06.03 The Ministry Of Jesus Accelerates In Galilee

06.03 The Ministry Of Jesus Accelerates In Galilee

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 08, 2016  -  Comments Off on 06.03 The Ministry Of Jesus Accelerates In Galilee

Unit 06

The Ministry Of Jesus Accelerates


Chapter 03

The Ministry Of Jesus Accelerates In Galilee


 06.03.00.A. JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES IN A FISHING BOAT. Artwork by William Hole of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art, 1876.  After toiling all night without catching a single fish, Jesus, who was not a fisherman, told them where to cast the net (Lk. 5:1-7).  The result was phenomenal.

06.03.01 Sea of Galilee PETER AND THE CATCH OF FISH

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 08, 2016  -  Comments Off on 06.03.01 Sea of Galilee PETER AND THE CATCH OF FISH

06.03.01 Lk. 5:1-11; Mt. 4:18-22 (See also Mk. 1:16-20) Sea of Galilee (Gennesaret)




Lk. 1As the crowd was pressing in on Jesus to hear God’s word, He was standing by Lake Gennesaret. 2 He saw two boats at the edge of the lake; the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the land. Then He sat down and was teaching the crowds from the boat.

4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”

5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing! But at Your word, I’ll let down the nets.”

6 When they did this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets began to tear.    7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them; they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, because I’m a sinful man, Lord!” 9 For he and all those with him were amazed at the catch of fish they took, 10 and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s partners.

“Don’t be afraid,” Jesus told Simon. “From now on you will be catching people!”          11 Then they brought the boats to land, left everything, and followed Him.

Mt. 18 As He was walking along the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen.

19 Follow Me,” He told them, “and I will make you fish for people!”

20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.

21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.


These two passages from Luke and Matthew were two separate events. They happen to be placed together due to their similarities. However, before discussing the biblical passage, some background information is needed relative to fishing in the Sea of Galilee. Simon Peter and his brother Andrew were fishermen and James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were their business partners. The fish they caught were usually dried, salted and sold to traveling caravans while fresh fish were taken quickly to nearby markets such as Tiberias, Nazareth, and Sepphoris.  Their business did not make them wealthy, but did provide for all their needs. Yet soon they would find sufficient reason to leave the business to Zebedee and follow Jesus.

Then Jesus, who was not a fisherman, came by and gave some instruction to professional fishermen that produced outstanding results. A huge catch of fish in daylight was caught when fish are normally caught only at night.  Since the Sea of Galilee has always been abundant with fish, failure to catch any at night was unheard of and, therefore, a miracle.  At night the fish swim close to the surface to feed, but during the daylight hours they descend to the depths of the lake. It was common knowledge that daylight fishing was an exercise in futility. For a carpenter to tell professional fishermen how to fish was totally out of character, especially during daylight hours – a most unusual event.

Therefore, when Jesus called Simon Peter and his brother Andrew to follow him, they knew they were going with Someone special.  Yet they would not know to what extent “special” was until after His death and resurrection. John 1:35 indicates that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, and possibly Peter as well. Little wonder then, that when Jesus spoke to Simon Peter, Peter addressed Him as “Master.”

It has been said that a great man can transform ordinary people into great people. The lives of the disciples would be transformed dramatically – beyond their wildest dreams. In the course of time, their human frailties would be exposed, but the power of God would transform them into healers of the sick and soldiers of the cross.

As to the profession of fishing, the trammel net was the ideal net for use at night.  It is a series of three nets close together, which are “hung” in the water like a vertical curtain.  Along one edge is a series of floats and along the opposite edge is a series of weights.  The net is suspended in a semi-circular fashion near the shore and slowly the two ends are drawn together causing many fish to be caught.[1] At night the fish swim between the nets and become tangled.  This type of net, while very effective for catching fish, also catches seaweed and “unclean” fish.  Therefore, the net needs to be cleaned and unacceptable fish removed.



06.03.01.A. AN ILLUSTRATION OF NIGHT FISHING WITH A TRAMMEL NET. This illustration shows the trammel net being hung in the water in a circular manner.


In summary, there are two important aspects to this miracle.

  1. The trammel net is used only at night because it is ineffective during the day the fish can see the net.
  1. The fish were caught in a deep portion of the lake, which was distant from their normal habitat near the shoreline.

Jesus clearly demonstrated his authority over nature and creation; they recognized Him as having some unusual divine powers which caused Peter to immediately confess himself as a sinful man (v. 8). The irony is that Peter, while catching dozens of fish into his net, was himself caught in the net of Jesus. Peter’s view of Jesus was more than that of a teacher, as he called Him “Master,” In contrast to John, who called Him “Rabbi.” At a future time Peter received a second calling when a “Stranger” along the shore told him to recast his net and that resulted in a catch of 153 fish.



06.03.01.B. AN ILLUSTRATION OF HOW FISH ARE CAUGHT IN A TRAMMEL NET.  A trammel net is a three-layered net in which the fish become tangled and caught. Fishing was done close to the shore at night when the fish could not see the linen net. Today nylon nets are used for day fishing because the fish cannot see them.


Video Insert    >

06.03.01.V Insights into Two Fishing Miracles. Gordon Franz discusses the fishing miracles of Luke 5:1-11 and Matthew 4:18-22.


“’Master,’ Simon replied.” Luke used the Greek word epistates, which means teacher, boss, or master. Simon Peter clearly recognized that he was speaking with someone who had unusual authority and power. In verse 5 Simon Peter called Him kyrios, meaning Lord.[2]


There is a second type of net that is occasionally used in the Sea of Galilee.  When Matthew said, “They were casting a net into the sea,” he was referring to a cast-net that in Greek is amphiblestron.[3] A cast-net is any net that is thrown around or over something to restrict its motion and was used for fishing as well as for wild game and even people in games or war.[4]

In Matthew it was the casting net (Gk. amphiblestron 293)[5] that was laid over the shoulder of the fisherman, who then cast it carefully into the water from the shore or a boat.[6] It was ideally used at night when the fish did not see the net coming all around them and they were trapped inside.  The net was then pulled ashore and the fish were separated – the bad from the good.[7]  This parable teaches there will be a time when God will separate the bad from the good – it is the tenor of the Bible, along with the encouraging call to follow the ways of our Lord.



06.03.01.C. CASTING A STANDARD CASTING NET. Fishermen today still cast their nets as they did in the time of Jesus. Photograph by Jeane Conte.


If Jesus would have been a typical rabbi, He would have asked the disciples to learn the Torah, become competent of the Oral Law, master the hermeneutics of biblical interpretation, and memorize the traditions and quotations of previous important rabbis. But rather, Jesus simply said, “Follow Me.” They did and “immediately they left.”  This phrase illustrates the commitment the disciples had because the fishing nets were expensive. But they would simply not leave anything of such value lying on the shore. In all probability, their father Zebedee took the nets and continued the fishing business.  The miracle was to be seen later as the backdrop or metaphor of the time when they would become fishers of men.

Finally, it should be noted that Satan is also a fisherman (2 Tim. 2:26) and desires to catch men. He is the impersonator of Christ, luring as many as he can with his counterfeit deeds and message.



06.03.01.D. CLEANING FISHING NETS. Arab fishermen in the 1920s are shown cleaning their nets in the Sea of Galilee in a similar manner as was done in the first century. Cleaning involves the removal of unwanted fish and vegetation. Note the barren hillside in the background.  Photograph by H.V. Horton.



06.03.01.E. AN OLD ILLUSTRATION OF FISHERMEN FISHING WITH A CAST-NET. This illustration taken from a Roman mosaic in north Africa depicts  a fisherman with a cast-net wearing only a loin cloth, but in doing so, he was  considered to be “nude.”

[1]. Franz, “Ancient Harbors of the Sea of Galilee.” 114.      

[2]. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 142.


[3]. Barclay, “Matthew.” 2:88.


[4]. http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/amphiblestron.html  Retrieved December 7, 2013.


[5]. Vine, “Net.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:430.


[6]. http://studybible.info/trench/Net. December 7, 2013.


[7]. Nun, The Sea of Galilee and its Fishermen in the New Testament. 12, 27.



Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 08, 2016  -  Comments Off on 06.03.02 JESUS TEACHES AT CAPERNAUM, AN ECONOMIC CENTER

06.03.02 Mk. 1:21-22 (See also Lk. 4:31-32) Capernaum




21 Then they went into Capernaum, and right away He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and began to teach. 22 They were astonished at His teaching because, unlike the scribes, He was teaching them as one having authority.


Capernaum was an economic center for trade and international commerce and a popular stopping point for caravans that traveled between Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. It was here where Jesus located the center of His ministry. When he spoke in the synagogue, “they were astonished at His teaching.” Not only would the community people have been there, but also the traveling Jewish merchants would have attended and heard Him speak. Evidently Jesus left quite an impression, because previously He had acquired five disciples before He performed any miracles.

