[241] 3-Take My Yoke-Jewish Roots

The Jewish Roots of Christianity
Course #241

Lesson III

Take My Yoke

It is important that Lessons I & II of this course are read first. It provides information that is crucial in the understanding of this lesson.

As pointed out in the last two lessons of this course, we need to understand the teachings of Jesus from an Eastern (Hebrew) mindset – the mind of a Jew. Our Western Christian minds lack understanding of the Jewish ways. This lesson, therefore, will look at the teaching style of Jesus from a rabbinical prospective as He, as a master rabbi, taught His disciples and those He ministered to throughout His three years in ministry on earth.

Unlike other learned rabbis of his day, Jesus not only knew God, He was God personified, Who not only knew Truth, but was Truth. He came to fulfill all of the Messianic prophecies that were so religiously studied through the generations by previous scribes and sages. While He did not use man-made interpretive statements like other master rabbis, you will see that Jesus used a lot of rabbinical teachings to point to a Truth from the Word of God to a Jewish population who were very familiar with that kind of teaching. He, like many other educated Jews of the 1st century A.D. were faithful to the Law of Moses, and was highly learned in the Jewish scriptures and the Oral Law. You will also see how Jesus was well trained in rhetorical debate (asking questions without expecting any answer) and was able to wisely publicly debate with the top master rabbis of His day. As you glean from the knowledge of this course, you will begin to discover as you read the Gospels that Jesus spoke from within rabbinical Judaism in most of His teachings.

Jesus’ style of teaching

When Jesus taught his talmidim (English word – disciples, which also means students), it was not in a typical classroom setting like most of the rabbis of His day. He did disciple them, however, in a typical 1st century “style” of a rabbi, meaning He was articulate and drew much of His rich teachings from the Hebrew Scriptures and from rabbinical traditions familiar to the Jews of that time. His classroom, very similar to some master rabbis, was wherever He traveled for His ministry – local synagogues, which were local community centers, throughout Galilee, various Jewish homes, hillsides, fields, the seaside, and along the way wherever they traveled. His disciples followed Him so closely, the Jews coined the phrase they were “covered with His dust.” Unlike other master rabbis, Jesus healed every disease and sickness among the people wherever He went. Jesus taught directly, on His own authority, but unlike other master rabbis, He taught and demonstrated that the heart was far more important the obedience of the Law.

While ministering, Jesus mainly ministered to the ordinary Jew without wealth or title. He did, however, on occasion, teach to some of the Jewish leaders, meaning other rabbis, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, or chief priests. While a few Jewish leaders received His word, most of them rejected what He had to say for fear of threatening their position. Jesus’ focus was to reach the “lost sheep of Israel,” regardless of their status. [1] News about Him spread all over Syria, and the people came looking for Him to be healed or delivered.

How did Rabbi Jesus differ from other rabbis?

While Jesus fit the normal description of a 1st century Jewish master rabbi in Israel, there were three distinct markings that set Him apart from other rabbis: 1) His authority, 2) His message, and 3) His miracles.

Jesus' authority

To establish their authority, all rabbis of the 1st century A.D. automatically taught under the name of their teachers and predecessors before them. In other words, if they were educated in the Beit (House of) Hillel (see Lesson II), great emphasis was put on Hillel and his interpretations, along with other prestigious rabbis that came out of that particular House of Study. That present-day rabbi used quotes from these great men to establish authority to their message. If that rabbi was a master rabbi and prestigious enough, meaning he had “smikhah,” (great authority), he could then give his own new interpretation of the Scripture used as he saw fit. [2]

Jesus taught only on His authority (smikhah). He used His Heavenly Father’s name to validate His teaching, not the name of any particular predecessor. Often Jesus would say, “You’ve heard it said”…(meaning the words of other prestigious rabbis), but then Jesus would say, “but I tell you”…(meaning His interpretation). To most other rabbis, this portrayed incredible arrogance or ultimate authority on Jesus’ part. To the general populous of the Jewish people, however, they were amazed at what Rabbi Jesus knew. They sometimes sat under Him for days on end to listen to a master rabbi who brought new and refreshing understanding to the Scriptures.

