Jesus the Jewish Rabbi

I wanted something light today and ended up listening to this really in-depth stuff by Ray Vander Laan...a lot of notes, but it's really good stuff. I really encourage listening to the sermon because the notes below will make a lot more sense.

I'm a huge fan of Ray Vander Laan because he examines the culture of Jesus' day and applies it to our Christian walk. Everything should be taken in context, and when it comes to Jesus, we miss a lot if we don't understand the culture. There is a ton of information here that has taught me so much about what it really means to be a follower of Jesus.

I'm not going to write too much here since there are a lot of notes below. The first part has a lot of numbers and Hebrew words that I almost definitely misspelled, but there is some more practical stuff below. Of course I encourage listening to the whole sermon though, otherwise I wouldn't share it!


Haluk = inner garment, like an undershirt
Talit = outer garment, like a robe
Tzit-tzit = Jews wore these on the edge of the talit, tassels on the corners
Kanaf = corners of your cloak. Also same Hebrew word for "wing"
  • When Jesus said, "if someone asks for your cloak, give him your coat also." (Luke 6:29)
    • Essentially he's saying go naked if you have to
  • They do this because of  Deuteronomy 22:12
  •  Zechariah 8 - tzit-tzit have significance to Messiah
    • 10 men = as many as you need to hold a worship service
    • Also Malachi 4 - "Son of Righteousness will rise and he will have healing in his wing."
  • Each tassel has 8 strings, with 5 knots on them
    • 5 knots = 5 books of Moses - Messiah would follow these
    • 4 spaces between knots = 4 letters of God's holy name 
    • 8 strings + 5 knots = 13, which, if you add up the letters of Ehad (one), emphasizing that God is one
      • In Hebrew back then, words were numbers
      • If you add up the letters of tzit-tzit, it equals 600. 600 + 13 = 613, which is all the laws of Moses, which says the Messiah will keep all of the laws.
  • Woman in Mark 5:21-43
    • grabs his tassel (tzit tzit) because she believed he was the Messiah
    • Jesus heals her
  • Rabbis in Galilee
    • Jewish education in the 1st century
      • Home is center of learning
      • The heart of education is seeing his/ her family in action
      • Wisdom is not what you know, but what you do (to know is to experience)
      • Greek root word from which we derive school is translated "leisure time"
      • Levels of school
        • At age 4-12, first level of education was memorizing Torah & learning math and reading, etc.
        • At 13, if the child knows the books of Moses, he moves to step 2, expanding Torah study to how the prophets and rabbis interpret the Torah
        • At 15, if child was exceptional, he started studying with a rabbi, following him around -- this is when disciples were called. Studying to become what the rabbi is, not just know what he knows.
    • In Jesus' day, a rabbi was a teacher without credentials, who was recognized because of his wisdom or his training
    • There were 2 kinds of rabbis: 
      • Torah teachers/ Teachers of the Law: did not have disciples, could not invent new interpretations but could only teach what was already accepted
      •  Rabbis with smeha: was agreed upon by the community to have exceptional skills, was allowed to present new Torah interpretations, anointed by placing of hands by 3 elders (2 of which had smeha themselves). Could have disciples that followed him.
        • Teaching style = "You've heard it said ______, but I say to you ______."
    • Jesus taught as "one who had authority (which is the English translation of "smeha") and not as a Torah teacher."
      • They were amazed because he acted like a smeha rabbi, but they expected the other kind
    • A rabbi's "yolk" was their interpretation of the Torah, summarized in "the most important commandment."
      • Matthew 11:28-30 - "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
      • He may have stolen some talimidim (disciples) when he said that
    • Talmidim (disciples)
      • The mission of a rabbi was to make as many disciples as he could (men who wanted to be like him)
      • Being a talmidim was a tremendous commitment - you left everything (jobs, families, wives & kids [with written permission])
      • A talmud would say, "I sit at rabbi _____'s feet."
        • Jesus is one of two rabbis recorded to have women who "sat at his feet" - Luke 10:39.
      • The rabbi was usually supported by the talmidim's families
      • Talmidim loved their rabbis like a father - they would die for the rabbi
    • Jesus is called rabbi by 6 different types of people
    • We are called to be a disciple-maker like our rabbi was
    • You cannot be a talmidim without making everything in life 2nd place
 I just read through Zechariah 8, and I will say one thing...God loves honesty. That's obvious, but in that passage, there are more than one verse where God says He wants truth and honesty for/from His people. For instance (verses 16-17):
These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord.
 How much of that is happening today? Jesus supports it in John 8:44:
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
 The enemy is the "father of lies." Conversely, how should we act (John 4:23)?
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
Be that kind of person. Be honest with God, even if you are scared to; and be honest with each other.