Tag Archives: Jerusalem

The raising of Lazarus from the dead after the Feast of the Dedication, a prelude to the Passion: The seventh sign

1/3/2013 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Today, we begin the new year with the conclusion of our series on the seven signs that Jesus performed which are related in the Gospel of John.  What is taught through these seven signs is of eternal significance.  If you have just now joined us, we recommend reading the following for additional context:

  1. Changing water into wine
  2. Healing of the Official’s son
  3. Healing of the paralytic at Bethesda: parts I and II
  4. The Feeding of the 5000
  5. A hard teaching at Capernaum, Jesus walks on water
  6. The healing of the man blind at birth

Those who have followed the Mint for any time now know that our word is far from the final one on this or any subject.  Rather, we encourage every one of you to allow yourself to be studied by the Holy Scriptures, for if we simply study the scriptures, we will have gained nothing worth saving, but if we allow the scriptures to study us, our lives will be miraculously purified and enriched.  We will leave changed by the power of the Living God at work in us.

With this in mind, we encourage those of you in the Portland area to join us at 6:30pm on Wednesday, January 9th, at Good Samaritan Ministries in Beaverton (click here for a map), where we will attempt to present a portion of this series in a two-hour class format.  It is little time and we can only hope to scratch the surface, but at the same time, gathering in the synagogue, as it were, allows the Holy Spirit to move among us and transform us in ways that are impossible through individual study.

We now move into the seventh sign, the sign that proved once and for all that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, foretold by the prophets and seen by Isaiah 700 years earlier, and that all of humanity can have eternal life in Him.

Again, Jesus had performed many signs, of which John, the disciple who shared Isaiah’s spirit and was perhaps closer to Jesus than any other disciple, witnessed more than any other person.  Of the many, John chose to relate seven of them when he penned his Gospel some 60 years later.  While the previous six signs are important, none was more important in John’s eyes than the seventh sign.

It was the sign that proved He is YHWH, and the sign that sealed His fate on earth:  The raising of Lazarus from the dead.

After Jesus’ decision to attend the Festival of Booths, it is not clear in the Gospel of John whether or not He ever returned to the Galilee.  From what we can tell, His initial reluctance and subsequent decision to attend the Festival of Booths were an indication that Jesus was assenting to complete His mission, the salvation of the world, on the upcoming Passover.

The air in Judea and Jerusalem was thick with tension.  In Palestine, politics and religion are deeply intertwined, and it is impossible to understand what is occurring in one sphere without recognizing the influences of the other upon it.

After walking on water to His Disciples and healing the man blind from birth, Jesus had set Himself on a collision course with the Jewish authorities.  With the benefit of hindsight, it may seem obvious that the Jews would want to eliminate Jesus.

Why the animosity towards Jesus?

However, to the casual observer, both in first century Palestine and today, it is difficult to understand why the Jewish leadership would seek to kill the Messiah.  Was not He the one who would remove the oppressors, set the captives free, and declare the year of the Lord’s favor for them?  Was this not the fulfillment of YHWH’s promise which had been proclaimed by Israel’s greatest prophets seven centuries before?

The answer to this question can be found by examining the condition of the Jewish leadership of the day.  In the first century, Palestine was under Roman control.  The Romans ruled with an iron fist, and moved quickly to squash rebellion.  The Jewish leadership, down to the priesthood, which had previously been bestowed by virtue of heredity, was now a post appointed by the Roman authorities.  As such, the hand picked Jewish leaders in Judea found themselves responsible for managing the delicate balance of Jewish nationalism and submission to Roman authorities.

Naturally, those appointed were those who had mastered the art of compromise, and used their appointments to play one side off of the other, often to great personal advantage.

As the Maccabeans had done nearly two centuries earlier, Jesus was exposing the hypocrisy and extortion which was rampant in the ranks of the Jewish priesthood.  At the same time, He was restoring the faith of the people in YHWH.

The Jewish leaders began to fear another revolt of the type which had temporarily freed the Jews from the Seleucid Empire and overthrew the Jewish elite of the day, who had compromised the Jewish religion to the point of allowing Greek gods to be erected in the Temple and pigs to be butchered on the altar, on the Sabbath.

The Feast of the Dedication: Hanukkah

In 168 BCE, roughly 200 years earlier, Antiochus IV, then ruler of the Seleucid empire, had Judaism outlawed.  This sparked a revolt of devout Jews against the empire which would become known as the Maccabean revolt of 167-160 BCE.  The Maccabeans were successful in establishing a Jewish commonwealth which would last for 100 years.

A Menorah in Donetsk Ukraine Photo by Andrew Butko
A Menorah in Donetsk Ukraine
Photo by Andrew Butko

The celebration of the success of the Maccabean revolt is celebrated today.  It is known as Hanukkah, the Festival of lights.  In Jesus’ day, it was known by its Greek name, The Feast of the Dedication, acknowledging the re dedication of the Temple to YHWH by the Maccabeans.