As a child, Jesus attended the local synagogue school in Nazareth and had no further education.  Since He was not a seminary graduate and not ordained as a rabbi, He was not permitted to introduce a new interpretation, but He gave new insights and explained the ideals of the Kingdom of God with compassion and love.  Furthermore, He taught with authority.  Rabbis frequently quoted famous rabbis in their sermons.  Jesus, however, said, “I say….” In essence, He said He was His own authority. Later this became more pronounced when He forgave sins, an act only God could do.



06.03.02.A. SYNAGOGUE AT CAPERNAUM.  This late 3rd or early 4th century A.D. synagogue was made of white-colored limestone and constructed directly on top of the original synagogue in which Jesus preached. The massive columns and size of the sanctuary dwarf visitors.  Photograph by the author.


At Capernaum traveling caravans loaded with goods, travelers, and religious pilgrims frequently stopped there for fresh supplies and salted fish.[1] Local craftsmen carved millstones and grinding stones from local volcanic basalt rock and sold them to traveling merchants. The Roman command post was located there, near today’s Greek Orthodox Church as evidenced by the ruins of a Roman bathhouse.  That is probably where a centurion and his soldiers insured that travelers paid their taxes to a tax collector named Matthew.[2]



06.03.02.B. RUINS OF THE ROMAN BATHHOUSE AT CAPERNAUM. Grass and weeds bury the first century Roman bathhouse at Greek Orthodox Church in Capernaum. It is evidence of the presence of a Roman station that insured that travelers paid taxes to the agent of Rome – Matthew. Photograph by the author.


While Capernaum was known as a fishing village and a rest area for traveling caravans, there were probably several other industries located there as well. The surrounding farmland from Chorizim to Gadara was known for its excellent wheat that was used in the temple[3] and was also sold to caravans for export.  Archaeologists have unearthed glass vessels that suggest a glass making industry or glass merchant, as well as dozens of grinding stones and stone implements made of the locally-found basalt rock.[4] These discoveries led them to conclude that the village had at least two thriving manufacturing industries.



06.03.02.C. BASALT GRINDING STONES.  Dozens volcanic basalt grinding stones have been uncovered in Capernaum, leading archaeologists to suspect there may have been a thriving stone industry in Capernaum at the time of Jesus.  Photograph by the author.


The following image can be found in the full single-volume eBook of Mysteries of the Messiah as well as in the corresponding mini-volume. Search for the following reference number: 06.03.02.D. A CACHE OF GLASS VESSELS. Large quantities of glass vessels uncovered in Capernaum have led some archaeologists to consider the possibility of a glass merchant in the town. That in turn suggests Capernaum may have been a commercial center larger than was previously considered. Photograph by Stanislao Loffreda.


One of the fantastic treasures of Capernaum is the ruins of the house of Peter. The ruins of the village were first explored and identified by Edward Robinson. In the following years the Roman Catholic Franciscans protected the site from vandalism and began archaeological excavations. They uncovered a cache of glass vessels, basalt grinding stones of various sizes, and the home of St. Peter. Possibly most the interesting discovery is the collection of plaster pieces with various graffiti writings on them that identified the site as the former church that was built upon the ruins of St. Peter’s home.


The identity of where Peter and his family once lived has been preserved by an interesting event. Queen Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, came to the Holy Land in the early fourth century.  She honored the home of St. Peter by building a basilica over it that had three concentric octagons.[5]  Her purpose was to preserve the location of the holy site.[6]

The following image can be found in the full single-volume eBook of Mysteries of the Messiah as well as in the corresponding mini-volume. Search for the following reference number: 06.03.02.E. DECORATED PLASTER PIECES FROM PETER’S HOME.  Decorated plaster of floral design (3RD – 5TH century) and graffiti was found in the home / Church (or Basilica) of St. Peter.[7] The graffiti, written in nine languages, suggest that pilgrims from many countries visited this location.[8]


A Spanish nun, Egeria in the years 381-384[9] toured the Holy Land and visited the home of Peter. She noted that the Apostle’s home had been converted into a small church and made these comments:


The house of the prince of the apostles (St. Peter) in Capernaum was changed into a church; the walls, however, (of the house) are still standing as they were (in the past).


Pilgrim Egeria[10]


The foundations of Queen Helena’s basilica were also identified by an Italian pilgrim who came from the village of Piacenza in about the year 570. He stated that:


We came to Capernaum in St. Peter’s house, which at present is a basilica.


Pilgrim of Piacenza, Itinerarium[11]



06.03.02.F. OCTAGONAL BYZANTINE FOUNDATIONS OVER PETER’S HOME.   The ruins of Capernaum as seen from the air looking toward the Sea of Galilee. The three concentric octagonal walls on the left are the remains of a Byzantine church that was built around Saint Peter’s house. Today a Catholic shrine is suspended over the site.  To the right are the partially reconstructed walls of the late 3rd century (A.D.) synagogue that was built over the synagogue in which Jesus taught. Photograph by Wikipedia Commons.

[1]. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. 267.


[2]. Hansen, “The Sea of Galilee: An Overview.” 60-65.


[3]. Sources disagree on whether wheat from this area was used in the temple. While the quality was considered excellent, the Talmud (Men. 85a) states that distance made it prohibitive to ship it to Jerusalem.  However, that may not have been the real reason because other sources state that no sacrifice could be taken across a defiled area such as Samaria in route to Jerusalem and, therefore, wheat from this area could not be used for the Omer sacrifice.


[4]. Loffreda, Recovering Capharnaum. 20-24.


[5].  It was not until excavations in 1968 that archaeologist discovered an apse and a baptistery, making it possible to identify this structure as a basilica. See  http://theosophical.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/biblical-archaeology-38-peter%E2%80%99s-house-in-capernaum/ Retrieved September 18, 2012.


[6]. Shepherd, “Rediscovering the Kathisma: Where Mary Rested.” 47.


[7].  It was not until excavations in 1968 that archaeologist discovered an apse and a baptistery, making it possible to identify this structure as a basilica. See  http://theosophical.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/biblical-archaeology-38-peter%E2%80%99s-house-in-capernaum/


[8]. Loffreda, A Visit to Capharnaum. 32-33.


[9]. Shanks, “After Hadrian’s Banishment: Jews in Christian Jerusalem.” 32.


[10]. Quoted by Loffreda, Recovering Capharnaum. 63.

[11]. Quoted by Loffreda, Recovering Capharnaum. 66; The work of Piacenza, Itinerarium, in English is Itinerary. Quoted by Wilkerson, Jerusalem Pilgrims Before the Crusades. 69; See also Piccirillo. “The Sanctuaries of the Baptism on the East Bank of the Jordan River.” 440-41.


Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 08, 2016  -  Comments Off on 06.03.03 MAN DELIVERED FROM A DEMON

06.03.03 Mk. 1:23-28 (See also Lk. 4:33-37) Jesus performed His first exorcism




23 Just then a man with an unclean spirit was in their synagogue. He cried out,              24 “What do You have to do with us, Jesus — Nazarene? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are — the Holy One of God!”

25 But Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit convulsed him, shouted with a loud voice, and came out of him.

27 Then they were all amazed, so they began to argue with one another, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28 News about Him then spread throughout the entire vicinity of Galilee.


The methods of casting out demons used by Jewish exorcists and healers were strongly opposed by Jesus. They used a wide variety of tactics that supposedly achieved success, including the use of animal organs, smoke, magical incantations, tricks, and the name of Solomon. This was in sharp contrast to Jesus who usually spoke the word and on rare occasion used mud and spit for a healing. Notice that the healing practices of the first century Jewish world were nearly identical to those practices that were commonly used by pagan healers. This reveals the magnitude to which Hellenism had penetrated into the core of Judaism. While it is believed by scholars that these practices were common knowledge, not all Jewish people accepted them; many preferring to call only upon the name of the Lord.


Then the young man questioned the angel and said to him, Brother Azariah, what medicinal value is there in the fish’s heart and liver, and in the gall?” He replied, “As for the fish’s heart and liver, you must burn them to make smoke in the presence of a man or woman afflicted by a demon or evil spirit, and every affliction will flee away and never remain with that person any longer.


Tobit 6:7-8[1]


“Be quiet.” Literally to be muzzled or gagged. [2]   The demon could not speak even if he wanted to; Jesus politely but firmly commanded absolute and complete control. While Jewish exorcisms involved magical formulas,[3] Jesus cast out demons simply with His word.


06.03.03a (2)


Ironically, the Jewish elite decided not to recognize Jesus for who He was, but the terrorized demons immediately recognized Him – the One who would deliver people from their strongholds and influence (Rev. 20:1-3).  Unfortunately, English translations miss the sense of terror the demons expressed in this passage.


