10.01 The Disciples Begin To Function As Apostles


Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 04, 2016  -  Comments Off on 10.01.10 Perea: HEROD ANTIPAS CURIOUS ABOUT JESUS

10.01.10 Mk 6:14-16; Lk 9:9b (See also Mt. 14:1-2) Perea




Mk. 14 King Herod heard of this, because Jesus’ name had become well known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that’s why supernatural powers are at work in him.”


15 But others said, “He’s Elijah.”


Still others said, “He’s a prophet — like one of the prophets.”


16 When Herod heard of it, he said, “John, the one I beheaded, has been raised!”


Lk.  9b (Herod speaking) “Who then, is this I hear such things about?”  And he tried to see him.


Jesus was obviously well known at this point, but His identity remained a subject of controversy. His miracles were of the nature that some who were prone to being suspicious, like Herod Antipas, believed He was the resurrection of John the Baptist.


“King Herod.”  This king was Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great and his fourth wife Malthrace, a Samaritan.  His official title was the tetrarch (5076) of Galilee and Perea,[1] but he is mentioned as king because he was the ruler. Technically, he was not titled “king of the Jews,” but a tetrarch meaning ruler of the fourth part.[2] In this case, the “part” was the districts of Galilee and Perea. Nonetheless, he resented not having the same title as his father.  His vain attempt to receive the official title of king led to his downfall in A.D. 39 under the rulership of Emperor Caligula.[3] The name “Herod” appears 44 times in the New Testament in reference to three individuals.


The narrative below concerning the death of John the Baptist is a parenthetical story in the biblical narrative.  It may seem out of place to the ordinary reader since the previous passage refers to him being dead, but now he is being executed.  The events that led to his execution are as follows:


Herod Antipas was married to Zolleras, the daughter of the Arabian King Aretas IV of the Nabataeans (cf. 2 Cor. 11:32).  Such marriage arrangements were common forms of peace treaties, and many scholars believe that this marriage was a classic example of such an alliance.  Then Herod went to Rome to visit his brother Philip and while there, he fell in love with Philip’s wife Herodias. The two men made an agreement and Herod returned home with a new wife. However, to comply with Roman law which prohibited bigamy, he quickly divorced Zolleras.  He then sent her to live in the Machaerus Fortress while he and Herodias lived in Tiberias. Zolleras immediately became a woman of intense wrath. But no matter how angry she was, it was nothing compared to that of her father who was a Nabataean king and lived in the natural fortress of Petra.[4]


Since the Herodians were Roman citizens, they could marry and divorce as often as they pleased. (His father, Herod the Great had ten wives, although he killed more than he divorced.)   He divorced Zolleras in order to marry Philip’s ex-wife Herodias. In a case as this where the marriage was made for a peaceful alliance, to divorce a daughter of a king was more than just a divorce; it was a break of a peaceful alliance.  Antipas may not have intended to begin a military conflict, but he did precisely that.  His actions eventually led to war with King Aretas as well as a profound rebuke by John the Baptist, whose outspoken words of rebuke to the king were instrumental in the loss of his life.[5]

[1]. In the days of Jesus, Perea was often referred to as the “region of Judea across the Jordan.”


[2]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:82.  


[3]. Wessel, “Mark.” 8:668.


[4]. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 208.


[5]. Kaiser, Davids, Bruce, and Brauch, Hard Sayings of the Bible. 433-34.



Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 04, 2016  -  Comments Off on 10.01.11 DEATH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

10.01.11 Mk. 6:17-29 (See also Mt. 14:3-12a)




17 For Herod himself had given orders to arrest John and to chain him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife!” 19 So Herodias held a grudge against him and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 because Herod was in awe of John and was protecting him, knowing he was a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard him he would be very disturbed, yet would hear him gladly.


21 Now an opportune time came on his birthday, when Herod gave a banquet for his nobles, military commanders, and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When Herodias’s own daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you.” 23 So he swore oaths to her: “Whatever you ask me I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”


24 Then she went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?”


“John the Baptist’s head!” she said.


25 Immediately she hurried to the king and said, “I want you to give me John the Baptist’s head on a platter — right now!”


26 Though the king was deeply distressed, because of his oaths and the guests he did not want to refuse her. 27 The king immediately sent for an executioner and commanded him to bring John’s head. So he went and beheaded him in prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother.


29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and removed his corpse and placed it in a tomb.


In the meantime, Herod not only constantly appeased his Roman overlords, but he also tried to outperform them in every manner possible. His parties were the talk of the empire, and it was often said that if one did not attend one of Herod’s galas, one has never attended a true party. Therefore, when Herod Antipas was enjoying his birthday party, Herodias and her daughter Salome planned their revenge for what John had said.

“Herod himself had given orders to arrest John.”  Herod Antipas had John the Baptist arrested because the Baptist gave a scathing rebuke on his marriage with Herodias, especially since Herodias was previously married to his half-brother Philip.[1] In addition, since John was immensely popular, Herod feared that the itinerant preacher might stir the people to revolt. This was a serious threat since there were 13 revolts from the time the Romans arrived in 63 B.C. until the so-called “First Revolt” of A.D. 66-70.[2] 

“Wanted to kill him.” In today’s speech it could be said that Herodias literally “had it in for him,” and in the worst way possible. He was to be killed for personal reasons, although according to Josephus, the public charges were for political reasons. She carefully schemed his death just as Jezebel once had opposed Elijah.[3]  Note the following similarities between Jezebel and Herodias, outlined in Hebraic style:


  1. John ministered with the image of Elijah the prophet and had a unique ministry to prepare the people of God for the coming of their Lord.

Just as Elijah had a unique ministry, demonstrating the power of God.


  1. A woman named Jezebel, however, terrorized Elijah, and

A woman named Herodias confronted the Baptist.


  1. Jezebel was the wife of the pagan Sidonian King Ahab (1 Kg. 16:31) and

Herodias was the wife of pagan King Herod Antipas.


  1. Jezebel promoted Baal worship (1 Kg. 16:32-33), opposed Elijah (1 Kg. 19:1-2), and killed the prophets of the Lord (1 Kg. 18:4, 13).

Herodias, as the queen of the royal court, would have promoted the king’s religion; she opposed John the Baptist and eventually succeeded in his martyrdom.


  1. John the Baptist ministered with the Spirit of Elijah,                                 but was opposed by the spirit of Jezebel.


“Opportune time.” The phrase in the Greek is eukairos (2121) meaning well-timed, and signifies ideal timely opportunity, and convenient.[4] The statement suggests that if the birthday banquet had not occurred at this time, John the Baptist may not have lost his life.

“On his birthday, when Herod (Antipas) gave a banquet.”   The royal families celebrated birthdays, dates of ascension, and anniversaries with festivals and great fanfare.  For example, the Egyptian pharaoh celebrated his birthday with a feast for his royal court (Gen. 40:20) and the Persian King Xerxes had a banquet for his nobles (Esther 1:1-8) while his Queen Vashti had a similar banquet for her court (Esther 1:9), possibly for the third anniversary of Xerxes’ reign (Esther 1:3). As grand as these royal banquets were, parties and banquets hosted by the Herodian family were so superior to others that they won the envy of Rome.

These became so well known that Aulus Persius Flaccus (A.D. 34 – 62), a Roman satirist commonly referred to as Persius, described the extravagance of Herod’s birthday festivals that became known as “the days of Herod.”  While some scholars believe he referred to Herod’s accession day, most agree the writer referred to the famed birthday parties which were popular with both the Greeks and the Hellenized Jews. Persius was loved by the popular crowds because he degraded and mocked the aristocrats.[5] Notice his cunning and insulting words about Herod Antipas:

Or when the days of Herod the Jew are here, and the lamps, wreathed with violets, set in the greasy window, vomit oily vapour, and the tunny fish tail swims, encircling the red bowl, when the white jug brims with wine, and you move your lips silently, grown pale at the Sabbath of the circumcised.

Persius, Satire 5:180-184

He highly criticized the extravagance and abuses of his contemporaries, and even called Herod a Jew, which was an insult to both the Jews and to the Herodians.  Needless to say, the aristocrats of Roman had no great love for him. It was one of these extravagant celebrations that caused the demise of the Baptist preacher. It was said that the Herods had perfected the art of entertainment and it was an honor to have been invited to any of their events. They represented the ultimate in Hellenistic materialism, hedonistic pleasures, and philosophy.[6]


 “Nobles, military commanders.”  To insure loyalty of subordinates and impress the rich and powerful, Antipas invited nobles, who were the chief men, and military commanders, who were the commanders of thousands, to a festive birthday gala.[7]


“Herodias’s own daughter came in and danced.” Normally, royalty employed professional dancers who were known for their sensuality and seductiveness.  But this time everyone was in for an unexpected surprise. As the birthday banquet was under way, Herodias had her daughter Salome dress in the most seductive wardrobe of the palace. At such parties, music began quietly but soon heightened into a frenzied pitch as dancers in scant clothing danced between the attendees.  The sensual dancing performed by the Greeks and Romans was without any moral or religious values. This was in sharp contrast to the dancing style of the Jews, a type of religious folk art and an expression of worship of God. Jewish focus was on God with no hint of sexuality.