Matthew 7:28-29 When Yeshua had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at the way He taught, for He was not instructing them like their Torah-teachers, but as One who had authority Himself. (Complete Jewish Bible) [3]

Jesus' message

The Kingdom of God was the primary message of the Pharisaic rabbis of the 1st century A.D., emphasizing the imminent coming of the Messiah and an afterlife upon death in the Kingdom of Heaven. It was, however, filled with the laws and the traditions. Jesus, as Rabbi Yeshua, taught the same message concerning the Kingdom of God; however, it was not infiltrated with laws and traditions, but pointed out that the Kingdom of God was within. Jesus claimed He was the long-awaited Messiah Who came to set people free from their bondages of sin, sickness, and death. He came to fulfill those religious laws and traditions that had bound them. Because the Kingdom of God lived within, Jesus preached that the Kingdom of Heaven was simply an extension of the Kingdom of God within, pointing to an afterlife with God for an eternity. In addition, Jesus also preached on the consequences of what happens to those who do not enter into the Kingdom of God/Heaven. To receive His offer of salvation, one only had to believe in Him as the Son of God who came to set them free and follow in His ways. This message was the primary theme in the synoptic Gospels.

Jesus' miracles

The teaching ministry of Jesus was complimented and validated by the miraculous manifestations of the Kingdom of Heaven that accompanied Him. The sick were healed, the demon oppressed were freed, the hungry were fed, the blind were made to see, the lame were made to walk, the deaf were made to hear, and the dead were raised to life. Miracles of this magnitude were rare among other rabbis. In the teaching ministry of Rabbi Yeshua, however, miracles were the norm, not the exception.

Take My Yoke

Taking on the yoke of a Jewish rabbi

When a brilliant Hebrew young man was properly educated at the local Beit Safer (House of the Book) and Beit Talmud (House of Learning) and was at least 14 years of age, and desired to continue on with his education to that of a scribe or rabbi by studying at the Beit Midrash (House of Study), he had to go out and seek a rabbi that taught from his understanding. That master rabbi would have come from either Beit (the House of) Hillel or Beit (House of) Schammai persuasion. While there were various flavors to each house of study, finding the right rabbi was critical to the rabbinical future of the prospective talmid. It would be like if you today had to search for the top professor at the most prestigious theological seminary within your denominational persuasion to be your “one and only” professor. Prestigious master rabbis never came to the young prospective talmidim because all rabbis were proud men of high honor and well respected; furthermore, didn’t have to seek out their talmidim. For the talmidim, it was considered an honor to attend the rabbinical school under the tutelage of their chosen master rabbi. If accepted to be even a prospective talmid (singular for talmidim), the young man would be gruelingly tested in the Torah, Tanakh, Oral Law, and the Targums by that master rabbi. He would also be put through difficult debates to prove his rhetorical abilities. If the young man was good and looked like he would make a good rabbi (just like his teacher), he was accepted as a talmid under that particular master rabbi. To hear those words, “take my yoke and follow after me,” were the very words the young prospective talmid waited to hear. He then would be totally committed to his new master rabbi.

Yoke
Each master rabbi had his own particular interpretation of the Torah (Tanakh) and that interpretation was called “his yoke.”

Taking on the yoke of a master rabbi was not an easy task. The young talmid had to leave his father, mother, community and synagogue, and live under his rabbi to study at the Beth-Midrash, meaning the House of Study. The rabbi, at that point, had first-rank authority over his talmidim, even above the parents. The life of a talmid would be very difficult and daily he would be taught in the ways of his master rabbi. His life would be devoted to learning and becoming like his rabbi. As the rabbi traveled, the talmidim traveled right behind him so close that the dust of his rabbi covered all over him.

There is a prayer that comes from the Mishnah that says:
“May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi,” meaning you followed your rabbi so closely that you got covered with his dust, which was considered a great honor."

