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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 15: Matthew 18:21-20:34, by Kevin M. Williams

Yeshua goes on to say, “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24).

There have been theories about Yeshua’s meaning here. The Greek does not give us a clear indication either way. He may have spoken literally, about the difficulty of a literal camel passing through the eye of needle. The imagery would be vivid. However, he “may be referring to the protective narrow passage at the entrance to a walled city called a ‘needle’s eye.’”6

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Chapter 20 picks up where 19 left off as Yeshua once again illustrates what the kingdom of heaven is like. We do well to remember that Yeshua began his ministry preaching that the “kingdom of heaven” was at hand. That message never changed.

It is also important to remember that the gospel message is not merely the “gospel message.” Throughout Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John it is always presented as, “the gospel of the kingdom of heaven.” For Yeshua, the “gospel” and the “kingdom of heaven” were inseparable. We do the Word of God an injustice when we preach anything differently.

And as Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way He said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up” (Matthew 20:17-19).

This is the third time Yeshua has predicted his death and resurrection, but it is the first time he clearly identifies who is going to put him to death—the Gentiles. How many travesties over the centuries, the needless deaths of Jewish lives, could have been spared if churchgoers had read this passage? Yeshua is quite clear: not the Jewish people as a whole were going to turn him over, only the chief priests and scribes, the religious leaders. The Gentiles, however, do seem to be lumped together as a collective whole.

But message is clear enough. A) Yeshua promised he would rise again. Whoever “put him to death,” it was a plan that went awry—at least from a human perspective. The Messiah rose again! B) No single person or people group (i.e. the “Jews”) was solely responsible. All played their part and all bore the guilt. The sin of the ages that Yeshua’s kin, the “Jews,” are Christ-killers is not born out in the text. Countless millions have died because thousands have “borne false witness” against the Jewish people.

It is a tragic fact of history that the outward, visible Church is stained with the blood of the Jewish people. This painful memory is so vivid in Jewish hearts that an Orthodox Jewish author, in a book published in 1991, could say: “Today, one of the most fundamental causes of Jewish suffering is the hatred of Christians toward Jews and the Jewish faith.

This Jewish author actually believes: “From his birth, every Christian, practicing or nominal, imbibes the belief that the Jews, i.e., and every individual Jew, are answerable for the murder of his messiah. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of the acts of persecution, religious coercion and massacres suffered in history by our People came at the hands of the Christians. Thus we see that Christianity was a significant and major cause of Jewish suffering.”7

Dr. Brown’s book, Our Hands are Stained with Blood, from which the above quote was taken, is rich with what is understood by the Jewish people to be our Christian heritage. You, the reader, may not believe the Jewish people are “Christ-killers” but that is the impression left on the local synagogue and Jewish community. When the local church holds a “crusade,” it brings back haunting memories of the first Christian crusades when Jewish men, women, and children were burned alive in their synagogues while worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Today’s Church may not be guilty of those sins (though some still teach the lies today), but the stain remains.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Fall 2004, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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