06.03.03b (2)


Here, for the first time, Jesus exercised His divine power over demonic spirits.   Demons influence and sometimes control the thinking, speaking, feeling, and actions of their victims and, therefore, the demon’s desires are revealed.[4] The approach Jesus used was uniquely different from others who practiced exorcisms. He always spoke to the demons but never touched the possessed persons. This is in sharp contrast to the many times he touched the sick, infirm, and even the dead.


In the process of casting out demons, Jewish and pagan exorcists followed prescribed formulas and repeatedly called upon the name of their god to cast out demons. Some rabbis believed that, by their secret spells, they could command the services of spirits for good or evil.[5]  An example is the magical spell, repeated for emphasis, in the book of Tobit. It reads,


As he went … he took the live ashes of incense and put the heart and liver of the fish upon them and made a smoke. And when the demon smelled the odor, he fled to the remotest parts of Egypt, and the angel bound him.


            Tobit 8:2-3


It should be noted that in Greek thinking, demons were supernatural beings that could be either good or bad spirits,[6] but biblical writers identified the spirits only as evil.

[1]. Ben Sirach and Tobit belong to a classification of extra-biblical books known as the Apocrypha. These two literary works reflect the opinions of many Jewish people. See 02.02.03 “Apocrypha” for more information. The reader is reminded that quotations from non-biblical sources are not to be understood as being of equal authority with the biblical narratives. See 01.02.04.


[2]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:165.  


[3]. Tobit 5:7-8; Josephus, Antiquities 8.2.5 (45-49).


[4]. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. 145.

[5]. Geikie, The Life and Works of Christ. 1:367.


[6]. New International Version Study Bible footnote on Luke 4:33.


Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 08, 2016  -  Comments Off on 06.03.04 PETER’S MOTHER-IN-LAW HEALED

06.03.04 Mk. 1:29-31; Lk. 4:39 (See also Mt. 8:14-15; Lk. 4:38-39) Capernaum




Mt. 29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went into Simon and Andrew’s house with James and John. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was lying in bed with a fever, and they told Him about her at once. 31 So He went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up.

Lk. 39 So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and began to serve them.


After the synagogue service, it was the custom for people to enjoy a meal with friends, so Jesus went to the home of Peter. It is said that Peter’s mother-in-law was ill, but it is unknown if she was sick in bed or if she became ill after the synagogue service. Either way, by the time Jesus arrived at Peter’s house she had “a fever.”


“Simon’s mother-in-law.” Simon had no shortage of names, and is also known as “Peter,” “Simon ben Johan/bar Jonah,” “Simon Peter,” “Cephas,” and “Kepha.” As with all the disciples, little is known of their families. But concerning Peter, he was obviously marked and may have had a son (1 Pet. 5:13) and his wife eventually joined him on some missionary journeys (1 Cor. 9:5).



06.03.04.Q1 Why is the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law to be considered more than a healing miracle?


The significance lies in the term “a fever.” There were three kinds of fevers in the Galilee and surrounding areas, because Galilee was different than Perea and Judah. Those two areas were too dry to have mosquito-infested marshy areas. In Luke 4:38, the physician said the fever was great, suggesting its seriousness.[1] Ancient physicians marked the difference between a light and great fever.[2]

  1. The Malta fever[3] in which a person was weak, anemic, and wasted away.


  1. Typhoid fever


  1. Malaria, a disease


A short distance north of the Sea of Galilee is the Hula Lake, which was surrounded by a large marshy area.[4]  It was always a mosquito-infested swamp and travelers always risked getting Malta fever, malaria, or typhoid.  All three of these diseases generally resulted in death.[5] According to Alfred Edersheim, the Talmud identifies this disease as the eshatha tsemirta, meaning, “a burning fever,”[6] which suggests that she had one of these terminal diseases.

Jewish writings reveal the extent to which pagan superstitions had infiltrated Judaism. It appears that some rabbis imitated Greek healing practices because basic elements were similar.[7] For example, the prescribed healing method for a fever recorded in the Talmud involved tying an iron knife to a thorn bush with the hair of the sick person attached.  This was repeated several consecutive days, after which the bush was cut down while a magical formula was announced.[8]  Objects of iron, such as nails and knives, were in much demand and were said to hold magical powers to ward off evil.[9]


Luke said that Jesus rebuked the fever. The healing was more than a miracle because Jesus not only healed Peter’s mother-in-law, but demonstrated power over the superstitions and ridiculous methods of the rabbis. The narrative reflects the same manner in which He rebuked demons, which implies the source of the fever.[10]  As mentioned previously, Jesus never touched anyone with demonic spirits, but He commanded them to leave as He did with the burning fever.  This story is far more dynamic than the healing, which was a phenomenon in its own right.

06.03.04a (2)


The Jewish people had a number of incredible legends and superstitions they believed would either heal a person or cast out demons.  One of them was recorded by Josephus.


In the Valley of Baaras there is a certain root called by the same name. Its color is like to that of flame, and towards evening it sends out a certain ray like lightning.  It is not easily taken by such as would do so, but recedes from their hands, nor will it yield itself to be taken quietly until either the urine of a woman, or her menstrual blood, be poured upon it; no, even then it is certain death to those who touch it, unless anyone take and hang the root itself down from his hand, and so carry it away.


It may also be taken another way without danger, which is this: they dig a trench all around it, until the hidden part of the root be very small; they then tie a dog to it, and when the dog tries hard to follow him that tied him, the root is easily plucked up, but the dog dies immediately instead of the man who would take the plant away; nor after this need anyone be afraid of taking it into their hands.  Yet after all these pains in getting it, it is only valuable on account of one virtue which it possesses, that if it be brought to sick persons, it drives away those called demons.


Josephus, Wars 7.6.3 (180-185)


This interesting point of superstitious folklore is that they reveal that the Jewish people had more faith for healing in a variety of places, but not in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus was about to change their perception of Who does the healing.


“Began to serve them.”  She functioned as the Greek diaconate or, as would be known after Pentecost, a deaconess of the church.[11]

 06.03.04b (2)


[1]. Concerning medical procedures available in the first century Israel, a number of good resources have been published by the University of Haifa, Hebrew University, and the Israel Museum. For further study, see the articles published in Michmanim, (English and Hebrew), Haifa, Israel: University of Haifa (Vol. 13) May, 1999.


[2]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:295.


[3]. This disease is known by several names, including the Mediterranean fever. It is caused by a bacteria from infected milk or undercooked meat.


[4]. Also known as the plain of El Huleh, or the Sea of Merom,


[5]. Barclay, “Matthew.” 1:307-08.


[6]. Alfred Edersheim (18125-1889) was a Jewish scholar who converted to Christianity, and whose writings are considered by scholars as classic; Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 336-37. He is clearly a rich source for the understanding of first century Jewish traditions.  However, he has his bias in that he is anti-Pharisaic and anti-Rabbinic. Therefore, he has a tendency to be less than historically accurate on some issues.


[7]. The Greeks likewise had their own superstitious methods of exorcisms that included wild and frenzied dancing with singing and chanting. These components were not in Jewish exorcisms.  For more information, see Ustinova, “Treating Madness with Madness: The Greek Corybantes.” 26.


[8]. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 336.


[9]. Stans, “Crucifixion Evidence.” 6.


[10]. Read the discussion on healing and exorcisms written in Dead Sea Scroll fragment 4Q521 at the end of 08.05.04.


[11]. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 336.


Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 08, 2016  -  Comments Off on 06.03.05 MANY WERE HEALED

06.03.05 Mk. 1:32-34 (See also Mt. 8:16-17; Lk. 4:40-41) Capernaum



32  When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all those who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. 33 The whole town was assembled at the door, 34 and He healed many who were sick with various diseases and drove out many demons. But He would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew Him.


When evening came, after the sun had set.”  The people who desired to be obedient to God’s commands naturally obeyed the teachings of their rabbis and did not want to break the Sabbath day regulations by requesting a healing. Therefore, they waited until the Sabbath was over; after the sun had set and at least three medium-sized stars were in the sky.[1] This was the “second evening” of the day[2] when they brought their sick and demon-possessed to Jesus to be healed and delivered.[3] Why three stars?  Because two or three witnesses were needed to render a judgment and three stars in the sky determined when a day began or ended (Deut. 17:6).


“The whole town was assembled at the door.”  The popularity of Jesus continued to grow exponentially. The Jordan Valley had a healing reputation as foreigners came to sit in the natural hot springs as found in Tiberias. Now Jesus, who functioned with the power of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was healing men, women, and children including those who failed to get healed in the natural hot springs. But with popularity came a serious set of problems:


  1. Jesus was always surrounded by people. He had no opportunity to be alone by Himself, alone with His disciples, or alone to pray. Whenever He woke up in the middle of the night and went to a mountain to pray, His disciples hunted for Him as soon as they woke up. Popularity was taxing His physical, spiritual, and emotional strength as well as time. On a side note, it is amazing that often Jesus went alone to pray for extended periods of time (i.e., all night), yet all the prayers recorded in the gospels are relatively short.