Then, in 63 BCE, the Romans annexed Judea into their Empire in violent fashion.  When Jesus arrived on the scene, the Jewish elite, not unlike their counterparts under the Seleucid rule of Judea, had assumed a position of compromise, appealing to the people to tolerate the Roman rule in exchange for a measure of religious autonomy.  An autonomy that both the Jewish ruling class and the Romans used to exploit the population under the cover of religious observances, among other things.

At this point we call to the reader’s attention the incident where Jesus clears the Temple, related by John in chapter 2 of his Gospel:

12 After this, he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they stayed there a few days. 13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 He found in the temple those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting. 15 He made a whip of cords, and threw all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and he poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew their tables. 16 To those who sold the doves, he said, “Take these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will eat me up.”
18 The Jews therefore answered him, “What sign do you show us, seeing that you do these things?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
20 The Jews therefore said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple! Will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he spoke of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he said this, and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

Jesus was passionate about Judaism and true worship of YHWH.  After the events which took place during the Festival of Booths, is should come as no surprise that Jesus would again show up in Jerusalem at the Temple, openly declaring that He is the Son of God, at the Feast of the Dedication.

Jesus had declared sternly that the religious leaders of the day are, “not my sheep.”  He seemed to affirm the line that was already drawn in the sand, pitting the devout Jews against the Jewish elite.  In doing so, the devout Jews assumed that Jesus was going to stir up the next Maccabean revolt and once again, “re dedicate” the Temple to YHWH.  The ruling elite took this threat of revolt, along with the increasingly personal attacks against them which Jesus explicitly and implicitly implied in His teachings, and began to plot in earnest to eliminate Jesus before He gained a wider following among the people.

For even if He was the Messiah, Jesus, through righteousness and the power of God, posed a direct threat to the status quo, a status quo which had allowed the Jewish elite not only to maintain the semblance of a Jewish quasi state and religious system, but more importantly, their appointed position as religious leaders and intermediaries between the Jewish nation and Rome.  It was a system that had made them very wealthy and at the same time extremely vulnerable.  Were the system to crash, it would come toppling down directly on top of them.

Enter Caiaphas

This seemingly complex relationship between a nation awaiting their promised Messiah and the leaders of that nation taking great pains to prevent the Messiah from appearing is embodied in a man named Caiaphas.

Christ before Caiaphas by Mattias Stom
Christ before Caiaphas by Mattias Stom

Caiaphas was the Roman appointed high priest during this tempestuous time.  He was appointed in a semi-nepotistic way, as is the custom in most corrupt leadership structures.  While attempting to maintain the status quo and at the same time appear religious, Caiaphas, as high priest, had famously prophesied that:

“…Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” – John 11:52

Such was the state of mind of the Jewish leadership of the day.  Their vulnerability and greed had ultimately pitted their will against the will of YHWH, the God whose observances they were charged with carrying out.

It is important to note that Caiaphas, as were most of the Jewish elite of the day, was a member of the Sadducee sect, a line of Judaism which denied spiritual phenomena associated with the afterlife.  This put them in opposition to many other branches of Judaism as well as Jesus, as they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, a belief system which lends itself to a situational system of morality in which the right thing is more often than not what is expedient at the moment.

It was Caiaphas who was involved in the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus, likely as chief prosecutor.

The Raising of Lazarus

After the Feast of Dedication, Jesus again left Jerusalem, presumably under the threat of detention and physical harm.  He went not home to Galilee but beyond the Jordan where John the Baptist had baptized Him just three short years before.  It was the place where His earthly ministry had begun.  Many people came to Jesus in that holy place, and put their faith in Him.

It is there, in the wilderness, that we find Jesus in the days before He performs what John, and this author believe to be the most important miracle of His earthly ministry.  We pick up the narrative in John 11:1-54:

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus from Bethany, of the village of Mary and her sister, Martha. It was that Mary who had anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother, Lazarus, was sick. The sisters therefore sent to him, saying, “Lord, behold, he for whom you have great affection is sick.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, that God’s Son may be glorified by it.” Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When therefore he heard that he was sick, he stayed two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let’s go into Judea again.”

The disciples told him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and are you going there again?”

Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? If a man walks in the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10  But if a man walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light isn’t in him.” 11 He said these things, and after that, he said to them, “Our friend, Lazarus, has fallen asleep, but I am going so that I may awake him out of sleep.”

12 The disciples therefore said, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”

13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he spoke of taking rest in sleep. 14 So Jesus said to them plainly then, “Lazarus is dead. 15  I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe. Nevertheless, let’s go to him.”

16 Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus,*{Note: “Didymus” means “Twin”}. said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go also, that we may die with him.”

17 So when Jesus came, he found that he had been in the tomb four days already. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about fifteen stadia†{Note: 15 stadia is about 2.8 kilometers or 1.7 miles} away. 19 Many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20 Then when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary stayed in the house. 21 Therefore Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. 22 Even now I know that, whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies. 26  Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, God’s Son, he who comes into the world.”

28 When she had said this, she went away, and called Mary, her sister, secretly, saying, “The Teacher is here, and is calling you.”