In the Herodian family, however, belly dancing was the beginning of the licentious and sexual performance that thrilled Herod and his guests greatly. Typically, the lead dancer, in this case Salome, danced The Dance of Eros, in which one piece of translucent silk clothing was removed after another. When she was finished, all she wore was a small piece to the applause of the drunken crowd. In the minds of the drunken guests, this was the best performance they had undoubtedly ever witnessed, so the offer was made by Herod to give Salome whatever she wanted, up to half of his kingdom.  Clearly, he was intoxicated even to consider giving her half of his kingdom, yet he had to stand by his word.

Herodias anticipated that in this context, her lustful husband would offer Salome anything she wanted, and that is precisely what happened. He offered her anything, up to half of his kingdom. Little did he realize what the request would be. Because John the Baptist had accused Herodias and Herod of adultery, even though they were not Jews but Romans, Herodias was determined to have the prophet killed.


“Up to half my kingdom.” This is a figure of speech indicating immense generosity and was never taken literally.  The Persian King Xerxes (Esther 5:3, 6) used the same expression.  There is no record of any king ever giving up half of his reign as the result of such an offer, but kings did at times become extremely generous to favored subjects.

“Because of his oaths.” The translation is accurate – “because of his oaths” – the Greek clearly states that Herod, in his mad excitement, confirmed his promise with repeated oaths. These were actions he would surely regret.[8] However, Herod Antipas was king and as such, some scholars believe he could have denied the request.[9]  They cite a passage of the Mishnah as the reason.[10] Even though that is a Jewish book and Herod was of mixed Arab blood, the Jewish writing reflects a common practice in most if not all Middle Eastern cultures of the time.

It should be noted that this marital arrangement concerning Herodias and Herod Antipas was typical for the Herodian family. In another case, his brother Archelaus also divorced his wife Mariamne to marry Glaphyra, the widow of his half-brother Alexander. However, a few days after the wedding, she died.[11] By the end of the first century, divine judgment wiped out the entire Herodian dynasty.

The death of John the Baptist was indicative that, Jesus likewise, would be killed.  Just as John’s message was rejected, so was the message of Jesus. Throughout the life of Jesus, there are numerous indicators that He would be rejected.  Finally, it is an irony of history and a work of the grace of God, that Manaen, a close friend of Herod Antipas, became one of the prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1).


10.01.11.Q1 What is the mystery of John the Baptist?

The mystery of John the Baptist is, “What happened to his body?” Where was he buried” The traditions are interesting and, admittedly, of no theological value.  But these are interesting as the Middle East is full of traditions.


  1. One tradition says that he was buried in Samaria. However, moving his body from the Machaerus to Samaria would have taken three days, when the custom was that a body be buried the same day of death. The transport of the body was possible, but highly unlikely. Furthermore, why in Samaria? No orthodox Jew ever wanted to be buried in Samaria, and no Jew would have permitted a friend or relative to be buried there as well.


  1. Another tradition says that only John’s body was buried in Samaria, but his head was taken further northeast to Damascus where it was placed in the Church of St. John the Baptist – later known as the Mosque of John the Baptist.


  1. But another tradition claims that the Russian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem has his head.


Finally, some scholars have suggested that this act of beheading John was too violent for the times. History, however, suggests that it was typical of ancient monarchs.  Three examples are as follows:


  1. The fifth century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus recorded the demand made by Amestris, the wife of King Xerxes, at his birthday festival. She demanded that the wife of Masistes die, as she was incredibly jealous of her. Xerxes put her to death.[12]


  1. In another case, in 53 B.C. the Parthian King Orodes enjoyed both a victorious battle of Karrha and the marriage of his son Pacorus. In the festive celebration, an actor brought on stage the half-wasted head of King Crassus, who lost the battle.[13]


  1. Finally, Rome was no less violent and savage. Emperors Nero and Caligula both had men tortured for the entertainment of guests at various feasts. Caligula had swordsmen demonstrate their skills of beheading prisoners and Nero burned Christians at night to illuminate his court.


The great work of John the Baptizer was over.  Just as Samuel had centuries earlier presented and consecrated King David, so the last prophet presented and consecrated the Greater King. John was a beloved son and so was Jesus. Just as John was rejected and died a martyr, so would Jesus. No one knows what happened to the prophet who came as Elijah. The proverbial “bottom line” is that the true location of his grave is known only to God.


10.01.11.Q2 What political and military ramifications resulted from the divorce actions of Herod Antipas?

Not only did God send an incredible punishment upon Herod Antipas, but everyone recognized it.

Josephus recorded a summary of the marriage of Antipas to the daughter of the Nabataean king Aretas, and the divorce that followed several years later (after he fell in love with Herodias). Since there were already some conflicting issues between Herod Antipas and Aretas, the divorce was the deciding factor for Aretas to go to war. Josephus wrote the following:


About this time Aretas (the Nabataean king of Arabia, Petra) and Herod (Antipas) had a quarrel on the account following:  Herod the tetrarch had married the daughter of Aretas (a Nabataean king), and had lived with her a great while.  But once he was in Rome he lodged with Herod (Philip), who was his brother indeed, but not by the same mother, for this Herod was the son of the high priest Simon’s daughter.  However, he fell in love with Herodias, the last Herod’s wife, who was the daughter of Aristobulus their brother, and the sister of Agrippa the Great.  This man ventured to talk to her about marriage between them, which she accepted, an agreement was made for her to change her habitation and come to him as soon as he should return from Rome.  One article of this marriage also was this, that he should divorce Aretas’s daughter . . .


Accordingly Herod sent his wife away, as thinking she had not perceived anything.  Now she had sent a good while before to Machaerus (Fortress), which was subject to her father, and so all things necessary for her journey were made ready for her by the general of Aretas’s army. And by that means she soon came to Arabia under the conduct of the several generals who carried her from one to another successively.  And soon she came to her father and told him of Herod’s intentions.  So Aretas made this the first occasion of his enmity between him and Herod who had also some quarrel about the limits (of their land) at the country of Gamalitis.  So they raised armies on both sides and prepared for war, and sent their generals to fight instead of themselves.  And when they had joined battle, all Herod’s army was destroyed by the treachery of some fugitives, though they were of the tetrarchy of Philip (who) joined with Aretas’s army.


            Josephus, Antiquities 18.5.1 (109-114)[14]   


The Machaerus Fortress was located east of the Dead Sea, mid-way between Jerusalem and the nomadic Bedouins and Nabataeans of the Upper Arabian Desert that is commonly known today as the Kingdom of Jordan. Pliny suggests that the fortress offered Herod a first line of defense of any possible invasion from the east.[15]



10.01.11.A. RUINS OF THE MACHAERUS PALACE-FORTRESS. The fortress was known as “the Diadem” from its crown-like mountaintop setting, as well as “the Black Tower” of its dark basalt stone construction. These are the ruins of where John the Baptist was beheaded.


Some critics have stated that since the account by Josephus is somewhat different than the gospels, there is an obvious conflict.  However, Josephus, as he often does, presents details that would have been otherwise lost in history.  His comments do not oppose the gospel narratives, but compliment them. The gospel writers wrote from a religious perspective while Josephus wrote from a social and political perspective.[16]



10.01.11.B. THE BURIAL SITE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST IN SAMARIA.  To the left of the fallen column is a metal door that is the entrance to an empty tomb said to have once held the body of the famous Baptist. However, a Russian church in Jerusalem and a mosque (formerly a church) in Damascus also claim to have his tomb. Photograph by the author.


When the Nabataean King Aretas prepared for war against Herod Antipas, Aretas was surprised to find that some disgruntled fugitives from Philip the Tetrarch (Herod’s half-brother) wanted to help him fight Antipas. This reflects the deep hostility that existed between the half-brothers of the Herodian family.[17] When the battle was over, King Aretas soundly defeated the army of Herod Antipas.  Josephus recorded the event as a divine indictment:


Now, some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man.

Josephus, Antiquities 18.5.2 (116)


The defeat caused a great stir in Rome, as the Romans had no tolerance for military losses.  Consequently, Herod Antipas eventually lost his throne and was exiled to Lugdumin in Gaul, not far from the Spanish frontier.  He and Herodias died in obscurity and dishonor.[18]


[1]. Marriage to an aunt or uncle is forbidden in Leviticus 18:12-16 and 20:19-21. Since John the Baptist applied the Mosaic Law to the Herodian family who was not Jewish, this is proof that all humanity will be judged by God’s Word, not just Christians and Jews.


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


[3]. Earle, “Mark.” 3:84.


[4]. Vine, “Convenient, Conveniently.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:228.