  1. People were more anxious to be healed or to get a free meal than to hear His message. They failed to understand that His miracles underscored His Person and message.


  1. There was a growing belief that He was the messiah – one who would overthrow the Roman oppressors. In fact, later some even wanted to make Him their king (Jn. 6:15). Their idea of a kingdom was a resurrection of the once mighty Davidic Empire of a thousand years earlier. He was constantly challenged with replacing their preconceived ideas of a political-messiah with His idea of the Kingdom of God. But their idea of a messiah would change dramatically after His resurrection.


“Various diseases…demons.” Demons are synonymous with unclean spirits,[4] who are connected with Satan,[5] and in total opposition to the work of God,[6] and as such, promote all forms of idolatry.[7] They oppose the faith of believers,[8] and attempt to influence and disturb the physical, mental and emotional well-being of people.[9] However, while certain ailments may be connected with demonic powers, the laws of Moses that pertain to sanitation clearly indicate that good health is also a matter of cleanliness – meaning that many diseases are not related to demonic influences but can be prevented.

[1]. See discussion on “evening” in Appendix 16.


[2]. See Appendix 16 for clarification on the two daily evenings.


[3]. Farrar, Life of Christ. 110.

[4]. Mk. 5:12, 15; 3:22, 30; Lk. 4:33.


[5]. Lk. 10:17-18; 11:19-20.


[6]. 1 Cor. 10:20-21.


[7]. Rev. 9:20; 16:13-14.


[8]. 1 Tim. 4:1.


[9]. Lk. 13:11, 16; Mk. 5:2-5; 7:25; Mt. 12:45.



Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 08, 2016  -  Comments Off on 06.03.06 JESUS GOES OUT TO PRAY

06.03.06 Mk. 1:35-38 (See also Lk. 4:42-43)




35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying there. 36 Simon and his companions went searching for Him. 37 They found Him and said, “Everyone’s looking for You!”

38 And He said to them, “Let’s go on to the neighboring villages so that I may preach there too. This is why I have come.”


“To a deserted place.”  Some translations use the word “desert,” rather than a solitary and quiet or deserted area.[1] However, there was no desert near the Sea of Galilee (cf. Mk. 1:35; Lk. 4:42), but rather, it is a lush, green, productive farmland with quite peaceful areas on the hill and mountain tops where few, if anyone, lived – deserted places. The gospel writer is saying that Jesus had to retreat to a quiet area and spend hours in prayer.  His humanity is revealed in that ministry exhausted Him physically and emotionally.


“He was praying there.” Jesus was often in prayer.  It was His source of strength, especially when He knew difficulties lay immediately ahead. In his busiest period, when He was so often exhausted from the labors of the day, He retreated to a secluded place away from the crowds and disciples to pray with His Father. He never took any important step without such a night. It is amazing that Jesus spent many long hours in prayer, yet only His short prayers have been recorded.

[1]. For example, the King James Version.

06.03.07 Jesus Travels Thoughout Galilee

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 08, 2016  -  Comments Off on 06.03.07 Jesus Travels Thoughout Galilee

06.03.07 Mt. 4:23-25 (See also Mk. 1:39; Lk. 4:44) Regions of Galilee



23  Jesus was going all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.  24 Then the news about Him spread throughout Syria. So they brought to Him all those who were afflicted, those suffering from various diseases and intense pains, the demon-possessed, the epileptics, and the paralytics. And He healed them. 25 Large crowds followed Him from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.


Jesus went throughout Galilee, Jerusalem, Perea, and even into Gentile areas preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God and healing people of every sickness and disease. When He healed, He revealed Himself to be one of the names of God they had used – Jehovah Rapha – our Lord who is our Healer.[1] Now they witnessed Jesus perform miracles they believed only God could do.


“Epileptics.”The Greek word for epileptic is seleniazo (4583), and refers to someone who was moon-struck.[2] It was believed that this disease was caused by or influenced by the moon.


“Decapolis” The term means “ten cities.” This was a loose confederation of ten Greek cities[3] on the eastern side of the Jordan River with the exception of Scythopolis (also known as Beth Shean) which was west of the river. More specifically, it was a term applied to ten administrative districts as the number of cities varied from time to time.[4]

[1]. See “Jesus, the Fulfiller of Selected Names of God” in Appendix 32 for additional attributes.


[2]. Vine, “Epileptic.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:204.


[3]. See “Decapolis” in Appendix 26.


[4]. Pellett, “Decapolis.” 1:810-12.


Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 08, 2016  -  Comments Off on 06.03.08 THE LEPER IS HEALED – A MESSIANIC MIRACLE

06.03.08 Mk. 1:40-45 (See also Mt. 8:1-4; Lk. 5:12-16) Galilee area. 




40 Then a man with a serious skin disease came to Him and, on his knees, begged Him: “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched him. “I am willing,” He told him. “Be made clean.” 42 Immediately the disease left him, and he was healed. 43 Then He sternly warned him and sent him away at once, 44 telling him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go and show yourself to the priest, and offer what Moses prescribed for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45 Yet he went out and began to proclaim it widely and to spread the news, with the result that Jesus could no longer enter a town openly. But He was out in deserted places, and they would come to Him from everywhere.


To understand the depth of meaning of this passage, some cultural background must be discussed first. That perspective then highlights both the miracle and monumental announcement. The severity of leprosy, known as tsaraath in Hebrew, in the biblical period seems to have a range of opinions among scholars.  Some have said that it was merely a skin disease while others have given it horrific descriptions. The fact is that both are correct and need to be discussed.


The leprosy described in Leviticus 13:4 and 13, appears to be a form of psoriasis that covers the skin with white scales. In verse 30 the symptom of skin itch is associated with it. Those who have said that leprosy was merely one of several minor skin diseases (according to modern medical standards) generally refer to this condition.  However, later in Leviticus a different and deadly form of leprosy is described, in fact, there are three kinds of leprosy which are only briefly described below in modern medical terms.


  1. Nodular or tubercular leprosy begins as joint pains which are followed by discolored patches on the back. On those skin areas small pink nodules form which then turn brown or black. The patches spread and eventually the face becomes disfigured. The nodules enlarge and emit a foul odor and the body becomes increasingly crippled. After about nine years of decline, life ends with mental decay, a coma and death.


  1. Anaesthetic leprosy is similar to the nodular leprosy in its early stages but all sensation is lost in the infected area. The sufferer may not realize that he has contracted the disease until an injury occurs of which he has no pain. In the course of the disease, muscles waste away and fingers and toes become grossly distorted and eventually a foot or hand may literally fall off. The disease may take up to three decades until death comes.


  1. The third kind is a combination of nodular and anaesthetic leprosy. This may have been the most common form of the dreaded disease. In its worst form, the leper had to live outside the community (Lev. 13:45) in both Israel and Gentile regions. But in Jewish communities some lepers could attend the synagogue although they had to be seated in a secluded area. But they were not permitted to enter homes or a walled city. The Romans, on the other hand, had their famous leper colonies where the “living dead” eventually died with no care for their spiritual life.[1]


However, the ancients described the three kinds of leprosy in simpler forms:[2]


  1. Black


  1. Clear white


  1. Dull white


The physician said in Luke 5:38 that the man was full of disease; the word full being used in other phrases such as veins being full of blood or the ears full of noise. Those with this condition were known as the “living dead.”[3] What Luke identified as full of (leprosy) disease is today commonly referred to as Hansen’s Disease.


The mystery of leprosy is why Moses dedicated two entire chapters – Leviticus 13 and 14 to the subject as well as the declaration of cleansing, when no Jewish person was ever healed of the disease. As will be shown below, people would ask their rabbi this question and his response would be that he did not know, but when the messiah comes, he will know and will heal lepers.[4] In the meantime, there were only two healings of lepers recorded in the Old Testament.


  1. Miriam received her healing before Moses wrote the Torah[5] and


  1. The Syrian military commander, Naaman, was not even a Jew but was healed by the Jewish prophet Elijah (2 Kg. 5:1).


Since Miriam received her leprosy as a result of a sin, it was believed that anyone with the disease received it for the same reason.  Since no one was ever healed of leprosy, by the first century it was believed that the disease was a visible sign of inner corruption that was so bad that God brought forth His judgment. It was also believed that only the Messiah would be able to heal anyone anflicted with the deadly disease – a Messianic Miracle[6] or Messianic Sign.[7] Therefore, when Jesus healed the man and told him to be examined by the priests, it caused an immediate sensation throughout all religious circles.  To the leaders of all religious sects, the healing of a leper revealed that the m/Messiah had come.


However, there are two cases where persons with leprosy are reported to have performed normal daily tasks, in spite of the disease. Notice the following:


  1. Naaman commanded the Syrian army (2 Kg. 5:1). While he was healed by the prophet Elijah, the fact remains that he functioned as a commander and was not isolated from other people.


