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Yeshua spent a brief time in the region of Tyre and Sidon, where He performed further healings and made it clear that His main mission was to the house of Israel (Matthew 15:21-28). He then moved on to Caesarea Philippi; this was the turning point of His Ministry (16:13-20; Mark 8:27-38; Luke 9:18-27). It was there that Yeshua asked His disciples:

“Who do people say the Son of Man is?” This caused Peter to confess:

“You are HaMashiach, the Son of the living YHVH.” This impressive confession led Yeshua to promise that He would build His church on “this rock.” There has been much discussion about the meaning of this saying.

It is open to some doubt whether Yeshua intended to build His church on Peter, on his confession or on Peter’s making the confession.

Historically, Peter was the instrument YHVH used for the entrance into the Church of both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 2; 10). There is no doubt about Yeshua’s intention to found a Church, since the word occurs again in Matthew 18:17. Despite the glorious revelation of Yeshua on this occasion, He took it as an opportunity to begin to inform His disciples of His death and resurrection (16:21-23). This revelation of Yeshua was considerably reinforced by the event known as the Transfiguration, when Yeshua was changed in appearance in the presence of three of His disciples (Matthew 17:1-8). It was natural for them to want to keep this glorious vision of Yeshua for themselves, but the vision vanished as rapidly as it came. Its purpose was evidently to show the three leading disciples something of the nature of Yeshua, which was hidden by His normal human form. A further feature of the vision was the appearance with Yeshua of Moses and Elijah, representatives of the Law and the Prophets. After the Transfiguration, Yeshua made two predictions concerning His death. These announcements were confusing to the disciples. In Matthew 16, when Yeshua mentioned His death, Peter attempted to rebuke Yeshua and was rebuked by Yeshua in kind.

When Yeshua mentioned His death again in Matthew 17, Matthew noted that the disciples were greatly distressed (17:23), while Mark and Luke mentioned the disciples’ lack of understanding (Mark 9:32; Luke 9:45).

Yeshua was approaching the cross with no support from those closest to Him. It is not surprising that when the hour arrived they all betrayed Him. After the Transfiguration revealed that Yeshua was greater than Moses and Elijah and in fact was the beloved Son of YHVH, He was asked to pay the temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27). This incident illustrates the attitude of Yeshua toward the authorities and practical responsibilities. He paid the tax, although He did not acknowledge any obligation to do so. The method of payment was extraordinary, for it involved the miracle of the coin in the fish. But the greater importance of the incident is Yeshua’s independence from the Jewish law. Luke devotes more than half his Gospel to the period that begins with Yeshua leaving Galilee and ends with His death and resurrection in Jerusalem.

In this section of his Gospel, Luke introduces a great deal of material that does not occur elsewhere. We can do no more than summarize some of the more striking items that throw light on the life of Yeshua. In addition to the mission of the Twelve, Luke records the mission of the Seventy (or Seventy-two; see Luke 10:17-20). Luke records special parables in this section like the Good Samaritan (10:29-37), the lost sheep (15:3-7), the lost coin (15:8-10) and the prodigal son (15:11-32).

As Yeshua moved toward Jerusalem, He was concerned with developing the spiritual life of His disciples. He was mindful of the fact that He would not be with them long and wished to prepare them for the future.

He taught them about prayer (11:1-13), the Father’s care for them (12:13-34) and preparation for the coming of the Son of Man (12:35-56).

On the approach to Jerusalem, Yeshua visited both Jericho and Bethany.

At Jericho he healed Bartimaeus (Luke 18:35-43) and had a fruitful encounter with Zacchaeus, who reformed his ways as a tax collector (19:1-10). Bethany was the home of Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus, whom Yeshua had raised from the dead (John 11). Yeshua spent His remaining days in Jerusalem but returned each night to stay at Simon the Leper’s house in Bethany in the presence of those who loved Him (Matthew 26:6). It was there that a woman anointed His Body with costly ointment. This was a controversial and prophetic act preparing Yeshua for His burial (26:6-13).

All four Gospels relate the entry of Yeshua into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-38; John 12:12-15). At this time, crowds greeted Yeshua and praised Him as their king. This welcome stands in stark contrast with the crowd’s later cry for His death. In fact, it was the second crowd that was doing YHVH’s bidding, since Yeshua had not come to Jerusalem to reign but to die. The synoptic Gospels place the cleansing of the temple as the first main event following Yeshua’s entry into the city (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46). The clouds of opposition had been thickening, but the audacity of Yeshua in clearing out the moneychangers from the temple area was too much for the authorities (Mark 11:18; Luke 19:47). The crucifixion loomed closer.

Further controversies developed between Yeshua and the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 21:23-22:45). In several cases, trick questions were posed in order to trap Yeshua, but with consummate skill He turned their questions against them. The opposition eventually reached the point where they dared not ask Him any more questions (22:46). Nearing His final hour, Yeshua took the opportunity to instruct His disciples about future events, especially the end of the world. He reiterated the certainty of His return and mentioned various signs that would precede that coming (Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21). The purpose of this teaching was to provide a challenge to the disciples to be watchful (Matthew 25:13) and diligent (25:14-30).

