began. Yeshua knows He came from the Father and would return to the Father. Yeshua regarded Himself as divine; He was fully YHVH. However, John portrays Yeshua most clearly in His earthly nature as well; He was also fully human. Nowhere in the teachings of Yeshua did He explain how YHVH could become man, but He assumed this as a fact. As YHVH’s Son, He taught with the authority of YHVH.

No one can read the synoptic Gospels without noting how often the “Kingdom of YHVH” (or of heaven) occurs. Many of the parables of Yeshua are specifically called parables of the Kingdom. Yeshua’s concept of the Kingdom was a basic idea of the Christian gospel. The main idea is the rule of YHVH over people rather than a physical realm that belongs to YHVH. In other words, the emphasis is on the active reigning of YHVH as King. YHVH’s Kingdom consists of the relationships between the members and the King. It also means the Kingdom will not be expressed in institutional terms. There is one problem with the Kingdom teachings that must be faced: its timing. Some sayings imply that it is already present, while others suggest that it will not come until the future. Some scholars don’t believe that the present and future can be held together; therefore, they reject one and concentrate on the other. Those who maintain a present understanding of the Kingdom developed the idea of a social gospel; what happens in the here and now. According to this view, there is no place for a future arrival of the Kingdom; only an emphasis on establishing a Kingdom that helps the poor and needy. On the other hand, some concentrate only on the future Kingdom. In this case, it is difficult to see in what sense the Kingdom teachings are relevant.
Yet others have insisted that since both present and future aspects are found in the Gospel records, no explanation is satisfying that denies one at the expense of the other. One possible solution is to regard the present aspects as applying to this age but as not reaching their fulfilment until the future establishment of the Kingdom. A similar solution, expressed differently, is to maintain that the reality is a future Kingdom but that it has spilled over into the present. Yeshua intentionally included both present and future aspects.

That the Kingdom was a theme of common interest is clear from Luke 17:20-21, where the Pharisees asked Yeshua when it was coming. They were looking for the Mashiach to establish a political overthrow of the Romans. His answer, that it was “among them,” is clearly a present idea. Evil spirits were also exorcised as evidence that the Kingdom had arrived (Matthew 12:28; Luke 11:20). Moreover, Yeshua mentioned that the Kingdom had been forcefully advancing (Matthew 11:12), but not by revolutionary methods. Still, something dynamic was already happening. This idea of dynamic power is one of the most characteristic features of the Kingdom. Yeshua spoke of binding the strong, armed man (Luke 11:21-22), which shows that in His Ministry He expected to give a powerful demonstration against the forces of darkness. It is evident that the Kingdom Yeshua proclaimed, present or future was a Kingdom in which YHVH was supreme. The Kingdom was part of His mission, in which YHVH was bringing spiritual deliverance to His people. Moreover, the Kingdom teachings of Yeshua are part of the total message. No part of that message can be separated from any other part without distorting the whole.

The parables have the clearest teachings on the future aspect of the Kingdom (Matthew 13). The discourse on the Mount of Olives is equally telling (Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21). In the latter, Yeshua spoke of the future using imagery drawn from Jewish literature. He references clouds, glory and angels in relation to the coming of the Son of Man (Mark 13:26-27). Matthew references a trumpet call, another familiar feature (Matthew 24:31).Various features from the Kingdom parables give the clearest idea of the nature of the Kingdom. Membership in the Kingdom is not considered to be universal, for in the parable of the sewer not all the soils (people) enjoy the same results. The same distinction is seen in the parable of the tares and the parable of the dragnet. The tares are destroyed and only the wheat is harvested. The members of the Kingdom are those who hear and understand the Word of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:23). For all our racial, cultural and gender differences, there are only two kinds of people in the world: saved and unsaved. There are members of the Kingdom and outsiders. Each person must individually respond to Yeshua’s offer of salvation in order to be part of the Kingdom. There is an emphasis on growth in the parable of the mustard seed, where small beginnings grow into big things. The parables of the treasure and the pearl underline the value of the Kingdom. The universal character of the Kingdom comes out sharply in the parable of the vineyard, where the Kingdom is taken away from the non-believing Jews and is given to another “nation.” This likely refers to the non-Jewish people, the Gentiles (Matthew 21:43) entrance into the Kingdom. Yeshua Commanded His disciples to preach to all nations (28:19). This worldwide Kingdom gave Gentiles and Jews equal status; a revolutionary thought for Israel.