Taking on the yoke of master Rabbi Jesus

Jesus sought after those who would follow after Him. Any future students did not come to Him. Jesus went out to find His own talmidim. With His first original disciples, Jesus looked for those who would forsake all others and take on “His yoke.” That was a phrase that all Jewish boys were familiar with. It wasn’t their intelligence, flawless character, or seemingly good gifts and talents that Jesus was interested in; He wanted those who the Spirit of God could change and use for the Kingdom of God. Jesus knew they would fall from time to time, but He believed in them who accepted His call to take His yoke upon themselves. He invested His life in them and they, in turn, invested their lives back to Him. Jesus knew that ultimately His new talmidim would be transformed into His image, and when ready, they would go out and make disciples of Christ to another generation of people.

Mark 10:21 “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

In the book of Matthew (which is a book written by a Jew, for the Jews, and about the Jews), Jesus reached out to a crowd of people to come after Him. He said, “you who are weary and burdened, come to Me. I will give you rest.” Then He said “take My yoke” and learn from Me. In meakness and lowliness of heart, Jesus called the weary, the lonely, the sick, the destitute, and the forgotten – anyone who would follow after Him.

Matt 11:29-30 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. KJV

Most of the Jews throughout Palestine knew God by the external practice of Judaism, meaning they observed the Laws, tradition, sacrifices, and feasts. Throughout Galilee is where the more devout Jews resided, meaning they loved and sought God and practiced Judaism according to the Law and made sure their children were reared in the ways of the Lord.

The majority of the people throughout Palestine (Jew and Gentile alike) in the 1st century A.D. belonged to the lower class of people known as the poor. Poverty was widespread due to the large taxation of the Roman Empire. They were continuously looking for someone who could rescue them. All were looking for a deliverer from their Roman oppression.

The Rabbinical Educational Process

Rabbinical education under a master Jewish rabbi

For a talmidim, taught under a master rabbi, there were new languages to learn, such as Greek and Hebrew and the art of critical thinking and debates would became the norm throughout the talmidims’ educational process. Passionately, the talmidim asked questions back and forth, often having heated discussions. They were also required to learn the ways of other rabbinical teachers so they could be ready to support their own interpretations with them. Every detail of the master rabbi’s life was copied, including his walk, talk, and mannerisms. If their master rabbi traveled to another synagogue, as they frequently did, he took his talmidim with him. They walked closely with him, even to the point of being “covered in his dust.”

It took years to become a scribe or a rabbi. Their yoke was not easy, and their burden was not light. The life of a talmid was totally devoted to that of study – the study of Judaism. If a talmid couldn’t make the grade, the rabbi sadly had to tell him to go back to his family and he was destined to spend his life in the trade of his father. The words “go ply your trade” was something that every talmid dreaded to hear.

Rabbinical educational under Rabbi Jesus

Jesus was recognized as a master rabbi among many of the Jews of His day. He knew the Torah, Tanakh, Oral Law, the Targums, and all of its interpretations as much as the most elite master rabbis of His day. He also knew the art of critical thinking and debate. Scripture emphasizes that He was frequently addressed as a rabbi by Pharisees, even a Sadducee, his disciples, and the common Jews of society (See Lesson II). Jesus displayed wisdom and knowledge, and His lifestyle was that of a master rabbi in every respect. His ways, however, differed somewhat from other rabbis.

Jesus, unlike the rabbinical rabbis of His day, went out among the people and sought His own talmidim (students or disciples). He did not seek the highly educated, elite Jewish students, but looked for those He knew would follow after Him. For those who chose, it meant they were also willing to leave their fathers and mothers and follow closely after Him. Jesus’ talmidim would take upon themselves His yoke. They would learn of Him and act like Him. His interpretation of the Scriptures would become their interpretation, having all others rejected. Every detail of Jesus’ life was to be copied, including his walk, talk, and mannerisms. It meant total commitment to Him.

The English word “disciple” fails to convey the real richness of the relationship between a rabbi and his talmidim. It was one of trust in every area of living, and its goal was to make the talmid like his rabbi in knowledge, wisdom and ethical behavior. [4]

How Jesus taught His disciples

While other rabbis taught rabbinical literature, interpretations, languages, and the art of rhetorical debate, Jesus taught His talmidim to look at the heart. Love for God and others became the focus of His teaching and it was demonstrated in their prayer life together and hospitality toward others. He taught them how to cultivate their relationship with their Father in Heaven, how to heal the sick and be healed, how to forgive others and how to be forgiven.

