Many interesting people have lived during the past 6,000 years. My brother-in-law David loves biographies, learning about some of those interesting people and the interesting things they have said and done. I asked him for his three favorite biographies, and he responded: Wow. I have many – but if I had to pick three I would say: Jonathan Edwards: A Life by Marsden; Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem Mendel Schneerson by Telushkin; and The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Morris.
Now, I’m sure Jonathan Edwards, Theodore Roosevelt and Menachem Schneerson were interesting people and important things can be learned from them and the times they lived in. However, of all the people who have lived, and of all the biographies ever written, I’m by far most interested in one person – Yeshua. And we are blessed with four divinely inspired biographies about Him. Here are some of the things I like about Yeshua that come from the biography written by His friend and disciple, John.
Worship is very important. We were created to worship. I want to be a true worshiper. I like that when the Samaritan woman asked Yeshua where was the right place to worship – there or in Jerusalem, He replied: salvation is from the Jewish people – not from the Samaritans nor any from other nation; and a time was coming when God’s true worshipers wouldn’t be limited to a place. They would not need to go to Jerusalem to worship. They would not need to go to the temple. They would not need priests and sacrifices because they would be able to worship the Father in spirit and in truth.
I like that, because of Yeshua, people are able to worship God apart from the temple, priests and sacrifices – things that were so central to the worship of the God-ordained Sinai Covenant. Because of Yeshua, the veil has been torn! We have full and direct access to God. We can worship God anywhere; at any time. That is so cool!
I like that, according to Yeshua, there are true worshipers – God accepts them and their worship; and there are false worshipers – God does not accept them nor their worship. It’s crucial to be a true worshiper, not a false worshiper. I like that Yeshua told us how can we tell true worshipers from false worshipers: true worshipers worship God in spirit and in truth; false worshipers don’t.
True worshipers worship in spirit, because God is not physical like we are. He is spirit, and must be worshiped according to who He is. Therefore true worshipers worship God in a non-physical way. Their worship is not focused on physical activity; on doing things like rituals and ceremonies and holidays having an emphasis on law-keeping. Their worship is focused on knowing God and having faith in God and having a close personal relationship with God.
God is a spirit who is alive and aware. Therefore true worshipers must be spiritually alive. They must be born again. They must receive the Holy Spirit, who gives them a new nature and makes them aware of God and aware of what God wants. And True worshipers worship God in truth. They worship according to the truth that is unmixed with error. The truth that comes from Israel, especially through Israel’s Messiah, is that pure truth. Salvation is of the Jewish people and true worship is of the Jewish people.
I like that when a royal official’s son was sick and close to death, and he went to Yeshua and begged Him to come and heal his son, Yeshua told him that his son would live. Because the man took Yeshua at his word, his son was healed at that moment. This teaches us that faith in Yeshua and taking Him at His word releases God’s healing power; and Yeshua does not have to be physically present for someone to be healed; and that Yeshua is the One through whom God will eventually heal a sick and dying world. That makes Yeshua very special indeed.
I like that Yeshua healed the man, who had been an invalid for 38 years, and who was waiting and waiting and waiting at the pool of Bethesda for the waters to stir, so he could be healed. Yeshua didn’t need the pool to heal the man. God was working through Him in a greater way than through the pool. Now that Yeshua has died and has risen, Yeshua has enough healing power to heal everyone who has faith in Him – and He will, one day.
I like that Yeshua healed a man on the Sabbath – which went against the teaching of the leaders. In his defense Yeshua said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” – calling God his own Father, making Himself equal with God. The leaders hated Yeshua’s statement; but I like it – because it’s true. Just as God is greater than the Sabbath and works on the Sabbath, so Yeshua was entitled to work on the Sabbath if He chose to, because, like the Father, He is equal to God who works on the Sabbath and is greater than the Sabbath.
Yeshua called God His own Father, making Himself equal to God – which He is. The Son is equal to the Father – in nature; separate and distinct from the Father as to His person. The Son is not the Father. The Father is not the Son. But the Son is inferior to the Father – in position and in authority. The Father is greater than the Son in position and in authority.
Many people have made great claims about themselves. I like Yeshua’s claims about Himself – because they are amazing; and because they are true. Further defending Himself, Yeshua told these leaders that just as the Father has life in Himself, so the Father has granted the Son to have life in Himself; and that He will do greater things than healing a man on the Sabbath, like raising the dead and giving them life; and that He will be the judge of mankind. I want to be raised from the dead. I want to be given life. I want someone who loves me and has died to atoned for me to be my judge. Yeshua will do all these. That makes Yeshua very special.