The announcement of the Kingdom must be linked with Yeshua’s approach to His own death. Did Yeshua see His death as a key part of his mission? Some have maintained that He ended His life in disillusionment with some sort of death wish. However, His death was not a diversion from His mission. It was His entire mission. Yeshua knew the details of His life were a fulfilment of Scripture (compare to Matthew 26:24, 56; Mark 9:12; Luke 18:31; Luke 24:25-27, 44-45). Yeshua’s suffering is the subject of Old Testament prophecy. He knew the Old Testament predictions and recognized that they could be fulfilled only through His own sufferings. This emphasis on fulfilment of Scripture is also seen in John’s Gospel. His statement that the Son of Man must be lifted up even as Moses lifted up the serpent (John 3:14) illustrates this point. John contains most of the passages where fulfilment of Scripture is mentioned. But there can be no doubt that the fulfilment motive played a vital part both in Yeshua’s own understanding of His mission and in the early Christians’ understanding of His death. The Gospels emphasize the necessity of Yeshua’ death. In John’s Gospel, Yeshua speaks in the earlier stages of His Ministry as the “hour” of His death being “not yet,” but in the later stages it has arrived (compare to John 17:1). Yeshua knew that only through the hour of death could the Father be glorified. He was not disillusioned about His death; He knew it was according to an orderly plan. Yeshua evidently regarded His death as a sacrifice. At the Last Supper, the cup is connected with the blood of the new covenant, which is said to be for the “remission of sins” (Matthew 26:26-28). No explanation is given of the way in which the coming death, signified by the broken bread and poured-out wine, would bring about forgiveness of sins. But the early church realized that HaMashiach died for our sins (compare to 1 Corinthians 15:3). The new covenant idea is parallel to the old covenant, which according to Exodus 24, was sealed with sacrificial blood. Yeshua likely had this in mind when He spoke about the new covenant. It was also akin to the ideas expressed in Jeremiah 31, referring to a covenant written on the heart rather than in stone. In Yeshua’s prayer in John 17, as He faces the cross, He declares that He has finished the work that the Father gave Him to do (17:4). This is reinforced by the cry from the cross; “It is finished,” which only John records (19:30). This sense of accomplishment gives an air of triumph to what might otherwise have been considered a disaster. Yeshua was not murdered. He gave His life willingly as a sacrifice for our sins. Although men superficially nailed Him to a cross, His love for all of YHVH’s people is what kept Him there, enduring to the end.

At several of the major events in the life of Yeshua, the Gospel writers note the activity of the Ruach HaKodesh. For example, the Virgin birth, Yeshua’s baptism and His temptation by Satan mention the Spirit. However, there is surprisingly little in the synoptic Gospels on this theme. Most of the teachings come from John’s Gospel. When Yeshua began His preaching Ministry in Nazareth, according to Luke, He read the statement in Isaiah 61:1-2 about the Spirit of YHVH and applied it to Himself. He saw the Spirit marking the beginning of His Ministry. He was accused of casting out demons by means of Beelzebub, prince of the demons. However, He was actually casting out evil spirits by the Spirit of YHVH (Matthew 12:28). He was moreover, sensitive to the seriousness of blaspheming the Spirit, which He implies that His accusers were in danger of doing. Criticizing His Ministry meant criticizing the activity of the Spirit. While warning His disciples that they would meet with opposition, Yeshua assured them of the Spirit’s support when they were forced to appear before kings or governors (Matthew 10:19-20; Mark 13:11). Indeed, He told them that the Spirit would continue to speak through them long after Yeshua had returned to heaven. Luke records Yeshua’s promise that YHVH would give the Ruach HaKodesh to those who ask (Luke 11:13), as a father gives good gifts to his children. We often ask YHVH for peace, purpose or protection. However, YHVH regards the Ruach HaKodesh as the best gift He can give His children. On another occasion, Yeshua recognized that David wrote Psalm 110 (Mark 12:36) with the Spirit’s influence. As a result of this example and others, we know that the Bible is no ordinary book authored by humans. In fact, the Ruach HaKodesh inspired Scripture.