It must also be remembered that each one of Jesus’ original disciples were already well versed in the Scriptures, having memorized the whole Torah and most of the Tanakh - up to the age of 14. They knew the Hebrew Scriptures well and could critically debate it with others.

While knowing the Torah and the Tanakh from memory, and having the ability to critically think and debate well helps in knowledge and the ability to study, Jesus wanted to make a strong point to His disciples stating that Truth and the matters of the heart were far more important than the interpretive head knowledge of the learned.

The traveling ministry of Jesus

Much of Jesus’ ministry was spent traveling around Galilee to local synagogues to preach and teach, as well as traveling between Galilee and Jerusalem. Rabbis during the 1st century A.D. generally did not accept financial compensation for their teaching. Most Jewish rabbis supplemented their wages by continuing in the trade in which they were taught. Nothing is noted in Scripture, however, that Jesus continued in His trade as a carpenter. In addition, nothing is stated in Scripture that He received any pay for His ministry. We do know, however, that Judas took care of the treasury for his ministry.

Jesus' life was devoted to ministry. While traveling was a part of His ministry, and his disciples traveled with him, they all became dependent upon the hospitality of the communities they visited, which generally amounted to lodging and food. Jesus and His disciples, like other rabbis and their talmadim of His day, depended upon the support of their hosts when out teaching. [5]

As it was with all Jews, Jesus was bound by the Torah Law to travel to the temple at least three times a year for the Feast of the Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. During these times, the rabbis of that day took opportunity of the masses to go among the crowds and teach to the Jewish travelers in the temple courts. As teachers dedicated to teaching the Torah, their purpose in life was to interpret their understanding of the Torah in practical terms as well pass the Oral Traditions to the next generation. Jesus also took advantage of the festivals to teach and preach the Kingdom of God. His message, however, contained Truth and was not the interpretations of the ancient sages, but came right from the mouth of God as given to the prophets of old, as listed in the Tanakh. [6] Jesus’ disciples learned from Him as they traveled for three years under His ministry. They were literally “covered with the dust of their rabbi” as they gleaned from every words that came out of His mouth. They were being prepared for that day when they would become just like their master and go out to preach the Kingdom of God - just like Jesus did.

Fully trained

Jesus taught His disciples the Scriptures in the way that Moses and the prophets originally heard from God. There were no false interpretations, but the truth as each prophet heard from God. Jesus' main message was teaching on the Kingdom of God. His talmidim needed to become just like Him so they would have a close fellowship with God and walk in that Kingdom and then be effective in bringing others into the Kingdom of God as well. Jesus’ talmidim traveled with Him to various towns throughout Galilee. The local synagogues provided a ready platform for Jesus teaching to other Jews throughout Galilee. Finally, Jesus taught His closest talmidim - those who He invested His life in how to receive the Holy Spirit and be led by Him, as well as the remembrance of the breaking of bread.

When Jesus’ talmidim were fully trained, which began at His resurrection, they did not become rabbis like that under other master rabbis. They became “like” Jesus, but remained as His disciples. Each disciple then was called to go out and make other disciples to another generation of people. For those who would believe and willing to take on the yoke of Jesus, they too would become a disciple of their master Rabbi Jesus, not the disciple trained under Jesus. The yoke taken would be the yoke of Jesus.

Luke 6:40 A talmid is not above his rabbi; but each one, when he is fully trained, will be like his rabbi. CJB [7]

Jesus' First Disciples

Simon Peter and Andrew
By skimming through Scripture, it first appears that Jesus did not know personally those who would become His disciples. The opposite is the case. Jesus was fully aware of each young man and how he could best serve the Kingdom of God. He chose the area of Galilee because of its devoutness to the Jewish faith to find most of His disciples. Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, like Jesus, would in all likelihood have had the education of a Jewish boy – at least up to the age of 14. They would have known the Torah and Tanakh from memory. They also probably would have known the Oral Law and Targums and could to some degree demonstrate the ability to orally debate their faith. They were not brilliant in their studies and probably only completed their education as was required by the Laws of Judaism of that day. They may even have been rejected by a master rabbi for further study. More than likely, they were young boys around the age of 18 years of age when Jesus spotted them. Either way, they were young fishermen “plying the trade” with their father on the Sea of Galilee.

