How Did the Average Israelite View Jesus?
We all see Jesus differently! Over the past two weeks we’ve explored how the Romans dismissed His ministry and the Jewish religious leaders of His day considered it a threat. But the common Jewish people were much more interested in our Savior. We hear about “The People of the Land,” the average Israelites of Jesus’ day, in this program as we wrap up our three-week series on the different perspectives of Jesus.
The Jewish people knew that their Messiah would be a son of David. Not only was Jesus in David’s line; He also mirrored him in a number of ways. He was certainly someone the Israelites could trust, and they took great interest in His words. Chris directs our attention to the Gospel of Mark to notice an interaction Jesus had with a common Jewish man. This lesson will not only teach you about the perception of Jesus among His Jewish society; it will comfort you as a believer that Jesus is who He said He is!
Steve Conover: Welcome to the Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover, and with me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. We have an exciting show for you today but before Chris comes, I'd like to remind you to visit us at foiradio.org. We have over five years worth of programming on our side for you to listen to, and I invite you, when you're there, to browse around. Enjoy the content we offer on our main ministry webpage. There you'll find trustworthy and accurate news on Israel and the Middle East. While you're there, you can support our ministry by clicking on the donate button, to help us continue teaching Biblical truth about Israel and the Jewish people. Again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Steve, we've been going through a series, this is actually our third part of our series here on Perspectives of Jesus. Specifically from the Gospels, we've been looking at how the Romans perceived Jesus as He walked this earth, especially in the land of Israel. We looked at how the religious aristocracy, the Pharisees and Sadducees viewed Jesus and what their thoughts of Him were. Today, we're going to talk about a group called the People of the Land, the common Jewish person. What was their thoughts and feelings of Jesus's message and life as he walked the land of Israel. I think it's going to be a great show. I think it's going to be interesting as we wrap all this up and we put a bow really on this series, which is going to be a lot of fun. But also, I just want to say thank you to our online listeners.
Our online listeners are so important because you get a chance to listen to the Friends of Israel Today whenever you want, all you got to do is go to foiradio.org and there you can press play, or you can go to any of the numerous podcast players that we have like Apple and Spotify, Google, TuneIn, Stitcher. The whole host of many platforms that we have available to you. Listen, as you're listening online, would you go and rate the Friends of Israel Today? When you rate the Friends of Israel Today and you comment on our program, it actually helps to elevate the Friends of Israel so that other people can listen as well. Thank you for listening online.
Steve Conover: In the news Israel has pre-ordered one to two million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States, pending their approval by both countries health regulators. Israeli doctor Tal Zaks, Chief Medical Officer of Moderna is quote unquote, “awed” by the results of the test and said, "Once the vaccine receives FDA approval, some of the first doses will go to Israel as agreed upon last June."
Chris Katulka: Yes, Steve. Here's my take on this, coronavirus isn't going to disappear by locking down and hiding in our homes. Coronavirus isn't going to evaporate by wearing masks and socially distancing. These are all great precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but the virus will not vanish until a vaccine is administered. It really is the silver bullet to this virus nightmare that we've all been living through together. I'm thankful that skilled Israeli doctor Tal Zaks gives his thumbs up approval to the coming vaccine and let's pray that it puts to rest this relentless virus.
I've been saying this in the beginning of this series for each segment so far, everyone sees Jesus differently. Now, before I continue, I'm going to say this, especially if you're listening for the first time into this series. But we here, at the Friends of Israel, we believe and teach and preach that Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah, who redeemed mankind from their sins through his life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. Amen. The blood of Christ washes away the sins of those who turn to him, who repent and through Christ work on the cross, believers in him find forgiveness and reconciliation to God, the Father, and because of Christ, we are seen as righteous in God's eyes. I love this, we have a relationship with the Father. With that said, knowing where the Friends of Israel stands, when I say that everyone in the world sees Jesus differently, I mean, they see him from various angles.
I'll tell you a personal story. My wife and I are raising our kids to know that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. That no man comes to the Father but through him. You can't earn your way into heaven. It's only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. These are the truths that we're teaching our children. But recently my boys came home from playing with some friends and they got into a conversation they said about Jesus. They told my kids that Jesus isn't the only way to get to heaven. Well, they came home with questions, right? My kids were challenged with the fact that even their close friends see Jesus differently. Muslims see Jesus differently. They see him as a great prophet, but never the Son of God. Certainly Jewish people understand Jesus to be different.
