We can learn a lot that other people have forgotten just by looking closely at the story of Yeshua's meeting with a Samaritan woman. We need to take this look because many people who think they've found the Savior of their souls have really settled for a bogus Jesus. Here is the passage, from John/Yochanan, Chapter Four:
5 He came to a town in Shomron called Sh’khem, near the field Ya‘akov had given to his son Yosef. 6 Ya‘akov’s Well was there; so Yeshua, exhausted from his travel, sat down by the well; it was about noon. 7 A woman from Shomron came to draw some water; and Yeshua said to her, “Give me a drink of water.” 8 (His talmidim had gone into town to buy food.) 9 The woman from Shomron said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for water from me, a woman of Shomron?” (For Jews don’t associate with people from Shomron.)10 Yeshua answered her, “If you knew God’s gift, that is, who it is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink of water,’ then you would have asked him; and he would have given you living water.”
11 She said to him, “Sir, you don’t have a bucket, and the well is deep; so where do you get this ‘living water’? 12 You aren’t greater than our father Ya‘akov, are you? He gave us this well and drank from it, and so did his sons and his cattle.” 13 Yeshua answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I will give him will never be thirsty again! On the contrary, the water I give him will become a spring of water inside him, welling up into eternal life!”
15 “Sir, give me this water,” the woman said to him, “so that I won’t have to be thirsty and keep coming here to draw water.” 16 He said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 She answered, “I don’t have a husband.” Yeshua said to her, “You’re right, you don’t have a husband! 18 You’ve had five husbands in the past, and you’re not married to the man you’re living with now! You’ve spoken the truth!”
19 “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet,” the woman replied. 20 “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you people say that the place where one has to worship is in Yerushalayim.” 21 Yeshua said, “Lady, believe me, the time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Yerushalayim. 22 You people don’t know what you are worshipping; we worship what we do know, because salvation comes from the Jews. 23 But the time is coming — indeed, it’s here now — when the true worshippers will worship the Father spiritually and truly, for these are the kind of people the Father wants worshipping him. 24 God is spirit; and worshippers must worship him spiritually and truly.”
25 The woman replied, “I know that Mashiach is coming” (that is, “the one who has been anointed”). “When he comes, he will tell us everything.” 26 Yeshua said to her, “I, the person speaking to you, am he.”
27 Just then, his talmidim arrived. They were amazed that he was talking with a woman; but none of them said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water-jar, went back to the town and said to the people there, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done. Could it be that this is the Messiah?”30 They left the town and began coming toward him.
31 Meanwhile, the talmidim were urging Yeshua, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he answered, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.” 33 At this, the talmidim asked one another, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 Yeshua said to them, “My food is to do what the one who sent me wants and to bring his work to completion. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘Four more months and then the harvest’? Well, what I say to you is: open your eyes and look at the fields! They’re already ripe for harvest! 36 The one who reaps receives his wages and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that the reaper and the sower may be glad together — 37 for in this matter, the proverb, ‘One sows and another reaps,’ holds true. 38 I sent you to reap what you haven’t worked for. Others have done the hard labor, and you have benefited from their work.”
39 Many people from that town in Shomron put their trust in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all the things I did.” 40 So when these people from Shomron came to him, they asked him to stay with them. He stayed two days, 41 and many more came to trust because of what he said. 42 They said to the woman, “We no longer trust because of what you said, because we have heard for ourselves. We know indeed that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
If you want to avoid embracing a bogus Jesus, then the Yeshua/Jesus of your thought and experience ought to manifest the following characterisitics found in this chapter.
So come to the Bible, and come often. Refresh your mind and your spirit on what God has to say about life, about himself, and about Yeshua. And remember what Yeshua said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." Anything else is . . . bogus.
