Many interesting people have lived during the past 6,000 years. My brother-in-law David loves reading biographies, learning about some of those interesting people and the interesting things they have said and done.
Of all the people who have lived, I’m most interested in one – Yeshua. There are so many things I like about Him. Here are some that come from the biography written about Him by His disciple Matthew.
I like Yeshua’s parables. They are simple and easy to remember. They help me understand important truths about the way God works. I especially like the parable about the seed and the soils and the sower. It helps me understand that sharing the Good News is important, and that over time, people will respond to the Gospel in different ways. I want to be the seed that fell on good soil – someone who hears the word and understands it and is changed by it so his life is very fruitful.
I like that Yeshua cared for individuals – everyone was important to Him – and also that He cared for the crowds who followed Him.
I like that He fed 5,000 men, not including the women and children, from five loaves of bread and two fish; and that there was more left over than there was to begin with! That lets us know that Yeshua can meet the physical needs of the entire world.
I like that Yeshua walked on water; and then enabled Peter to walk on water – when Peter kept his focus on Yeshua and not on the wind. That lets us know that when we keep our eyes fixed on Yeshua, we can overcome all the difficult situations we will encounter.
I like the way Yeshua rejected Jewish tradition when it was wrong – like the tradition of washing hands before eating. This frees me from the domination of Jewish tradition – which harms the lives of those who submit to it.
I like that Yeshua made it clear that true religion comes from the heart, and people are in great danger when the focus of their religion is on rituals and ceremonies; and when God’s laws are done in a way that bypasses the heart.
I like that Yeshua healed the demon-possessed daughter of the Canaanite woman. Even though He told the mother that His mission was only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and it wasn’t right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs, when she replied, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table” – because of her faith and humility, He healed her daughter.
This foreshadowed God’s plan to bring the Gentiles, the people from the other nations, into Messiah’s Community of salvation, making us a new, united humanity.
I like that Yeshua fed 4,000 men, not including women and children, from seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. That tells me that Yeshua can supply the needs of the entire world.
I like that Yeshua was always able to outmaneuver those who opposed Him – even the smartest and cleverest. He is wiser than the wisest.
I like that Yeshua could not be manipulated. He refused to perform a miracle when some Pharisees and Sadducees asked Him for a sign from Heaven. If what we want isn’t right, we can’t manipulate God into doing what we want.
I like that Yeshua asked His disciples who they thought He was. There are a lot of good questions that can be asked – that may be the most important one of all. In response, Peter gave the God-inspired answer: You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. “Who do you think Jesus is” is the question that we need to be asking people. When they answer, where they are right, we agree with them. Where they are wrong, we correct them. Where they lack information, we teach them. Remember this for the upcoming Ann Arbor Art Fair.
I like that Yeshua knew what would happen to Him. He repeatedly predicted His death and His resurrection. No one else has predicted their death followed by an immediate resurrection – and then was resurrected. This makes Yeshua very special.
I like that Yeshua knew that God wanted Him to suffer and die, and knew where and when He would suffer and die; and although His suffering and death would be horrible, He submitted to God’s will. I want all of us to come to the place where God’s will becomes so important to us that we are willing to suffer and die if that is what God wants for us.
I like what happened on the Mountain of Transfiguration, when Yeshua was changed, and His face radiated light and His clothes became shining white; and two of Israel’s greatest prophets appeared – Moses and Elijah; and the Father spoke and said: This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him! Moses and Elijah are great. Yeshua, God’s beloved Son, is greater, and we must focus on Him more than Moses or the Law which came through Moses, or the Prophets.
I like Yeshua’s love for little children. When people brought little children to Him for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them, and when the disciples rebuked them, Yeshua said: Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
The disciples believed that little children don’t have political or economic power or social influence, and giving them Yeshua’s precious attention was no way to build a movement. But Yeshua knew better. He loved them because they were made in the image of God; because they are inherently valuable because of who they are, not because of what they can do. This makes me want to have a greater appreciation for people – all people, even the youngest.