They see Him maybe as an influential rabbi and teacher, but certainly not the Messiah. For the secular world, Jesus was a divine teacher who left behind a good example of how you should live. Some in the secular world, again, they just see Jesus as the problem that has caused issues throughout history and then, there are believers in Jesus like us, who believe and teach and raise our kids to believe that He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Well, when we get to the Gospel accounts of Jesus and you read through the Gospels, you quickly realize that everyone saw Jesus differently in the first century too. There certainly wasn't a monolithic way of looking at Jesus and His message. There were a lot of people listening and watching Jesus. When Jesus was walking the land of Israel, the Romans occupied it.
The Romans heard and saw Jesus. The religious leaders that govern the Jewish people, they saw Jesus a certain way as well and then there's the group that scholars call the People of the Land. These were people that weren't associated with any sect or group. These are your average Jewish people living in the land of Israel during the life of Christ. They saw Jesus a certain way as well. This is the last message of our Perspectives on Jesus. This series that we've been going through and so to catch you up, the first message is all about the Roman Perspective on Jesus. The second was the religious leaders. This one that we're about to enter into is specifically about the People of the Land. That's what the group is called. The People of the Land. This again, isn't a sect or a party.
This was a term used to describe the masses of Jewish people who led normal lives. They didn't have deep religious training. They didn't get involved in governmental affairs. They neither advocated in favor of or opposed Rome's occupation. These are the Jewish people whose alarms went off early in the morning. They walked all day. They went to synagogue. They participated in their communities. They educated their kids. They made dinner and then you know what? They went to bed and they did it all over again. Sound familiar? This sounds like my life. They appear all over the Gospels. First, you read about them as a group of Jewish people in John 7:49, when the people are praising Jesus, the religious leaders condemned the common Jewish person, the People of the Land when they say, "But this rabble who do not know the law are accursed."
The rabble that they're talking about there are the common Jewish people. The People of the Land. When Jesus was teaching the temple courts in Mark 12:37, it says, "And the large crowd was listening to him with delight." Those were the common Jewish people. Again, the People of the Land. Finally, in Acts 4:13, when Peter and John had been preaching, the text says, "When they saw the boldness of Peter and John and discovered that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized these men had been with Jesus." Did you notice a common theme between these verses? The People of the Land. The common Jewish person had a much greater affinity for Jesus and His message compared to the previous two groups that we looked at, the Romans and the Jewish religious leaders. The people of the land were intrigued by his ability to speak as one with authority.
They were enamored by his kindness and mercy. They were enthralled with his miracles and his healing. All of these genuine signs that Jesus did to show that He is the Messiah. Jesus according to the Gospels is the Son of David. This title is absolutely necessary in order to be the Messiah. To be the Messiah means you're the King of Israel. You have to be the son of David to do that. Matthew chapter one talks all about that. That Jesus in his lineage, comes from Abraham and David. Two key features, two key people that must be a part of the Messiah's lineage. There are so many parallels between David's life and Jesus's life. David kind of had a first coming and a second coming as King of Israel. First Samuel is all about David's upbringing and his early anointing as the King of Israel. After the spirit of God left Saul, David was anointed King but he did not sit on a throne.
He spent much of his time in the wilderness, waiting for God's timing to move Saul off the scene and then to allow him to rise up to be the King of Israel. It's not until second Samuel that King David actually sits down on the throne to rule over Israel. It doesn't mean David wasn't the King of Israel in first Samuel, but there was definitely someone else with power and authority ruling over the people, that was King Saul. While many of the religious and political leaders were following King Saul, listen to what first Samuel 22 verse one and verse two tell us about who was following King David. Listen to this, "So David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and the rest of his father's family learned about it, they went down there to him," verse two, listen to this, "All those who were in trouble or owed some money or were discontented, gathered around him and he, David became their leader. He had about 400 men with them."
David had a unique group of followers. It wasn't the wealthy, rich, powerful people. It was those who were discontent, in debt, in trouble. Those who were looked down upon by society. I can't help but make the connection between David and Jesus here. Jesus's disciples and followers were certainly not the well-to-do elitists. There were some, but the majority of Jesus's followers were fishermen from Galilee, the blue-collared workers, the tax collectors who were the bane of society, the sick, the lame, the blind, the deaf, the hurt, the empty, the broken. These are the people of the land who the religious leaders called the rabble, who don't know the law. I'll tell you, I don't think much has changed when it comes to those who follow Jesus. Jesus admitted that it's very difficult for a wealthy person to enter into the kingdom of God.
Not saying that they don't but Jesus was highlighting that the upper class have security within themselves. They have financial security, emotional security. They believe they control their own destiny. We often find Jesus when we're stripped of our emotional and financial security. We often find Jesus when we run out of answers and solutions to a life threatening health issue. It doesn't have to be this way. Jesus doesn't look at people based on classes. He looks at them based on their faith and where they place their trust and security. I believe it's the reason those average Jewish people, the People of the Land loved Jesus and followed him. I want to move from the group. We talked about the group to an individual, an average Jewish person in the Gospels who was looking for answers to a deep dark question in a deep dark moment of his life.