The Lousy Way Some People Lift Jesus Higher »
Thanks for the good words.
thank you for your good article. I agree with all points you mentioned. I am aware that Yeshua is not only the universal Savior of the world, but first and particularly a Jew, King of the Jews. I appreciate you living your faith with Torah and within jewish traditon. I think it was the greatest fault of the church to separate itself from the jewish roots. I´m so deeply sorry for the anti-semitism, supersessionism and those teachings, that demanded from Jews to abandon everything jewish. Still, in the moment, I don´t know what to do with what I´ve learned. I feel so small. I´m not a speaker, words don´t come easy to me and my pastor is not overly interested in Israel in the moment. I also still have many questions and thougths regarding the previous series "Torah´s goalkeeper". Can I still ask, although I am a little late on the topic? I get E-mails from "One for Israel" too, including the one promoting the book you mentioned. I haven´t ordered it yet, probably because you did convince me already that the Torah is not abrogated. Sometimes it is really confusing to read so many different opinions even among messianic Jews. But one thing I´m really glad to see, are the testimonies, that many Jews find Yeshua in these days. Maybe all of you have an important piece in the work of the Lord, some as evangelists and some as teachers and it´s up to God to fix it all together. May the gospel be spread through all who love Him!
One last question for now: I clicked the button "I wish one--on-one bible-based spititual mentoring" or "I want to eliminate barriers ..." but I didn´t receive an answer until now (sorry for my lack of patience). Does it cost something? I just only seek someone whom I could ask sometimes personally. I am aware you have probably many hundreds of readers and you cannot be a mentor for everyone.
Blessings and peace to you
I enjoyed your essay and its primary thrust, Stuart, but I see your listed item 4 as flawed by its facile conflation of the notions of divinity and deity. Rav Shaul's depiction of Rav Yeshua was not bogus, in Phil.2:5-11, but it shows us that Rav Shaul saw him as an exalted human neshamah, which is a form of being that evidences the divine characteristics that represent the image of G-d in His human creatures, more like the pattern we see in other Jewish literature describing Metatron (i.e., the exalted Henoch ben Yared). There is no lack of divinity in this pattern, which evokes also the description of some human judges in Ps.82:6-7 as "gods" who will die just like any other men. However, though Rav Yeshua's neshamah is accorded the highest possible position (reflecting his faithfullness, humility, and obedience), along with the privilege of being seated at HaShem's right hand, HaShem remains the one-and-only Deity. Yohanan's "I am" passages therefore require a closer look to reveal that same distinction, as does the opening of his besorah and its anthropomorphic references to the "word". It seems to me particularly important to keep such distinctions in mind as we seek to ensure that our view of Rav Yeshua is not "bogus".
With all due respect, I strongly differ on this matter of importance.
It is clear, even from Yeshua's own words, that the meaning of the Incarnation is that Deity took on human flesh in the person of Yeshua of Nazareth, and NOT, as you state, that human flesh enobled itself to divinity in his life. For example, in John 17, Yeshua asks the father to "Restore to me the glory I had with you before the world was made." Yeshua is here claiming conscious existence with the father before the creation of all else. The Incarnation is of this One, this uncreated One, taking on human flesh and in the womb of the Virgin Miriam, giving context to you allusion to Philippians 2, speaking of the One "who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Biblically all of reality falls into to categories: that which is created, which comes below the line, and that which is not created, above the line. It is clear from Yeshua's own statement in John 17, and other statements such as the one from Philippians and others such as in John (in the beginning--the Word was with God and the word was God, and in Colossians, for example, 1:15" :He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." and chapter two, "8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to phuman tradition, according to the qelemental spirits8 of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For rin him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily."
Scripture is careful to preserve language and categories of Deity for Yeshua, while at the same time reminding us that He is not the Father. For us to reduce him to being a created being is to dishonor both the Father and the Son. While in his incarnation he takes on the status of part of the created order, this is not who he fully is, nor where he came from. This is the one who is eternally unncreated, who spoke to us and speaks to us again of the glory he had with the Father before anything was created.
