The Parting of the Ways: Yahshua and John

Jackson Snyder, January 22, 2004

 

Once I was poor, but now I am rich.  Once I was jailed, but now I am free.

Once I was low but now I am high.  Once I was blind but now I can see.

Though things are scanty, yet I am rich.  Though I am jailed, my spirit is free.

Though still oppressed, my Savior is near.  Blind as I am, yet more I can see.

 

 

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John 3:22.  After this Yahshua and his disciples went into the land of Judea; there he remained with them and baptized.   23.  John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people came and were baptized.   24.  For John had not yet been put in prison.   25.  Now a discussion arose between John’s disciples and a Jew over purifying.   26.  And they came to John, and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you bore witness, here he is, baptizing, and all are going to him.”   27.  John answered, “No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven.   28.  You yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Anointed One, but I have been sent before him.   29.  He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full.   30.  He must increase, but I must decrease.” 

 

Also Luke 4:18,19; Psalm 113

 

PRAYER: Stir up your power, O Father Yahweh Sabaoth, and with great might come among us because we are sorely hindered by our sins.  Let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us through Your Son.  Amen.

 

NEW WINE: Mother Superior calls all the nuns together and says to them, “I must tell you something. We have a case of gonorrhea in the convent.”  “Thank goodness,” says an elderly nun at the back.  “I am so tired of Chardonnay.”

 

Wedding Wrap-up (John 2:1-12)

   Yahshua and his five disciples attended the wedding of his brother, Simon, in Cana.  The wedding party required a vast amount of wine to satisfy the many guests of the bridegroom.  The custom was to bring out the most palatable wine in the first two days.  After that, the inferior was brought out to save money.  There was nothing wrong with the cheaper wine; wedding guests didn’t expect to be drinking Moet and Chandon all week – only at first.  After that, it was OK to bring out the Thunderbird. 

   When the best wine that the bar Joseph family could afford was gone the third day of the wedding.  The cheaper reserve disappeared.  When Mary realized the wine was gone, she appealed to Yahshua to do something so that her other son, the groom, wouldn’t lose face. 

   To save the wedding party and show the first miraculous sign of his identity, Yahshua commanded that stone baptismal water jars be filled with 180 gallons of well water then he changed the water to wine (though with great hesitation).  The partygoers were expecting cheap, sour wine; however, the host delighted them with new wine mysteriously dipped from a baptism tank, and the groom was greatly glorified!

 

Wine and Prophecy

   Old wine represents the traditions of men observed in the name of true religion.  The people had grown up with dead old shadows of worship and were comfortable in them.  The new wine represents Yahshua’s presence among humanity, and his supernatural ministry:

Luke 4:18.  “The Spirit of Yahweh is upon me, because he’s anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He’s sent me to release captives and give sight to the blind, to set at liberty the oppressed,  19.  to preach Yahweh’s acceptable year.” 

In this prophecy we see that the Anointed One is to be a spiritual man represented by the new wine.  The dove that remained on him represents the Spirit of Yahweh, which is described as

Isaiah 11:2b  The spirit of wisdom and insight, of counsel and power, of knowledge and fear of Yahweh.

This Holy Spirit empowers the anointed to proclaim, permit and protect liberty.

{To the tune of Ebenezer or any 6/8 hymn tune.} 

Once I was poor, but now I am rich.  Once I was jailed, but now I am free. 

Once I was low but now I am high.  Once I was blind but now I can see.

These testimonial songs are the result of imbibing new wine.  Supernatural miracles can’t be understood unless one has had her fill.  When greater grace abounds, the songs of the afflicted are full of hope:

Though things are scanty, yet I am rich.  Though I am jailed, my spirit is free.

Though still oppressed, my Savior is near.  Blind as I am, yet more I can see.

   Who wouldn’t want to be rich or free?  But where grace abounds and faith is exercised, there is a great hope.  To be able to say, “I am blind, yet I see” requires supernatural faith.  And to say, “Though oppressed, he is near,” is just plain realistic.  Whether we see because we’re made whole or see while yet blind are both supernatural matters.  The old wine of comfortable forms is OK, but the new hope in Messiah is better.  Yahshua compared new and old in:

Luke 5:37.  “No one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.   38.  But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.”

In another place, the quote is a little different: 

Matthew 9: 17.  “New wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both [new and old] are preserved.”

 

Skins

   To be fair, Yahshua isn’t just talking about wine, but skins.  Old wine belongs in an old skin.  It’s already fully expanded and the skin has hardened around the wine after years of aging.  New skins will expand with the fermentation of the new wine while old skins, stiff with age, will burst.  Yahshua says that if new wine is put into new skins, both old and new are retained.

   Old wine is not always so good, but new wine is always good.  Some religious forms simply are no longer pliable.  Many religious folks aren’t teachable.  They’re old skins – supernaturalism or innovation will burst them.  Some are infected with bacteria and have turned sour – like the old spoilt vinegar Yahshua was offered on the stake.  He wouldn’t touch the old even then because it was impure - polluted.  But we gladly lap it up.

