"What Jesus is claiming is that the ultimate jubilee that the prophets pointed to has begun. Here it is. I’m doing it. It’s a massive claim."
- The Sabbath was a big deal to Jesus. He and the Jewish religious leaders often disagreed over what observing the Sabbath should actually mean.
- Jesus announced his public ministry at a synagogue on the Sabbath by reading from Isaiah 61, which is a prophecy about a future time of jubilee.
- Jesus claimed that he was fulfilling all that the ritual and symbolism in the Sabbath pointed to. Jesus claimed to usher in a new age of peace and rest.
In part 1 (0-29:15), Tim and Jon review the conversation so far.
Tim shares a quote from Samuele Bacchiocchi and his scholarly work, “Sabbatical Typologies of Messianic Redemption.” His essay examines traits of Genesis 1-2 that are carried forward in Jewish texts of the Second Temple period. One of the things that characterized the giving of the Sabbath laws was man’s relationship to and peace with the animals. Consider this excerpt from the Babylonian Talmud.
“A. A man should not go out with (1) a sword, (2) bow, (3) shield, (4) club, or (5) spear.
“B. And if he went out, he is liable to a sin-offering.
“C. R. Eliezer says, ‘They are ornaments for him.’
“D. And sages say, ‘They are nothing but ugly,
“E. ‘since it is said, “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isa. 2:4).’”
(Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 12a: Jacob Neusner, The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary, vol. 2 [Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2011], 269.)
Tim also shares Bacchiocchi’s findings on the connection between the themes of food, the Sabbath, and material abundance.
Tim shares from 2 Baruch 29:4-6, “the Messiah shall begin to be revealed ... the earth also shall yield its fruit ten thousandfold and on each vine there shall be a thousand branches, and each branch shall produce a thousand clusters, and each cluster produce a thousand grapes and each grape produce a cor of wine.”
Abundance through unending food, Tim says, was one of the signs viewed by the prophets as an indication that the Messiah had come.
Tim also shares from Bacchiocchi’s findings on the theme of what he calls “Joy and Light.” Bacchiocchi cites Rabbi Levi said in the name of Rabbi Zimra.
“‘For the Sabbath day,’ that is, for the day which darkness did not attend. You find that it is written of other days, ‘And there was evening and there was morning, one day.’ But the words, ‘There was evening’ are not written of the Sabbath. And so, the Sabbath light continued thirty-six hours.”
(The Midrash on Psalms, translated by William G. Braude [New Haven, 1959], p. 112. Quoted in Samuele Bacchiocchi, “Sabbatical Typologies of Messianic Redemption,” p. 159.)
In part 2 (29:15-34:00) Tim and Jon dive into Luke 4.
“Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
“Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’”
In part 3 (34:00-50:45), Tim examines the word “release” or “freedom” in the Isaiah passage (Grk. aphesis, “release,” or Heb. deror, “Jubilee liberation.” See Isaiah 61:1 and Leviticus 25:10). This is the common word for “forgiveness” in Luke (Luke 1:77 and 3:3), but the word’s meaning is broader in this instance. It’s denoting release from burden or bondage. The word in Isaiah 61 is rooted in the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25), and it is about release from the social consequences of society’s collective sin—a freedom from debt, slavery, poverty, and oppression.
Tim notes that forgiveness and release are the same word in the New Testament. The guys talk about how Jesus would have viewed “releasing” people from slavery to sin.
In part 4 (50:45-58:30), Tim and Jon talk about the controversy Jesus created around the Sabbath. They note that the conflict was not about whether the Sabbath should be observed but instead about what that observance of the Sabbath entailed in practical terms.
Take for instance this story from Matthew 12.
“Departing from there, he went into their synagogue. And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’—so that they might accuse him. And he said to them, ‘What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’ Then he said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand!’ He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other.”
Tim cites scholar R.T. France on this passage:
“Fundamental to the rabbinic discussion was the agreed list (m.Šabb. 7:2) of 39 categories of activity which were to be classified as ‘work’ for this purpose, some of which are very specific (‘writing two letters, erasing in order to write two letters’) others so broad as to need considerable further specification (‘building, pulling down’), while the last (‘taking anything from one “domain” [normally a private courtyard] to another’) is so open-ended as to cover a vast range of daily activities. The 39 categories of work do not explicitly include traveling, but this too was regarded as ‘work,’ a ‘Sabbath-day’s journey’ being limited to 2,000 cubits, a little over half a mile. These two rules together made Sabbath life potentially so inconvenient that the Pharisees developed an elaborate system of ‘boundary-extensions’ (ʿerubin) to allow more freedom of movement without violating the basic rules. The ʿerub system illustrates an essential element of all this scribal development of Sabbath law: its aim was not simply to make life difficult (though it must often have seemed like that), but to work out a way in which people could cope with the practicalities of life within the limits of their very rigorous understanding of ‘work.’ The elaboration of details is intended to leave nothing to chance, so that no one can inadvertently come anywhere near violating the law itself. Some rabbis spoke about this as ‘putting up a fence around the law.’”
(R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co., 2007], 455–456.)
In part 5 (58:30-65:30), Tim and Jon discuss how Jesus didn’t really dispute the validity of Sabbath practice. Instead, he insisted that he was fulfilling all the symbolism that the Sabbath pointed to.
Tim notes that one way to characterize the life of Jesus is as one big jubilee announcement tour. Jesus went around and released people from sickness and death.
In part 6 (65:30-end), Tim and Jon note that Western Protestant tradition tends to separate a social gospel from a proclaimed verbal gospel. This is a false dichotomy that didn’t exist in Jesus’ mind. To proclaim a full gospel of release meant release from cosmic sin and death as well as working to release from physical bondages as well.
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- Samuele Bacchiocchi, “Sabbatical Typologies of Messianic Redemption.”
- R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament
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