Andrew had been a radical follower of John the Baptist and was a witness when the Baptist testified that Jesus was the “Son of God.” In excitement, Andrew sought out his brother Peter and the two of them followed after Jesus briefly. They both even referred to Jesus as rabbi. A short time later, Jesus found them by the Sea of Galilee with their father and said, “Come, follow me,” or more literally, come, be like Me, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once both Andrew and Simeon Peter left their nets and followed Jesus. They knew what it meant to take on the yoke of Jesus. They made the choice to follow after Him, intending to become just like Him in every way. They chose to follow their master rabbi.

Philip and Nathanael (Bartholemew)
Jesus met Philip who was from Bethsaida – the same town as Peter and Andrew. When He asked Philip to follow him, Philip immediately left and sought out Nathanael (whose surname could have been Batholemew), who was a friend well-versed in the Scriptures. He told him that he thought Jesus of Nazareth - the son of Joseph - was the prophet of whom Moses and the ancient prophets spoke of. Nathanael, not so convinced, had Philip invite Jesus to come and meet them. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming to see if he could identify Him, Jesus said, "Look, there is an Israelite who is without guile!" Asking Jesus where He knew him, Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you and you were sitting under the fig tree, I saw you”. Nathanael, convinced that his secret thoughts, desires and acts were all open to Jesus, then said, “Master, you must be the Son of God.[8]
Both Philip and Nathanael became Jesus’ talmidim.

James and John
Jesus found James and his brother John, who were also fishermen with their father Zebedee on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus called them and they immediately left their father and followed after Jesus. They took on the yoke of Jesus as well.

Matthew
Jesus later found Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. As dishonest as he was as a tax collector, Jesus saw something in Him that would be transformed. Jesus said, “follow me,” and immediately Matthew got up and followed Him.

And so it went with all of His talmidim (disciples). All but Judas came from the area of Galilee. They were all Jews who had up to the age of 14 probably studied the Torah and the Tanakh. They knew what it meant to follow after a rabbi. Each one of them immediately left their families and trade to follow after Jesus – to learn of Him, His ways, and take up His beliefs as their own. They were the talmidim of master Rabbi Jesus.

Jesus’ talmidim consisted of twelve close-knit young men who were already educated in the Torah and the Tanakh, but not trained beyond that. They were carefully selected because Jesus saw in them (the exception may have been Judas) a passion for God and a willingness to become like Him. When He completed His group of disciples, He began His ministry of preaching, saying: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”


Other followers

Jesus preached and taught to many groups of people. Wherever He went, He took His original twelve talmidim with Him. He taught in the synagogues throughout Galilee. He taught in the streets, homes of friends, along the hillsides, the temple mount in Jerusalem, and wherever crowds of people gathered. He called people to believe in Him – to take upon themselves His yoke and follow after Him. As a result, He gathered many people to follow after Him. They took on the yoke of Jesus.

Women and slaves were considered lower class citizens by the Roman government and the Jews. It was a part of their culture. As a result, neither were allowed to receive any education, which included that of Judaism. Jesus, however, gladly received them to become his followers. He was their Messiah, Savior, Deliverer, King, Master, and/or Lord.

In Luke 10, the Scriptures tell of Jesus sending out 70 disciples, two by two, to witness to others of the Kingdom of God in surrounding cities. Specific instructions were given as to how they were to evangelize. This passage tells us that Jesus not only had His 12 disciples, He had many followers as disciples.

Believers, seekers, and friends

There were many who encountered Jesus from all walks of life throughout His three years of ministry. Although His desire was for everyone to become His talmidim, there were many who were unable to leave their circumstances of life. These believers, seekers, and friends may have wanted to follow after Jesus to be His disciple, but for personal reasons could not travel with Him. They could have had wives or husbands and/or children they were responsible for. Whenever Jesus came to their town, however, they were the first to meet Him and learn from Him.