29 When she heard this, she arose quickly, and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was in the place where Martha met him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and were consoling her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.” 32 Therefore when Mary came to where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”

33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?”

They told him, “Lord, come and see.”

35 Jesus wept.

36 The Jews therefore said, “See how much affection he had for him!” 37 Some of them said, “Couldn’t this man, who opened the eyes of him who was blind, have also kept this man from dying?”

38 Jesus therefore, again groaning in himself, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”

Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”

40 Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see God’s glory?”

The Raising of Lazarus by Duccio di Buoninsegna 1310-11 Kimball Art Museum
The Raising of Lazarus by Duccio di Buoninsegna 1310-11

41 So they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, “Father, I thank you that you listened to me. 42  I know that you always listen to me, but because of the multitude that stands around I said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”

44 He who was dead came out, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth.

Jesus said to them, “Free him, and let him go.”

45 Therefore many of the Jews, who came to Mary and saw what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done. 47 The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, “What are we doing? For this man does many signs. 48 If we leave him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”

49 But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you consider that it is advantageous for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51 Now he didn’t say this of himself, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day forward they took counsel that they might put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but departed from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim. He stayed there with his disciples.

While in Barcelona, we had the opportunity to play the role of Lazarus in a stage adaptation of the book “The Jesus I never knew,” by Philip Yancey.  As you can imagine, there was not much to do.  The people mourned and I lay there in bandages from head to foot.  They filmed a video short which showed one of the disciples kneeling at my side.  He then abruptly rose and ran off to locate Jesus.  It was a helpless feeling, yet the faith of the disciple, however far fetched, gave us cause for hope.

In this dramatization, we saw that the disciple’s faith in who Jesus was raised us from the dead, and that it was this same faith in YHWH that raised Jesus from the dead.

Will we listen when He calls us out?  Will we call others out from death to life?

In raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus put to rest any latent speculation that He was the Son of God.  Lazarus had been dead for four days.  The situation was so hopeless that Martha, Lazarus’ sister, was compelled to give a canned religious answer, as many of us do when faced with a seemingly impossible situation, in order that Jesus might save face (verses 21-26 above):

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. 22 Even now I know that, whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies. 26  Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

The resurrection is here and now.  The seven signs presented by John bear a unique witness to this, for John had known this all along.  Both the religious leaders, who feared Jesus, and the devout Jews, who were disappointed in Him, missed the point, and in the end condemned Jesus and abandoned Him in turn.

In contrast, the disciple that Jesus loved stayed by Him through the trial and to the very end on the cross.  Jesus asks John to take care of His mother, Mary, perhaps the highest honor that He could bestow on earth.  While Peter got the church and all of its issues, John would get to continue to know Jesus through His mother’s eyes.

Will we stay by Jesus through accusations and disappointments?  Will he give us something to care for, or a unique gift of insight?

We pray that you have been both blessed and challenged in your faith as we have in exploring the seven signs.

We leave you with the words or our Lord Jesus:

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies. 26 Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for January 3, 2013

Copper Price per Lb: $3.67
Oil Price per Barrel:  $92.81
Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.89
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.90%
FED Target Rate:  0.17%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,664
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.7%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  -0.3%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  13,391
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,555,200,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,516,400,000,000

The healing of the man blind at birth during the Festival of Booths: The sixth sign

12/31/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

We continue our series on the 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 for additional context:

  1. 1.     Changing water into wine
  2. 2.    Healing of the Official’s son
  3. 3.    Healing of the paralytic at Bethesda: parts I and II,
  4. 4.   The Feeding of the 5000, and
  5. 5.    A hard teaching at Capernaum, Jesus walks on water

Additionally, we encourage you to subscribe to or bookmark The Mint for updates as we move through this important series.

As expected, the intensity is building as we approach the sixth sign.  We have stated here before that the disciple John, who witnessed perhaps more of Jesus’ miracles than anyone else during his earthly ministry, chose to include these seven miracles in his Gospel because, through them, we would be able to see Jesus as he had seen Him, as the Messiah, YHWH come to dwell among us.

After the feeding of the 5000 at Bethsaida and Jesus’ subsequent four mile walk on top of a stormy Sea of Galilee to join them in their fishing boat, His disciples, save John, who already knew, suspected that He was someone very special.  The crowds who followed Him were also becoming aware that Jesus was no ordinary rabbi or prophet, and the speculation surrounding Him was increasing.

Also increasing was the ire of the Jewish religious authorities who saw Jesus as a direct threat not only to their religious system, but to the fragile Jewish state which they imagined that they had carved out through a series of compromises with Rome.

Jesus’ open declarations that He is YHWH served as the blunt instrument that the religious authorities used against Him in their religious courts.  However, in order to kill Him, which was fast becoming their ultimate solution, they needed to employ the Roman capital punishment apparatus, as the Romans would not allow the Jewish authorities to execute anyone for obvious reasons.  When it comes to Empire, the authority to kill must lie solely with the central authority.