I like that when His disciples asked Him who was the greatest, Yeshua placed a little child among them and said: unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. This frees me from having to try to impress people with my accomplishments, and get their approval in order to feel good about myself. This frees me to pursue a simple, child-like faith and child-like relationship with God.
I like Yeshua’s teaching on forgiveness. When Peter came to Him and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Yeshua answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” It’s very important to forgive, but not always easy to forgive. It can be very difficult to forgive. And we know that lack of forgiveness displeases God and can create problems for the one who refuses to forgive. Yeshua’s emphasis on forgiveness encourages me to forgive – even when it’s hard for me to forgive.
I like Yeshua’s position on marriage and divorce: that marriage is a life-long commitment between a man and a woman, and that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery. Our society desperately, desperately needs to re-embrace this truth.
I like Yeshua’s statements about riches: It is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven … It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. I like this because most people think that being rich is what makes a successful life. Yeshua knew that being rich usually does the opposite – produces an unsuccessful life. Riches hinder us from following God the way we should and being the people God wants us to be. This liberates me from the desire to want to get rich and frees me to give my time and thoughts and energies to serving God’s interests.
I like Yeshua’s teaching about the world’s social order being reversed: Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Many are first because they lie, cheat, betray and murder their way to the top. Many are last because they choose the way of honor and integrity. This encourages me to choose the way of honor and integrity and wait patiently until the Lord chooses to elevate me.
I like that when the mother of James and John asked Yeshua to seat her sons in the positions of highest honor, He replied:
You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. If anyone was worthy to be served, it was the Son of Man, the perfect and greatest human being. But He did not come to be served but to serve those lesser than Him. And since I want to be like Him, even though my selfish nature prefers to be served more than serve, I will try to serve others more than be served.
I like that when Yeshua entered Jerusalem the final week of His life, He instructed His disciples to go to the village ahead of them, and they would find a donkey with its colt, and bring them back so He could ride into Jerusalem, fulfilling the Zechariah prophecy: Say to Daughter Zion, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” A king riding into His capitol, not on a great horse, but on a donkey? This shows amazing humility, and summarizes Yeshua’s first coming as the humble, suffering servant. Also, none of the other religions of the world have prophecies about their founders like we have about Yeshua. That makes Yeshua very special.
I like that when Yeshua entered the temple courts, He drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “My house will be called a house of prayer,” but you are making it a den of robbers. Israel’s leaders intended to kill Yeshua. Going into the temple was like walking into the lion’s den. And then cleansing the temple? That took even more courage. Yeshua is often portrayed as kind and gentle – which He was, but He was also a very tough and courageous man.
I like that Yeshua cursed the fig tree, and that it immediately withered. I like this because it was supernatural, and because it was a warning to the nation – that we would be judged because the majority had not produced the fruit of believing that Yeshua was the Messiah, in spite of His great teachings and wisdom, His many miracles and His flawless life.
I like that, using parables, He warned the Jewish leaders who had rejected Him that they were bringing disaster upon themselves; and that He was raising up new leaders who believed in Him. Messiah’s Community is the spiritual continuation of Israel, and is made up of Messianic Jews and peoples from the nations who are grafted in.
I like that Yeshua quoted the Psalm 118 prophecy and applied it to Himself and to the leaders who rejected Him: The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Yeshua’s rejection by the leaders was foreknown by God; and it was God’s plan to use their rejection, causing Messiah to die, which made atonement possible; and then resurrect Yeshua and make Him the foundation of much better world.
I like that when some Pharisees and some who were loyal to Herod tried to entrap Yeshua by asking if it was right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar – thinking if He said yes He would alienate the Jewish people who resented Roman domination, or if He said no, be guilty of rebelling against Rome – Yeshua outmaneuvered them by having them look at a Roman coin which had the image of Caesar on it and said: Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. This short, amazing answer helps us have a properly balanced life by teaching us that we are subject to God and subject to the state.
I like that when an expert in the Torah asked Him: “Rabbi, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Yeshua replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The greatest commandment is being devoted to God. That is our primary responsibility in life. The Creator/creature relationship comes first. And the second greatest commandment is to be devoted to people. What a simple yet profound way of summarizing the many laws of the Torah.
