Yeshua said to His disciples that were gathered around Him at Capernaum that those who do the will of the Father are His mother, brothers, and sisters. After this, Yeshua took His disciples apart from the crowds and taught them more about the importance of doing the will of the Father.
Doing the will of the Father is of the greatest importance! Only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of heaven! These words come at the end of this particular teaching session of Yeshua’s that we call the Sermon on the Mount! What did Yeshua teach on this occasion about the kingdom of heaven and doing the will of the Father?
After Yeshua finalized the selection of His inner circle of twelve disciples, he set about to teach them how to continue His message of “repent, for the kingdom of God is near.” Already Yeshua’s reputation was growing rapidly throughout the land but especially in the Galilee region. Large crowds came from all around and followed Him where ever he went. The sick and infirm, the troubled and the simply curious and the skeptical. The Gospels record many instances of Yeshua fleeing the crowds alone or with His disciples to seek a place of solitude for prayer or teaching. And so, it was in the hills above the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, that Yeshua took His chosen twelve disciples and began to teach them in the ways of the Torah.
As word of Yeshua’s healings spread, He attracted more and more attention both good and bad. People from all over Jerusalem, Judea, and Galilee flocked to Him for healing. Pharisees and scribes sought Him out to hear this new teaching, but were angered when Yeshua challenged their interpretation and practice of the Torah. After one such instance when Yeshua corrected their hierarchy of following conflicting commandments in regards to Sabbath observance, a group of Pharisees took offense and decided to make trouble for Yeshua. What impact did this have on His ministry and how others perceived Him? Was Yeshua’s mission to be a humble servant, or a revolutionary leader?
As with today’s political climate, it was no different in the time of Yeshua and the disciples. The corrupt leadership in Jerusalem were looking for anything that they could accuse Yeshua of doing that would conceivably be a violation of the law in order to discredit Him before the people. The Jewish laws regarding the Sabbath were perhaps the most visible and strict set of rules that Jewish society had. The Pharisees and scribes had prescribed a detailed listing of prohibited activities on the Sabbath. The Gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Messiah Yeshua are full of incidents where Yeshua is accused of violating one law or another.
Yeshua and His ministry were gaining in recognition and popularity. After He cast out a demon from a man in a synagogue and followed that up with healing Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, crowds of people flocked to Him for deliverance and healing. Others followed Him to hear His words. He traveled throughout Galilee teaching in the synagogues. At the time of Yeshua, Rabbis would select disciples from among their followers who would, then, live with them and be taught intensely over a period of three years. They would have other students who would join them for short periods of time when they were able. Yeshua had not yet chosen disciples from among His many followers. Even Simon Peter, whom Yeshua stayed with while in Capernaum, continued in the family business of fishing. Who would Yeshua choose to be full time disciples from among the thousands who followed Him? What criteria would He use to choose His disciples? What cost would the disciples pay to follow Him?
Having been rejected and run out of town in Nazareth, Yeshua returned to the fishing village of Capernaum, or Kefer Nachum in Hebrew, following His time in Jerusalem. Capernaum would become a kind of base of operations for Yeshua’s ministry going forward. The prophet Isaiah spoke of Capernaum and this region of the Galilee as a place which will see a great light. Capernaum is nestled on the northern shore of the Galilee near the border between the ancestral tribal lands of Zebulun and Naphtali. Yeshua would perform many miracles and healings here and His reputation will grow immeasurably.
When Yeshua visited Jerusalem for a Passover celebration after He began His ministry, He threw the moneychangers and merchants out of the temple asserting His authority over the House of God. The Jewish leaders asked Him for a sign that what He did was from God. Yeshua wasn’t concerned at that time with convincing them that God had sent Him. After a time in in Galilee, Yeshua was back in Jerusalem for another Feast of the LORD. This time Yeshua would assert His authority over the observance of the Sabbath. How does Yeshua explain the source of His authority? Why did He choose the Sabbath to make His point?
After traveling from the Galilee to Jerusalem for the Passover, Yeshua perhaps spent several weeks in an around Jerusalem and Judea teaching and performing miracles. His reputation grew and people came to hear his words and see the signs and miracles for themselves. He taught them many parables, giving new insight and interpretation, always speaking of the kingdom of heaven. But when it came time for Yeshua to return to his home in the Galilee, Yeshua, not unlike many of us today, experienced little respect from His family and friends in his home town.
We examined Yeshua’s ordination ceremony during which He was baptized, anointed with the Holy Spirit, and tested in the wilderness. He has called His first disciples and provided a picture of His ultimate goal of the Messianic age when He turned water into wine at a wedding feast. Yeshua’s ministry has truly begun. After spending the winter at Capernaum probably teaching His disciples, Yeshua and His disciples went up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Who did Yeshua meet with during this journey to and from Jerusalem? How did He convey His message and what was His message?
Following Yeshua’s 40 days in the wilderness, He returned to the place across the Jordan river where John was still preaching and baptizing the people of Judea and surrounding areas who had come to hear John’s message of repentance and return to the Torah of God. While speaking and teaching his many disciples, John saw Yeshua approaching, and made a special announcement. John was pointing out someone in the crowd. Were his disciples straining to see who it might be that John called “the Lamb of God?” Yeshua was certainly not the blue eyed, fair haired individual depicted in numerous paintings and such that permeate our culture today. Yeshua would have looked gaunt and weathered after forty days of fasting in the wilderness. Yeshua did not, as yet, have an entourage of disciples and there was nothing to distinguish Him from the rest of the crowd. But John recognized Him and understood that the world was about to change.