With the coming of the Messiah, He was to have a forerunner. In Matthew 11 Yeshua says that the forerunner was John the immerser. Yet John had a question for Yeshua when he was in prison about whether He/Yeshua was the One they were all waiting for.
Yeshua’s answer is quite interesting. Much of His answer can be found in Isaiah 35:4-6. There are a couple more things that Yeshua speaks of doing, although from the Isaiah list He does not list the casting out of demons. The two other things that Yeshua lists are the healing of leprosy, specifically that would be what is called tza’arat in the Hebrew, and the raising of the dead.
The healing of the leper in the beginning of Matthew 8 is particularly interesting in witnessing to our Jewish friends. Yeshua tells the leper, after He has cured him, to go to the priests for a testimony to them/the priests that he is cured and needs to be declared clean and go through the ceremony for being cleansed of leprosy. This is important because the Jews understood this to be a sign of the Messiah so the testimony to the priests was that the Messiah was there.
Yeshua wanted John to know that He was the One that they were waiting for. Yeshua was not trying to keep it secret as to who He was, He wanted the highest officials to know, as well as, the prisoner, in this case John.
Then Yeshua ends that statement in Matthew 11:6 with this, “Blessed is the one who does not fall away because of me.” What does He mean by this? He goes on in Matthew 11 (Also see Luke 16) to say that the Torah/Law and the Prophets have prophesied until John. In other words, up until John the Torah and Prophets were all still pointing forward to things yet to be fulfilled, but with the coming of John what was prophesied was beginning to be revealed.
Yeshua was telling those listening that they were living in a time of fulfillment, a time that the prophets had longed to see but were only able to prophesy about. Now the Kingdom of God was being preached, “repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2).
However, it was not going to happen the way some wanted it to. It was going to be the way God had designed it and in its proper order. In order for God’s children to be able to come into His presence their sin had to be dealt with, it had to be atoned for and the true price was higher than the blood of bulls, lambs and goats.
According to Psalm 22, Isaiah 53 and Zechariah 12:10 the price would be much higher. The Messiah Himself would have to be sacrificed and only His blood would truly atone for and cover sin. Needless to say, that is not what some wanted. They were ready to force the fulfillment of the Kingdom then and there. Remember some even tried to make Him King by force (John 6:15).
However, the Kingdom cannot come by us forcing it. It will be fulfilled as the Torah and Prophets have said, in His way and in His time. Again, in its proper order. Sin had to be dealt with, the good news spread and then the Kingdom will be restored.
Do we once again live in a time of fulfillment? I believe so! We are seeing what the Torah and Prophets spoke of happening all around us once again. Can we force it to come? No! But we can be ready and watching and faithful. We can be the people He has called us to be and have our hearts on the Kingdom and not on our own earthly gain. Yes, we must occupy till He comes, but we should also be looking up, for our redemption is drawing nigh.
So, what did He mean when He said, “Blessed is the one who does not fall away because of me.”? It would appear that He was saying that one is blessed if they do not fall away by trying to force things to happen their way, but to wait upon the Father to do things His way and to trust that He knows what He is doing. Yeshua did not want the people to fall away because they did not want a suffering servant, but instead wanted a King who would kick out Rome. Awaiting Messiah Ben David is a good thing, but Yeshua did not want that to make them miss Messiah Ben Joseph.
In the book of Acts we see the apostles having to learn to accept Gentiles into the faith. This took a dramatic event in the life of Peter when God lowered a sheet with unclean animals for Peter to kill and eat. God did this three times and the message was not the food, it was “do not call unclean what (God has) made clean”, meaning the Gentiles. Immediately following this Peter goes to a Gentile home and shares the good news of Jesus with them in their home, something that was forbidden for a Jew to do.
We then see Paul becoming the apostle to the Gentiles. He took the good news as far as he could, no matter the personal cost. Immediately on his heals were the Judaizers who claimed that the Gentiles first had to become Jews before becoming a believer in Jesus. Paul flatly rejected this in very graphic terms. In fact, I want to be clear on this point, once one is a believer in Jesus they are no longer a Gentile because a Gentile is a foreigner and alien, but in Christ we are made citizens of His nation, the holy nation of Israel over which He is king. This was the situation in Bible times.
Fast forward 2000 years and what do we see happening in the land of Israel today? We see many who want to separate the Arabs and Israelis living in the land onto different sides. Truth is they are on different sides. On one hand Jews have the right of return to the land of Israel, the land promised to them, and on the other side the Arabs want the Jews completely out of the land and consider the Israelis to be occupiers and colonialists. There are those who wish to divide the land calling a part of it the West Bank. What some like to call the West Bank in indeed a part of the historical land of Israel once known as Judea and Samaria.
This land is proportioned specifically in Scripture among the tribes of Israel. It was to eventually be the Israelis land. So how can this be resolved? How is reconciliation in a land that just about everyone seems to want to divide possible? There is only one answer to this question.
Those who believe in Yeshua the Messiah are the light in a dark situation. For the Arab believers in the land there is a group called Musalaha (www.musalaha.org), which is Arabic for reconciliation. They organize camps for Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians to come together as brothers and sisters in Christ. This effort needs our prayers.
Musalaha also puts events together so that Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians can come together in worship experiencing how both sides worship Messiah. At the same time they also reach out to Muslim Arabs in the land to show them the love and truth of Christ through different outreach opportunities.
On the other side there are Messianic Jews in the land who want a strong bond relationship with Arab Christians as well. These Messianic Jews are trying to reach out to their fellow Jews with the love and truth of the Messiah. One such ministry in Israel is Heart of G-d Ministries (www.heartofg-d.org). While Heart of G-d seeks to encourage Aliyah (Jewish right of return) of all Jews both Messianic and not Messianic, there are some elements of the Israeli government that are trying to keep Messianic Jews from having the right of return, claiming they are not real Jews. They too need our prayers.
Both sides report a good relationship with the other. A relationship that is only possible through Christ. These two sides are coming together. As they do they will begin to look more and more like each other. Why? Because they will look more and more like the Savior.
The Arab does not have to become a Jew and the the Jew does not have to leave behind his roots, on the contrary they are both the spiritual nation of Israel. Both grafted into the one tree that is Israel, God’s nation of princes, His holy nation and priesthood. The root of that tree being the Old Testament (Covenant) fulfilled in Yeshua who spilled His blood, the blood of the New Covenant.
It should be our prayer that as more and more Jews come into the land they will come to know their Messiah as they are surrounded by the truth of who they are and who He is. Also, that the Arab Christians will spur them on to jealousy as they continue to grow in their own faith and grow closer and closer to the Messianic Jews.
Jesus is the answer for the peace of Jerusalem and the land of Israel, ONLY Yeshua. What an awesome time we live in. We have before us a living example of the two becoming one if only we will take the time to see.
Yes, Jesus has put to death their hostility. Now it is up to these believers to live that out in a land and an environment that would rather them not. Yet it is the life that Yeshua calls them to live. A life that the cross of Christ demands. They must pick up their cross daily and follow Him where others do not want to go. How blessed they are as they daily live out the mystery. May God grant them His grace and His power to live this life.