Sukkot and the days of awe

Under these circumstances, Jesus announced that He would not attend the upcoming Feast of Booths (Tabernacles), or Sukkot, the Jewish Festival which follows Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, which was the holiest day of the year.  Jesus’ initial reluctance to attend the Feast, and ultimate decision to attend, has great significance, both for our understanding of the sixth sign and for Jesus’ future second coming.

As you may recall, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, marks a new beginning.  The Jews believe that on this day the fate of each person for the upcoming year is written by YHWH in the Book of Life. The days (approximately 9) between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, known as the the days of awe, are spent in deep reflection, fasting, and prayer.  It is a time of confession and repentance, it is a time of recognition that we are but dust, yet infinitely precious in YHWH’s sight.

The Jews believe that the fate which is written on Rosh Hashanah is then sealed by YHWH on Yom Kippur, at which point the Feast of Booths begins.  It is our speculation that Jesus made the decision to ultimately attend the Feast of Booths to symbolically seal His fate.  He would give His life for humanity on the upcoming Passover.

Yom Kippur is regarded as the Sabbath of Sabbaths, as such, it is only appropriate that the Jewish leaders who were looking for a reason to kill Him, would carefully observe Jesus in hopes of catching Him breaking their observance of the Sabbath.

The decision to go to Jerusalem

Jesus finally left the Galilee and went to Jerusalem, which was abuzz with rumors regarding Him, in secret..  We are told by John that Jesus began to publicly teach in the Temple in the midst of the feast, which we may assume was after Yom Kippur.

The Pool Siloam Map and the Temple in Jersusalem
The Pool Siloam Map and the Temple in Jersusalem

With each man’s fate sealed for the upcoming year, the speculation surrounding Jesus erupted upon His appearance.  Jesus began to publicly expose the hypocrisy of the religious leaders by openly questioning them as to why they were trying to kill Him, if indeed they agreed that He did the works of YHWH?  A straightforward question which was met with accusations that He was a lunatic.

Still, we are told that many believed in Jesus on that day.

That night, rather than staying in Jerusalem, Jesus went up to the mount of Olives, a place that was to have great significance for Him just six months later.

The next morning, Jesus returned to the Temple to teach and finds Himself in the midst of the now famous incident regarding the woman caught in adultery.  This incident, which John relates in Chapter 8:1-11, is revolutionary as, with one simple phrase, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” Jesus shares with them YHWH’s opinion as to what, on the surface, appeared to be a sentence carried out in His name.

For Jesus was making it known that apart from righteousness, “Go and sin no more,” YHWH requires us to forgive the trespasses of others.

Jesus then openly declares that He is God’s son, the Messiah, and further observes that the religious Jews do not even know YHWH, the God they purported to worship through their ceremonies and rituals.  He then begins to offer all freedom from sin in His name.

Naturally, this further offended the religious Jews, who believed that, as they had made it through Yom Kippur, they were once again right with God for the upcoming year.  Being told that they were in sin and did not know God went against everything they believed.  As such, the rhetoric between them and Jesus became more contentious.

So violent was the debate that the religious Jews, some of whom had just set down their stones in recognition of their own unworthiness and God’s mercy, picked them up again, intending to stone Jesus.

Jesus then did what any peacemaker would do, he left the Temple.

However, this was not the end of the matter, for at the Feast of Booths, which Jesus was at first going to forgo attending, many were to come to know and believe in Him as the Son of the Living God, the Messiah.

The Blind man and the pool of Siloam, the sixth sign

Jesus had not gotten far when He and His disciples came across a man who had been blind from birth.  Jesus’ disciples, who were still trying to recover from years of religious abuse, dared to ask Him a question, one that they must have been anxious to ask for some time.  Pointing to the blind man, they asked:

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind?”

When one grows up in, or worse, is formally trained up in a religious system, it is natural to attempt to understand all natural phenomenon through a lens of obedience.  If something goes wrong, or is not as it “should be,” it must be because someone has made God upset.  As such, if we can understand what made God upset, we can hope to avoid upsetting God in the future.  If we did this enough, everyone would understand what God expected and be able to do it.  Armed this this knowledge, diseases such as blindness could be cured within a generation  Conversely, the existence of such diseases means that the diseased have failed to please God and therefore deserve to live with their punishment.

The Pool of Siloam by Yoav Dothan
The Pool of Siloam by Yoav Dothan

This is how the many of the Jews, indeed, much of humanity, of the day thought.  It is a scientific thought process which is the hallmark of a religious system.  It is what Jesus came into the world to destroy.

To this question, Jesus replied:

“either did this man sin, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

What is unique about the sixth sign, among other things, is that the man who was healed did not ask Jesus to do anything for Him.  Indeed, as He was blind, and may not even have known that Jesus was near Him.  It is significant that Jesus chose to heal the man in that instant to teach His disciples that the religious/scientific thought process they were using was invalid.