  1. Gehazi, with his leprosy that never should be cleansed (2 Kg. 5:27), he spoke with the king of apostate Israel (2 Kg. 8:4-5). A leper who has been healed is often not called “healed,” but “cleansed” because the disease has always been symbolic of sin.


Both lepers appear to have been healed while the disease was in the early stages. The most common opinion is that lepers were not permitted to enter towns or be in the company of other people; that theirs was a life of misery and loneliness.  Just as the Jews had severe restrictions on the social functions and movements of anyone with the dreaded disease, so did the people of other cultures.


However, depending on the severity of the disease, some lepers were permitted to live in communities and attend the synagogue services. When in public, they had to hide their faces and cry out “unclean, unclean” whenever approaching anyone (Lev. 13:45).  Severe cases were so fatal, that many people counted them as dead.[8] For those lepers who were somewhat more fortunate, Jewish leaders even constructed a small chamber, called a Mechitsah, within the synagogue about six or eight feet wide, so they could be part of the service yet remain separated from the crowd.[9]

06.03.07a (2)

In other cases, the leper was considered to be as one who had died, and as such was shut out of the community.[10] This law was so strictly enforced that even Miriam, the sister of Moses, was not exempted from it (Num. 12:12-14) nor was King Uzziah.[11] It was believed that lepers, along with others who were seriously ill, had their disease because of sin in their lives or in that of their parents. This opinion is found in the writings of a Persian historian about 484 B.C.


The citizen who has leprosy or the “white sickness” may not come into a town or consort with other Persians.  They say that he was so afflicted because he has sinned in some way against the sun (god).[12]


Herodotus, The Histories 1.138



06.03.08.Q1 What is the difference between a leper being cleansed and being healed.

Leprosy was and still is a strange disease.  It is the name of a broad range of abnormalities from skin afflictions to the rotting of the body while the victim is still alive. According to one Hebraic scholar, when a leper was purified, he was not healed of his disease, but the poison of the disease was removed and he was no longer contagious to other people.[13] The leper was then restored to the congregation. An example is such a cleansed person was Gehazi, the servant of Elisha who was a life-long leper but still a servant to the king (2 Kgs. 8:5).



06.03.08.A. EGERTON PAPYRUS 2 FRAGMENTS. Fragments of the Egerton Papyrus 2, dated to no later than A.D. 150, are probably from a non-canonical gospel and contain portions of Matthew 8:2-3, Mark 1:40-42 and Luke 5:12-13. It is evidence of the early recorded events of the life of Jesus. It is considered to be neither heretical nor Gnostic, and is probably the oldest non-canonical text yet discovered.  Photograph courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.


06.03.08.Q2 Why did Jesus heal the man, but not declare forgiveness of his sins?

This is a classic example of where understanding rabbinic writings and the Jewish culture resolves misunderstandings.  Long-term diseases such as leprosy, as well as childlessness, were considered to be divine punishment; and victims and childless couples lived their entire lives with hopelessness, believing God had condemned them.[14]  Consequently, the suffering people usually received little or no pity or comfort from the religious establishment. When a person with severe leprosy brought his offering to the synagogue or temple, he was not permitted to enter it, but someone had to present his gift for him, which, according to the Oral Law, was a sin offering.[15]  Therefore, when Jesus healed the man of his leprosy, everyone realized that his sins must have been forgiven.  Jesus did not have to declare, “Your sins are forgiven.”  It was understood.[16]  This understanding was part of the cultural context in which Jesus ministered.  An example has been preserved in the Talmud.


Rabbi Alexandri said in the name of Rabbi Hiyya ben Abba: “A sick man does not recover from his sickness until all his sins are forgiven him, as it is written, ‘Who forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases’” (Ps. 103:3).


Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 41a


The relationship between illness and the forgiveness of sins was evidently a firm belief among pagan people as well.  In the second century B.C., King Nabunai of Babylon found himself with an ulcer and he asked a Jew named Nabonidus to pray for his healing.  These words of the king after the prayer of healing were found on an ancient papyrus, and are, in part, as follows:


I was afflicted with an evil ulcer for seven years…and an exorcist pardoned my sins. He was a Jew from among the [children of the exile of Judah, and he said], “Recount this in writing to [glorify and exalt] the name of the Most High God.”


Dead Sea Scroll, The Prayer of Nabonidus 4QPrNab[17]


Healing was associated with the forgiveness of sins.  The actions of Jesus were clearly understood by all observers, and by those who heard of these miraculous accounts. To those lepers known as the “living dead,” and to the witnesses who saw these lepers being healed, Jesus demonstrated that He had power over sickness and death. So when Jesus “touched him”(Mk. 1:41)  that was a phenomenal event because touching a leper was a violation of the Law. It made a person who touched the leper unclean and required him to undergo ceremonial cleansing. Jesus knew the Law, yet He touched and healed him and obviously ignored the ceremonial cleansing.  This is more significant in the Greek language of Luke, who said the man was full of leprosy, meaning that he was near the end of his life.  There was no question of his illness and, there was no question that if there ever was a time not to touch a leper, this was it!  Hence, this act was also a profound illustration that the spirit of the law was better than sacrifice. In touching the untouchable, Jesus taught His disciples a lesson of boldness, faith, and humility; and that they were to despise no one, but show compassion and bring healing to everyone.


Jesus performed one of the greatest miracles in Jewish history, and when the disciples and everyone else was ready to advertise it to the world, He said, “Say nothing to anyone” (Mk. 1:44).  He did not want the sensation; His primary challenge was to convince the Jews that He was their Messiah, and that He was radically different from their pre-conceived ideas of a messiah (small “m”). Possible reasons for instructing the healed person to keep silent are as follows.


  1. To make a public announcement would probably have resulted in a rejection by the Jews, and had political overtones that He avoided. He was not about to be anyone’s political-messiah.[18]

06.03.08b (2)

  1. Neither did Jesus want to be known as a mystic or miracle worker, as was Honi in the previous century. Jesus was far more interested in preaching the Kingdom of God than doing miracles, although His miracles, combined with His teachings, pointed to His Messiahship and the Kingdom message.


  1. The Jewish leaders had their own mystical formulas for healing various kinds of ailments. Jesus was not interested in getting involved in a discussion of healing methodologies, but only on proclaiming the Kingdom of God.


  1. Possibly the most important reason is that Jesus directed the former leper to follow biblical protocol. He did not want him to tell anyone until he first went to present himself to the priest (see below), that the priest might ascertain if indeed the leprosy was indeed cleansed[19] according to the Law of Moses (Lev. 19:3). His testimony in the temple would then be visible proof to the religious leaders that a Messianic Miracle or Sign[20] had been performed, and that the Messiah had arrived.


“Show yourself to the priest, and offer what Moses prescribed for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”  This command to the healed leper was significant for four reasons.


  1. Jesus obeyed the Old Testament laws because He lived to fulfill the Old Testament covenant. This covenant required the former leper to present himself to the priest to be officially pronounced healed. In essence, he was to follow the rules set forth by Moses.


  1. By being obedient to this Mosaic Law, the priests could not ignore what Jesus was doing in the countryside. The priests and Sanhedrin could not ignore this healing because, as priests, they were required to investigate the claim and make a final declaration that the man was no longer a leper. It forced them to admit that Jesus had some type of divine strength and authority, a thought that was increasingly difficult for them to deny.


  1. The healed leper had to have incredible faith in his healing, because, if he entered the temple with the disease, he would have received the severe punishment of “forty lashes minus one.”[21]


  1. The purpose of the “testimony to them” was not only to demonstrate to the religious leaders that Jesus obeyed the Mosaic laws, but that He was also the One who could perform the expected “messianic miracles.”[22] The term “testimony to them” had legal implications concerning the truthfulness of the event.[23]


Victims of the disease were social outcasts of the worst kind, usually suffering from condemnation and starvation, unless the family helped them.[24]  The healing not only saved the life of the leper but also restored his family’s reputation.  In the meantime, the good news of Jesus healing the sick was exploding.

06.03.08c (2)

After the healed lepers were verified by the temple priests to be “clean” (meaning healed), the Sadducees realized they had to take Jesus seriously.  The cleansing of this leper came by the spoken word of Jesus.  The religious leaders, however, also had their so-called cleansing method, which at best is interesting and was hardly effective.  The Mishnah has preserved their unusual healing formula, which appears to have some influences from neighboring cultures:


How did they cleanse the leper?  He brought a new earthenware flask and put therein a quarter-log of living water; and he brought two birds that had lived in freedom.  The priest slaughtered one of them over the earthenware vessel and over the living water, and dug a hole and buried it in his presence.  He took cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet wool and bound them together with the ends of the strip (of wool); and brought near to them the tips of the wings and the tip of the tail of the second bird; and dipped them (in the blood of the slaughtered bird) and sprinkled (the blood) seven times on the back of the leper’s back; and some say, also on his forehead.  So likewise they used to sprinkle the lintel of the house from the outside.  He then came to set free the living bird.