The Gospel of John provides a more detailed development of what Yeshua taught about the Spirit. Teachings about the Spirit are usually linked to Yeshua’s teachings about giving eternal life to those who believe in Him and receive Him. When He spoke to Nicodemus of the new birth and eternal life, Yeshua also spoke of the Spirit (John 3:3-8, 15-16). When He mentioned the water of life to the Samaritan woman, He also spoke of the Spirit (4:14, 23-24). The same held true for the discourses on the bread of life (6:48-63) and river of life (7:37-39). Throughout the Gospel, Yeshua declared to various people that He could give them eternal life if they would believe in Him. He promised them the water of life, the bread of life and the light of life, but they would receive eternal life only when the Spirit came after Yeshua’s resurrection. Yeshua said, “It is the Spirit who gives eternal life” (John 6:63). When the Spirit became available, they could have life. Again, Yeshua offered the water of life; even life flowing like rivers of living water; to the Jews assembled at the Feast of Tabernacles. He told them to come and drink of Him. But no one could then and there, come and drink of Him. So John added a note: “This He spoke of the Spirit...for the Spirit was not yet given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified” (John 7:39, NASB). Once Yeshua had been glorified through resurrection, the Spirit of the glorified Yeshua would be available for believers. In John 6, Yeshua offered Himself as the bread of life to be eaten by believers; and in John 7, He offered Himself as the water of life to refresh. But no one could eat of Him or drink of Him until the Spirit of the glorified Yeshua was made available, as hinted in John 6:63 and then stated plainly in 7:39.

In John 14:16-18, Yeshua went one step further in identifying Himself with the Spirit. He told the disciples that He would give them another Comforter. Then He told them that they would know who this Comforter was because He was then and there, with them. In the near future, the Comforter would be inside them. Who else but Yeshua was with them at that time? Yeshua Himself represented the presence of the Ruach HaKodesh. Then after telling the disciples that the Comforter would come to them He said, “I am coming to you.” First He said that the Comforter would come to them and abide or live in them. In the same breath, He said that He would come to them and abide in them (see 14:20). The Comforter who was dwelling with the disciples that night was the Spirit in HaMashiach. The Comforter who would be in the disciples after the Resurrection would be HaMashiach in the Spirit. This is the mystery of how Yeshua comes to live in our hearts. While He is present in heaven, He is also present in us through the person of the Ruach HaKodesh. On the evening of the Resurrection, the Lord Yeshua appeared to the disciples and then breathed into them the Ruach HaKodesh. This is similar to YHVH’s breathing into Adam the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). The believers now possessed eternal life because the Spirit of HaMashiach lived in them. From that time forward, HaMashiach as Spirit lived inside His believers. “We know He lives in us because the Ruach HaKodesh lives in us” (1 John 3:24). The indwelling Spirit helped the disciples remember Yeshua’s Words and actions (John 14:26) so that they could teach and write about them. Yeshua also made it clear that the Spirit would convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment (16:8).

Yeshua taught about YHVH’s providential care for all human beings. A person’s hairs are all numbered (Matthew 10:30), which is a vivid picture of YHVH’s concern over the details of human life. But YHVH is far more concerned with the eternal soul. Yeshua made it clear that it would be unprofitable for anyone to gain the world and to lose his or her soul (16:26; Mark 8:36; Luke 9:25). The focus falls on what a person is and not what he or she has. Yeshua even said that a maimed body was preferable to a forfeited life (Mark 9:43-47). He was not of course, unconcerned about people’s physical state, as His many healings show. However, His major concern was with people’s relationship with YHVH.

Yeshua never viewed humans as isolated individuals. YHVH’s people are called to community. The Sermon on the Mount illustrated this social emphasis in the teaching of Yeshua. Those who are merciful to others will obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7). Peacemakers are rewarded (5:9). The disciples of Yeshua are expected to bring light to others (5:16). They are expected to give more than expected (5:40). According to Yeshua, people have responsibility beyond themselves.