[5]. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/452897/Persius. Retrieved September 29, 2013.


[6]. Kitchen, “Birthday.” 1:199. For “Hedonistic pleasures,” see Appendix 26.


[7]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:193.


[8]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:84.  


[9]. Bock, Jesus According to Scripture. 215.


[10]. Mishnah, Nedarim 3.1; 9.4.


[11]. Josephus, Antiquities 17.13.4; Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ. 1:273; Schurer, A History of the Jewish People (First Division), 2:40-42.


[12]. Herodotus, Histories 9.108-112. Histories was written about 460 to 420 B.C.


[13]. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ. 1:431.


[14]. See Josephus, Antiquities 18.05.02 below for additional information on this narrative. Parenthesis mine.


[15]. Pliny, Natural History 5.16; Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 1:347.


[16]. Webb, “Jesus’ Baptism by John.” 107.


[17]. Each son had a different mother.


[18]. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. 230.


10.01.12 Bethsaida: The Disciples Return

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 04, 2016  -  Comments Off on 10.01.12 Bethsaida: The Disciples Return

10.01.12 Lk. 9:10a; Mk. 6:30-34; Lk. 9:11; Jn. 6:4 (See also Mt. 14:12-14) Bethsaida




Lk. 10a When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus all that they had done.


Mk. 30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place, 33 but many saw them leaving and recognized them. People ran there by land from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34 So as He stepped ashore, He saw a huge crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then He began to teach them many things.


Lk. 11 When the crowds found out, they followed Him. He welcomed them, spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and cured those who needed healing.


Jn. 4 Now the Passover, a Jewish festival, was near.


It was now Passover, a year prior to His crucifixion. Instructing the disciples became increasingly more important than teaching the crowds, although His popularity was exploding. As a result, it was becoming increasing difficult for Jesus to find peace and quiet. Ironically, the more popular He became, the more difficult it was for the disciples to understand that He would die.


10.01.12.Q1 Is there a “wilderness” near Bethsaida (Mk. 6:31)?


Some English translations associate the word “wilderness” or “desert” with this small town of Bethsaida.  The difficulty is that Bethsaida was located along the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee, far from any wilderness or desert. The Greek word in Mark 6:31 that describes it is eremos (2048), an adjective signifying a remote, lonely, and unpopulated.[1]  At times the word “wilderness” is translated as “desert,” but this term was not always a reference to climate, but lack of population. A wilderness can also be a very solitary area as were some regions near Bethsaida. Bethsaida was definitely not a desert area, but a village in an unpopulated area.

The town was referred to as the “house of fishing” by Josephus[2] although it could also imply hunting with the use of a snare.[3]  The town was known for its beauty and became known as Bethsaida Julias, in honor of Caesar’s daughter.  Scholars believe it was located within the territory controlled by Herod Philip on the eastern side of the Jordan River, upstream from where the river flows into the Sea of Galilee.[4]

“They were like sheep without a shepherd.” Scholars have offered two possible interpretations for this phrase:

  1. The Jewish people did not have spiritual leaders who loved and cared for them. There is no question that the leading Pharisees, and most certainly the Sadducees, were worthless and a majority of scholars believe the phrase was directed toward them.[5] The term “sheep without a shepherd” is found in a number of Old Testament accounts,[6] but few prophets were as dynamic in their use of this term as was Ezekiel in 34:1-10. So when Jesus used it, there was a powerful connection.
  2. However, there is also another possible meaning to this term. Some scholars have suggested it is a reference to the followers of John the Baptist who no longer had him as their spiritual guide. He had been preaching for at least two years at this point, and he had established quite a following of disciples and listeners. When Jesus spoke these words, He was not speaking of the general population of the Jewish people, but rather of those who had been following John.  He had mercy on them, and soon they became His followers.


When John was in prison, the guests of the Herodians were feasting on the good food, but his disciples and followers, who were for the most part poor peasant farmers, had little or nothing to eat. When they heard the news of John’s death, they became discouraged. There clearly existed a spiritual vacuum.  They had looked to John as the new Elijah who would in some way prepare the way for the Messiah.


When they came into the presence of Jesus, He performed the most profound miracle.  He multiplied fishes and loaves of bread until everyone was full.  Clearly, this was a reflection of the manna that fell from heaven during the times when their forefathers wandered in the desert wilderness. Moses had prayed for a shepherd for Israel (Num. 27:17; cf. Ezek. 34:5) and God provided Joshua (whose name in Greek is “Jesus”). Both Moses and Jesus were leaders with a shepherd’s heart for leading sheep through the wilderness.  Now, however, not only were their stomachs being filled, but they also heard Jesus preach hope and life to them. He became their new shepherd.


So many of the people really were like sheep without a shepherd.  The religious establishment had become corrupt in every conceivable manner and some leaders believed there were those who were simply unteachable.  The famed Rabbi Hillel, whose grandson was the teacher of the Apostle Paul, said the following:


A brutish man dreads not sin, and an ignorant man cannot be saintly, and the shamefast man cannot learn, and the impatient man cannot teach, and he that engages overmuch in trade cannot become wise; and where there are no men (you ought) to be a man.[7]


Mishnah, Aboth 2.6


Poetic parallelism like this was typically used as a memory device, as this helped the ancients to memorize word for word large portions of both the written and Oral Laws.  Mark considered the life of Christ so important for his audience that he wrote in an accepted manner to help them memorize what Jesus taught. To the gospel writer, this was more significant than recording detailed events for which modern critics search.[8]


Evidently, not all followers of John the Baptist became followers of Jesus.  A few of them banded together and formed their own religion and today they are known as the “Mandeans,” or “Mandaeans.”[9]  Their name Mandaean is Aramaic meaning knowledge, a translation from the Greek word gnosis.[10] They have also been called “Christians of Saint John” even though they consider Jesus to have been a false prophet. Since John was a baptizer, they practice frequent baptisms as Christians practice communion.


Scholars believe the Mandaeans left the Jordan Valley at the time of the Second Revolt (A.D. 132-135), moved eastward and relocated to where they are living today, namely in Iran and Iraq in the cities of Wasit, Nasiriyya, Basra, and in Chuzistan along the eastern shore of the Tigris River.[11]  Arab Bedouins at one time called the Yarmuk River the River of the Mandaeans, where John the Baptist preached east of the Jordan River.[12]

[1]. Vine, “Wilderness.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:676.


[2]. Josephus, Wars 3.3.5.


[3]. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 464 n1.


[4]. Josephus, Antiquities 18.2.1.


[5]. For example, see Bock, Jesus According to Scripture. 170-71.


[6]. Num. 27:17; 1 Kg. 22:17 = 2 Chron. 18:16.


[7]. Bracketed insert mine for clarification.


[8]. The gospel writers not only recorded various events and teachings of Jesus, but each writer applied his own style to emphasize the importance of his message.  Mark not only wrote ideas in poetic style, but also themes – a writing technique that helped his audience memorize his message. See an example of the poetic themes of Mark 6:31 – 8:30 in Appendix 11.


[9]. The name “Mandaeans” is also spelled “Mendaeans.” Today there are only a few thousand who practice their religion of Mandaeism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandaeism Retrieved December 9, 2012.  See also K. Kessler. “Mandaeans.” Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. New York, Toronto, London: Funk & Wagnalls. 1891. 3:1467-69; Mould, Essentials of Bible History. 494.


[10]. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 10, pages 2-4.


[11]. Kessler, “Mendaeans.” 3:1467-69.


[12]. Pixner, With Jesus through Galilee. 110.


10.01.13 The Sea of Galilee near Bethsaida. 5000 Fed

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 04, 2016  -  Comments Off on 10.01.13 The Sea of Galilee near Bethsaida. 5000 Fed

10.01.13 Mk. 6:35-36; Jn. 6:5-7; Lk. 6:13; Jn. 6:8-9; Mk. 6:39-43; Jn. 6:14; Mk. 6:45; Jn. 6:15 (See also Lk. 9:12-17) The Sea of Galilee near Bethsaida.



Mk. 35 When it was already late, His disciples approached Him and said, “This place is a wilderness, and it is already late! 36 Send them away, so they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages to buy themselves something to eat.” 

Jn 5 Therefore, when Jesus looked up and noticed a huge crowd coming toward Him, He asked Philip, “Where will we buy bread so these people can eat?” 6 He asked this to test him, for He Himself knew what He was going to do.

7 Philip answered, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread wouldn’t be enough for each of them to have a little.”  

Lk. 13 You give them something to eat,” He told them.

Jn. 8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There’s a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish—but what are they for so many?”

Mk. 39 Then He instructed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in ranks of hundreds and fifties. 41 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke the loaves. He kept giving them to His disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 Everyone ate and was filled. 43 Then they picked up 12 baskets full of pieces of bread and fish. 44 Now those who ate the loaves were 5,000 men.

Jn. 14 When the people saw the sign He had done, they said, “This really is the Prophet who was to come into the world!”

