As Yeshua entered the Temple courts for His final Passover, He saw the Court of the Gentiles packed with merchants selling livestock and exchanging coins. Filled with rage, he drove them out with a whip, cleansing the “leaven” (so to speak) from the holy place in preparation for Passover.
The cursing of the fig tree can be interpreted in a number of different ways. Some say it means that Yeshua cursed Israel in preparation for starting a new religion—Christianity. Yet this prophetic sign of the Master makes more sense when placed in a first-century Jewish context.
The eye of a needle in the days of the disciples was not much larger than the eye of a needle in our day and age—just large enough to pass a piece of thread through, leaving absolutely no possibility for passing a camel through.
Jewish law defines adultery narrowly as sexual relations with another man's wife. A married man and a single woman can't therefore commit adultery. However, Yeshua leveled the marital playing field by defining men who cheat on their wives as adulterers, no matter the marital status of the other woman.
After the transfiguration, the disciples began to argue with one another over who would be the “greatest”—the highest-ranking among them—once Yeshua took power in Jerusalem. Yeshua, disappointed with their haughty attitude, taught them that to be great in the kingdom, one must humble themselves like a child.
Yeshua was slow to reveal the entire truth about His identity to His disciples. But one day, recorded in Mark chapter 8, He asked them who they thought He was. Peter responded: “You are the Messiah.” Yeshua applauded his answer, and said, “Upon this rock I will build My church.”
Yeshua is the Messiah, the promised king who will redeem Israel. But there’s a problem with His messianic credentials if He violated and taught others to violate the laws of the Torah. So what did Mark mean when he wrote that Yeshua “declared all foods clean,” thereby abrogating God’s law?
Yeshua took several opportunities to excoriate the Pharisees. His criticism has long been interpreted as a rejection of Judaism and Jewish traditional practices. However, a closer look reveals that Yeshua’s criticism is best seen as existing wholly within Judaism—part of an internal dispute concerning Jewish law.
What was the root of Herod’s—and more so, Herod’s wife’s—antipathy toward John the Immerser? Why did she want him dead? Their marriage was forbidden by Jewish Law, and John had no qualms pointing that out loudly and publicly.
He knew they were outside, waiting to take Him back to Nazareth, but His loyalty remained with His students in Capernaum. He looked at the disciples seated in the circle around Him, and said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”