Yeshua taught men and women to pray to YHVH for daily bread (Matthew 6:11) as a reminder that they cannot be wholly self-sufficient. He allowed no place in His teaching for humans to boast in their own achievements. Dependence on YHVH is not a sign of weakness. It is a symbol of strength. Wise people know they don’t have it all together. They rely on YHVH for daily help.

Yeshua accepted the sanctity of the marriage contract (Matthew 5:31-32; compare to 19:3-9) and showed a high regard for the honour and rights of the wife. Yeshua showed His regard for the status of women through His actions and attitudes instead of specific teachings. Luke points out how many women supported Yeshua and His disciples in their travels.

Yeshua had a high view of human potential but also acknowledged their present condition. He stressed repentance, realizing people’s sinful nature (Matthew 4:17). Yeshua focuses on forgiveness in the examples of the paralytic (9:1-8) and to the desperate woman who anointed Him (Luke 7:47-48). In the Lord’s Prayer, Yeshua instructs His disciples to pray for forgiveness (Matthew 6:12; Luke 11:4). He takes for granted that they need it and desire to obtain it. Men and women are not self-righteous. In fact, He criticizes the religious leaders in various sayings, but particularly in Matthew 23. They thought their good works earned them salvation. In contrast, Yeshua taught that we must cast ourselves on the mercy of YHVH. This is vividly illustrated in the parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector at prayer (Luke 18:10-14). Yeshua commended the tax collector for throwing himself on the mercy of YHVH. Yeshua never suggested that there was anyone who was exempt from sin. To Yeshua, sin represented separation from YHVH. This comes out clearly in John’s Gospel, with its strong contrasts between light and darkness, life and death (compare to John 5:24). Indeed, the “world” in John’s Gospel represents the system that takes no account of YHVH. But sin is also seen as enslavement to satan. The life and teachings of Yeshua are seen against the background of spiritual conflict. Yeshua can even say to His opponents, “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44). In the parable of the prodigal son, sin against YHVH is linked with sin before the father. In other words, it is regarded in terms of rebellion and revolt (Luke 15:21). This is a different assessment of the son’s offense than the one arrived at by the elder brother, who could see it only in terms of property. Our sinful nature is what separates us from YHVH. Our sins are simply an expression of a much larger issue. According to Yeshua, we are in a constant state of rebellion against YHVH until we experience salvation. Those who did not believe and were therefore outside of Yeshua’s provision of salvation are already condemned (John 3:18). Yeshua mentioned judgment to come, which shows that a person’s destiny is related to his or her present spiritual condition. Yeshua’s mission rests against this background of humanity’s spiritual need. We would be totally unable to achieve salvation apart from Yeshua. Yeshua came to offer eternal life to those who believe in Him (3:16).

Some have supposed that Yeshua did not predict that there would be a church. But on two occasions He used the word “Church,” which means a people called out by YHVH. On one of the occasions; at Caesarea Philippi; Yeshua told Peter that He would build His Church upon the rock (Matthew 16:16-19). It seems most probable that “rock” was intended to link the foundation of the church to Peter’s particular confession about Yeshua. The later church was a community that affirmed that Yeshua was HaMashiach, the Son of the living YHVH. HaMashiach Himself built the church. He assured His disciples that evil would be unable to overcome it. Moreover, one of the functions of the church was to proclaim forgiveness of sins and this is implied in what Yeshua said to Peter. However, similar words were addressed to all the disciples, not just Peter (Matthew 18:18). The church, according to 18:17, was also to be a community that could settle disputes between believers. In addition to these specific references to the church, Yeshua assumed that His followers would meet together in His Name (Matthew 18:19-20). In his final words in Matthew’s account, He commissioned them to teach what He had taught them and to baptize new disciples (28:19-20). He promised His presence would be with them. The command to baptize was reinforced by Yeshua’s own example in submitting to John’s baptism. Yeshua also expected His disciples and the future church to observe the Lord’s Supper. Yeshua intended the future community to be frequently reminded of the centre of the faith. The Christian church was to be a group of people who knew that through HaMashiach they had entered into a new relationship with YHVH. Although there are no references to the church in John’s Gospel, there are certainly hints that support the community idea. Yeshua introduced Himself as the Shepherd and spoke of His followers as forming a flock (John 10:16). The sheep imagery occurs again in this Gospel when Peter is instructed three times by the risen Lord to feed the sheep (21:15-17). Yeshua also used the imagery of many branches that draw their life from the vine and therefore belong to each other because of their common life in the vine. Yeshua recognized that the future community would need the aid of the Spirit; as seen in the book of Acts. Finally, there is a close connection between the church and the Kingdom, although they are not identical. The Church is part of the bigger picture; the Kingdom of God.