Mk. 45 Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He dismissed the crowd.

Jn. 15 Therefore, when Jesus knew that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He withdrew again to the mountain by Himself.

It was springtime in A.D. 29, as John 6:4 indicates that the Passover was near. So this miracle occurred at the beginning of the last year His ministry. By now His popularity was incredible, and after this miracle, it would be even more so.

The disciples realized that there was neither enough food to feed the massive crowd nor enough money to buy food.[1] It is doubtful that even if they did have enough money, there was any place where such a large quantity of food could be purchased with limited notice. The disciples looked at solving physical needs in a physical manner, and thereby, were forced to be completely dependent upon Jesus for a miracle. It is interesting that Jesus asked Philip where bread could be purchased.  Philip was from Bethsaida, a village known for excellent bread.

The Bread of Life Discourse can be divided into three parts.

  1. The Jews reflected upon the time when their forefathers were given bread from heaven. Jesus had to remind them that it was God, not Moses, who had fed them.
  1. Jesus told the gathered assembly that He was the Bread who came down from heaven (Jn. 6:22-40). With this statement, He revealed His incarnation.
  1. Jesus stated that His sacrificial and atoning death would be as the “bread” to be broken in the fleshly body.[2] Herein the imagery of the future communion begins to emerge.

Today at Tabgha, there is a mosaic commemorating the miracle of the multiplication that was discovered in the ruins of a Byzantine church.


10.01.13.A. MOSAIC OF THE MIRACLE OF THE MULTIPLICATION. The church with this mosaic commemorates the miracle of Jesus at a so-called traditional site near the village of Tabgha. Count Yosipos, a Jewish believer, built a church here in 350, which was later destroyed in 614 by the Persians. Not until 1932, was it rediscovered by German archaeologists and later rebuilt. Only four loaves are shown and fish in the Sea of Galilee do not have dorsal fins. Photograph by the author.


This miracle reflects upon two similar miracles of the Old Testament. However, since the Jews have a history with God and His care for them, this miracle also reflects upon two similar miracles of the Old Testament.

  1. Elisha’s miracle was that he fed a hundred men with only twenty loaves of barley bread (2 Kg. 4:42ff). Those loaves were circular, flat and thin, similar to modern pizza dough bread. Twenty loaves may have been enough for four or five men, but most certainly not for a hundred.  Elisha prayed that these would be multiplied. The Lord provided enough for everyone and there was some left over.
  2. The miracle of Moses was that God’s people were wandering in the desert, every day God supplied them with fresh food (Ex. 18:25). Just as Moses, the first redeemer, had given bread (manna) from heaven to the people, so Jesus gave them bread as they listened to Him speak. However, the manna by Moses fell from the sky and after a day or two, it perished. Jesus said that He was the true Bread from heaven that only the Father could give, and in fact, He was precisely that!

This miracle by Jesus demonstrated that He was the bread of life for the Jews. It was both a reflection and a projection.  It was a “projected reflection” also known as a “type and shadow” of a shepherd feeding his sheep upon the green grass.  The prophets Ezekiel (34:23-31) and Isaiah (25:6-9) mentioned a future event when God’s people will enjoy a feast with Him. By performing these miracles, Jesus performed a “foretaste” of that Messianic feast that was spoken of and is yet to come.

As such, Jesus clearly stated that His position was far higher than that of Moses whom the first century Jews had held in a near god-like position. There is also an implication with the statement “from heaven,” and that is, that what Jesus said is beyond the power of Satan and his demons.

“You give them something to eat.”  The disciples now had become an integral part of the miracle.  As Jesus fed both physical and spiritual hunger, He was training His disciples to do the same.

“Five barley loaves.” The phrase literally means five small barley loaves.  Barley was known as the poor man’s wheat, and was commonly used for cattle feed.[3]  This demonstrates that Jesus was in fact ministering to the very poor of the nation. John recorded this to connect with the miracle of Elisha, who also multiplied loaves of barley bread.

“Two fish.” The phrase literally means two small fish.  The Greek word for the small fish is opsarion, which was eaten raw, pickled, or salted, but always with bread.[4]  It is commonly believed to have been the popular sardine, as the Sea of Galilee has the only freshwater sardines in the world. Pickled sardines were well-known throughout the eastern Roman Empire; soldiers, shepherds, everyone carried some in their pockets for an afternoon meal or snack.

“Green grass.”   This seemingly unimportant piece of trivia is significant in that grass is green for only a few months of the year.  In the winter when it rains it is too cold for the grass to be green and the spring is relatively short, but that is basically the only time when grass is green.  John also recorded (6:4) that this miracle took place near the coming Passover (March-April) when the weather would have been warm enough for an outdoor meeting.

“In ranks of hundreds and fifties.” There was a specific reason Jesus requested the people to be seated in such groups.  This was not a lesson in administration as much as it was a reflection of what their forefathers had done in the Sinai Desert (Ex.18:25; Num. 31:14).[5] The unspoken message was profound and most certainly was the subject of many conversations.  By such subtle connections to significant events of the past, Jesus made profound statements of His identity.

“He blessed and broke the loaves.” Some translations read that Jesus blessed the food, but the question is, “Would an orthodox Jew have asked God to bless the food?”  This is the Christian practice. Why is there a difference in these prayers?  In the early 1600s, when King James of England had the Bible translated into English, his translators had some difficulties with the conveyance of meaning into English.  In the Greek language there is no direct object that follows a verb.  Therefore, when they came to words such as “broke,” “blessed,” or “gave,” they added the word “it” behind the verb.  This changes the blessing from being directed toward God and redirects it at a subject.  Once the King James translators accepted this practice, years later other translators were forced to follow the same pattern or be criticized for changing Scripture.

Most Bibles read in verse 16 that Jesus took five loaves of bread and two fish and blessed them, and then He broke them, after which He gave them to His disciples to distribute to the multitudes.  A careful look at the Greek meaning will render that Jesus blessed for them the bread, meaning He blessed God for the food, after which He broke and gave it to His disciples to distribute to the people.

Therefore, it is easy to understand how the focus of our prayers may be misdirected from the great Creator to various objects of His creation.  No orthodox Jew, including Jesus, would ever pray as most Christians do today.  The question that obviously follows is whether our prayer language needs to be corrected.  The answer may be more of a forced change of habit than a theological issue.

Historically, a Jewish person prays a blessing upon God before and after a meal.[6] In essence, Jesus prayed twice at mealtime. The second prayer is based upon Deuteronomy 8:10. The contemporary prayer of an orthodox Jew may be worded slightly different from the first century counterpart, but it is similar to this:

“Blessed is He who brings forth bread from the earth.”

  Jewish Prayer Prologue[7]


Some scholars believe this phrase was changed around 500 A.D. when the Talmud was written to read as follows:

 “Blessed are you, O Lord, King of the universe who brings forth

 bread from the earth.”

  Jewish Prayer Prologue[8]


The significance of the miracle is this:  Jesus, who became known as the “Bread of Life,” performed a miracle with enough leftovers to fill twelve baskets.  The number twelve was always significant to ancient Israel as representative of the twelve tribes.  The miracle reflected upon the days of Moses when manna fell from heaven every day, but their forefathers didn’t have any leftovers (Ex. 16; Num. 11). Now Jesus was, in effect, repeating the desert miracle for the descendants of those twelve tribes with an abundant amount of food leftover.  Those in attendance could not miss the connection between Moses with his manna from heaven and this profound miracle.  Jesus is the abundant bread of life for the Jewish nation.

The term blessed in Hebrew is baruk and in Greek is makarious. The word means to praise God with a sense of happiness and joy upon man.[9] More specifically, it refers to a quality of spirituality that is already present.[10] Therefore, the blessing that is commonly prayed today in orthodox and messianic congregations is of the Talmudic tradition. It has also been the tradition to bless God for His provision before and after eating, a custom that originated in Deuteronomy 8:10 that says,  “When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land, which He has given you.” The “good land” is associated with “a bountiful supply of food.”  However, note that it is not the food or the land that was blessed, but God.  Since the land was so intricately a part of the Jewish culture, this verse was used as a justification to bless God for nearly every other occasion as well.  In the recorded Oral Law is this passage, “Anything that is enjoyed requires a blessing.”[11] Such prayers would generally begin with something like this: “Blessed is He who….”  So by the first century, the Jews even blessed God for their ability to go to the bathroom, at which time they prayed,

“Blessed is He who formed numerous orifices and cavities. It is revealed and known before the throne of your glory that if even one of them should be opened or if even one of them should be obstructed, it would be impossible to exist and stand before you.”

Jewish Prayer Prologue[12]


But the focus is still to bless God and not the object. When one had to endure calamity or hardship, he would pray a prayer to bless the great and true Judge of the universe (possibly with a touch of revenge in mind). It is clear that the Jews blessed their God and not their food or objects, so the obvious question arises: Why do Christians bless their food and a variety of objects as well as people, but seldom bless God?