This section prepares the way for the events of the arrest, the trial, the scourging and crucifixion that followed soon after. But first we must note the importance of the Lord’s Supper. When Yeshua sat at the table with His disciples on the night before He died, He wished to give them a picture of His death’s significance (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-25; Luke22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The use of the bread and wine for this purpose was a happy choice because they were basic elements in everyday life. Through this symbolic significance Yeshua gave an interpretation of His approaching death; His Body broken and His blood poured out for others. It was necessary for Yeshua to provide this reminder that His sacrificial death would seal a completely New Covenant. Each time we celebrate communion, we help prevent the Church from losing sight of the centrality of the cross. John’s Gospel does not tell the story of the Last Supper. Nevertheless, it does record a significant act in which Yeshua washed the feet of the disciples as an example of humility (John 13:1-20). He impressed on the disciples the principle of service to others. John follows this display of humility with a series of teachings Yeshua gave on the eve of the Passion (chapters 14-16). The most important feature of this teaching was the promise of the coming of the Ruach HaKodesh to the disciples after Yeshua had gone. Even with His mind occupied by thoughts of approaching death, Yeshua showed Himself more concerned about His disciples than about Himself. This is evident in the prayer of Yeshua in John 17. All the Gospel writers refer in advance to the betrayal by Judas (Matthew 26:21-25; Mark 14:18-21; Luke 22:21-23; John 13:21-30), which prepares readers for the final stages of Jesus journey to the cross.

The various outbursts of popular support were soon over and the determined opposition seemed to resume control. In John’s Gospel, the sense of approaching climax is expressed in terms of “His hour” (John 13:1). When this at length comes, the betrayal and arrest are seen as part of a larger plan. From the upper room where the Last Supper was eaten, Yeshua went straight to the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:40-46), where He prayed to His Father with deep intensity and agony. It cost Yeshua to identify Himself with man’s need. He prayed for the cup of suffering to pass from Him, but at the same time He submitted to the Father’s will. The three disciples He took with Him all fell asleep, while one of His other disciples, having betrayed his master, appeared at the gates at the head of the group who had come to arrest Him. At the moment of confrontation with Judas, Yeshua exhibited an amazing dignity when He addressed the betrayer as His “friend” (Matthew 26:50). He offered no resistance when He was arrested and chided the crowd of people for their swords and clubs (26:55).

Yeshua was first taken to the house of Annas, one of the high priests, for a preliminary examination (John 18:13). During His trial, He was scorned by His enemies and one of His disciples Peter, denied Him three times (Matthew 26:69-75, Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-27), as Yeshua predicted he would (Matthew 26:34; Mark 14:30; John 13:38).

The official trial before the Sanhedrin was presided over by Caiaphas, who was puzzled when Yeshua at first refused to speak. At length Yeshua predicted that the Son of Man would come on the clouds of heaven; this was enough to make the high priest charge Him with blasphemy (Mark 14:62-64). Although He was spat upon and His face was struck, Yeshua remained calm and dignified. He showed how much greater He was than those who were treating Him with contempt. The further examinations before Pilate (Matthew 27:1-2; Mark 15:1; Luke 23:1; John 18:28) and Herod (Luke 23:7-12) were more examples of injustice. Again Yeshua did not answer when asked about the charges before either Pilate (Matthew 27:14) or Herod (Luke 23:9). He remained majestically silent, except to make a comment to Pilate about the true nature of His Kingship (John 18:33-38). The pathetic governor declared Yeshua innocent, offered the crowds the release of either Yeshua or Barabbas and then publicly disclaimed responsibility by washing his hands. Pilate then had Yeshua scourged and handed Him over to be crucified.

The soldiers’ mocked Yeshua (Matthew 27:27-30), mixing a royal robe with a painful crown of thorns (Mark 15:17) and compelling a passerby to carry the cross (Luke 23:26). They then nailed Yeshua to the cross and played a cruel game, casting lots for His garment (John 19:23-24). They scornfully challenged Him to use His power to escape (Matthew 27:40-44).

But against this is Yeshua’s concern about the repentant criminal who was crucified with Him (Luke 23:39-43). He also expressed concern for His mother (John 19:25-27), prayed for forgiveness for those responsible for the Crucifixion (Luke 23:34) and made one final triumphant cry (Mark 15:37). He showed a nobility of mind that contrasted strongly with the meanness of those about Him. A few observers showed a better appreciation, like the centurion who was convinced of Yeshua’s innocence (15:39) and the women who followed Him and stood at a distance (Matthew 27:55-56). At Yeshua’s forsaken cry (Mark 15:34), there was darkness and an earthquake, as if nature itself were acknowledging the significance of the event. Even the temple veil was torn in two, as though it no longer had any right to bar the way into the Holy of Holies (Matthew 27:51). Yeshua’s death had paved the way for all people to freely enter YHVH’s presence and worship Him. He paid for our sins and brought us back to YHVH.

Yeshua’s Body was placed in a tomb that belonged to Joseph of Arimathea.

Joseph was assisted by Nicodemus in laying the Body to rest (Matthew 27:57-60; John 19:39). But the tomb played only an incidental part in the resurrection. The Gospel writers concentrate on the appearances of Yeshua not only on the day of resurrection but also afterward. The disciples were convinced that Yeshua was alive. Some like Thomas, had doubts to overcome (John 20:24-29). Others like John, were more ready to believe when they saw the empty tomb (20:2-10). The first to see the risen Lord was a woman, Mary Magdalene (Matthew 27:61; Matthew 28:1, 5-9), whose presence at the cross put to shame those disciples who had run away (Matthew 26:56; John 19:25). We may note that in His glorified, risen state Yeshua was in a human form, although He was not at once recognized (John 20:15-16). The appearances were occasions of both joy and instruction (compare to Luke 24:44 and Acts 1:3). The Resurrection in fact, had transformed the

Crucifixion from a tragedy into a triumph. His Ascension into heaven came forty days after His resurrection. Yeshua ascended into heaven to join His Father in glory (Luke 24:51; John 20:17; Acts 1:9-11).


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