As shown, Yeshua thought of the Kingdom in terms of both a present realization and a future hope. The future aspect is related to the end of the age. Although He did not spell it out in specific terms, Yeshua gave firm assurance that He would return at some time in the future.

He told the disciples that the Son of Man would come with His angels in His Father’s glory (Matthew 16:27). He describes the Son of Man coming in clouds with power and glory (Mark 13:26), probably drawn from the familiar language of Daniel 7. Yeshua described various signs that would precede His own second coming. He spoke of wars, conflicts, earthquakes, famines and disturbances in the heavens. The gospel would also first be preached to all nations. At the same time, many false “christ’s” would arise. Yeshua gave such details about His return to encourage His disciples in the face of persecution. The future hope had a practical purpose. The disciples were urged to watch. The coming would happen as unexpectedly as a thief in the night. Yeshua said that even He Himself did not know when the coming would take place (Mark 13:32).

Another important theme affecting the future is emphasized in Yeshua’s teachings about resurrection. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the body. They attempted to trap Yeshua with a question about a woman who had been married seven times. They wanted to know whose husband she would be at the Resurrection (Mark 12:18-27). Yeshua pointed out that there would be no marriage when the dead rise. The Sadducees’ idea about resurrection was clearly wrong. Yeshua’s teaching was that the resurrected would be like the angels. There is no doubt about the resurrection of the dead, although no information is given about the specifics of the resurrection body.

Yeshua told a story about a rich man and a poor man who both died (Luke 16:19-31). In the afterlife, the rich man cried out in torment, while the poor man enjoyed a state of blessedness. The distinction between the two men gives a hint of judgment, although we are not told how the distinction is made. Elsewhere in His teachings, Yeshua suggested that the most vital requirement is faith. The conversation between Yeshua and the dying thief on the cross suggests that the repentant thief entered heaven (Luke 23:42-43). The theme of rewards and punishment occurs in many passages. In Matthew 16:27, Yeshua says that the Son of Man will reward everyone according to what he or she has done. Those who are worthless are promised punishment in darkness (25:30). Moreover, Yeshua spoke of a day of judgment on which men and women must give an account, even of all their careless words (12:36-37). In the parable of the sheep and the goats, He spoke of a separation that the Son of Man will make when He comes. Those commended are those who have shown concern for the believers (25:31-46). Among Yeshua’s most solemn statements are those that speak of hell. His teachings about eternal punishment for the unrighteous (as in Matthew 25:41, 46) are opposite to the eternal life promised to the righteous. He taught that His disciples would have a place prepared for them in heaven (John 14:2) and He spoke of a Book of Life in which the names of all believers were written (Luke 10:20).

Much of the teaching of Yeshua is concerned with moral issues; so much so that some scholars have concluded that this was the main burden of his teaching. However, the moral teachings cannot be considered apart from everything else. Some may say the teachings of Yeshua and the moral teachings of Judaism are closely related. Yet Yeshua says that morality is not achieved by observing rules and regulations; the crux of Jewish tradition. Right conduct is seen to be the result of a right relationship with YHVH. Those who consider Christianity just another religion of rules have missed the whole point. They figure they will never be good enough to obey YHVH’s rules, so why try? In fact, that is exactly what Yeshua taught. We cannot be good enough for YHVH. He offers His righteousness for our sinfulness. He does not offer religion. He offers a personal, life-changing relationship with YHVH through faith in HaMashiach. Yeshua was Himself the pattern for moral behaviour. He made clear that His aim was to fulfil the will of YHVH. There is no sense of legalism in His approach to ethical decisions. In the Sermon on the Mount, He compared His own teaching with that of Moses (compare to Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 31-32). However, Yeshua made more rigorous demands than the Law because He was concerned with motives as well as actions. Many have dismissed the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount as entirely impractical, but Yeshua never intended that His teaching would be easy. The target is nothing less than the perfection of YHVH Himself (5:48). Even so, Yeshua called His yoke easy and His burden light (Matthew 11:29-30), which suggests that He was not setting out an impossible ethical pattern. He offered instead to take over our lives to help us be the kind of people we need to be. He was not producing a manifesto for society. His concern was that each individual have powerful motives for right decisions on matters of conduct. His reaction against a rigid application of Shabbat observance at the expense of the welfare of a needy person illustrates this point. Concern for others was rated higher than ritual correctness.