“Then they picked up 12 baskets.” This seemingly unimportant bit of trivia is, in fact, highly important.  When Jesus performed the miracle in this Jewish community, there were 12 baskets full of leftovers after everyone was finished eating. When Jesus performed a similar miracle in the Gentile region to the east there were 7 baskets full of leftovers. The 12 baskets in Jewish community was representative of the 12 Jewish tribes and the 7 baskets in the Gentile community were representative of the 7 Gentile tribes, descendants of the Canaanite tribes who originally lived there.[13]

These 12 baskets, called kophinos (2894), were smaller narrow-necked, flask-shaped baskets,[14] and were commonly used when traveling.  They were much smaller than the huge baskets, called spuridas or sphurides (4711), or sargane (4711) [15]  that were filled at the feeding of the 4,000.[16] Jesus again demonstrated His divine attributes in the role of Jehovah Jirah – our Lord God who is our Provider.[17]

Decimus Iuvenalis (c. A.D. 55-127), more commonly known as Juvenal, authored sixteen satires in which he ruthlessly criticized the moral vices and corruption of Roman society.  He likewise degraded the Jewish people, but a point of interest to this study is that he said that when the Jews traveled, they did so with a basket and a truss of hay.[18]  Note his words when he said,

… [the] Jews who possess a basket and a truss of hay for all their furnishings.

Juvenal, Satire 3:14[19]

No sooner has that fellow departed than a palsied Jewess, leaving her basket and her truss of hay,  comes begging to her secret ear;  

Juvenal, Satire 6:542[20]


Clearly, the kophinos was a small traveling basket, ideal for a light lunch and some personal items for anyone traveling.

“Now those who ate the loaves were 5,000 men.” Literally, “those who had eaten were five thousand men.” It was not unusual for a census to count only men.  However, even the ancients realized that if there were so many men present, the total number of people must have been huge.  Families at that time were considerably larger than today and, therefore, when including women and children the total could well have been in excess of 20,000 as a conservative estimate.  This indicates, along with the 4,000 fed later, that the ministry of Jesus had an immense following.  The largest nearby villages were Capernaum, Chorizim, and Bethsaida, which some archaeologists have determined had only a population between two and three thousand each.[21] Therefore, the remainder of the people came from other fishing villages that encircled the sea or traveled a great distance to see and hear Jesus. However, a new capital called Tiberias was under construction that required a large labor force. Some scholars have proposed that if the miraculous event took place near the end of the day, many laborers and craftsmen coming off from work would have been there. If that was the case, then the number of women and children would have been rather minimal.

Years later, when the early church celebrated communion, the believers had bread and fish at their communion meals, along with wine.  Since Jesus had a Passover-communion meal and not only the “elements” of bread and wine/grape juice, early Christians had a menu that reflected this miracle.[22]

“Take Him by force to make Him king.” Clearly, the people were at a point of desperation. They believed their long-awaited prophet had finally come and they wanted make Him their political-messiah, even by force if needed. They looked to Jesus as a miracle worker rather than a spiritual Savior, and wished to be healed and fed rather than have communion with His Spirit. What irony!  Usually Jesus had to watch out for the religious leaders, but now He had to watch the common people as well. Social pressure was upon Him and He had to retreat to the mountain to pray.  With this incredible popularity, it is easy to understand why the Sanhedrin and Herodians were also observing His every move.

In Luke 9:12ff is the narrative of the feeding of five thousand along the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

The site was known in biblical times for its seven hot springs in and nearby the lake, thereby making it a popular winter fishing area.  Since the Crusader Period, pilgrims were told this site was the actual place of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, due to great difficulty of crossing a swamp to get to Bethsaida.  Only since the twentieth century have roads made comfortable passage possible, but the tradition remains.


It should be noted that the words “city” and “village” at times are interchangeable.  Mark calls Bethsaida a “village” (8:23-27) while Matthew and Luke refer to Capernaum, Gadara, and Bethsaida as “cities.”[23]  Modern students might conclude that the gospel writers saw very little significance between the two words, but in reality, each was the size of a city but had the character (meaning government) of a village.[24]

Finally, tourists who visit the ruins of the so-called Bethsaida today are surprised to find the site to be more than a mile from the Sea of Galilee and on top of a hill.  Obviously, it does not make sense to have a fishing village so far inland. Some scholars believe that the explanation is in the past two thousand years, there have been many earthquakes that changed the face of the Jordan Valley.[25]  In addition, the ever winding Jordan River that enters the Sea of Galilee in the north and exits in the south had changed the delta of the inlet.  Therefore, some geologists say, it is not surprising that the northern shoreline has changed over time.[26]  However, what they have not addressed is that in the 1980s, after a lengthy drought, an archaeologist by the name of Mendel Nun discovered fifteen fishing harbors around the perimeter of the Sea of Galilee.[27]  If earthquakes and geological changes caused such a massive restructuring of the land at Bethsaida, then how could these fishing harbors have been so well preserved at a natural water level. Furthermore, the reason the harbors have been hidden in recent decades is that in the 1930s, a dam was built at the lower end of the Sea of Galilee.  This raised the Sea level about one meter and increased the water supply for the national water carrier. It is the opinion of this writer that the so-called Bethsaida site (10.01.13.A) of today is inaccurate, and the true location of Bethsaida is yet to be discovered closer to the Sea of Galilee.



10.01.13.B. THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE AT BETHSAIDA. The location of the fishing village of Bethsaida remained a mystery until the late 1990s. But the site archaeologist identified as Bethsaida is about a mile from the Sea of Galilee and has been dated to the time of the Assyrian invasion when it had a city wall. However, other scholars believe site has been incorrectly identified.  Shown is a trail going through the active archaeological site at the so-called Bethsaida.  Photograph by the author.

[1]. See Appendix 20 concerning currency values.


[2]. See Appendix 6 concerning Old Testament sacrifices and Jesus. Appendix 9 reveals the New Testament plan of salvation as presented in the Old Testament.


[3]. Barclay, “John.” 1:202-03.


[4]. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 468.


[5]. Among the writings of the Essenes, see Dead Sea Scroll fragments 1QS 2:21-22 and CD 13:1.


[6]. Mk. 6:41; 8:6; 14:22ff; Lk. 24:30; Jn. 6:11, 23.


[7]. Gilbrant, “Mark.” 173; Spangler and Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. 81-83, 95-96. Compare with Bivin, “Jesus and the Oral Law’” 2:2, 8.


[8]. Gilbrant, “Mark.” 173; Spangler and Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. 81-83, 95-96.


[9]. Weasel, “Blessed.” 1:201.

[10]. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 66-68.


[11]. Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 35a.


[12]. Bivin, “Jesus and the Oral Law’” 2:2, 8.


[13]. Josh. 3:10; cf. Deut. 7:1; Acts 13:19.


[14]. Barclay, “Mark.” 158; Vine, “Basket, Basketful.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:51.


[15]. Both terms are interchangeable for the same kind of basket. A large basket can be made from ropes or twigs;  Vine, “Basket, Basketful.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:51.


[16]. Barclay, “Matthew.” 2:127;   Vine, “Basket, Basketful.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:51.


[17]. See “Jesus, the Fulfiller of Selected Names of God” in Appendix 32 for additional attributes; Evans, Praying the Names of God. 123-24.


[18]. A “truss of hay” was the bedding material, often in a sack, that was placed under a sleeping blanket at night. It was the earliest form of a bed mattress. See Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:85.


[19]http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/juv-sat3eng.asp Retrieved August 21, 2013.


[20]http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/juvenal_satires_06.htm Retrieved August 21, 2013.


[21]. New International Version Study Bible footnote on Mark 6:44.

[22]. Guinness, Mysteries of the Bible. 345.


[23]. Mt. 8:34; 9:1; 11:20-23; Lk. 6:31; 9:10.


[24]. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament. 129-33.


[25]. See http://israel-tourguide.info/2011/01/10/earthquakes-history-archaeology/ Retrieved August 25, 2014. The Jordan valley is one of the most active earthquake zones in the world. There have been hundreds of minor earthquakes and major earthquakes have dammed the Jordan River repeatedly, sometimes for days, in 1160, 1267, 1534, 1834, 1906 and 1927. At such times, the river often redirects itself as a new riverbed is formed. This faultline is part of the Syrian-African Rift, the largest fault in the world.  It runs from the east coast of Africa up the Red Sea, through the Gulf of Aqaba between Israel and Jordan, north through the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley, through the Sea of Galilee and on to Damascus and into Turkey.


[26]. Danny Ben-Tel, The Washington Post, April 1, 1998; Bethsaida, Israel National Parks brochure, 1998; “The City of Andrew and Peter: Bethsaida,” Bible and Spade 11:2 (Spring, 1998). 45-46.


[27]. Franz, “Ancient Harbors of the Sea of Galilee.” 35-36; Nun, The Sea of Galilee and its Fishermen in the New Testament. 15.



