Tag Archives: Capernaum

A hard teaching at Capernaum, Jesus walks on water: The fifth sign

12/28/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Today,  we continue our series on the seven signs that Jesus performed which are related in the Gospel of John.  If you have just now joined us, we recommend reading the following posts:

Changing water into wine, Healing of the Official’s son, the Healing of the paralytic at Bethesda: parts I and II, and The Feeding of the 5000 for additional context, as well as bookmarking or subscribing to The Mint for updates as we move through this important series.

As we observed yesterday, in feeding the 5000, Jesus was not simply solving a large-scale logistical problem, He was leading the crowd and His disciples into his most profound and divisive teaching yet:

The He is the bread of life.

This teaching was so profound that two of the signs which John recorded are associated with it.  The feeding of the 5000 at Bethsaida and the sign that we will explore today, Jesus’ walking on water.

After the miracle of the feeding of the 5000, the people had tried to make Jesus King by force, and we can imagine that they may have openly discussed mounting a revolution.  While those who were against Jesus believed these types of rumors, and ultimately used them to persuade the Romans to use their capital punishment apparatus against Him, the rumors were without basis.

As His Disciples would find out later, Jesus had no interest in becoming King of the Jews, the title which Pontius Pilate placed upon the cross where Jesus was crucified.  Jesus’ sole aim was to bring the Kingdom of YHWH into the hearts of everyone.

For this reason, Jesus departed when the crowd began to plan a revolution on His behalf.  They weren’t getting it.  The kingdoms of men are less than nothing in the eyes of YHWH, they are, in fact, His mortal enemy.  What use is an earthly kingdom to the One by whom all was created?

Jesus’ disciples were perplexed by this, so much so that, when evening came and Jesus did not appear, they decided to get into the boat and head to Capernaum.  Little did they know, they were about to witness the fifth sign which John would later choose to relate in Chapter 6:16-21, for it was the first sign in which Jesus clearly revealed his divine nature:

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 and they entered into the boat, and were going over the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not come to them. 18 The sea was tossed by a great wind blowing. 19 When therefore they had rowed about twenty-five or thirty stadia, they saw Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing near to the boat; and they were afraid. 20 But he said to them, “It is I AM, Don’t be afraid.” 21 They were willing therefore to receive him into the boat. Immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.

The Galilee
The Galilee

By walking, yes, walking, on the surface of the Sea of Galilee from the shore below Bethsaida to a boat that was twenty-five or thirty stadia, which in today’s measures would be 5 to 6 kilometers or 3 to 4 miles, almost at its destination in Capernaum, Jesus allowed His Disciples to witness something that many, save John, had not completely understood before that moment:

That Jesus is YHWH

In the book of Job, chapter 9, verse 8, Job declares the following regarding YHWH:

He alone stretches out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea.

However, in a moment of panic, the Disciples may not have been quick to make this connection.  Jesus’ salutation, “It is I AM,” was what nailed this truth home for them.

It is interesting that John does not focus on the fact that they thought Jesus was a ghost, nor on Peter’s failed attempt to walk towards Jesus through the waves, as Matthew did.  For John knew it was Jesus, and to him, Peter’s failed attempt to walk on the waves was not significant, for he knew that Jesus would save Peter.

John’s laser focus on the Messiah caused him to focus on something entirely different.

Ani hu and Ego eimi

Jesus’ salutation in John 6:20 allows us to highlight something astonishing about the Gospel of John.  John’s intentional use of the Greek phrase “Ego eimi” when Jesus is talking of Himself.  The phrase appears 24 times in the Gospel of John and is the Greek translation of the Hebrew words “Ani hu”, which appears in the original text of the book of Isaiah.  Isaiah used the phrase “Ani hu” as a euphemism for YHWH Himself.

"Walking on Water" By Ivan Aivazovsky 1890
“Walking on Water” By Ivan Aivazovsky 1890

John intentionally uses “ego eimi,” which parallels the translation of Isaiah’s “Ani hu” in the Septuagint {Editor’s note:  The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Old Testament} to punctuate the Deity of Jesus.  This Greek term was synonymous with YHWH to the Jewish listener, this is made obvious by the startled reaction of the religious Jews whenever Jesus used this phrase to refer to Himself.

