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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Seventeenth (A Reflection)

We've looked previously at people whose life events have been reflections or types of other major events or people (like Jesus). This week we're going to look at a reflection that I had not seen previously. It's one that's talked about generally, but the correlation is more specific than what most realize.

You see, Jesus' life, and more specifically His ministry, had a lot of key points that line up with not only our lives but also world events as a whole. He started with a confrontation with Satan. When He emerged from the wilderness, after defeating the Devil, He proceeded to gather His disciples and preach the good news. He challenged the worldly view and what everyone had been taught, having to overcome what was ingrained in people since they were children. As He gathered followers and neared the source of the political and religious power in Israel, He then confronted the religious leaders, who were joined by political leaders, and ultimately was persecuted and crucified by them. Finally, He rose after death and went to be with God.

We're going to see how these key aspects of Jesus' ministry are reflected in our lives as believers, and in humanity as a whole, so let's dig in! As we know, right after Jesus was baptized by John the baptizer, He was led into the wilderness and was tempted by Satan for 40 days and 40 nights (Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13). Interestingly, when you look at the Hebrew version of Matthew for these verses, what Jesus actually said to Satan about the temptation of turning the stones into bread is fascinating.

When Satan challenged Jesus to turn some rocks into bread, while he had been fasting for an extended period of time, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3. However, when Jesus quoted a portion of this verse, He replaced the idea of words proceeding from the mouth of God with the Hebrew word for grace (I say idea because the Hebrew of that verse doesn't actually include the Hebrew word for "word"). As the footnote says in the translation, we can see in Exodus 33:13 that learning and following the way of YHWH leads to finding grace in His eyes. And, obviously, God's way was given via His word.

This temptation by Satan is a reflection of his temptation of us as we go about life and in being a part of the body of Christ. We know that God does not tempt with evil (James 1:13), so these temptations we experience are from evil. We also know that when we do experience temptation, YHWH ensures that not only is there a way to escape but also it is within what we can endure (1 Corinthians 10:13). Jesus' temptation was also a reflection of the world in its current state, as Satan and his minions are going about the earth tempting everyone. This obviously started with Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 3:1-8), but is evident all throughout scripture, including Jesus' temptation.

After Jesus left the wilderness, He began to challenge people and what they thought they knew. He taught in synagogues and preached the gospel, performing miracles as He went (Matthew 4:23). The first thing He did with some disciples is get them to disregard what their knowledge and experience taught them and follow His commands (Luke 5:1-8). When He taught, He spoke things that were against everything the world taught (Matthew 5:3-12).

This part of Jesus' ministry is the same as what we go through as believers. Even if you grow up going to church or just simply believing, there is still a struggle that we go through as we deal with what the world does and teaches versus what scripture tells us we need to do and teach. Some of what Paul writes about in his epistles deals with getting the Gentiles to break away from many of the rituals and practices they were used to doing in their former life (Ephesians 4:17-19). He also spoke against it during His trips preaching the gospel (Acts 19:25-26).

We, just like Paul, also need to be cognizant of the non-Godly practices of the world, both those that are clearly pagan and those that are hidden in what mainstream Christianity says is ok. But it doesn't stop there. Based on the disciples' knowledge and experience of the world, when they failed to catch anything when fishing they needed to stop and try again some other time or place because the fish just weren't there. If you were to be "scientific" about it, that would be similar to making an observation and using that as input to take action. However, despite how high the probability was that they wouldn't catch anything, they ended up catching more than their boat could hold.

So, clearly, there is something at work that we can't see, and therefore can't predict. And thus, you have to question every man-made law or theory, and more broadly, everything that stems from a man-made understanding of how things work. Again, this challenge of man's knowledge by Jesus shows the development of worldly knowledge throughout history and our challenge as the body of Christ to get people to question what they think they know and instead turn to the knowledge from God.

During the next part of His ministry, Jesus challenged the religious leaders' knowledge and practices (Mark 7:1-13). He spoke against their man-made laws and traditions (Matthew 15:9-13), all developed either based on legalism or maybe a desire for control of the people. This is the same challenge we go through as believers seeking the truth in God's word. We must fight against prescriptive religion and other things, like rules and traditions, not found in scripture.

The funny thing is, even after Jesus pushed back against all these things, against the religious leaders themselves, what ended up happening? That's right, church leaders started emerging, rules, regulations and traditions started being developed, and in a relatively short amount of time Christianity had its equivalent of the Pharisees. So, Jesus' confrontation with the Pharisees is a representation of what's happened, and is happening, in the world as a whole.

The last challenge of Jesus with man was a political one, or more generally one against a man-made government. The Pharisees worked with the Herodians (Mark 3:6), which were a group that held political power and supported the king the Romans put over the land of the Jews. The Herodians even helped to try and trap Jesus (Mark 12:13). Ultimately, Jesus was given to the Roman government for judgment (Matthew 27:2), which led to His persecution and crucifixion (Mark 15:16-20).

This political attack, persecution and even death are experienced all over the world today by believers. It may be more subtle in the western world, but you can still see things like denial of religious accommodations, and rulings against those holding to God's values, as the potential start to something that turns out to be just as bad as what we see in China and the Middle East right now.

While this seems bad, we know that on a global scale this is going to get worse. The beast rising from the sea will persecute believers for 42 months (Revelation 13:5). The martyrs will ask about when they will be avenged, and they will have to wait for God's vengeance until others are killed like them (Revelation 6:9-11). So again, a key aspect of Jesus' ministry is a reflection of the plan for this earth.

The final aspect of Jesus' ministry is the most exciting and our reason for hope: His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). He rose and came into God's presence (John 20:17). Not only will we be able to partake in this resurrection as individual believers in Christ (Romans 6:5-6), but we will then be with Him forever (1 Thessalonians 4:17). This is also reflected on a global scale when Jesus returns to earth to rule and reign for 1000 years (Revelation 20:4).

So as we can see, just as believers have known, and talk about, during His ministry Yeshua went through everything we will see during our lives. However, we also see that His ministry is a reflection of our lives that's more specific than just a general statement like that. There are key aspects that we have seen and will see, and those aspects are also reflections of what the world has and will see over the course of its existence.

Take a moment to read through Jesus' ministry. Just pick one of the gospels and read it through today. It won't take that long, and it will give you insight into things that God has planned for your life and for the world. Take note of the key aspects we looked at, and as always let the Holy Spirit lead you to the message He has for you!

Shabbat shalom and God bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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