10.01.14 Sea of Galilee; Jesus Walks On Water

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 04, 2016  -  Comments Off on 10.01.14 Sea of Galilee; Jesus Walks On Water

10.01.14 Jn. 6:16-18; Mk. 6:48a; Jn. 6:19a; Mk. 6:48b-52; Jn. 6:21b (See also Mt. 14:23b-27)

Sea of Galilee




Jn. 16 When evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. Darkness had already set in, but Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 Then a high wind arose, and the sea began to churn.


Mk. 48a He saw them being battered as they rowed, because the wind was against them. Around three in the morning


Jn. 19a After they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea


Mk. 48b  … and wanted to pass by them. 49 When they saw Him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; 50 for they all saw Him and were terrified. Immediately He spoke with them and said, “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”      51 Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. They were completely astounded, 52 because they had not understood about the loaves. Instead, their hearts were hardened.


Jn. 6:21b  And at once the boat was at the shore where they were heading.


This had to have been an incredible moment.  The disciples were rowing across the Sea of Galilee in the middle of the night when a storm arose.  They were struggling against the wind when suddenly they saw a figure of a man walking across the water.  Who would not have been scared to death in that situation?

“Around three in the morning.”  Literally, “about the fourth watch.”[1] According to Roman reckoning, the night was divided into four segments. The fourth watch observed the dawning of the sunrise, but the day began at 6:00 p.m. according to the Hebrew reckoning.[2] 

This walk on the water no doubt left an indelible impression on the disciples.  While God previously performed miracles through Moses and Elijah, in the first century the Jews believed that incredible feats were performed by the prophets themselves. God had divided the waters through Moses so the Hebrew children could escape from the pursuing Egyptians (Ex. 14).  Likewise, God performed a similar miracle through Elijah, dividing the waters of the Jordan River so he, Elijah, and Elisha could cross on dry ground (2 Kg. 2:8).  Now Jesus performed a greater miracle.

“Walking on the sea.”  Both the ancient Jews and their Greek neighbors believed that only God (or gods) had control over the winds and waters.[3] It is understandable then that some became confused about Jesus’ identity.  Certainly, no mere mortal could do such a thing!  To any Greek observers, if Jesus could tell the winds to be still and walk on the waters, then certainly He was more powerful than Zeus, the Greek god of the winds, as well as Poseidon, the Greek god of the waters and earthquakes. In the 8th century B.C., the Greek poet Homer wrote a play with this description of Poseidon driving a chariot across the sea.


As he went on his way over the waves the sea-monsters left their lairs, for they knew their lord, and came gamboling around him from every quarter of the deep, while the sea in her gladness opened a path before the chariot.  So lightly did the horses fly that the bronze axle of the car was not even wet beneath it; and thus the bounding steeds took him to the ships of the Achaeans.


Homer, The Odyssey 13:20-31


The Greeks knew the literary works by Homer as well as the Jews knew the Scriptures.  In his writings, Homer created adventure stories in which there was great conflict that caused the gods and goddesses to take sides and intervene.  Therefore, the personality and character of these pagan deities were well preserved by the first century.  Greek and Roman theaters had countless performances of his plays and the characteristics of the gods had permeated into the daily conversation of the common people.

Therefore, when Jesus walked on the water or calmed the sea, the Greeks who may have witnessed these events were just as stunned as were the Jews. The stroll that Jesus took across the water was even more profound when considering that all of them believed that the abyss was right below Him – the bottom of the sea was one of the three gates to hell because it was believed that the place of the dead and demons was on the bottom of the sea.[4]  In their thinking, that was paramount of having the ultimate authority over dead and the demons. Obviously, whoever this Jesus was, He most certainly had a firm command over Poseidon and the sea monsters of the deep. Today we know that there are no demons on the bottom of the Sea, but the fact remains that Jesus exercised His power over demons whether they were real or imagined.



As if the influence of the Greek culture upon the Jews was not enough to cause great consternation, the Jews remembered the words of Job who referred to God walking on the water.  Note the English translation as well as the Septuagint edition.


He alone stretches out the heavens

and treads on the waves of the sea.


Job 9:8


When the Septuagint translators worked on this passage, they wrote it as follows:


The one who alone has stretched out the heavens,

and who walks on the sea as on firm ground.


Job 9:8  (LXX)


Without speaking a single word that He was God, this action profoundly declared that Jesus was God. He did not have to proclaim it because the disciples could see it.  In addition, He performed the messianic miracles that the Jews believed only the Messiah could do. His daily life, character, actions, kindness, and compassion all revealed the characteristics of the expected “Anointed One” the rabbis had been teaching for years. Amazingly, it appears that James, the brother of Jesus, and Thomas continued to have difficulties believing that Jesus was Deity until after the resurrection.

Then Jesus said in verse 50, “It is I.” These three small words in English are not identification, but an awesome formula of revelation for the disciples, literally “I AM” (Gk. ego eimi).[5] Jesus did not have to claim His divinity; He demonstrated it in contrast of what everyone understood.

Critics have said that the claims of divinity by Jesus were typical of various political figures of that time.  They point to Caesar who not only claimed to be a god, but also claimed to have been born of a virgin and endowed with supernatural powers.  For all the claims pertaining to his so-called deity, there were no witnesses who received a healing by him.  Jesus, on the other hand, had hundreds if not thousands of healings and countless witnesses.  As with any good emperor, the very egotistical Augustus claimed to have a variety of supernatural powers that were recorded by Philo, including the ability to calm torrential storms.


This (Augustus) is the Caesar who calmed the torrential  storms on every side, who healed the pestilences common to the Greeks and barbarians, pestilences which descending from the south and east and coursed to the west and north sowing the seeds of calamity over the places and waters which lay between.  This is he who not only loosed but broke the chains which had shackled and pressed so hard on the habitable world.  This is he who exterminated wars both of the open kind and the covert which were brought about by the raids of brigands.  This is he who cleared the sea of pirate ships and filled it with merchant vessels.  This is he who reclaimed every state to liberty, who led disorder into order and brought gentle manners and harmony to all unsociable and brutish nations … He was also the first and the greatest and the common benefactor.  


Philo, On the Embassy to Gaius 145-149


Philo (15 B.C. – A.D. 50), who lived during the life of Christ, described Caesar Augustus as the savior of humanity, one who would control nature as if he were god himself.  The Romans and Greeks knew their leaders made such claims, but it is difficult to know how many seriously believed their emperors were deified. No doubt many superstitious people did.  Jesus, however, performed miracles beyond the claims of Caesar.  Consequently, His reputation quickly spread internationally, especially since many caravans traveled along the Via Maris that went through Capernaum.

“And at once the boat was at the shore where they were heading.”  This phrase is truly a mystery because of the phrase “at once,” also means, “immediately.” Nearly all miracles were accompanied either by a teaching of the lordship of Jesus or an association of His lordship, but not in this case. Some scholars have suggested that possibly the trip was unusually short due to favorable winds after a long day.[6]   That may be the best answer. Regardless, they landed at the plain of Gennesaret, a few miles south of Capernaum.[7]

  Finally, a Dead Sea Scroll fragment discovered in cave 7 has been the subject of academic debate.  Known as DSS 7Q5, and at times referred to as the “Jesus Papyrus,” the small papyrus fragment is the size of a man’s thumb. Some scholars believe it contains a portion of Mark 6:52-53, while others believe it is too small to make that determination. Scholars who argue for the position of Markian copy state that there are no other possible passages the fragment could match.  Others disagree.[8]  Until related fragments are identified that once were a part of 7Q5, and thereby a larger portion of the text to be revealed, no clear conclusion will be attained.



10.01.14A. THE DEAD SEA SCROLL FRAGMENT 7Q5, KNOWN AS THE “JESUS PAPYRUS.” The “Jesus Papyrus” DSS 7Q5, is of Mark 6:52-53.  It is believed this Dead Sea Scroll fragment was written shortly before the Romans destroyed the Essene community of Qumran.  Critics argue that the fragment is too small to calculate a definitive date of its writing since the entire translation depends on the reading of one questionable letter. However, if authentic, it is one of the earliest portions of the gospels. Hence, the mystery continues. Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.


[1]. See Appendix 16 for additional details on the time divisions of the day.


[2]. Wessel, “Mark.” 8:676; Barclay, “Matthew.” 2:105.


[3]. cf. Job 9:8; 38:16; Ps. 77:19; Ben Sirach 24:5-6.


[4]. Finegan, Myth and Mystery. 159. As mentioned previously, there was a wide range of theological opinions on just about everything among the various Jewish sects.  Some believed the three gates to hell were 1. Banias, the most pagan worship site in Israel, 2. the desert (Num. 16:33), and 3. the bottom of any sea (Jonah 2:20).  Others believed that one of those gates was in Jerusalem (Isa. 31:9) instead of Banias.  See also Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 2:110.


[5]. Smith, Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament: Matthew. 187.   