Remembering that Jesus could have possibly once been a Pharisee, trained under a master rabbi in the Rabbinical literatures, He developed friends with many Pharisees. There were Pharisaic reformers seeking moral and ethical reform who may have chosen to stay within their individual sect of Phariseeism. Jesus was known to eat at their homes. While there, He preached and taught on the Kingdom of God.

Observers and Scoffers

Observers

There were observers who heard the Gospel but did not do anything about it. They may have had an interest in what Jesus was saying, but chose not to take on His belief and trust Him as Savior and Lord.

There were a rare few Sadducees, which included the priests and wealthy landlords who sympathized with the Jesus movement and gave Jesus some notice. Feelings of threat to their position, however, caused them to remain as observers, and consequently they lost out on salvation, both in this life and in the next.

Then there were those wealthy who admired Jesus from a distance. It was those that Jesus said “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into Heaven.” Jesus welcomed them all. Not all, however, received Him.

Scoffers

Many Pharisees and most of the Sadducees, along with the scribes and high priest scoffed at Jesus, as did the Gentiles pagans of Palestine. Feeling threatened by their position, most of the Jewish leaders refused and scoffed at Jesus when He preached and taught on the Kingdom of God and who He was.

Educational Systems of the 1st Century A.D.

Greco/Roman Education Polytheistic

Judaism Education
Monotheistic

Jesus’ Education
Monotheistic

Teaches:

- Follows the ancient teachings
of Socrates, Plato, and
Aristotle
- Follows after the gods

(polytheistic - whatever god or
gods you chose)
-
Not everyone was accepted for
higher education
-
Teaches one to critically think
-
Teaches one to question and
debate
-
One becomes puffed up with
knowledge
-
This train of thought has
remained as part of Western
education – even today

Teaches:

- Follows after rabbi (one God -
monotheistic)
- Taught to imitate the rabbi
-
Minimum education required –
the memorizing/learning of
the Tanakh. Showed brilliancy
in rhetorical debate
-
Not everyone was accepted for
higher education (disciple)
-
Teaches one to critically think
-
Teaches one to question and
debate
-
One becomes puffed up with
knowledge

Teaches:

- Follows after Jesus (monotheistic
God)
-
Taught to imitate Christ - not to
follow after man
-
Most Jews who became disciples
had already learned the art of
critical thinking
-
Jesus’ teachings assumed that
His audience knew a great deal
of the text by memory
-
Everyone, however, was
accepted to follow Christ,
regardless of education completed
-
Becoming His disciples was
strongly encouraged
-
One becomes transformed –
moral/loving/humble
-
Those who followed became
Messianic Jews (or Jewish
believers)
-
Jesus taught disciples to follow
after the “Spirit”
-
Perpetuates itself to future
generations

Western colleges and universities today follows this kind of education, omitting the gods, but accepting of all religions.

Eventually became the basis of modern Judaism

After Christ’s death, His teachings became known as Christianity

Christianity - Education
Monotheistic

Teaches:

- Grafted (adopted) into the “Olive Tree” (Messianic Judaism), but not required to follow Jewish laws and traditions
- Follows after Jesus (God), requiring the forsaking of all other gods.
- Everyone who believes is accepted
- Becoming a disciple is strongly encouraged
- Holy Spirit is the teacher - Education is done by living in the School of the “Spirit”
- Education is performed by learning the Word of God and the revelation of the Spirit
- As a result, one becomes transformed – moral/loving/humble
- One becomes trained for leadership to disciple and minister to others
- This kind of education has eternal rewards
- Perpetuates itself to other generations

The School of the “Spirit”

Sadly, most Christians go to church, hear a short message on life or the Word of God and consider it their time with the Lord for that week and leave it at that. Many Christians don’t even take their Bibles to church. They certainly don’t open it up for reading or study during the week. Their prayer life consists of “rote” or “help me” type of prayers. That certainly is not what the Lord intended for His children.