Here is what happened as it is related by John in chapter 9, verses 1-16 of his Gospel:

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus answered, “Neither did this man sin, nor his parents; but, that the works of God might be revealed in him. I must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day. The night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground, made mud with the saliva, anointed the blind man’s eyes with the mud, and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means “Sent”). So he went away, washed, and came back seeing. The neighbors therefore, and those who saw that he was blind before, said, “Isn’t this he who sat and begged?” Others were saying, “It is he.” Still others were saying, “He looks like him.”

He said, “I am he.” 10 They therefore were asking him, “How were your eyes opened?”

11 He answered, “A man called Jesus made mud, anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash.’ So I went away and washed, and I received sight.”

12 Then they asked him, “Where is he?”

He said, “I don’t know.”

13 They brought him who had been blind to the Pharisees. 14 It was a Sabbath when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 Again therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, I washed, and I see.”

16 Some therefore of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” There was division among them. 17 Therefore they asked the blind man again, “What do you say about him, because he opened your eyes?”

He said, “He is a prophet.”

Hezekiahs tunnel
Hezekiahs tunnel

As the man was not seeking Jesus, we can divine that he was not able to exercise faith, as those who had sought Jesus out in the earlier signs had done.  The man’s healing depended upon his willingness to obey the command of Jesus to wash in the pool of Siloam.

The pool of Siloam, or Shiloh, was located outside of the city walls.  It took a certain amount of discipline for the man to walk away from the entrance to the Temple, past any number of opportunities to wash the mud from his eyes, and to finally wash in the pool of Siloam.  However, in doing so, He gained not only his sight, but played an important, and perhaps unwitting role in further exposing the hypocrisy of the Jewish religious leaders.

For rather than marvel that the man’s sight had been restored, the Jewish religious leaders chose to lament the fact that he had been healed on the Sabbath, and declared that the man who was healed was born in sin.  An extremely mature stance which must have made the man who could now see chuckle at their infantile reaction and seek out the true source of life, Jesus, whom he promptly confessed once Jesus found him, this time with his eyes open, looking for the Messiah.

The significance of the pool of Siloam

It is also significant that Jesus asked the man to wash in the pool of Siloam.  The pool of Siloam was a stone, man made pool which held water which had been diverted from the Gihon spring, Jerusalem’s natural water source, via Hezekiah’s tunnel, which was presumably constructed before the year 701 BCE underneath the City of David.

Hezekiah ordered the tunnel, which at the time was an engineering marvel, to be built in preparation for an imminent invasion of Judah by the Assyrian army.  While Jerusalem sits on cliffs and is naturally well defended, the Gihon spring was distinctly vulnerable, leaving the cities water supply an easy target in the vent of a siege.  Hezekiah had the spring capped off and the water supply diverted covertly, via his tunnel, to an more defensible position.  This position was the pool of Siloam.

It is not coincidental that the pool is mentioned by Isaiah, as we believe that Isaiah and John are kindred spirits.

Isaiah mentions the pool in chapters 8:6, where it is referred to as the “waters of Shiloah,” and in 22:9.  The word Shiloh in Hebrew means “gift” or “he who is sent.”  It is also charged with meaning in light of the prophecy revealed in Genesis 49:10:

 “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs.  To him will the obedience of the peoples be.”

Jesus did not simply send the man away to the pool of Siloam on a whim, a detail that was not lost on John, who saw, as I hope we all do, that everything that Jesus did was charged with divine significance.

As the water from the Gihon spring in Hezekiah’s time, the spiritual fount had been covered at the Temple and was diverted to Shiloah, the pool of Siloam, so that all may drink and be filled.

Later, Jesus would say that He had come so that the blind may see, and that those with sight may become blinded.  He performed the sixth sign as a living reminder of this truth, and it was not lost on John, or any of those who had witnessed it.

Let it not be lost on us either, as we enter an important new year, full of hope and thanksgiving.

Stay tuned for the seventh sign and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for December 31, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.58
Oil Price per Barrel:  $91.82
Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.98
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.76%
FED Target Rate:  0.17%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,675
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.7%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  -0.3%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  13,104
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 paralytic at Bethesda: The third sign

12/17/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

If you have just recently joined us here at The Mint, we are exploring the seven signs that Jesus performed which are related in the Gospel of John.  We recommend that you begin by reading Changing water into wine:  The first sign, and Healing of the Official’s son:  The second sign, for additional context, as well as bookmarking or subscribing to The Mint for updates as we move through this important series.

We are finding that each sign appears to have a central theme, an overarching lesson that Jesus was teaching.  Perhaps this is why John chose these seven out of the seemingly infinite miracles of Jesus that he had witnessed.  In Changing water into wine, Obedience appears to be central to the operation of the Miracle, in the words of Mary, the mother of Jesus, “Whatever he says to you, do it.”

In healing the Official’s son, the operation of blind faith, believing without seeing, is required, “Go your way. Your son lives.” is Jesus’s response as the Official pleads with Him to journey from Cana to Capernaum to heal his son.

