Matthew 13 is the beginning of Yeshua sharing parables in fulfillment of Psalm 78:2. When His disciples asked Him about it His answer was twofold. First, He quoted from Isaiah 6:9-10 as He spoke of the masses, “Go! Say to these people: Shema, shema/be ever listening, but do not discern/understand; keep looking, but do not know what you are looking at/perceive. Dull the minds of these people; deafen their ears and blind their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and shema/hear with their ears, understand with their minds, turn back, and be healed.”
In the time of Yeshua the masses did not discern what He was saying or know Who they were looking at. So, it has been for the last 1900 years in the Jewish community in regards to Yeshua being the Messiah and in the Christian community in regards to His Jewishness and the implications therein.
The second part of His answer said that His disciples were blessed because what they were discerning and knowing were the things the prophets longed to hear and see. So, it is today, many Jews are coming to faith in Yeshua as their Messiah and they are truly blessed because not only do they understand and perceive Who Yeshua is, but they also live in a time that the prophets and righteous people longed to see; a time when the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are realizing Who the Messiah is and being forgiven.
We are also living in a time when Gentile believers are coming to realize the Jewish roots of the faith and the two are, at this point, slowly becoming one in Messiah.
Let us pray that more eyes on both sides will be opened to know and more ears will shema/hear to discern or understand so that we can be about the work of the Kingdom together, side by side as it should be!
Mark 12:28-34 discusses the first and second greatest commandment. Mark who is writing to a primarily Gentile audience is the only one of the Gospel writers who at the front end of His quote of the greatest commandment includes verse 4 of Deuteronomy 6 in his answer. It states, “Hear/shema, O Israel, the Lord/Adonai our God/Elohenu, the Lord/Adonai is one/echad.”
This part of the greatest commandment is quoted regularly by Jews who take their faith seriously. The Gospel of Matthew which was primarily written to a Jewish audience does not include this portion. So why would Mark include it?
Mark is wanting his Gentile audience to become familiar with this piece of liturgy, which the Jews would have already been very familiar with. It was and is quoted regularly in any synagogue.
The Jews did not need to grow accustomed to hearing this spoken, but the new Gentile believers who were now attending synagogue to hear Moses and the prophets read and learn about their new faith needed to know and become comfortable with it. They needed to know that what they were hearing on a weekly basis was not of human origin but comes straight from the Scriptures.
We need to know why we do things even still today. We need to make sure that we are not doing what we do just for the sake of doing or holding to a man made tradition, but because it is part of our Faith and from Scripture.
Three basic questions we should ask are: 1) Do we do what we do because we have always done it that way or because we see it being done in the pages of Scripture? 2) If we are doing things that are not in Scripture, why are we and when and how did we start? 3) If we are not doing things in Scripture why aren’t we and when and how did we stop?
1 John 2:3-6 states, “Now we know that we have come to know Him by this–if we keep (obey) His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep (obey) His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps (obeys) His word, in him the love of God is truly made perfect. We know that we are in Him by this–whoever claims to abide in Him must walk (live) just as He walked (lived).” Yeshua, the perfect Son of God in whom the love of God was perfect, is our role model on how to live this life. He always obeyed the Father and never broke one of His Father’s commandments. He never broke the Law of the Kingdom. Therefore, He practiced the Shabbat, the Feasts (Moed), the New Moons and all the commands of His Father that applied to Him as a man of Israel. He was not a priest, farmer or women so none of those laws applied to Him.
If He is our perfect example on how to live the life of a citizen of the Kingdom then shouldn’t we live as He lived, in perfect obedience to the Father?
Mark wanted His readers to understand that their salvation/Faith is from the Jews. Even Yeshua said to the women at the well that “salvation is of the Jews”. After all, in the first century we were first known as The Way, a sect of Judaism. Mark wanted them to understand their new Faith and not reinvent it to look more like the pagan world they were familiar with. Unfortunately, much of that was done and now we find ourselves having to ask the three basic questions given above.