What the Lord does want of His children:

  • Accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, meaning belief, trust, and obedience
  • Develop a continuing love relationship with the Lord
  • Become Jesus’ disciple – purposing to become just like Him
  • Learn to live in the Kingdom of God - daily walking in the Spirit
  • Follow His plans and purposes for your life
  • Spend an eternity with God

As Christians, Jesus wants us to be His talmidim (students/disciples) in the process of being transformed to be like Him. As such, we need to know the Scriptures not only from a head knowledge, but it must go down deep to where we live it out of our heart.

We can take lessons from the Jews in how they trained their children in the ways of the Lord.

  • They were first taught at home. It became a part of their everyday life.
    At the age of 5 (elementary school) they learned from memory the Torah
    At the age of 10 (middle-high school) they learned from memory (or at least very well) the Tanakh. They also learned the art of critical thinking and public debate. By the time they reached 14, they knew the Scriptures.

As Christians, we can learn these same basic principles on teaching our children in the ways of the Lord. From birth (even conception) on, the child (male and female alike) needs to learn the ways of the Lord – grow up believing in Jesus as the Christ. He or she will know no different. Around the time a child enters grade school, he or she should be learning the Scriptures – as much from memory as can be put into the child. The basics of the Old Testament and the memorization of the New Testament Scriptures are foundational for any child. As the child grows closer to the age of reasoning, between 8-10 years, the parent has the responsibility to teach their children how to study the Word of God and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Each child needs to be able to develop his or her own personal intimate fellowship with the Lord, learning how to hear the voice of God. The art of critical thinking and public debate should also be taught. The child has a right to ask questions and be able to debate his or her faith. That is all a part of the learning and developmental process of faith.

It’s never too late to become Jesus’ disciple

Not everyone, however, has been this fortunate to have been taught the things of the Lord from birth or early childhood. It is, however, never too late for any believer to become Jesus’ disciple (talmadim). By making the choice to follow after Jesus, taking upon yourself His yoke, you can begin your educational process as a disciple of Jesus right now.

Mark 10:21… “come, take up the cross, and follow me .”

Matt 11:29-30 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. KJV

Studying the Word of God

2 Tim 2:15 Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth. AMP

Education in the ways of the Lord is a lifetime process. We need to know the Word of God like Jesus knew it. We need to have a growing intimate fellowship with the Lord on a daily basis like Jesus did with His heavenly Father, having our prayer life as a vital part of our day. We need, therefore, to get into the Word of God and study it much like Jesus did, and then allow the Holy Spirit to teach, guide, and instruct us in the Truth.

There are many ways to study the Bible. The Online Bible School would like to suggest a way that may seem new in Christian circles, but has actually been lost within the Church down through the centuries. The Hebraic model of learning is a wonderful way of learning from one another. Line upon line, precept upon precept - one book at a time. While it certainly is not the only way to study Scripture, it is an excellent and fun way to exegetically study with other believers. It is very much like the Jews did in the Beit Midrash (House of Study).

The Hebrew word Midrash means to “investigate” or “study.”

The ancient rabbis expressed their comprehension of the realities of diversity of understanding, and the necessity for studying the Scriptures by analogizing it this way:

“The Word of God is likened to a rock. Studying the rock is equivalent to hitting it with a hammer. Small pieces flew off landing in the hands of each person who was studying the rock. Each student then examines his own little unique piece. He or she could arrogantly and ignorantly argue that his little piece was all there was to the rock, and that their little piece with its own particular shape was the shape of the entire rock. While an absurd position, it clearly illustrates the foolishness of so many Christians who adamantly hold on to their own little pieces (their pet doctrines) and ignorantly proclaim that that is what the whole rock is like. Instead, everyone needs to study each and every piece.”
Howard Morgan
(Messianic Jewish evangelist)

This kind of exegetical research study of the Scriptures is not about convincing others of the rightness of your interpretation or the erroneousness of others. “It is about opening your heart to the work of the Holy Spirit so that you can learn, grow, and change.” The leader does not have all the answers, or maybe any of the answers. The leader becomes more of a facilitator. Automatically, the more learned and mature ones will have more to share from the depths of their experiences and years of study, but this kind of learning is a good platform for all participants to speak out, listen, and grow.