Though Jesus may have actually been speaking Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic on any of the occasions that John inserts the pronoun ego eimi, in all cases the reaction of the Jews serves as proof that Jesus was declaring the He is God.

Just like Isaiah, 700 years before him, John saw the Messiah, and he knew that Jesus and YHWH are one.  While it would take religious scholars centuries to define the concept of the Trinity, John simply knew God, knew Jesus, and knew the gift that Jesus left them.  Above all,he knew that Jesus loved him, and theological details were rendered pointless in light of this truth.

The Bread of Life

Once Jesus had established the fact the He and YHWH are one to his Disciples, they were ready to learn a deep truth.  The truth that would separate those who would believe in Him and accept the radical, life-giving forgiveness that He was offering freely to them from those who simply wanted to place Him at the center of their religious system.

The Disciples were beginning to understand that Jesus is YHWH, and that He was turning the system which was being carried out in His name completely on its head.  It was exciting and terrifying all at once, Just like YHWH Himself.

This truth is so important that it must be read in its entirety, for it has great implications for the Church today.  Will we cling to antiquated forms of worship and service, fitting Jesus in when possible? Or will we allow Him to transform our very souls, to remove the root of sin from us, and let Him make of us the Temple that He has desired to inhabit since the dawn of creation?

John 6:22-71:

22 On the next day, the multitude that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except the one in which his disciples had embarked, and that Jesus hadn’t entered with his disciples into the boat, but his disciples had gone away alone. 23 However boats from Tiberias came near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 When the multitude therefore saw that Jesus wasn’t there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats, and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”

26 Jesus answered them, “Most certainly I tell you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled. 27  Don’t work for the food which perishes, but for the food which remains to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For God the Father has sealed him.”

28 They said therefore to him, “What must we do, that we may work the works of God?”

29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

30 They said therefore to him, “What then do you do for a sign, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you do? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness. As it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heavenGreek and Hebrew use the same word for “heaven”, “the heavens”, “the sky”, and “the air”. to eat.’”Exodus 16:4; Nehemiah 9:15; Psalm 78:24-25

32 Jesus therefore said to them, “Most certainly, I tell you, it wasn’t Moses who gave you the bread out of heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33  For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”

34 They said therefore to him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will not be hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36  But I told you that you have seen me, and yet you don’t believe. 37  All those whom the Father gives me will come to me. He who comes to me I will in no way throw out. 38  For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. 39  This is the will of my Father who sent me, that of all he has given to me I should lose nothing, but should raise him up at the last day. 40  This is the will of the one who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes in him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

41 The Jews therefore murmured concerning him, because he said, “I am the bread which came down out of heaven.” 42 They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How then does he say, ‘I have come down out of heaven?’”

43 Therefore Jesus answered them, “Don’t murmur among yourselves. 44  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day. 45  It is written in the prophets, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Isaiah 54:13 Therefore everyone who hears from the Father, and has learned, comes to me. 46  Not that anyone has seen the Father, except he who is from God. He has seen the Father. 47  Most certainly, I tell you, he who believes in me has eternal life. 48  I am the bread of life. 49  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50  This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, that anyone may eat of it and not die. 51  I am the living bread which came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. Yes, the bread which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

52 The Jews therefore contended with one another, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

53 Jesus therefore said to them, “Most certainly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you don’t have life in yourselves. 54  He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55  For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56  He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I in him. 57  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he who feeds on me, he will also live because of me. 58  This is the bread which came down out of heaven—not as our fathers ate the manna, and died. He who eats this bread will live forever.” 59 He said these things in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

60 Therefore many of his disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying! Who can listen to it?”

61 But Jesus knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62  Then what if you would see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63  It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and are life. 64  But there are some of you who don’t believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who didn’t believe, and who it was who would betray him. 65 He said, “For this cause have I said to you that no one can come to me, unless it is given to him by my Father.”