One of my favorite accounts in the Gospels, but before we do that, I want to connect you with one of our amazing ministries here at the Friends of Israel. The common Jewish person, the People of the Land, they might not have been involved in a sect or party of the Jewish government at that time. They might have been your average Joe, but you know what they still celebrated? They still celebrated Hanukkah, and Hanukkah is coming up and I want to tell you about Friends of Israel Ministry that's near and dear to my heart here. But it's also the highlight of our Giving Tuesday campaign which will be on December 1st. Now, if Giving Tuesday is new to you, it's something new in American culture so we're just catching you up here. I'm sure you've heard about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Well, Giving Tuesday comes after Black Friday.
It's an opportunity for giving instead of taking. A real picture of what the holidays are all about. Every year we roll up our sleeves here at the Friends of Israel, and we put together Hanukkah Gift Baskets that are packed full of delicious food from Israel and then we go one step further. We hand deliver them with love to our Jewish friends, all across the United States and see, these are more than just baskets that are filled with really good Israeli food. Each basket represents hope that only Christ can give. Your gift is an opportunity to comfort, encourage and bring joy to our Jewish friends who may feel isolated and alone this season, especially this coronavirus season as well. Steve, would you let our listeners know how they can get involved in our Giving Tuesday Hanukkah Basket Ministry?
Steve Conover: Yes, Chris. Circle December 1st on your calendar and remember to partner with us this Giving Tuesday. Visit us at foiradio.org, to see how you can put smiles on the faces of our Jewish friends this Hanukkah season. Again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: We're talking about different perspectives on Jesus. How did various groups and individuals understand Jesus's message and life and we've looked at how the Romans understood Jesus. We've looked at how the religious leaders of Israel understood Jesus. Today we're looking at the average Joe, Jewish guy of the first century. The scholars call this group, the People of the Land. The People of the Land were neither a sect nor party. This was a term used to describe the masses of Jewish people who just led normal lives. I want to focus in on an individual from this group that the Gospel of Mark in chapter nine talks about, starting in verse 17.
It says this, "A member of the crowd said to him, teacher, I brought you my son who is possessed by a spirit that makes him mute and whenever it seizes him, it throws him down and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to cast it out but they were not able to do so." He answered them, "You unbelieving generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I endure you? Bring him to me." They brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, it immediately threw the boy into convulsions. He fell on the ground and rolled around foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked his father, “how long has this been happening to him?” He said, “from childhood. It's often thrown him into the fire or water to destroy him. But if you are able to do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “if you're able? All things are possible for the one who believes.” Immediately, the father of the boy cried out and said, "I believe, help my unbelief."
Here is a father with a crisis coming to Jesus. He's nobody special. We don't get his name or the name of his son, but he is certainly special to the Lord Jesus. He's coming to Jesus because he's run out of options. His son is possessed. He's severely hurting himself. Again, if you remember how I ended the last segment, I said that Jesus is interested in the heart. He's interested in our faith to trust him. He's interested in who and what we put our security and trust in. The disciples were not able to cast out this demon so the father turns to Jesus. This is great because it shows that the father has some faith that Jesus can do it. It's the honesty of this man that always draws me to this verse. The man says to Jesus, "If you can do anything, please help us."
Jesus response's, "All things are possible for the one who believes," and the father's response is a verse I've tucked away in my heart and hear all the time, something I cry out to the Lord all the time. I believe, help my unbelief." The boy was healed and so was the father. I'm sure doubt set in for the father after the disciples were unable to cast out the demon. Doubt that Jesus could help much either. But Jesus came for the faithless to give them faith.
He came for the broken to heal them, and he came for the self righteous to humble them. He came for the blind to give them sight. He came for the rich to show them where true security is found. He came for the empty to fill them up and he came for the hopeless to give them hope. He came for the poor to give them satisfaction and he came for the outcast to show them acceptance. From a human perspective, everyone looks at Jesus differently. But from Jesus's perspective, He came to make everyone whole and to bring Shalom, peace. If you do not have that peace that I'm talking about, turn to the only one who can give it, Jesus Christ. We all may have unique perspectives of Jesus, but Jesus's perspective on us in my opinion, is the only one that matters.