How can we know these astounding claims are true? Yeshua told us how: there are evidences that back up His claims: John the Baptist, who was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived – testified that Yeshua is the Messiah and the Son of God. Yeshua’s miracles are evidence that Yeshua was close to God. The divinely inspired Scriptures testify that Yeshua is the Messiah; and Moses in the Torah wrote about Yeshua, testifying about Him; and God the Father Himself spoke from Heaven and testified that Yeshua is His beloved Son. Therefore we can be absolutely certain Yeshua’s amazing claims about Himself are true. That makes Yeshua very, very special.
I like that on the eastern side of the Kinneret, the lake of the Galilee, Yeshua fed 5,000 men, not including the women and children, from five small barley loaves and two small fish; and when everyone ate, there was more leftover than there was to begin with! This tells me that Yeshua is able to meet my needs; and He is able to meet the needs of the entire world.
I like that, when that evening came after that miracle happened, Yeshua’s disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough … When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Yeshua approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. This teaches us that Yeshua is greater than the laws of nature – which makes sense, because He created the laws of nature; and that when He is close to us, He helps us overcome our fears and make it successfully to our destination. Having Yeshua with us can make the difference between fear and fearlessness, failure and success.
I like that, when the crowd He fed found out He was gone, they went to the other side of the lake, and when they found Him, Yeshua told them not to seek Him for more bread, but for their greater need – spiritual nourishment; and that He is the source of that nourishment: He is the true bread that came from Heaven and is able to give life to the world.
And how do we get spiritual life from Him? He told us that too. Whoever believes in Him will live forever. This teaches us to seek Yeshua, not for material prosperity like the corrupt prosperity teachers teach, but seek Yeshua for our spiritual needs; and we get spiritual life and maintain spiritual life by believing in Yeshua; by trusting Him; by having the kind of faith in Him that results in faithfulness to Him.
I like that, although the leaders were trying to kill Him, Yeshua still went up to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot. That took courage; and then halfway through the holiday, He went to the temple and taught publically with great wisdom. That took great courage. Yeshua was a very wise and courageous man.
Most people are unhappy; dissatisfied; not content. I want to be happy. I want to be content. I want my deepest spiritual longings to be met. I like that, on the last day of Sukkot, as the nation was praying for water, He did something else that took tremendous courage. Yeshua said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Yeshua promised that those who believed in Him would have their spiritual desires completely satisfied, like rivers satisfy the needs of the plants and animals around them. They will be given abundant spiritual life from a source within them, from the Spirit of the Living God who will live in them and satisfy them because of their faith in Yeshua. Only faith in Yeshua makes the giving of the Spirit, who is able to satisfy us, possible. That makes Yeshua very special.
The people wanted water; needed water; were praying for water. Yeshua used water to point the nation to Himself. This is another tremendous example of evangelism. This is taking the evangelistic initiative. This is evangelism, using things that people are interested in, to point them to Yeshua. This is what we need to be doing.
I like that Yeshua is wiser than the wisest, shrewder than the shrewdest. He is always able to outmaneuver His adversaries. The Torah teachers and Pharisees brought Him a woman caught in adultery, in order to trap Him. If He said: kill the adulteress – that would alienate many of the people. If He said: Let her go – they could accuse Him of violating the Torah which demanded the death penalty for adultery. Yeshua said neither. He gave an amazing response which allowed mercy to be shown to the woman and humbled His opponents. Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her. And this teaches us that we need to understand that we are all sinners, and sinners need to be merciful toward other sinners.
I like that Yeshua was gentle with this woman and compassionate about the weaknesses of the flesh but tough with arrogant religious men. He told some of the religious leaders that they were not true children of Abraham – ouch; that they did not know Him or His Father – ouch; that they did not belong to God – ouch; that God was not their father; that their father was the devil, and they were just like him – ouch and ouch; that if they did not believe in Him, they would die in their sins – unreconciled to God – which means they would go to Hell – ouch, ouch and ouch.
I like that at Sukkot, when Jerusalem was illuminated at night by giant menorahs, Yeshua said: I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. We live in a dark world, full of confusion, unhappiness, defeat, death. I don’t want to live in darkness. I want the life that comes from knowing the truth. I want the wisdom, revelation, victory, salvation, happiness and life that comes from Yeshua. This is another great example of evangelism. This is taking the evangelistic initiative. This is evangelism, using things that people are interested in, to point them to Yeshua. This is what we need to be doing every day.