Today, as we begin to examine the third sign, the healing of the paralytic at Bethesda, we must be attentive to the presence of an underlying theme, for it is becoming clear that John selected each miracle carefully, and is recounting each one in order to give us something of eternal value, something that we can use today.

In the book of John, the narrative of the third sign immediately follows that of the second sign, beginning in John, Chapter 5, verses 1 – 17.  It begins with Jesus returning to Jerusalem.

The return to Jerusalem

As we pick up the narrative, we find that Jesus has gone to Jerusalem for the second time during his earthly ministry (we know that he went once before with his parents at twelve years of age, making it technically the third time).  This time, Jesus goes to Jerusalem in full view of the religious authorities.  The observant reader will recall that after His Passover first visit, Jesus and his disciples were run out of Jerusalem by the Pharisees for what may be called “excessive baptisms.”  This time, Jesus would have the first of what would be many direct confrontations with the Jewish religious authorities.

Which Feast?

In relating this sign, John does something that at first appears to be an uncharacteristic oversight, he forgets to tell the reader which particular feast of the Jews that Jesus is attending.  This apparent oversight has led come commentators to conclude that Jesus had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate Purim, which would have occurred in early March.

However, it is more likely that the feast that John referred to, or didn’t refer to, as it were, is actually the second Passover that Jesus attended during his earthly ministry.  This can be inferred both positively, in that the Passover was referred to as the “Feast of the Jews” and that the explicit Passovers mentioned in John 2:13 and 6:4 require an extra year between them.  This interpretation also allows for the harvest seasons mentioned in Mark 2:23 and 6:39.

It can be inferred negatively as well, in that Purim was not considered a religious feast of the Jews (it would be akin to the 4th of July, in a very stretched metaphor), and that it is unlikely that, due to the climate in Palestine in early March, that the sick persons by the pool would be lying in the open air.

The final arguments against the feast being Purim lie in the narrative itself.  As Jesus performs the sign on the Sabbath, for which the religious take exception to Him, and the feast of Purim cannot be celebrated on the Sabbath.

The greater question, perhaps, is why did John, who meticulously recorded the name of the other Jewish feasts in his gospel, omit the name of this particular feast?  For an answer, as well as beautiful insight into the importance of John, we turn to Dr. William Milligan in the “International Lesson Commentary”, who is here quoted in Volume III–John of B.W. Johnson’s “The New Testament Commentary,”

Why did John, whose custom it is to mark clearly each festival of which he speaks (see 2:13, 23; 6:4; 7:2; 10:22; 11:55; 12:1; 13:1; 18:39; 19:14), write so indefinitely here? The only reply that it is possible is that the indefiniteness is the result of design. The Evangelist omits the name of the feast, that the reader may not attach to it a significance that was not intended. To John,–through clearness of insight, not from power of fancy,–every action of his Master was fraught with deep significance; and no one who receives the Lord Jesus as he received him can hesitate to admit in all his words and deeds a fulness of meaning, a perfection of fitness, immeasurably beyond what can be attributed to the highest of human prophets. Our Lord’s relation to the whole Jewish economy is never absent from John’s thought. Jesus enters the Jewish temple (chapter 2:4). His words can be understood only by those who recognize that he is himself the true temple of God. The ordained feasts of the nation find their fulfillment in him. Never, we may say, is any festival named in this Gospel in connection with our Lord, without an intention on the author’s part that we should see the truth which he saw, and behold in it a type of his Master or his work. If this be true, the indefiniteness of the language here is designed to prevent our resting upon the thought of this particular festival as fulfilled in Jesus, and lead to the concentration of our thought on the Sabbath shortly to be mentioned, which in this chapter has an importance altogether exceptional.”

The significance of the Pool

The Pool of Bethesda.  Up until the 19th century, when archeologists uncovered the site of the pool where Jesus performed this sign, there was no evidence outside of the Gospel of John that the pool existed.  This lack of evidence caused some to argue that the Gospel was written later by someone who did not have first hand knowledge of Jerusalem and chose to use the pool in a metaphorical sense.

The discovery of the pool by archeologists in 1856 did wonders for the credibility of the Gospel of John.

As it turns out, the pool, which was first mentioned in the 8th century BCE, was formed when a dam was built across the short Beth Zeta Valley, creating a reservoir.  The pool is mentioned in two other Biblical texts 2 Kings 18:17 and Isaiah 36:2, where it is referred to as the “upper pool”:

17 The king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great army to Jerusalem. They went up and came to Jerusalem. When they had come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller’s field.

and,

The king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem to king Hezekiah with a large army. He stood by the aqueduct from the upper pool in the fuller’s field highway.

As well as in Isaiah 7:3:

Then Yahweh said to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz, you, and Shearjashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway of the fuller’s field.

The Bethesda Pool Today
The Bethesda Pool Today

A second pool was then added on the south side of the dam around 200 BCE.  In the first century BC, caves to the east of these pools were turned into baths as part of what was know as an asclepieion, a Roman healing temple dedicated to the god Asclepius.  The symbol for this god of medicine, healing, rejuvenation, and physicians is used today as the symbol for the American Medical Association and is ubiquitous in medical settings.