Steve Conover: Israel on the verge of becoming a state, a teen aged Holocaust survivor arrives on her shores alone. His name is Zvi Kalisher. Little did he know his search for a new life in the Holy land would lead him to the Messiah. Zvi, enthusiastic to share his faith, engaged others in spiritual conversations. Many of which can be found in our magazine, Israel My Glory. While Zvi is now in the presence of his Savior, his collective writings from well over 50 years of ministry, continue to encourage believers worldwide. Now Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life of Zvi.
Mike Kellogg: The situation in Israel is very tense. There is no peace. Most of the time I am on duty and must patrol the dark streets of Jerusalem on the Arab side. My task is to look for mines and booby traps. Our neighboring Arab countries continually threaten to destroy us, but we are not afraid and trust in the Lord. We must hold on to this land otherwise they should drive us into the sea. The Lord has promised the land to our people, and there is no power on earth that can gain, say the Lord's will. In the meantime, I give my testimony concerning our Messiah and Savior to as many people as possible. I have visited many friends witnessing to them because we do not know what the next day will bring. Last Thursday, I was on patrol in the main street to former Arab Jerusalem, around three 3:00 in the morning I noticed a group of people coming my way.
They were fully dressed in black robes. I thought that they were priests. But when they came close, I realized they were students at an Orthodox Jewish school, because it was my duty to do so, I stopped them and asked what they were doing out so early in the morning. They answered in unison, "We're going to the West Wall to recite Slichot, penitential prayers, usually recited before New Year and the Day of Atonement." At first, they were frightened. But when they saw that I was in Israeli soldier, they took courage. I asked, "When do you think the temple will be rebuilt." One of them said, "Only when the Messiah comes is when the temple will be rebuilt." Where is the Messiah? I asked. He answered, "He is already here, but he is waiting to make himself manifest. He will build the temple and all the dead shall rise from the graves."
The leader who was a rabbi asked, "What do you think of the Messiah, the son of David, soldier?" I answered, "The Messiah, the Son of David has come and is coming again. I know him and many other people know him and have received him as their Messiah and Savior. He laid down his life for our sins and made full atonement for us, according to Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22." They stood there amazed, hearing things that apparently they did not know. The Lord himself put the words into my mouth, whatever the question, I gave them a scriptural answer. Usually Orthodox Jews do not talk to anyone who confesses Jesus as Messiah. But they were most thrilled and impressed by the fact that I was a soldier guarding their safety while they were asleep or when they go to the Wailing Wall to pray. After I gave them my testimony, I asked, "Do you think I should have the same rights as any other Jewish person here in Israel or don't I deserve such rights?"
The rabbi said, "You have asked a hard question. If all the Jewish Christians were like you, we would have no difficulty at all." Instead of going on to the Wailing Wall, they lingered around me and discussed the Messiah and messianic prophecies until nearly 6:00 in the morning. We highly realized that the night had passed, the morning had arrived.
Steve Conover: On behalf of Chris and the team we'd like to thank you for being with us today. Chris, what can we expect next week?
Chris Katulka: Next week is our Israel My Glory in-depth episode. We're going to have a dear friend of ours, Bruce Scott. He wrote an article in our recent issue of Israel My Glory that we're going to be unpacking. It is all about Christmas as we're getting geared up for the Christmas season. But I'm looking forward to that.
Steve Conover: Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold and I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio PO Box 914 Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. One last quick reminder to visit us at foiradio.org. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry proclaiming Biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
Giving Tuesday—Hanukkah Gift Basket Ministry
At the Friends of Israel, Giving Tuesday is a day to share the love of Jesus with His Chosen People all over the world. We do that by packing and hand-delivering gift baskets for Hanukkah. We fill them with delicious Israeli food and the hope that Christ gives—hope that we all crave in our times of need.
Join us this Giving Tuesday, December 1, to provide these loving gift baskets to encourage our Jewish friends with the love of Jesus!
IN CANADA? GIVE HERE!
Apples of Gold: What Do You Think of the Messiah?
Because of unrest in Jerusalem, soldiers must patrol day and night. As a soldier, Zvi was working the night shift patrolling. A group of young students in robes were walking down the street, headed to pray at the Western Wall. As Zvi engaged with them and listened to what they believed, he was able to share how he believed the Messiah had already come and was coming again. Listen and find out how the Holy Spirit moved in this conversation and how these students responded.
Zvi’s story is available in Elwood McQuaid’s book, “Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph over the Holocaust,” available at our online store.
More stories from Zvi are also available in his book, “The Best of Zvi,” available at our online store.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
Your gifts help us reach people all around the globe with our message of truth to bless the Jewish people. If the Lord leads you and you believe Christians need to hear the truth about Israel and the Jewish people, we ask that you prayerfully consider a gift so we can continue to bring these truths to you and others as well. Any amount is a blessing to our program and we are so thankful for your support.