[6]. Henry, “John.” 3:171.


[7]. Gilbrant, “Matthew. 309.


[8]. http://www.preteristarchive.com/BibleStudies/DeadSeaScrolls/7Q5_mark.html  Retrieved November 15, 2012. There are numerous websites and articles on DSS 7Q5. It appears that all too often the opinions expressed by writers are based (or biased) upon their theological viewpoint of the Bible. In 1972 Jose O’Callaghan, a Spanish papyrologist made the original association of 7Q5 to Mark 6:52-53, a view that a decade later was supported by German scholar Carsten P. Thieder. Thiede then published The Earliest Gospel Manuscript? The Qumran Fragment 7Q5 and its Significance for New Testament Studies (London: Pasternoster, 1992).



Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 04, 2016  -  Comments Off on 10.01.15 PETER WALKS ON WATER

10.01.15 Mt. 14:28-33 Sea of Galilee




28Lord, if it’s You,” Peter answered Him, “command me to come to You on the water.”


29 “Come!” He said. And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!”


31 Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.


33 Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, “Truly You are the Son of God!”


“Lord, if it’s You.” What was Peter thinking when he said this?  Who else did he think could have been out there walking on the water?  Peter’s statement or question, however humorous it may seem, had a serious intent.


It must be remembered that the Jews were neighbors to many Gentiles.  Each group knew what the other believed.  And the Jews knew that the Greeks believed that before a sailor died on the sea, he would see his ghost walk across the water.  So Peter wanted to make sure that figure out there was Jesus, and not his own ghost. After living more than two centuries with Greek neighbors and involved in daily commerce and personal activities, this myth had entered Jewish folklore as well.  Hence, when the disciples were struggling to fight the storm and they saw a human figure on the water, they most certainly wondered if there was any truth to the Greek legend. Furthermore, the Jews believed there were three doors to the Abyss (Gehenna),[1]

  1. The desert (Num. 16:33),


  1. Any sea (Jonah 2:2),


  1. Banias, where the Jordan flowed out of Mount Hermon (common folklore)


  1. Jerusalem (Isa. 31:9)


However, since there were numerous Jewish sects and factions, it cannot be said that all Jewish people believed these were entry ways to the Abyss. No doubt, this walk had a most chilling effect on the entire crew as they pondered whose ghost was out there, and which one of them was about to die. Today’s reader may wonder if Peter came to Jesus because he was brave or because he was scared to death.  The other disciples were evidently also horrified.  As Peter took his eyes off Jesus and he saw the stormy sea, he began to sink.  While he is often criticized for his lack of faith, it must be remembered that he was the only one out of twelve who got out of the boat. When fear gripped and terrorized him, Jesus reached His hand out and rescued him.


It is easy to forget that the first century Jews did not live in a homogenous Jewish culture.  They had Roman overlords and Greek neighbors.  Since Galilee, Perea, and Judea lay on the land bridge that connects the continents of Europe, Africa and Asia, they interacted and traded with many foreigners – those who traveled along the international highways and those who lived among the Jewish peoples.[2]  They knew what non-Jews, especially the Greeks and Romans, believed.  All this is foundational to understanding the words of Peter.


“The wind ceased.”  The winds upon the Sea of Galilee generally come from the eastern Arabian Desert or from the Mediterranean Sea to the west.  Immediately to the east is the mountain plateau of the Golan Heights that is some 2,600 feet above the lake and the mountains to the west are of lesser height.  However, both have deep valleys that funnel the wind across the water.  Either way, the winds accelerate down the valleys and across the water. These cloudless winds are known for coming unsuspectingly upon the fishermen, endangering both men and equipment.   Hence, the cessation of these winds by Jesus had a profound event because disciples and boat were immediately safe with Jesus in their presence. But the irony is that in biblical history, a storm often preluded divine revelations;[3]  now they experienced a life-threatening storm and the revelation that Jesus is their God hit them.


Now after that exciting event, no wonder Peter declared, “truly You are the Son of God!”  At this point, Peter recognized Jesus as the Son of God, but that recognition probably did not include the element of deity. The word Son is capitalized because the phrase was addressed to Jesus, not because Peter recognized Jesus as Lord and Savior. The term son of God was in common usage throughout all ancient Middle Eastern cultures. Even within the Hebrew Bible there are a number of descriptions of the term.


  1. The angels are called the sons of God (Gen. 6:2) and in the oldest book of the Bible the sons of God presented themselves before the Lord (Job 1:6). It appears to have been a common title for angels.


  1. The nation of Israel is referred to as a son of God (Hosea 11:1; Ex. 4:22).


  1. The king of the Jewish nation is a son of God (2 Sam. 7:14)


  1. Any good Jewish man is a son of God, as written in the Inter-Testamental Period (Ben Sirach 4:10)


Therefore, anyone who made this statement of Jesus said so because Jesus was a good man who performed incredible miracles. Jesus was not seen as God Incarnate as Christians do today, until after the resurrection.

[1]. Most Jews believed there were only three gates to the Abyss, but they debated the three, which is why four are listed.

[2]. Josephus, at times makes a passing comment on foreigners living in the land, such as their presence in Galilee. See Wars 3.3.2 (41).


[3]. Ex. 19:16-20; 1 Kg. 19:11-12; Ps. 29; Ezek. 1:4.    


10.01.16 Plain of Gennesaret or Galilee, Miracles

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 04, 2016  -  Comments Off on 10.01.16 Plain of Gennesaret or Galilee, Miracles

10.01.16 Mk. 6:53-56 (See also Mt. 14:34-36) Plain of Gennesaret or Galilee




53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and beached the boat. 54 As they got out of the boat, people immediately recognized Him. 55 They hurried throughout that vicinity and began to carry the sick on mats to wherever they heard He was. 56 Wherever He would go, into villages, towns, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged Him that they might touch just the tassel of His robe. And everyone who touched it was made well.


Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 04, 2016  -  Comments Off on 10.01.17 THE MYSTERY OF JESUS’ CROSSING

10.01.17 Jn. 6:22-59




22 The next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea knew there had been only one boat. They also knew that Jesus had not boarded the boat with His disciples, but that His disciples had gone off alone. 23 Some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they ate the bread after the Lord gave thanks. 24 When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.


25 When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You get here?”


26 Jesus answered, “I assure you: You are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. 27 Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal of approval on Him.”


28 “What can we do to perform the works of God?” they asked.


29 Jesus replied, “This is the work of God — that you believe in the One He has sent.”

30 “What sign then are You going to do so we may see and believe You?” they asked. “What are You going to perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”


32 Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the real bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”


34 Then they said, “Sir, give us this bread always!”


35 I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again. 36 But as I told you, you’ve seen Me, and yet you do not believe. 37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”


41 Therefore the Jews started complaining about Him because He said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Isn’t this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can He now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”


43 Jesus answered them, “Stop complaining among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to Me — 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except the One who is from God. He has seen the Father.


47 “I assure you: Anyone who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”


52 At that, the Jews argued among themselves, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”


53 So Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves. 54 Anyone who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day, 55 because My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink. 56 The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood lives in Me, and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the manna your fathers ate — and they died. The one who eats this bread will live forever.”


59 He said these things while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.


How did Jesus elude the crowds; how did He cross the lake? It is a mystery that remains hidden. He wanted them to realize that He was not there to provide miraculous healings and free dinners.  They wanted entertainment, a free meal, but not worship; they wanted food that perishes while Jesus desired to give them “food” that endures. They followed Him to see what they could get for themselves. However, it was not our Lord’s desire to give handouts, but rather, to remove what ought not to be in the heart of the believer and recreate a new person in His image.  While this is far more significant than a miracle of multiplied bread along the shores of Galilee, it is the true Bread of Life that many people say they want, but they choose to reject. It is important that the student of Scripture understands this dialogue that Jesus had with the people and His disciples before reading John 6:53-57.  There He spoke of “eating His flesh” and “drinking His blood” and this passage can only be understood in the context of the entire incident above: the Bread of Life discourse.[1]


“Real bread from heaven.”  This was a direct reflection that He, Jesus, was the one who provided bread, which meant life and not starvation – to the Hebrews when they were in the desert (Ex. 3:14).  A constant theme in the gospels is that Jesus is life; abundant and eternal life.  The phrase “real bread from heaven” was a significant statement because of the concern people had for famine or invading armies that could bring immediate devastation.  Jesus said He is the “true bread of heaven” (Jn. 6:32); the “bread of God” (Jn. 6:33); the “bread of life” (Jn. 6:35, 48); and the “living bread that comes down from heaven” (Jn. 6:51).  Jesus went on to teach “He (God) gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut. 8:3).  Jesus used this type of metaphor[2]  because the prophets used metaphors to describe God.  Examples are “the Lord is my rock and my fortress” (2 Sam. 22:2) and “You have been a shelter for me” (Ps. 61:3).


