PODCAST: Yeshua in Context – Disputes and Yeshua

wheatYeshua was involved in a number of disputes. What were they about? Some see these a Yeshua turning from the old religion and pointing people to a new one. E.P. Sanders helps us understand some levels of dispute about laws. What was at issue for Yeshua in these disputes? What issue was more important than principles about how to keep the laws of Torah? The disputes of Yeshua give us another small window into his aims within the context of Israel in the first century.


Consider the dispute section in Mark 2:1 – 3:6.

2:1-12, The paralytic is healed and Yeshua says, “Your sins are forgiven.” Is he just saying, “I can tell that God has forgiven your sins”? When some want to dispute with him, Yeshua says, “In order that you make know that the son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins, I tell you, get up.” Yeshua defends his right to forgive sins.

2:13-17, Yeshua calls a tax collector and dines with some. When people dispute with him, Yeshua defends his right to call sinners to the kingdom of God.

2:18-22, Some dispute with Yeshua about why his disciples don’t fast like other disciples. Yeshua calls himself the Bridegroom (a provocative image which could be taken as a claim to deity, since Hashem is Israel’s bridegroom). He defends the right of his disciples not to fast.

2:23-28, As the walk through a grainfield on Shabbat, some of his disciples pick grain, roll it in their hands, and eat it. When some dispute this as a transgression of the law of Shabbat rest, Yeshua defends his disicples’ practice. He says he is the son of man, Lord of Shabbat.

3:1-6, Yeshua healed someone on Shabbat who was not in immediate danger of dying. When some dispute this, Yeshua lays down a principle on his own authority: it is lawful to do good and not harm on Shabbat.

How do these disputes give us a window on Yeshua’s aims within Israel and his own generation? If you have thoughts and ideas, please share them.


About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christian, Judaism, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism, Yeshua and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to PODCAST: Yeshua in Context – Disputes and Yeshua

  1. Aaron says:

    Wow, what an important and fundamental question! I think a discussion about the exact nature of the disputes in the gospels is extremely important.

    Most people already have a working theory about the meaning or cause of those disputes. For many Christians, as you have noted, the disputes focused around terminating Judaism and initiating Christianity. Some Messianic believers see the dispute as oral versus written law, or in other terms, “biblical” versus “rabbinic” law. Some see the dispute as a matter of either Galilean or otherwise Yeshua-specific halachah versus the halachah of Judean Pharisaism. Others (and I place myself in this category) see the disputes not so much as a legal but an ethical issue: not that his opponents did not know what to do, but that they did not do what they (should) know is right.

    My experience is that whatever dispute theory a person assumes ties directly into their view of discipleship. That is to say, if I were to assume the Judaism vs. Christianity model, then as a true follower of Yeshua, I should fight the same battle he did by opposing Jewish beliefs and practices. In the same way, I could theoretically determine someone’s discipleship status by evaluating whether or not they are fighting against Judaism. If someone is embracing rather than rejecting Judaism (perhaps they hold to a different “dispute” model), then they would appear as one who is not a true believer.

    Likewise, people who hold to the “biblical vs. rabbinic” model sometimes look at people who practice a normative Jewish lifestyle as obviously weak in their commitment to Yeshua and on the brink of losing their salvation.

    Thanks for bringing this up, and I look forward to hearing other views on the topic.

  2. Aaron:

    You bring up some great stuff. The place I am headed with these Yeshua in Context podcasts is toward stories, roles, and guidelines for discipleship.

    I am trying to take some time and work through issues. After Sukkot I will be teaching at synagogue about life as a Yeshua-disciple.

    I am leaning toward this idea for the disputes: a small, but somewhat influential group (the proto-rabbis) were making innovations in the tradition and Yeshua was asserting his Messianic authority about how to live in covenantal faithfulness to God through Torah. The disputes were about how to live Torah, not whether Torah or tradition was necessary (both of those were givens). And, Yeshua’s teaching is in the context of Israel, so I am not reading directives for non-Jews to keep Torah here.

    This is something I still don’t agree with FFOZ about. Discipleship is living as God commands. Messiah’s teaching is in a context for Israel and does not directly carry over to non-Jews in a one-for-one correspondence. If non-Jews are distinct and have a separate relationship to Torah, Yeshua’s teaching does nothing to overturn that.


  3. heavenisnear says:

    Doesn’t being a disciple necessitate a teacher? That’s the whole point right, to be like the teacher. At the end of Matthew, Yeshua is recorded as commanding the apostles to make disciples of the nations. So, are there different ways for Jews and the Nations of discipleship to Yeshua? I am honestly curious to hear your thoughts.

    Good post and I like what Aaron was saying above. Also, these podcasts have been a nice addition to my learning. Thank you.


  4. heavenisnear: that’s exactly the right question: are there different ways? I believe the answer to this question lies in the actions of Yeshua’s apostles. If Jews and the Nations were meant to follow in different ways, then we should see that demonstrated in the teachings of the Apostles–i.e. the writings of the New Testament.

    I believe that a careful reading of the New Testament shows that the answer to your question is “yes, there are different ways.” The major principles were the same; both the Jewish people and the Nations are taught to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Yet there are also differences in some of the particulars between Jews and Nations. For example, consider the mitzvah of circumcision: Jews are commanded to circumcise their sons on the eighth day. When the question was raised of whether the Nations have need to circumcise, the answer from the Apostles seems to be a clear “no.”

    These differences should not be understood as discriminatory. The Torah itself teaches us about distinctions in obligations; there are commands that are only for the Levites (Num 1:50-53, Num 8), there are commands that are only for women (Lev. 12:6), and so on for priests and men. These differences should be seen as an essential element of God’s plan to create unity from diversity, to redeem not only Israel, but all the nations of the world. The distinctions themselves are to be celebrated as a reflection of the will of the God who “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him.” (Acts 17)

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