No account of the life and teachings of Yeshua would be complete without some indication of the place that Yeshua HaMashiach gained in the developing church. Such a quest naturally takes us outside the scope of the Gospels into the testimony of the book of Acts and Paul’s letters. There we can see whether the predictions of Yeshua were fulfilled and whether, in fact, the early Christians took his teaching seriously. Yeshua HaMashiach became central to the faith of the early Christians and was regarded from many points of view. He was seen as Mashiach in the sense of a Spiritual Deliverer, as Lord in the sense of being sovereign over His people, as Servant in the sense of his obedience to suffering and as Son in His relation to His Father. In many ways, the full understanding of what and who He was could not have occurred until after the Resurrection. Therefore, we find that many facets of His teaching about Himself were more fully developed further on in the New Testament.

Many have found a problem in linking the Gospels with their detailed presentation of the acts and teachings of Yeshua with HaMashiach who is so central in Paul’s beliefs. The problem arises because the apostle does not refer to any specific incident in the life of Yeshua and does not reflect in His epistles any acquaintance with the large amount of teaching material in the Gospels. Does this suggest that Paul had no interest in the historical Yeshua? Or could it be maintained that he knew nothing about Him? Those who have driven a wedge between Paul and Yeshua have not given sufficient weight to those indications that Paul knew a great deal more about the historical Yeshua than he states in his letters. He wrote, for instance, about the meekness and gentleness of HaMashiach (2 Corinthians 10:1), suggesting that he knew that Yeshua had said of Himself that He was meek and lowly of heart (Matthew 11:29). Moreover, Paul spoke of the poverty of HaMashiach (2 Corinthians 8:9) and must have known that the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head. He certainly knew the details of how Yeshua instituted the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) and He was aware of His death by crucifixion. It seems reasonable to conclude that Paul assumed that his readers would be acquainted with the Gospel material. It is perhaps useful in this connection to inquire whether the life and teachings of Yeshua played a significant part in the early Christian proclamation. In Peter’s address to Cornelius, he spoke of YHVH’s anointing of Yeshua of Nazareth. He said that Yeshua went about doing good works and healing all who were under the power of the devil (Acts 10:36-38). It is clear that some account of the acts of Yeshua was included in the early preaching and there is no reason to suppose that this was not a regular procedure.

Yeshua’s example was a powerful motive for promoting right behaviour. Peter appeals to it in encouraging Christians who were suffering for their faith (1 Peter 2:21). Paul also knew the value of imitation (1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6). Yeshua Himself never sinned (compare to 2 Corinthians 5:21). His behaviour patterns were and are invaluable for those who need a new standard for moral action. While this idea of example is unquestionably present in the New Testament, it was not a major part of Christian doctrine. There are a few references to the teachings of Yeshua in other portions of the New Testament besides the Gospels. The Letter of James refers to the teachings of Yeshua more than anywhere else in the New Testament. This is especially true in echoes of the Sermon on the Mount and it shows the strong contribution that the moral teaching of Yeshua had on the ethical values of the early Christians. To what extent is knowledge of the life and teachings of Yeshua relevant to the 21st century? Some want to separate the historical figure of Yeshua from the HaMashiach of faith, saying only the latter is important. However, the object of our faith is the same One who lived and taught in Galilee and Judea. The One who broke into history 2,000 years ago is the same One who comes into our lives by faith as Saviour and Lord.

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