I like that Yeshua asked some Pharisees about the identity of the Messiah, and when they responded that Messiah had to be a descendant of David, Yeshua asked them why David called the Messiah “Lord” and quoted Psalm 110: The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” Then Yeshua asked them: If David calls the Messiah “Lord,” how can Messiah be his son?
Who is greater than David, and sits victoriously at the right hand of God the Father, waiting for God to defeat His enemies, so He can rule over Israel and the nations? Who is greater than Israel’s greatest king, and worthy of being called David’s Lord? Not an angel; not Saul who came before David, nor any of David’s descendants who came after him, nor any of the leaders of the nations of the world. Not any human being. That leaves only one possibility: David’s Lord must in some way be God.
Everyone knew that the Messiah had to be a descendant of David, but no one understood that Messiah would also be divine – except Yeshua. Yeshua understood that He is the Messiah and is fully God and fully man. This unique God-man is uniquely able to save us and lead us. This too makes Yeshua very very special.
I like that Yeshua was very kind and loving and patient with ordinary people, but could also be tough; and He was particularly tough with the religious leaders who opposed Him and who were entrenched in legalism and unbelief. Seven times He said to them: Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! This teaches us to be gentle with those who need our gentleness, and tough with those who need tough love.
I like that Yeshua gave His disciples signs so that we could know that His return was getting close. This encourages us to always be alert and ready for His return, faithfully serving Him until He returns.
I like that Yeshua’s last day was Passover; His last meal a Passover Seder; that He connected the Passover to Himself and gave the matza and wine new meaning about Himself.
I like Yeshua’s struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was a real man who did not want to suffer a horrible death, yet was willing to experience that horrible death if that was what God wanted. My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will. Wow. May I come to the place where God’s will becomes more important to me than my will, and I am willing to put the will of God ahead of my own will, even if it means suffering for me.
I like that when Yeshua was on trial before the Sanhedrin, He remained strangely silent. And then, when the high priest demanded He tell them if He was the Messiah and the Son of God, Yeshua replied: You have said so … From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Wow. It took tremendous courage to make that powerful and truthful declaration.
I like that when He was on trial before the Roman governor, Yeshua again remained strangely silent. Finally, when Pilate asked Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Yeshua replied: “You have said so.” That was a smart and courageous and true answer.
I like that the charge against Him, that was written and hung on His cross, was: this is Yeshua, the king of the Jews. He is the king of the Jews. The world didn’t like Jews, or the king of the Jews then, and it still doesn’t today. Sadly, most Jewish people today don’t like their king. The truth is that Yeshua is the king of the Jews, and believing in Him is the most Jewish thing any Jewish person can do.
I like that after being beaten and humiliated by Roman soldiers, and crucified, and buried, Yeshua came back to life. That makes Yeshua very, very special. Yeshua’s resurrection lets us know that Yeshua has God’s seal of approval. Yeshua’s resurrection validates Him, and all of His teachings and His ministry.
Yeshua’s resurrection makes Him unique and puts him on a level far higher than any of the prophets of Israel or any other religious leader. And Yeshua’s resurrection makes it possible for those who become loyal to Him to be resurrected.
I like Yeshua’s final words to His disciples that Matthew recorded: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
The risen, all powerful Lord of Heaven and Earth commands us to continue His mission of world evangelism; and that He will be with us, helping us do so, now, and to the end of the age; and when our mission is complete, He will still be with us – forever.
These are some of the things I like about Yeshua from the biography written about Him by His disciple Matthew. Yeshua is the most interesting, the most amazing, the most important person who ever lived. Do you know Him? Are you following Him?
Let’s pray: Our Father in Heaven, please give us a greater love for Yeshua; a greater appreciation for Yeshua. Fill us with the Spirit of Yeshua. Transform us into the image of Yeshua. Make us more like Yeshua. Help us be very close to Yeshua. Help us fulfill the ongoing mission of Yeshua that He has entrusted to us.