Exegetical - an explanation or critical interpretation of a text

Sadly, this kind of studying can be threatening to some pastors, because many have been trained in the old Greco-Roman model that is more lecture-type study and dictates that the leader has all the answers. In a “Hebraic” or “Berean” type of study, the leader becomes a student like everyone else. This then allows the Holy Spirit to be the teacher of the group. You come to learn from whoever the Lord chooses to use that day. This is new ground for many believers, so give yourself permission to make mistakes so that you can learn and grow.

Acts 17:11 …for they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message [concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. AMP

Study like the Berean Jewish believers

In this kind of study the students or “disciples” become like the Berean Jewish believer who, upon hearing the preaching of the resurrection of the Messiah, determined to study the Scriptures to ascertain the truth. The Berean study is not a place for personal doctrine or dogma to come forth, but a safe place to exegetically research the Scriptures to discover the critical interpretation of a text. Every student comes together with the same motivation as disciples of Christ, meaning someone who honestly wants to learn, grow and change into the image of the Lord. It is here where Christians, like the Jewish talmidim, gather together to investigate, study, learn and argue the meanings and proper applications of the biblical text. In this positive environment for learning, discussion, and investigation, it allows the opportunity to express one’s own thoughts and feelings, and engage in passionate and stimulating intellectual and spiritual experiences without feeling inferior or condemned. That way “iron can sharpen iron,” according to Proverbs 27:17. Rich spiritual opportunities for learning and transformation can take place in this kind of environment. Developing interpersonal relationships becomes a by-product with other members of the study group. [9]

The group should be not larger than twelve and can be as small as two. It makes it easy if you gather around a table, where there is easy access to Bibles, concordances, Bible dictionaries or lexicons, and other reference material. Correct, exegetical, critical interpretation of the text becomes utmost importance in the study. Obviously, a pen and paper would be necessary to take notes. And don't be afraid to mark up your Bible.

Have some light refreshments available because once you get started you will be busy studying for a while. This kind of study can’t fail because it is all about learning, asking questions, and promoting further study.

Study group etiquette

The most basic principle is respect for others in the group with their point of view. While the purpose is to find the correct meaning of Scripture, as the original author intended it to be, everyone must show respect in their tone and attitude for each other. Respect does not always mean agreement, but it does mean that you conduct yourself in a way that keeps the atmosphere free from opportunities for Satan to come in take over. One must always purpose to work toward encouraging others to deeper study. Showing respect for others, while disagreeing, even disagreeing vehemently with their opinion, may not easy, but it is an opportunity to allow the fruit of the Spirit to be cultivated as a core foundation in the group. [10]

In closing…

In closing, this course was given to you with the prayer that it will radically change your understanding of the Gospels as you read them from a Jewish perspective. May this knowledge help you become more like Christ as you purpose in your heart to take on Jesus’ yoke as you grow deeper in becoming a disciple of your master Rabbi Jesus Christ.

Matt 11:29-30 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. KJV

End Notes


[1] http://books.google.com/books?id=RPyAG2cduiAC&pg=PA40&lpg=PA40&dq=rabbinical+teachings+of+jesus&source=web&ots=YwEQtUfxqL&sig=fUW_Qu_u-umQSL--aNaoaBfR0hQ#PPA41,M1
[2] http://www.salvos.com/springwood/sermons/The%20Dust%20of%20the%20Rabbi.doc
[3] Complete Jewish Bible. An English Version of the Tanakh (O.T.) and B’rit Hadashah (N.T.) by David H. Stern. Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. Clarksville, Maryland. Jerusalem, Israel. 1998.
[4] Stern, David H. Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. Clarksville, Maryland. 1999.
[5] http://www.jerusalemperspective.com/Default.aspx?tabid=27&ArticleID=1506
[6] http://rabbiyeshua.com/rabbiyeshua/2001/whoisry.html
[7] Stern, David H. Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. Clarksville, Maryland. 1999.
[8] Lockyer, Herbert. All the Apostles of the Bible. Zondervan Publishing House. Grand Rapids, MI. 1972
[9] Morgan, Dr. Howard. Howard Morgan Ministries. http://www.hmmin.com/
[10] Morgan, Dr. Howard. Howard Morgan Ministries. http://www.hmmin.com/