The site was brought inside the walls of Jerusalem by the expansion of Herod Agrippa around 50 BCE.  The pools, which had been constructed to bring living water into Jerusalem, had been turned into a pagan bath house whose waters are thought to have healing powers.  Naturally, it was crowded with those hoping to become well.

Today, the site of these pools is in the Muslim East Jerusalem near the ruins of a Crusader church which was completed in 1138 CE on a site that what was thought to be the birthplace of Jesus’ grandmother, Saint Anne.

So Jesus, on the Passover, the holiest of all Sabbaths, goes to the pagan bath house, which also happens to be the site that representatives of the Assyrian army stood and publicly humiliated Hezekiah, the King of Judah, before Jerusalem was invaded by them in 701 BCE.  Furthermore, according to later tradition, is near the grotto where his grandmother was believed to have born.

The pool at Bethesda ia a very interesting place, and Jesus has chosen to go there on the Passover.  What would he do?

Stay tuned for more of the third sign and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for December 17, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.64
Oil Price per Barrel:  $87.48
Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.24
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.76%
FED Target Rate:  0.16%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,698
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.7%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  -0.3%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  13,235
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,527,700,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,375,100,000,000

The Israeli ground assault on Gaza, all bets are off

11/16/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

As we touched on yesterday, it appears that an Israeli ground assault in Gaza is imminent.  Amongst the information flow today is that Israeli reservists are being called up and that the Hamas rockets are now being directed at Jerusalem.

 

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

While the first action is alarming, the second leads us to believe that this conflict could quickly spread beyond any initial analysis and lead to something much more dangerous for all of us.

As shabbat begins, we encourage all to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for November 16, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.45
Oil Price per Barrel:  $86.67
Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.27
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.57%
FED Target Rate:  0.16%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,713 THE GOLD RUSH IS ON!
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.9%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.1%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  12,588
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,458,800,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,333,800,000,000

Watch “Prime Minister of Israel Binyamin Netanyahu at AIPAC 2012” on YouTube

A decent speech from Mr. Netanyahu at the AIPAC 2012, and unfortunately there is much prophecy that would be fulfilled were Israel to strike Iran, or vice versa.  It is a difficult situation, and Mr. Netanyahu may be admired for not skirting around the issue, as the Western nations have done until now, for it is gravely serious.

Yet for all of his wonderful discourse, the most moving of which starts at minute 22:30 of the below video, Mr Netanyahu, like most of us, misses the point. 

Jesus came so that the world would be forgiven, and to overcome death and live abundantly.  Resorting to the “Might Makes Right,” “Strike them before they strike us mentality,” to which Mr. Netanyahu appeals in this address, is what leads all nations to espouse war and violence as a response to their fragile surroundings.  Followed to its logical end, mankind would exterminate itself in a very short period of time. 

While a preemptive strike against a country which is going to annihate your nation may seem like the best response, or the least amongst evils, what is even more necessary is a need for understanding and ultimately the abandonment of the nation state, especially the religious nation state, so that people can deal with each other without the unnecessary prejudices which the mask of the nation state paints on its adversaries. 

With that in mind, enjoy the speech and, as you ponder its obvious consequences, pray for the peace of Jerusalem, Tehran, and your own city.

Book Review: The Haj

The Haj

By Leon Uris

Originally published in 1984 by Doubleday

We read the Haj for one reason and one reason only.  After the terrorist attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, we attended a dinner with our Great Uncle.  Our Great Uncle had been stationed in Northern Africa during World War II.

As the conversation inevitably turned to what motivates terrorist attacks, our Great Uncle said that if you want to understand this, you need to read “The Haj.”

Now, 10 years on from that conversation and with our dear Great Uncle departed to be with the Lord Jesus, we have taken heed of his advice to read The Haj. 

The novel tracks the events that occurred in Palestine from 1920’s through the 1950’s, a time when the displaced Jewish population from Europe and Russia was relocating to its traditional home in Palestine after the horrifying events of World War II on that continent.  This relocation caused much friction and eventually war between the Arab populations which had traditionally lived in Palestine.  It is a war that continues to this day.

The Haj follows a traditional Arab family as they are forced to leave their homes as the United Nations passes the Partition Plan for Palestine on November 29, 1947.  The novel details the struggle as the family finds itself perilously driven by a supposed fear of the Jews eventually into the open arms of their Arab neighbors.  What they find is that their Arab neighbors have closed their borders for fear of being overwhelmed by refugees.  The family eventually finds itself in a refugee camp in the West Bank near Jericho called Aqabat Jaber where they find that they are trapped, not by the Jews but by the refusal of their Arab brethren to evacuate them.  

This is perhaps the most astonishing idea presented by the novel, that the Palestinian refugee problem is a result of the Arab surrounding Arab nation’s refusal to negotiate with Israel to allow the refugees to return to their lands, which were now inside the Jewish state.