“The One who comes down from heaven.”  Jesus did not make a direct statement, “I came down from heaven,” but indirectly demonstrated that He was the Messiah who came down from Heaven for two reasons:


  1. This statement was for the specific reason that He did not want the people to make Him the political-messiah king to overthrow the Romans. His claim was eventually clearly stated in John 6:33, 38, 41, 50-51, 58.


  1. He wanted people to discover for themselves who He was.


“I am the bread of life.” John underscored the deity of Jesus by recording seven “I am” statements that are unique to His gospel.  Jesus revealed His deity yet did not make a direct claim that He was the Messiah or God, as that would have produced severe negative consequences.  The other six statements are,


  1. “I am … before Abraham was” (8:58)


  1. “I am the door” (10:7)


  1. “I am the good shepherd” (10:11)


  1. “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25)


  1. “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6), and


  1. “I am the true vine” (15:1, 5)


John clearly connects the actions of Jesus with the attributes of God Jehovah. In this case, Jesus functioned as Jehovah Jirah – our Lord God who is our Provider.[3] Just as John emphasized the deity of Jesus with these statements, so likewise he mentioned seven miracles Jesus performed.[4]  The number seven represents wholeness and completeness, which John connected in this Hebraic manner to the life and ministry of Jesus.


“Everyone the Father gives Me.”  Some translations say that “all that the Father gives me.” The word “all” literally refers to everything that Father has put under the control of Jesus.  In the vertical human-God relationship, the definition of this word is all encompassing. This is noticeably different from the use of the word in horizontal human-human relationships where it is often used as hyperbole; an exaggeration to enhance the truth.[5]


“The Jews.”  This phrase should not be understood as meaning every Jewish person, but the context of the passage points to only those who were challenging him, namely the aristocratic leadership representing national Judaism.


“Stop complaining among yourselves.” Jesus confronted the leading Jews just as Moses earlier had confronted the Israelites who had murmured against him in the desert (Ex. 17:3, 7; Num. 17:14).  Not only did Jesus speak to them personally, but He also spoke against the Sanhedrin to which they belonged, an organization they believed was almost as sacred as the temple itself. Finally, in this seemingly harmless statement, in their eyes, Jesus equated Himself with Moses. They could not miss the imagery.  They detested the comparison.


The words, “Anyone who eats My flesh and drinks My blood,” were hard to understand even at the time of Jesus. Even at the time of Jesus, there were those who thought it to be grotesque.  However, the Hebrew language is a pictorial language that presents a hint to the correct interpretation. For anyone familiar with ancient sacrifices, as the Jewish people were, it really was not that unusual. There are two interpretations of which the second one is generally seen as the most acceptable.


  1. All the sacrifices of the Old Testament were, in some way, symbolic of the life and ministry of Jesus. When the Passover lamb, for example, was sacrificed at the temple, it was roasted and then taken home to be eaten. When Jesus said, “Anyone who eats My flesh and drinks My blood,” He was saying that He is that sacrifice – the sacrificial lamb – that the Jewish people were eating. While they did not drink blood, Jesus was speaking of the entire sacrifice as pointing to Himself – He will be the sacrifice for the sins of humanity. The phrase “blood of Jesus” is to be understood as the atoning death of our Savior.[6]


  1. This phrase was a figure of speech that Jesus used to dramatize the point that the essence of Him has to become the essence of each of us. An Old Testament example that shed light on this was spoken by God to the prophet Ezekiel. In 3:1, God said to him, “Eat this scroll, then go and speak to the house of Israel.”  Obviously, that did not mean a physical scroll, but it did mean Ezekiel was to “internalize” the Word of God thoroughly, understand it completely, and then speak to the Hebrew people.  Likewise, when Jesus said “eat the flesh of the Son of Man” it was His intent for the people to internalize His words. He meant that His followers ought to consider Him the bread of eternal life. Just as physical food becomes a part of the human body, likewise spiritual food is to become part of the spiritual body.[7]


He deliberately made some statements knowing these would be challenging, and thereby, He forced the people to think and debate His words and His identity.  As has been often stated, the primary challenge Jesus had was to convince the Jews that He was radically different from their preconceived ideas of the messiah.


Not only is this a difficult saying for us today, it was also difficult for some disciples. John recorded that some who heard these words decided to leave.  Yet this was not the first lesson they failed to understand.  Jesus was surprised that they did not grasp the significance in the feeding of the five thousand (Mk 6:51-52).  The gospel writer said their hearts were hardened and their minds were closed.  It is important not to separate this passage from the multiplication miracle, but consider it an extension of that event.


One scholar condensed the meaning as follows: When the Israelites were wandering in the desert, they would have died without manna and water.  So likewise without Jesus in their lives, people have no hope.  Just as manna and water were essential to physical life, so Jesus is essential to spiritual life.[8]

[1]. See 10.01.13.


[2]. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible. 735.


[3]. See “Jesus, the Fulfiller of Selected Names of God” in Appendix 32 for additional attributes; Evans, Praying the Names of God. 123-24.


[4].  The Seven Signs: Water into Wine (Jn. 2:1-2); Healing the Nobleman’s Son (Jn. 4:46-54); Healing the Paralytic (Jn. 5:1-17); Feeding the 5,000 (Jn. 6:1-14); Calming the Storm (Jn. 6:15-21); Healing Man Born Blind (Jn. 9:1-14) and Resurrection of Lazarus (Jn. 11:17-45).

[5]. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 127.  


[6]. Morris, “Blood.” 1:202.


[7]. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 498.


[8]. Bookman, When God Wore Sandals. CD Trac 9, 10.



Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 04, 2016  -  Comments Off on 10.01.18 OFFENDED DISCIPLES TURN AWAY

10.01.18 Jn. 6:60-66




60 Therefore, when many of His disciples heard this, they said, “This teaching is hard! Who can accept it?”


61 Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples were complaining about this, asked them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to observe the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? 63 The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 But there are some among you who don’t believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning those who would not believe and the one who would betray Him.) 65 He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted to him by the Father.”


66 From that moment many of His disciples turned back and no longer accompanied Him. 67 Therefore Jesus said to the Twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?”


The phrase, “This teaching is hard! Who can accept it?” clearly reveals that some listeners took it literally, and did so for good reason. Take note of the events of human sacrifice in Jewish history:


  1. Abram (Abraham) took his only son Isaac to be offered as a sacrifice, but in the last moment an angel appeared and stopped him, and provided a ram instead. Why would Abram consider doing this horrific deed? It is because in the culture in which he lived, child sacrifice was common. God tested Abram to determine how strong his love and faith was for God.  It also was an outstanding moment in history for God to say that he did not approve of human sacrifice.


  1. There are Old Testament accounts where the Israelites were told to wipe out their Canaanite enemies – every man, woman, and child had to die. Why? It is because they practiced child sacrifice. God knew that if any survived, sooner or later child sacrifice would be adopted by His people. So therefore, the Israelites were God’s hand of judgment against those who destroyed innocent lives.[1]


  1. No doubt one of the most wicked of all Jewish kings was Manasseh, who was more wicked than were the Amorites who at one time also practiced child sacrifice (2 Kg. 21:11). Not only did Manasseh set up an idol to Ashtoreth and Baal, but he also instituted child sacrifice (2 Kg. 21).


Therefore, when Jesus spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, some in the audience thought of the horrors of Jewish history rather than becoming united in Him with this figure of speech. They chose to reject Him rather than to stay and learn the allegorical form of expression.[2] But what He really meant was the His followers are to be fully consumed by Him.

[1]. Nelesen, Yeshua; the Promise, the Land, the Messiah. (Video Tape 2).


[2]. Nelesen, Yeshua; the Promise, the Land, the Messiah. (Video Tape 2).



Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 04, 2016  -  Comments Off on 10.01.19 PETER AFFIRMS FAITH

10.01.19 Jn. 6:67-71




67 Therefore Jesus said to the Twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?”

68 Simon Peter answered, “Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God!”

70 Jesus replied to them, “Didn’t I choose you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is the Devil!” 71 He was referring to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, one of the Twelve, because he was going to betray Him.


10.01.19.Q1 Why did Jesus chose Judas Iscariot (Jn. 6:71)?


This question has been pondered for centuries.  Certainly there was a prophecy to be fulfilled. Jesus called Judas to be a leader in the early church and gave him the same opportunity to be a great disciple as He did for all the others. But Judas chose, under his own free will, to become a traitor. Jesus, on the other hand, had foreknowledge of what Judas would do. Jesus understood that He would be handed over to the temple authorities who would turn Him over to the Romans for crucifixion.

This foreknowledge did not limit Judas to his act. Jesus knows what every one of us will do today, tomorrow, and in the rest of our lives. On the other hand, Jesus also knew that every prophecy about Himself was to be fulfilled and that He was to be the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of humanity; He had to die a sacrificial death. To accomplish this objective, someone was needed who would, in his complete free will, decide to become a traitor.

  • Chapters