Mishnah, Tohoroth 14:1[25]


The healing performed by Jesus not only demonstrated His divinity over diseases, but also demonstrated that His power was far superior to the Jewish superstition of birds, hyssop, scarlet wool and whatever else they deemed necessary to heal a person.  The healing by Jesus struck a powerful blow to their healing theology.  Most certainly, they had to question how a man (Jesus) could have more power than their cultic ritual.  Ancient people did not realize that diseases and illnesses generally occur because we live in a fallen world. Jesus, by healing the leper, demonstrated under no uncertain terms, that He was the Messiah.  When the lepers went to the priests to have their cleansing (or healing) verified, the priest became painfully aware that the Messiah had arrived. When they heard that the miracle-worker was Jesus, the older priests may have remembered the twelve year old boy who once came to the temple and stunned them with questions.

06.03.08c (2)

“Jesus could no longer enter a town openly.”  This does not mean that His divine power was limited, but difficulties stood in the way, especially since His popularity was growing exponentially.  Some scholars have suggested that He may even have been excommunicated from some local synagogues, since He could no longer teach in them. If that is true, then the leaders of those synagogues probably forbade Jesus to enter due to pressure from the leading Pharisees in Jerusalem.


06.03.08.Q3 What were the three “messianic miracles” that first century Jews believed the messiah would perform?[26]

The rabbis were convinced that the messiah would perform three kinds of miracles that would confirm His messiahship.[27] Those anticipated “messianic miracles” were:


  1. Healing a Jewish leper. Moses dedicated two chapters in Leviticus (13, 14) to the healing of a leper, but since then, not a single Jewish person had ever been healed of this dreaded disease. As a result, the rabbis said that when the messiah comes, he will heal them. Moses said that when a Jewish person with leprosy was healed, he or she was required to go immediately to the temple priests to be declared “clean.” In this case, the Jewish high priest was Caiaphas but the name of the Samaritan high priest is unknown. Regardless, the ten miracles, a perfect number as related to the Ten Commandments, made a profound impact on the people and religious leaders.[28]


  1. The casting out of demons from someone who could not speak. Some translations refer to a mute person (Gk. alalos 216 or aphonos 880) while the King James Version uses the old English word “dumb.”[29] There was a 3-step protocol to an exorcism as follows:

a. Ask the demon for his name, as it would speak through the possessed person.

b.Wait for the demon to give its name. If no response, command an answer.

c. Command the demon by name to leave by using the name of a more powerful                     authority (i.e. god).


However, if the possessed person could not speak or hear, there was no way anyone could cast out the evil spirit. Therefore, it was concluded that only the messiah would be able to cast demons out of a “deaf and dumb” person, meaning a person who could not speak or hear. This was significant because in  various Inter-Testamental Jewish writings, the advent of the Messiah meant that evil would be defeated.[30] See 08.06.08.

  1. Healing a person who was born blind.[31] It was for this reason that Mary said, after Lazarus died, “Couldn’t He who opened the blind man’s eyes also have kept this man from dying?” That was not just a passing statement, but a reflection on the messianic miracles that Jesus performed.[32] See 11.02.21.

Amazingly, the Essenes believed in a fourth messianic miracle: to raise the dead to life. Of the thousands of Dead Sea Scroll fragments is the famous Messianic Apocalypse (4Q521) that states the messiah will raise the dead to life.[33]

Jesus healed many in order to reveal His power and authority over demons and illnesses. As was previously stated, while Jewish exorcisms involved magical formulas,[34] Jesus cast out demons simply with His word. But as was repeatedly demonstrated, the performance of the messianic miracles also revealed the spiritual blindness of so many. Throughout Scripture sin is often described as moral blindness[35] and the deliverance from sin is described as a removal of this blindness.[36] To say that Jesus is the proverbial “light of the world”[37] has more to do with spiritual blindness than it does with physical blindness, although He brings sight to the physical and spiritual realms.


 Video Insert    >

06.03.08.V The Mystery of the Three Messianic Miracles. Professor John Metzger discusses the three Messianic miracles that the Jews of the Inter-Testamental Period believed the Messiah would be able to perform.


Since many rabbis had taught for centuries that the messiah would perform these messianic miracles; Jesus did not have to say, “I am the Messiah.”  He demonstrated His Messiahship! To make a messianic declaration would have invited a catastrophic Roman response. Rather, He permitted the people to reach that conclusion by themselves. Not only was Jesus One of gentle authority, but when He healed, the audience reflected upon one of the names of God – Jehovah Rapha – our Lord who is our Healer.[38]


 06.03.08.Q4 How did the Psalms of Solomon influence people?

The Psalms of Solomon[39] was one of the most influential books that persuaded popular opinion in the first century.[40]  This scroll was written by a Pharisee after the Roman invasion in 63 B.C.,[41] most likely between the years 40 and 30 B.C.[42] Its significance lies in the sections that are reflective of messianic anticipations. Yet the subject of a person coming with a messianic title or being identified as the Messiah/Christ or Anointed One/Son of David/Redeemer, was considerably complex because various religious sects had numerous, and sometimes, conflicting opinions.  The Pharisees and many orthodox Jews believed that Divine punishment was upon them (as demonstrated by Roman occupation) because of their sins (their acceptance of Greek culture). The Psalms promised them victory and restoration over the occupying enemy.  It is a literary style typical of some Old Testament books.


A copy of this book was most certainly in the hands of the Romans, as they paid Jewish spies handsomely for any information that might lead to a revolt. It was especially troublesome because it identified and cursed them as being the “Gentile foreigners” (2:2), the “lawless one” (17:11) and it encouraged Jews to pray to God to bring forth a “Son of David” (17:21) to rule over Israel. Therefore, the Romans associated anyone with any of these titles as being worthy of immediate death, especially since there were some thirteen rebellions against them between the years 63 B.C. and A.D. 70.[43] In light of the political-social tensions, the following passages clarify why Jesus often told the people He healed to be quiet and not tell others of the miracle they received:


Gentile foreigners went up to your place of sacrifice;

they arrogantly trampled (it) with their sandals.

Because the sons of Jerusalem defiled the sanctuary of the Lord,

they were profaning the offerings of God with lawless acts…

The daughters of Jerusalem were available to all, according to your judgments,

because they defiled themselves with improper intercourse.


Psalms of Solomon 2:2-3, 11[44]


The lawless one laid waste our land, so that no one inhabited it;

they massacred young and old and children at the same time…

See, Lord, and raise up for them their king,

the Son of David, to rule over your servant Israel in

            a time known to you, O God.

Undergird him with the strength to destroy the unrighteous rulers;

to purge Jerusalem from Gentiles who trample her to destruction;

In wisdom and in righteousness to drive out the sinners from the inheritance.

            To smash the arrogance of sinners like a potter’s jar;

To shatter all their substance with an iron rod;

to destroy the unlawful nation with the word of his mouth

At his warning the nations will flee from his presence;

and he will condemn sinners by the thoughts of their hearts.


Psalms of Solomon 17:11, 21-25[45]


The writer continues…


And he will have Gentile nations serving him under his yoke,

and he will glorify the Lord in (a place) prominent (above) the whole earth.

And he will purge Jerusalem

(and make it) holy as it was even from the beginning,

(For) nations to come from the ends of the earth to see his glory (Isa. 55:5),

to bring as gifts her children who had been driven out,

And to see the glory of the Lord

with which God has glorified her.

And he will be a righteous king over them, taught by God.


There will be no unrighteousness among them in his days,

for all shall be holy (Jer. 23:5),

and the king shall be the Lord Messiah.


Psalms of Solomon 17:26-32[46]     


Some historians believe the Psalms were used in liturgy since the messianic feelings are so intense,[47] especially since the book contains eighteen psalms that are reflective of the Eighteen Benedictions.[48] It clearly elevated feelings of national independence. Due to its popularity it is understandable that the common people and the Pharisees asked each other, “Have the [Jewish] authorities concluded that he is the Christ?” (Jn. 7:26). It is also understandable why Jesus rebuked them for shouting “You are the son of God” (Lk. 4:41).  In the Passion Week, the Jewish leaders were in terror when Jesus rode into Jerusalem and they heard the crowds shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Mt. 21:9)[49]  and “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord” (Lk. 19:38; Jn 12:13). John adds the phrase “Blessed is the King of Israel” (Jn. 12:13). These terms as well as the phrase “hosanna,” had clear messianic nationalistic overtones.