According to the novel, the Jews were willing to let the refugees return to their villages and to live at peace with them.  It infers that the Arab nations denied this opportunity to the refugees because they wanted to use the refugees as pawns to continue to stir up hatred towards Israel.  If the refugees were to return to their lands, they would lose these pawns.

A secondary reason for this is a circular reasoning that is brought to light in the book through the events at the an international commission in Zurich which attempted to bring a resolution to the plight of the refugees.  The Arab delegates were unable to reach an agreement solely on the basis of their inability to recognize the existence of Israel.  If the state of Israel does not exist, then with who do they negotiate?

Kept in idle in these camps, the Palestinians became prey to a non-stop barrage of anti-Israeli propaganda and many young men were either brainwashed into attacking Israel on suicide missions or sold by their families to be brainwashed for the same purpose.

Whatever the reason, the refugee / martyr problem persists today and is at the heart of the conflict which each day threatens to entangle the entire world in conflict.

The Haj is a raw look at Arab life through the eyes of Ishmael, son of Haj Ibrahim, the Muktar of Tabah, a village in Palestine located in the Ajalon Valley on the main road between Jaffa and Jerusalem.  Ishmael is the youngest son of Ibrahim al Soukori al Wahhabi and, according to tradition, is doomed to become the family shepherd.

While he escapes the fate of tending sheep, one of the many ironies in The Haj is that Ishmael does become the family shepherd.

Tabah’s traditional existence is disrupted with the sale of swampland near Tabah to the Jews by Effendi Fawzi Kabir, a Palestinian absentee landlord who owned great quantities of land and lived in luxury far away in Damascus. Despite initial tensions (the Arabs attack and are repelled by the Jews shortly after the Jews set up camp), the residents of Tabah learn to coexist with the kibbutz that the Jews have created out to the swampland that they have greatly overpaid for.

This tolerable coexistence, which is embodied in the mutual respect and eventual friendship that forms between Haj Ibrahim and Gideon Asch, a heroic leader of the Jewish settlers who is easily mistaken as an Arab.

Throughout the book, we come to understand that Haj Ibrahim is acutely aware of the weaknesses of his culture yet is resolute in his adherence to it.  This inner turmoil marks the Haj’s life and in the end, adherence to tradition wins his internal battle and kills him.

Many reviews of The Haj deride it for its glorification of the Jews and vilification of the Arabs.  This is understandable as the book is a deep exploration of Arab culture during what is perhaps one of its darkest periods.  Honor killings, murder, rape, torture, deception, the woman’s role as chattel in society, backstabbing, grudges, debauchery, sloth, and betrayal are all paraded in front of the reader in what is as often as not an R rated display.

Ishmael sums up what he learns in what he calls “the basic cannon of Arab Life”:

“It was me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; and the tribe against the world.  And all of us against the infidel.” P.14

Another memorable line from which this view springs is the final discourse of Dr. Mudhil, the Arab archeologist who because of his dealing in artifacts is seen as one of the only Arabs in the West Bank who has contact with the Jews, who voices this fatalistic lament about Arab culture:

“We do not have leave to love one another and we have long ago lost the ability.  It was so written twelve hundred years earlier.  Hate is our overpowering legacy and we have regenerated ourselves by hatred from decade to decade, generation to generation, century to century.  The return of the Jews has unleashed that hatred, exploding wildly, aimlessly, into a massive force of self destruction.  In ten, twenty, thirty years the world of Islam will begin to consume itself in madness.  We cannot live with ourselves…we never have.  We cannot live with or accommodate the outside world…we never have…” P.522

 The book ends tragically with Haj Ibrahim, having been thwarted in every attempt to be free to return to his village, takes a bureaucratic post and gives in to fanaticism.  After killing his youngest daughter for dishonoring him, Ishmael takes his revenge on his father not by the sword but with his words.  He voices the ultimate dishonor, a secret that Ishmael has carried and now uses as a weapon against his father.  The Haj dies of shame.

Sadly, Ishmael, who one thinks will be able to escape to a better life, is drugged by his mother and older brother to be sold into the fedayeen as a suicide bomber.  Ishmael does escape, but only to run mad into the Qumran by the Dead Sea, presumably to die.

A thorough synopsis of the plot can be found here at Wikipedia.org.

The overriding theme of The Haj is Arab fatalism.  Leon Uris was Jewish and in this light it may be seen that his depiction of the Jews as heroic and the Arabs and British as the villains in the events that occurred in Palestine from the 1920’s to the 1950’s and today is simply a product of his natural bias.

Be this as it may, a more accurate description would be that the Arab fatalism and brutality (which again may be a product of Uris’ natural bias) which is presented in the novel would make even the Nazi’s appear heroic.

The Arab / Jewish conflict merely provides a canvas upon which one can superimpose the eternal struggle of love versus hate.  Sadly, in the novel, the reader is left with the sensation that hate has triumphed.

Take heart, dear reader, for love will have the day!  It is guaranteed in the blood of Jesus!  Until then, we must pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  For if there is not peace there, there cannot be peace in our hearts.