Come now, Stuart, let's not exaggerate. I never suggested that "human flesh ennobled itself to divinity". Quite to the contrary, I was calling attention to the notion that HaShem created all human neshamot in His own image, which is to say having divine characteristics. In this sense Yeshua was assigned the position as "firstborn among many brethren" -- those brethren being all human neshamot, which Judaism teaches were all created together as one single family of "Adam" (including, of course, Adam ha-rishon) and dispersed across time and space into the bodies to which HaShem assigned them -- Yeshua thus being designated firstborn much as Yakov became firstborn over his twin Esav despite the chronology of their emergence during their birth. The initiative in all this is from HaShem, and the "ennobling" is also from HaShem -- first in Rav Yeshua's glorification, and ultimately in our own at the first resurrection or at the immediately-subsequent "rapture" when we are "changed" to replace the corruptible with the incorruptible.
In Rav Yeshua's prayer of Jn.17, we do not have any statement that he viewed himself as not a created being, nor does he necessarily invoke any precise chronology in his reference "πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κόσμον εἶναι" ("for which the cosmos exists", rather than "before the world was [made]"). We must also consider that Rav Shaul could not have meant his statement in Col.2:9 as 100% literal in the phrase "fullness of Deity", because the Infinite cannot be squeezed into the finite package of a "bodily form". Thus we must view Rav Yeshua as HaShem's compleat representative, having His full "power of attorney", so to speak, rather than as an extremely compact physical packaging of all HaShem's infinite characteristics. I should note also in passing that it is unlikely that the "philosophy" against which Rav Shaul inveighed to the gentiles of his Colossian assembly was other than various forms of Greek speculation, nor that it would have included the kinds of Jewish views about neshamot that I have invoked. I am, of course, evoking and advocating a Jewish philosophy that differs significantly from the philosophy of the Nicene Council of "church fathers", and denigrating the latter as a form of "deceit" that Rav Shual would not have approved.
I do not believe that Rav Yeshua suffers any reduction of status, and certainly no reduction of honor nor functionality, by recognizing more precisely his truly human nature (which includes divine characteristics). His exaltation by HaShem to the position that is above all others, because the purpose he fulfills is above all (a "name" above every "name"), qualified as the privilege to sit at HaShem's right hand, is not any less merely because only HaShem is G-d and because there is only One G-d (with no second god beside Him, as we're informed repeatedly in Is.45:5, 6, 18, 21, & 22). We should not denigrate human nature merely because it is created or because it is "fallen", because the Creator has demonstrated His intention and capability to lift it up again to become all that He created it to be -- for example, as a companion with whom He could "walk in the Garden", metaphorically speaking. Our Deity is divine, but divinity is a characteristic with which He also has imbued His human creatures, if only they would embrace its awesome responsibilities and implications. One day, the bill will come due, and either we will have already embraced Him in love and obedience or we will be destroyed with all His adversaries as we see in Yohanan's vision. Being human is a very high responsibility, and an opportunity for glory as great as that of our King Messiah; but it is not something that can be obtained by grasping after it, but only by responding properly to HaShem's gracious generosity. And we should not denigrate Rav Yeshua's divine human nature, merely because only HaShem is actually the sole Deity Whom Rav Yeshua has represented so well and so "fully" to those with eyes opened to see it.
The first-born of many brethren refers to Yeshua being the forerunner of the Resurrection, the prototype. It does NOT refer to his status as a human neshama. As for his not viewing himself as not a created being in John 17, that is precisely what he states when he speaks of having had glory with the Father before the world was made. And speaking of the Deity in spacial terms, as being squeezed into a body is a category mistake. God is Spirit, and not restricted to spacial categories of the time-space continuum. There are paradoxes that Judaism explores of His localizing himself (as in the Shekhinah in the Temple) while simultaneously being omnipresent. Both are true without contradicting each other. I have a busy day ahead of me, with a class to teach tonite and prepare for, and you touch upon a fistful of issues in your comment. But in terms of your inveighing against creedal definitions of the Incarnation, I suggest you read Oskar Skarsaune's "Incarnation: Myth of Fact." Skarasune is one of the world's premier experts on the early generations of Jewish Yeshua believers. It is available on Amazon and well worth the read.