We live in a country that enjoys many precious liberties, but in some of the most important ways, we are not free. Everyone is a slave to someone or something; and it can be more than one someone or one something. I don’t want to be a slave to anyone or anything. I want to be free. I like that Yeshua told us how to be free. To those who believed in Him, Yeshua said: If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. This challenges me to learn Yeshua’s teaching; to read it, to study it until I understand it; and then to hold to it; to practice it and remember it and never let it go. If I do, I will know the truth, and the truth will set me free from everything I need to be set free from:
Set free from the dark kingdom of Satan and the demons that enslaves humanity.
Set free from sin and the sin nature that control us.
Set free from false ideas which trap us.
Set free from death that dominates us.
Death is unpleasant; unnatural; death is an enemy. If possible, I don’t want to die. I would prefer not to experience the first death, physical death; and I really don’t want to experience the much worse second death – eternal death in the Lake of Fire. I like that Yeshua told us how we can avoid death. He said: Whoever obeys my word will never see death. This means that, even if we do die the first death, we are guaranteed to never experience the second death. The way make to sure we never die? Obey Yeshua’s word. Real faith means not just believing in Yeshua, but obeying His teaching. Whoever obeys my word will never see death.
Yeshua made some fascinating “I am statements.” I am the Bread of Life. I am the Light of the World. I am the Door. I am the Good Shepherd. I am the Resurrection and the Life. I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. I am the Vine. The one I like the most: Before Abraham was born, I am – not I was, but I am – claiming to be the God who is “I am who I am” – from which we get the four letter name for God – Yud Hay Vav Hay, which teaches us that like the Father, Yeshua has life and existence within Himself. He is self-existent. He always existed.
God has designed us with senses so that we can function in the world. Sight is an amazing ability. But, not everyone can see. I like that before Yeshua healed a man who was blind from birth, He said: I am the light of the world. He claimed to be the source of truth, victory, happiness and life for all people everywhere. That’s an amazing claim. Then He followed up that amazing claim by healing the man who was born blind. While many religious leaders have claimed to be enlightened, none have claimed to be the light of the world and followed up that assertion with a miracle like Yeshua did. Like this man, we are all spiritually blind from birth. The only way to know the truth, and experience victory, happiness and life is by knowing Yeshua, the light of the world.
Movies and TV shows about zombies are popular. A lot of people are into zombies. The truth is that humans are spiritual zombies. We’re physically alive – for a short time, but spiritually dead and headed to eternal death. Life is amazing. I want life, abundant life, life to the full, eternal life. Only Yeshua makes that possible. I like that Yeshua told us why He came from Heaven to Earth. He came that we may have life, and have it to the full. Thank God for Yeshua, who came that we may have abundant life!
Sheep are nice animals, but not very smart and not independent. They like to follow the other sheep. People are like sheep. We’re not very smart and we like to follow the crowd. The problem is that there are a lot of foolish people and a lot of bad leaders. I want wise people to associate with who follow a good leader. Yeshua said He is the Good Shepherd. He cares for His sheep and lays down His life for the sheep. He knows His sheep and they know Him. He speaks to them and His sheep listen to His voice. He has other sheep that are not Jewish – referring to the people from the other nations. They will listen to His voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. Of all the many leaders who have lived, Yeshua is the best. He is a good leader because He put the needs of His people before His own. He was willing to sacrifice His life for theirs. And He has a personal relationship with each one of His followers. He knows them and they know Him. He has a spiritual connection with His followers so that they are able to hear Him speaking to them. His plan is to unite the chosen ones of the Jewish people and the chosen ones of the nations into one new man, a new and united humanity under the leadership of the best leader.
And there’s more. He said: I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. Yeshua gives His followers eternal life. And He and His Father protect Yeshua’s followers so that they will never perish; so that no one will take them away from Yeshua’s care. Yeshua is able to do this because He and the Father are one – one in purpose and one in nature; and that nature is full of love and is all-powerful – so we are loved and all-protected.
I want a leader who is good; who loves me; who knows me; who has a personal relationship with me; who is able to speak to me. I want a leader who will protect me from all dangers. I want a leader who can give me eternal life. I want a leader who will do these same things for many others, so I can have great companions. Yeshua is that leader. This makes Yeshua very special.
Life in this world that is not followed by resurrection and eternal life is like the chaff which the wind blows away. It is insubstantial, empty, temporary, tragic. I like that Yeshua declared: I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die – and then raised His friend Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, back to life, proving the truth of this amazing claim. Yeshua alone is able to resurrect dead people and give them eternal life – if they have believed in Him. This fills me with happiness and hope. This makes my life meaningful. This makes my life worth living. This helps me endure my problems, my pain and suffering. And this makes Yeshua very, very, very special.
Let’s pray: Our Father in Heaven, please give us a greater understanding of Yeshua; 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; may we be faithful to Him and to His great mission.