66 At this, many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67 Jesus said therefore to the twelve, “You don’t also want to go away, do you?”

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

70 Jesus answered them, “Didn’t I choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” 71 Now he spoke of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, for it was he who would betray him, being one of the twelve.

This was taught by Jesus in the synagogue at Capernaum, which, as you may recall, is where the official’s son was healed in Jesus’ second sign, which he performed while physically present in Cana, roughly 20 miles away.

Capernaum was the place where Jesus showed us that blind faith is enough.  Here, he was probing to see who amongst the crowd possessed this blind faith.  We can see this in the way He continues to answer each request for proof of His Deity by the Jews with what seems an increasingly illogical claim, up to the point of declaring that unless they eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, they have no part in Him.

While at the time this may have seemed like an extreme bit of Jewish humor, it became charged with meaning in the context of the Cross.  You see, it took the Cross for the Jews to understand how far God would go for them and for all of humanity, so that they might understand the God loves us and forgives us, unconditionally.  All that He asks of us is to strive to love and forgive in the same way.

Will we take the assignment?  All of creation is awaiting our response!

While God has made it clear that He abhors sacrifice, He agreed to sacrifice His own Son, so that we would understand, once and for all, that sacrifice is finished.  There is nothing we can do to please God, apart from believing in Him and moving ever closer to Him.

It is safe to assume that many who witnessed these two signs and then heard Jesus’ teaching at Capernaum afterward had also heard the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus laid out God’s expectations for humanity.  Most of them did not get it, or got it and were looking for an alternative, a list of concrete tasks and observances to absolve their conscience before the Holy One.

There are no alternatives.  What God requires of us is something that only He can give us, a pure heart.  The only way to accept a pure heart is to first realize that we need one, we need God to remove the root of sin from within us.  Everything Jesus taught is pointing towards this.

While it is common to celebrate the communion, the truth of Jesus’ bread of life teaching had nothing to do with food, much less cannibalism.  The truth is that the food we are to desire is God’s Spirit, which he was pouring out even then.  All flesh is wasting away, but the Spirit of YHWH is the fountain of everlasting life.  With God’s Spirit moving in us and through us, we can all become the bread of life for those with whom we come into contact, until they, too, look to the source, God Himself, made known to us through Jesus, who was the first to become the bread of life, and the sacrifice to end all sacrifices, so that we may “always have this bread and drink.”

Are we, like the twelve, still with Him? Are we starting to get it?  Will we see the sixth sign?

Stay tuned for the sixth sign and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for December 28, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.57
Oil Price per Barrel:  $90.62
Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.94
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.71%
FED Target Rate:  0.17%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,656
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.7%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  -0.3%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  12,938
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,407,600,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,491,100,000,000

Healing of the Official’s son: The second sign

12/12/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Today we continue our series on the Seven Signs of John with the second sign, Jesus’ healing of the official’s son.  First, we must pause to remember the eternal lesson from the first sign, the changing of water into wine that the wedding in Cana of Galilee:  “Do what he says,” for miracles are born out of obedience.

And now, the second sign.

The Journey

Jesus had just returned from Jerusalem, where he had educated Nicodemus on the mechanics of spiritual rebirth at the Passover feat.  On his journey home, Jesus had done something that deeply troubled the Jewish religious establishment of the day, He had taken the more direct and mountainous route home to the Galilee by passing directly through the territory known as Samaria.

This was shocking, because the religious amongst the Jews in those days who resided in Jerusalem went to great pains to avoid setting foot in Samaria, which they saw as the epicenter of paganism and worse, a misguided worship of the One True God, YHWH.

For this reason, when travelling from Jerusalem to the Galilee, they would cross over to the east bank of the Jordan river and go north until they had passed by the Samaritan territory, at which point they crossed back over to the west bank and reached Scythopolis, where they would continue their journey into the Galilee.  This religious quirk added up to 40 miles, or in those days what would have been a hard two days journey, to what was already a three to four day ordeal.