   Some folks and their assemblies are like new skins.  They desire be filled with the revelation of Yahshua and all that his coming means, including all the gifts and fruits and baptisms and infillings.  They want to expand in the Spirit as new wine expands – increasing in knowledge as Scripture is taught – enhancing their wisdom by applying their newfound knowledge to life situations.  They want to be truly Spirit-filled so that others may see their good works and glorify their heavenly Father.  These aren’t drunk as you suppose, but filled with the new wine of the Spirit.

 

New and Old are Treasured

   Yahshua says something else on the subject of new and old concerning knowledge, learning and the future of ministry in the mission fields of the Millennium.  Yahshua says:

Matthew 13:52.  “Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

We scribes respect the old but expect the new, and we acquire both old and new in our quest for treasure. We were raised on the old, and that’s why we think it’s so good; that is, we’re good Methodists, good Baptists, good Mennonites, good Catholics, but when the new wine comes out of the baptismal water pot, we get a taste and want to gulp it down.  We may remain a good this or that, but now we’re something more, something NEW.  With new wine there’s new creation.  The old remains, but the new is joy.

 

Up in Aenon

   After the wedding at Cana, Yahshua’s bunch all go up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:5ff).  During this eight-day Feast, Yahshua and his crew make many new friends through his introduction of authoritative teaching and supernatural signs.  Now Yahshua and his disciples lead a multitude out of the city and over to the Jordan to baptize.

   On the other hand, John the Baptist becomes a wanted man.  He moves his camp from Bethany Beyond Jordan to Aenon, fifty miles north, in Samaria.  Not many will find him here – not even those who would be baptized.  But a certain devious Jewish leader and his party find him and argue with John’s disciples about baptism.  Sprinkling, pouring, dipping, immersing, rebaptism, how old, how young, how many times, font, tank, swimming pool or creek – the same kinds of wasteful arguments we like to mull over. 

   You see, the Jews baptize over and over again; but John baptizes once and for all after heartfelt repentance.  The baptized receive cleansing from sin (see Acts 19:3).  But then the Jew reports to John’s bunch news they all find troubling.  They take the news to John: that Yahshua is making scads of new disciples near Jerusalem, not way out in the country like them.  The spirit of competition sets in.

   The Jews and John’s disciples are concerned because Yahshua is taking lots of good people from their influence: from both the moneymaking sacrificial system and the offering plates at camp John.  There could be serious financial repercussions if Yahshua’s popularity increases.  The Jews came up to John for help in putting Yahshua on a stake or chopping block.

   John is honest to the core.  He won’t exploit his own anointing for money, fame or comfort.  If telling the truth loses him everything, so be it.  “I’m the best man at a wedding.  I made everything ready for the bridegroom.  Now I step back and allow honor to be given where it’s due.  As Yahshua’s glory increases, mine decreases, for what he’s sharing is from heaven.”  John’s the old wine and he admits it.  They’ve been drinking him, but now it’s time for the wedding banquet and the new wine.  John’s sent from Yahweh with a mission, but he’s not about to bust his skin.  He knows better.  New skins for new wine!

 

At Yahshua’s Camp in Judea

   Fifty miles south, in Judea, John’s other disciples are very concerned.  John’s in prison now, trapped by Herod.  The Jews who tried to enlist John to bring Yahshua down turn John in instead.  Now John’s disciples, knowing their leader may never get free, must make sure.  “Are you really the Anointed or shall we look elsewhere?”  Yahshua says, “Friends, see for yourselves.”  There are thousands milling around, and John’s disciples have plenty of folks to interview.

   Nathanael directs John’s disciple Banias to Zacchaeus, the future bishop of Caesarea.  Banias asks Zacchaeus, “What’s your story, little man?”  Zacchaeus sings, “Once I was poor, but now I am rich!”  Nearby, Banias finds Judas Sicarius, “How about you, Judean brother?”  Judas sings, “Once I was jailed, but now I am free.”  Banias, sings, “Good for thee; good for thee.”

   John Zavdi, Yahshua’s first disciple, who’ll write Yahshua’s biography, is escorting another of the Baptist’s disciples around the camp, Hiram the Egyptian.  There’s a woman ahead entranced in praise.  There are lots of women around.  Hiram the Egyptian says to John, “Certainly your master doesn’t baptize women?”  John replies, “Yahshua doesn’t baptize, we do.  I baptized this woman myself.  She’s Miriam.” 

   Hiram storms, “You can’t baptize women.  It’s not done.”  John replies, “Why, that’s a strange prejudice for you, an Egyptian, to make.”  John gets Miriam’s attention, “Lady, this man wants your story.”  The lady Miriam, a librarian in Kafernaum, tells Hiram the Egyptian, “Once I was low, really low, but now I am high, really high” as she floats off in the Spirit.  “She’s drunk!” howls Hiram.  John replies, “Well, in a manner of speaking only.”