The Jewish people were not alone in their messianic anticipation. As previously stated, many people groups throughout the ancient Middle East were expecting a political-military leader.  The Samaritans were expecting a messiah (Jn. 4) known as the Taheb,[50] as were the Parthians (see the account of the magi; 04.04.06-07). The Essenes, descendants of the Zadokite priesthood, could not distinguish the differences between the Hebrew prophecies of the humble servant messiah and the one who would be a military leader (02.01.06).  Hence, they concluded there were two messiahs coming – one who would be the son of David and would overthrow the Roman Empire and the other who would be the son of Aaron and would cleanse the temple of its corrupted religious aristocrats (see 02.01.06). The only people who did not want a messiah were the temple elite and Romans, who every few years were tormented by a Jewish fanatic who thought he was the messiah.[51]


But no one in their wildest imagination ever dreamed the messiah who would be like Jesus.  Therefore, Jesus needed time to reveal His identity, teach the people about the Kingdom of God, and slowly instruct them so their preconceived ideas would change. They needed time to think through the miracles they witnessed. That is why He told them not to tell others what they saw, which suggested they needed to think about what they witnessed.


The Roman Empire at this time enjoyed Pax Romana,[52] even though it was at the end of the Roman sword.[53]  However, in the little Jewish provinces,[54] there was constant threat of rebellion for freedom, especially in Jerusalem. Many had their hopes escalated when they saw Jesus performing miracles, believing that anyone who could do such wonderful acts of kindness could also bring freedom to their nation.  However, the Hellenists, leading Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Herodians, some scribes and elders, felt threatened by the Miracle Worker and desired to maintain a friendship with the Romans as not to lose the wealth and power.

[1]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 64-67.


[2]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:300; Vine, “Leprosy.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:364.

[3]. https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1#inbox/136f8c38200c05dd  Retrieved April 28, 2012.

[4]. This is an argument from silence and, therefore, weak. However, the fact remains that there is not a single healing of leprosy recorded among the Jewish people prior to the advent of Jesus.


[5]. Some scholars argue that Miriam was the only one healed of leprosy, since the Israelites left Sinai in Numbers 10:12 and Miriam was healed at Hazeroth in Numbers 12.


[6]. Research on the “Messianic Miracles” is credited to Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, a Messianic scholar and director of Ariel Ministries of San Antonio, Texas. For more information on his excellent scholarship, see http://ariel.org/. Retrieved September 26, 2013. See the related video 06.03.08.V below.  See also Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Miracles. 4.


[7]. Richardson, “Heal, Healing, Health.” 103-04.


[8]. There were four kinds of people that were considered as good as dead, and it was believed that in all four situations their situation was a divine judgment. They were the blind, the leper, the poor, and the childless.


[9]. Barclay, “Matthew.” 1:297.


[10]. Lev. 13:46; Num. 5:2-4; 2 Kg. 7:3.


[11]. 2 Ch. 26:21; 2 Kg. 15:5.

[12]. The Persians, like the Egyptians, worshiped the sun god.

[13]. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 2:160.


[14]. Babylonian Talmud, Berakoth 5b.

[15]. Mishnah, Tohoroth 14:11.

[16]. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 341.

[17]. Boring, Berger, and Colpe, eds. Hellenistic Commentary to the New Testament. 63.

[18]. Wessel, “Mark.” 8:630.

[19]. A leper who has been healed was often not called “healed,” but “cleansed” because the disease was symbolic of sin.


[20]. Richardson, “Heal, Healing, Health.” 103-04.

[21]. Babylonian Talmud, Seder Mo’ed Pesahim 67a-b.

[22]. For further study, see messianic scholar Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Miracles. Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1983.


[23]. When the New Testament writers used terms such as “testimony” or “bore witness” or “I have seen and testify,” these are statements of legal terminology. These statements were common in Roman, Greek, and Jewish cultures whereby the author placed himself under an oath concerning the truthfulness of the statement made. Bookman, When God Wore Sandals. CD Trac 5.


[24]. Wessel, “Mark.” 8:630.

[25]. Parenthesis by Danby, ed., Mishnah; See also Babylonian Talmud, Berakoth 5b.

[26].  Kindly note, as previously stated, that the lower case “m” is sometimes used for “messiah” because the Jews did not believe the messiah would be diVine, See also Alan Richardson, “Heal, Healing, Health.” 103-04.


[27]. For further study, see Messianic scholar Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Miracles. Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1983.


[29]. Vine, “Dumb.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:187.


[30]. 1 Enoch 55:4; Jubilees 23:29; Testament of Simeon 6:6; Testament of Judah 25:3; Testament of Moses 10:1, and the Testament of Solomon 20:16-17. See also Matthew 9:32-34; 08.06.08.


[31]. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 7, page 13, and Class 10, pages9-11; Research on the “Messianic Miracles” is credited to Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, a Messianic scholar and director of Ariel Ministries of San Antonio, Texas. For more information on his excellent scholarship, see http://ariel.org/. Retrieved September 26, 2013.  See also 06.03.08.V (Video), 06.01.03 as well as the comparison of Dead Sea Scroll fragments 4Q278 and 4Q521 with Luke 4:16-30 at 06.02.02; Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Miracles. 4; Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 10, Session 2.


[32]. See John 9:1-12; 11.02.21 and John 11:1-37 at 12.03.10.


[33]. For more information, see 08.05.04.Q1 “What is the miracle or mystery of Dead Sea Scroll 4Q521?”


[34]. Tobit 5:7-8; Josephus, Antiquities 8.2.5 (45-49).


[35]. Deut. 28:29; Isa. 59:10; Job 12:25; Zeph. 1:17; See “Sin” in Appendix 26.


[36]. Isa. 16:18; 43:8; Eph. 1:8; Mt. 15:14.


[37]. See comments by Rabbi John Fischer in 10.01.28.V where he discusses two unique healing methods of blind men.


[38]. See “Jesus, the Fulfiller of Selected Names of God” in Appendix 32 for additional attributes.


[39]. The book supposedly reflects the wisdom of Solomon, although the authorship is not identified. Therefore, it is in a category of Jewish writings known as the Pseudepigrapha.  See 02.02.24 for more details.


[40]. See the video 02.02.01.V “The Significance of Inter-Testamental Writings: By Dr. Douglas Finkbeiner.


[41]. Some ancient writers use the term “Judea” in the broadest sense. Examples are found in Pliny the Elder, Natural History, 5.15.70; Strabo, Geographia, 16.4.21; and Dio Sassius, Roman History, 37.15.2.


[42]. Cosby, Interpreting Biblical Literature. 285.     


[43]. See Appendix 25 for a listing of 1) false prophets who had messianic expectations and 2) a partial listing of revolts and social disturbances from 63 B.C. to A.D. 70.


[44]. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 2:652.

[45]. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 2:666-67.

[46]. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 2:667-68. Additions for clarification within parenthesis by Charlesworth. The phrase “Lord Messiah,” is regarded by some scholars as a mistranslation from Lam. 4:20 (LXX). However, Charlesworth states that there is evidence in Greek and Syrian MSS for the rendering as shown.

[47]. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 102-03.


[48]. See Appendix 18.


[49]. The messianic title “Son of David” appears in the following three groups of passages in the gospels where it is always reflective of the Davidic Covenant: 1) In various healings by Jesus – Mt. 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30-31; Mk. 10:47-48; Lk. 18:38-39. 2) In connection of the harassment the religious leaders gave Jesus – Mt. 22:42-43, 45; Mk. 12:35, 37; Lk. 20:41, 44, and 3) The praise the crowds gave Jesus at His entry into Jerusalem – Mt. 21:9, 15; Mk. 11:10. See Rogers, “The Davidic Covenant in the Gospels,” Bibliotheca Sacra. Part 1 of 2. 158-78.


[50]. Blizzard, “Judaism – Part 1” Yavo Digest 1:5, 8; Guignebert, The Jewish World in the Time of Jesus. 196; See 06.01.03.


[51]. Possibly the most famous messianic fanatic was Simon bar Kochba who was responsible for the uprising of A.D.133-35, which lead to the second Roman destruction of Jerusalem and dispersion of all Jews from Jerusalem. However, there has always been a Jewish presence somewhere in the Holy Land from the time of Joshua until today.

[52]. Lee, The Galilean Jewishness of Jesus. 72-73; Mellowes and Cran, Executive Producers. From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians. (DVD). Part 1.

[53]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 423.


[54]. The provinces of Perea, Galilee, and Judah each had their own Roman appointee, who served as a puppet monarch under Rome.

06.03.09 Capernaum THE PARALYTIC IS HEALED

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 08, 2016  -  Comments Off on 06.03.09 Capernaum THE PARALYTIC IS HEALED

06.03.09 Lk. 5:17; Mk. 2:2-4a; Lk. 5:19-20 (See also Mt. 9:1-2) Capernaum



Lk. 17 On one of those days while He was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea, and also from Jerusalem. And the Lord’s power to heal was in Him.

Mk. 2 So many people gathered together that there was no more room, not even in the doorway, and He was speaking the message to them. 3 Then they came to Him bringing a paralytic, carried by four men, 4a since they were not able to bring him to Jesus because of the crowd.