The religious take the long road, as Jesus shows us the straight and narrow
The religious take the long road, as Jesus shows us the straight and narrow

However Jesus not only took the more direct route, he encountered a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well and engaged her in conversation, an utterly shocking breach of protocol that caused even His disciples to question what he was doing.  We can only imagine that Jesus did not shake the dust off of His feet after reaching the Galilee, the custom of the religious Jews who were forced to tend to unavoidable business in Samaria, and therefore were forced to “defile” themselves by setting foot on Samaritan soil.

Blind Faith via Shock Therapy

Jesus was returning to the Galilee from Judea, where, as mentioned above, he had attended the Passover and, while there, began to turn the Jewish religious system on its head.  In fact, so many people believed in Jesus as the Messiah as a result of His teachings during the Passover that his disciples were baptizing even more people than John the Baptist, who the Jewish religious leaders had previously seen as their main rival.

As a result of this, the Pharisees, a sect of the Jews who believed in the resurrection of the dead, were planning to come after Jesus, hastening His flight back to the Galilee.

After passing through Samaria en route to an imagined quiet retreat into the Galilee, Jesus found that a great number of people in the Galilee had witnessed the signs he had done during the Passover for they, too, were there.  His reputation has preceded Him, and peace was to prove elusive for the rest of His days on earth.

Under these circumstances, Jesus returned to Cana as a type of rock star.

While in Cana, Jesus was approached by a certain nobleman who asks Jesus for a favor that would become known as the second sign which is related in John 4:43-54:

43 After the two days he went out from there and went into Galilee. 44 For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. 45 So when he came into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all the things that he did in Jerusalem at the feast, for they also went to the feast. 46 Jesus came therefore again to Cana of Galilee, where he made the water into wine. There was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to him, and begged him that he would come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Jesus therefore said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will in no way believe.”

49 The nobleman said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way. Your son lives.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. 51 As he was now going down, his servants met him and reported, saying “Your child lives!” 52 So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. They said therefore to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour, the fever left him.” 53 So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” He believed, as did his whole house. 54 This is again the second sign that Jesus did, having come out of Judea into Galilee.

Now the nobleman’s son was lying on his deathbed in Capernaum, a town on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and he encountered Jesus in Cana.  Under the circumstances, we can assume that the nobleman made the 20 mile journey inland specifically to make this appeal to Jesus.  The nobleman would likely have have been prepared to offer his life savings to Jesus if he would come to Capernaum and heal his son.  In Jesus he saw his only hope of saving his son, and he was doing what any loving father would have done under the circumstances.

In this delicate state of mind, the nobleman was about to be shocked, for he was about to learn the difference between hope and faith.  For hope, while poetic, leaves room for doubt. Faith is the opposite of doubt.

For this reason, instead of lovingly agreeing to accompany the man to Capernaum, He rebukes him, “unless you see signs and wonders, you will in no way believe.”  The man, still in a state of shock, as were Jesus disciples, makes a last ditch effort, now with a bit indignation, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Jesus then shocks the man, who has moved from hope to indignation, into faith as He replies “Go your way. Your son lives.”  In this moment, through Jesus’ words, the nobleman understood that, if he believed that Jesus had the power to heal his son, it would follow that Jesus could do it without having to be physically present.  The nobleman understood, at this moment, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Jesus was Lord.

The nobleman then knew Jesus in the same way the centurion in Matthew 8:5-13 knew that Jesus was Lord, through the operation of blind faith.  The difference between the nobleman and the centurion was that Jesus offered to come to the centurion’s house, which was perhaps not coincidentally also in Capernaum, and left it to the centurion to profess his blind faith which was operating to heal his servant.  The nobleman had no such faith to profess, until Jesus shocked him into it.

Where the nobleman needed his blind faith to be awakened, the centurion needed only ask Jesus and it would be done.

May it be said that in Capernaum, the Lord showed us that blind faith is enough.  When faith and obedience are operating together, there is no limit to what can happen.

Stay tuned for the third sign and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for December 12 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.69
Oil Price per Barrel:  $86.77
Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.21
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.70%
FED Target Rate:  0.17%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,712
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.7%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.1%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  13,245
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,457,800,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,275,200,000,000