   She passes a man with a hideously deformed face.  He’s closely inspecting a piece of rock.  Hiram tells John, “Certainly, this man has complaints.  He’s grotesque.  Obviously, your master hasn’t gotten to him yet.”  John says, “Let’s find out.  Sir, what’s your name?”  The man replies, “Friends here call me Yahooo.”  Hiram says to Yahooo, “I see you are quite deformed and need healing.”  Yahooo answers, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.  I’ve been healed.  I was blind but now I see.”  Hiram presses on, “Then why do you stare at that rock?”  Yahooo replies, “Rock?  Oh, so that’s what it is.  I’ve never seen one before.  Beautiful, isn’t it?  I just regained my sight, along with all those others.”  Yahooo points to a crowd of men and women ahead.  They’re all examining rocks.

  

Faith and Hope

   Nathanael and Banias meet up with John and Hiram the Egyptian, and have overheard the last conversation.  Yahooo looks up from his rock and says to Banias (who he thinks is Hiram), “There’s a guy you’ll want to see there sitting on the ground.  That’s Yabbadabba.  He didn’t get healed like the rest.”

   The disciples leave Yahooo for Yabbadabba.  John touches the blind man, who peers up through sightless sockets.  But they notice a very sweet smile on his face.  Hiram shouts, “Why smile so when you no get healed?  Are you simple?”  Yabbadabba twists the wax in his ear after Hiram’s blast.  “My sins are forgiven, sir, and I’ve been born from above.  All the burdens of my heart rolled away.”  Hiram continues, “Yes, yes, that’s wonderful, but you’re still blind.”  Yabbadabba replies, “Am I so blind?  Why, it was there by faith I received my sight -- and now I am happy all the day.”

 

Yahshua on John

   About this time the crowd gets silent and many sit on the ground.  Yahshua climbs a rock to speak:

“Friends, about John the Baptist.  What did you expect to see, a weed shivering in a windstorm, a playboy in pajamas - or a prophet of Yahweh?  Yes, John’s more than a prophet, he’s a prophetic fulfillment, ‘Behold, I send my angel to prepare the way.’  John is the greatest to spring from a womb, yet the least in the Kingdom is greater” (Matthew 11:7ff).

John’s disciples complain bitterly about what Yahshua just said about their imprisoned Master.  The argument escalates, and Yahshua is suddenly in their midst, like a thief in the night.  Yahshua says, “Banias, you know me well.  You’ve known me since I was a fourteen.”  Banias replies, “That is true, Master.”  Yahshua says,

Matthew 11:4 “Then go and tell John what you hear and see:  5. the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have hope. 6.  And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.

   The next morning, Banias, Hiram, and John’s disciples hit the trail to John’s prison.  They’ve seen enough for a good report: Yahshua is the Anointed who will set the captives free.  But they’re still puzzled.  If John is great, why is he not in the Kingdom of Heaven?  Does this mean that Yahshua won’t set their Master free from Herod’s dungeon?

   We wonder today what this means as well.  If John isn’t in, how can we hope to be?  That’s a question worth answering before I close.

 

The Parting of the Ways

   John and Yahshua had the same method and message.  The difference between what is Kingdom and what is not is the supernatural realm.  There were signs of Yahshua’s supernatural Anointing and origin.  People received from him not only forgiveness, but something greater – the gifts that Yahweh had always desired to pour out upon humankind, the greatest being the assurance of Yahshua’s omnipresence; next – expectation for the present security; next – bright hope for tomorrow.  Yet Yahshua and his ilk also heal afflictions and set free captives, and even when it doesn’t happen in the physical realm, he can, insofar as he’s allowed, bring glorious liberty in the spiritual and emotional man.  Unlike John, Yahshua is a supernatural Master, a Master who can neither lie nor die. 

   To assure our place in his Kingdom, we must do as he did, and drink – then make – new wine ourselves.  We try to emulate his walk, we learn to recognize his voice, we’re obedient to his commands from the start, we detach ourselves from that devilish selfish streak and we effervesce in the presence of his Spirit and his children.  Then we spend our time healing, helping, teaching or encouraging others, as he did.

   John was a good man, a great prophet.  But John is in a tomb somewhere awaiting the resurrection call.  You, on the other hand, may be greater than he.  If you’re a new creation, love Yahshua and keep his commandments, you’re a Kingdom man, you’re a Kingdom woman, greater in the Kingdom than the greatest Hebrew prophet that ever lived.  

   Dead religious forms and denominational affiliations may offer the comfort of the familiar, but they can’t save.  A hundred trips to the altar rail can’t save anyone.  These things aren’t necessarily bad, they’re good -- but there’s no hope in them at all by themselves.  To get into the Kingdom to come requires active participation now.  Though the old’s been good, maybe it’s time now to part from the old unto the new thing that Yahweh wants to do right where you are.  You may be an animal lover, but maybe your sacred cows must be sacrificed, bridges burned, corpses buried.  We take with us from the old what is real and worthwhile and pliable and even treasured, but we leave behind the dead, the stinking, the rotting, the lifeless, the still, the fetid corpse of ritual for ritual’s sake, even if your ritual includes chorus singing, a rock band and praise dancers.  “He must increase, while I must decrease,” John admits.  Shouldn’t we admit the same?  Amen.