Lk.  19 Since they could not find a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the mat through the roof tiles into the middle of the crowd before Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”


An overlooked issue of this passage is related to the design and construction of a first century home. The typical home was so small that it would have been ridiculous to dig a hole through the roof for the purpose of lowering a paralyzed man.  The average room was only about 150 to 200 square feet. Therefore, there is an excellent probability that this miracle occurred in the larger home of a wealthy family, who, surprisingly, may not have objected to the damage being done to their expensive roof.  This opinion of wealth is implied by Luke’s report of the tile roofing material, as this construction method had only recently been introduced to this area by the Romans in 63 B.C. (see “through the roof tiles” below) and was rather expensive.


06.03.09.A. TYPICAL OUTSIDE STEPS TO THE ROOF.  Steps to the roof or second floor were generally placed along the outside wall of the house.  Roofs were nearly flat and collected water for cisterns during the rainy season so the family could have drinking water during the long, hot, dry summer. Roofs were also used as a sleeping area during hot summer nights.  This 16th century house in Jaffa is built upon the traditional site of the home of Simon the Tanner (Acts 10:32).  Photograph by the author.


“Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea, and also from Jerusalem.” By this time Jesus definitely had the attention of everyone, especially the Sanhedrin.[1]  Every religious leader who had any influence in a local synagogue came to hear Him. But according to Jewish protocol, the Sadducees and aristocratic upper echelon of the Pharisees of Jerusalem did not come.  Rather, they sent their emissaries to observe Jesus. Sending an emissary was the same as personally coming.  Later however, they themselves came.

It was well known that Jesus was an outstanding Torah teacher. He was not only popular with His clear message and pleasant personality, but He also presented new interpretations or posek halakhah (legal judgments).[2] But since He was not an academically trained rabbi, according to rabbinic rules, He had no authority to present new ideas or interpretations. Hence, they watched His every move.

The healing of the leper had definitely caught everyone’s attention.  Jewish leaders for centuries classified this miracle as one to be attributed to the messiah.  Furthermore, they believed the One who could heal could also forgive sins.  But that “One” was none other than Jesus who was problematic for them.  Hence, when Jesus healed and forgave sins, He was declaring that He was God. That horrified them!


“Through the roof tiles.”  Roofs of peasant homes were generally constructed by one of two methods.

  1. Branches were laid from the top of one wall to another, then covered with palm branches,

then covered with mud, and compacted with a roller. The compacted mud was then plastered to make it water resistant.[3]

  1. Large stones were placed on the tops of walls forming an arch which were covered with

mud, compacted with a roller and plastered.


The former type was used throughout Israel, with the exception of some communities in northern Galilee. Both construction styles were prone to water leakage and constant maintenance. However, when the Romans arrived in 63 B.C., they introduced baked roofing tiles, which were first used on the more affluent homes.[4]  Such tiles would have been used on roofs constructed with tree branches or timbers rather than stone slabs.   Houses with dressed stone walls, plastered interior walls, and tile roofs clearly reflected a family of higher economic status in life.[5]



06.03.09.B. ROMAN ROOF TILE. Roman roofing tiles were introduced to the Jewish community by the Romans in 63 B.C. and were commonly used on the homes of affluent families. The initials “LEG-X-F” represent Legio X Fretensis.”  Photograph by the author at the Haifa Museum.


“Their faith.”  This miracle is one of unique illustration.  While there is no mention of the faith of the sick paralytic, the writers Matthew (9:2), Mark (2:5), and Luke (5:20) specifically mention that it was “their faith” that prompted the healing.  This implies the paralytic may not have had faith for his own healing, but his four friends did and, therefore, he received the healing. Like the term belief, the word faith has two critical components.

  1. Faith means to accept the words of Jesus literally, including what He said about God as eternal and unchangeable truth. It is a mental change of thought and attitude (belief system), but not necessarily feeling-oriented.
  1. Faith is the commitment to put the belief system into action and results in a Christ-like lifestyle (see James 2:14).



06.03.09.C. ROOF TILE WITH TENTH ROMAN LEGION INSCRIPTION.  A illustration of a roof tile with the engraved image of a ship and a wild boar was found in Jerusalem. In the center of the seal are the initials “LEG-X-F” that represented “Legio X Fretensis.” Courtesy of Dan Bahat.[6]


06.03.09.Q1 Did the phrase “Your sins are forgiven,” proclaim Jesus as Deity (Lk. 5:20)?


Jesus made a stunning statement when He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”  In Mark’s narrative Jesus used the word teknon that means child or son.[7] It is a word of endearment that reflects the compassion and love that the leading Pharisees lacked. The statement, “your sins are forgiven you.” is used 13 times in the Hebrew Bible, including nine times in the Torah.[8]  It should be noted that the religious leaders forgot the discussion Nathan had with King David.  After the king repented, Nathan said,

The Lord has taken away your sin; you will not die.

-2 Samuel 12:13


In that case, Nathan did not forgive David’s sin, but rather, he conveyed God’s forgiveness and assured David of it.  However, when Jesus forgave sin, He did so by the authority and power of God Almighty. This phrase was reserved for God alone and the Pharisees were horrified when Jesus used it. When Moses wrote Leviticus chapters 4, 5, and 6, he used the passive Hebrew voice.  When Jesus said it, He also used the passive voice, a bold self-proclamation of deity.[9]

Nonetheless, there must have been some who questioned, “Where is the evidence that His statement, ‘your sins are forgiven,’ is permitted and ratified in heaven?” Anyone could have said this with a degree of boldness.  Jesus attested His right and power to do that which, by its very nature, lies outside of the realm of visible proof.[10] Therefore, He performed the miracle of healing to convey to the audience that He did, in fact, have divine power to perform a messianic miracle.

It had not occurred to them that God might take on human form.  No one had ever performed these kinds of miracles before, and yet Jesus performed all three messianic miracles that demonstrated His deity and for this reason, the Jewish leadership responded with, “He’s blaspheming!”


06.03.09a (2)


Since the Jews were so intent on an expected political-messiah, they could not imagine a messiah who would heal the sick, raise the dead, and forgive sins.  Their preconceived ideas blinded them to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies about the ministry of Jesus.  Ironically, from their own tradition is an interesting verse recorded later in the Babylonian Talmud that reads,

This sick man is not healed

Until all his sins are forgiven him. 

-Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 41a[11]


As previously stated, Jews, Greeks and Romans also associated illnesses with sin.  There was an association between those who were sick and their physician; the sick were to pattern their behavior after their healer.  The Greek writer Lucian (120-185 A.D.) preserved this interesting account, in which the sick are to get well by not becoming angry or excited, which were seen as “sins.”

He (Demonax) never was known to make an uproar or excite himself or get angry, even if he had to rebuke someone; though he assailed sins, he forgave sinners thinking that one should pattern after doctors who heal sicknesses but felt no anger at the sick.  He considered that it is human to err, divine or all but divine to set right what has gone amiss.

-Lucian of Samosata, Demonax 7[12]


Lucian of Samosata and others like him were in sharp contrast to Jesus who simply healed people and told them not to continue in their sinful lifestyle. Some critics claim that Jesus did not understand His Messiahship because he failed to specifically tell the people He was the Messiah.  Unfortunately, these critics fail to realize that Jesus frequently demonstrated His Messiahship and deity. Throughout history there have been many who claimed to be the Messiah, but only Jesus demonstrated His calling.

[1]. When the gospel writers used terms such as “Jews from Jerusalem,” or “Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem,” or similar statements ending with “from Jerusalem,” these persons were generally representatives of the Sanhedrin who came to listen, observe, and eventually challenged both John the Baptist and Jesus. Bookman, When God Wore Sandals. CD Trac 5.


[2]. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, 87.


[3]. To make plaster, the ancients burned limestone for 72 hours until it became a heavy dust. Then they added water and placed it on the walls with a trowel.  Because limestone is about thirty percent water, the burning process required considerable fuel. The result was that during the Roman period many areas were deforested. SOURCE: Interview with Arie bar David, tour guide and lecturer in August, 1999.

[4]. In 1992, a factory where tiles were produced was found under the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, and has been left “in Situ.” Israel Antiquities Authority, June, 18, 1998; “Tenth Roman Legion Tile Factory Open.” Artifax. 12:3 (Summer, 1998) 4.


[5]. Laughlin, “Capernaum from Jesus’ Time.” 58.

[6]. Bahat. Illustrated Atlas of Jerusalem. 58.


[7]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 322.


[8]. Lev. 4:20, 26, 31, 35; 5:10, 13, 16, 18; 6:7.


[9]. Fruchtenbaum, Life of the Messiah. Tape 5, Side B.


[10]. See also 11.02.20.Q1 “What are the three examples of where Jesus claimed divine authority that brought Him into conflict with the religious establishment?”


[11]. See Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 341.

[12]. Boring, Berger, and Colpe, eds. Hellenistic Commentary to the New Testament.  65, 74.

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