We have been talking about certain keys needed to understand the New Testament. We looked at just one concept in the book of John called the “Voice” and were able to see many things that would help us interpret the who, what, where, when, why and how. We are going to continue in the book of John and get other examples and concepts from the passages we will look at. This is going to give us an example of how the New Testament can and should be understood. These will only some examples and not all that can be gleaned from these passages, but it will give you an idea of what is there, so here we go.
In John 1.29 it says, “The next day he saw Yeshua coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.'” But when this Greek phrase is put back into Aramaic it can mean “Servant of God” which fits the context of the Servant passages in Isa 40-55 that John was teaching. This phrase “servant of God” makes more sense than “Lamb of God” because to the Jews who heard him say this, there was no lamb that took away sin as a korban. For more information on this, see “The Aramaic Origins of the Fourth Gospel” by C.F. Burney and “Christology of the the New Testament” by Oscar Cullman, p 71. In John 1.45, we see the phrase “son of Joseph” and this is a messianic title and they were not referring to his earthly father because they had just met Yeshua and didn’t know anything about him or his family. The term “under the fig tree” in John 1.48 is an idiom for the Messianic Kingdom and peace (Micah 4.1-4; 1 Kings 4.25 and Zech 3.10). Nathanael answered Yeshua’s statement about the fig tree with “You are the Son of God” which is an idiom for a king, and then follows that up with “You are the King of Israel” which actually defines what he said. This is called a Hebrew “parallelism” and we see several titles for the Messiah in this verse. Kings were seen as adopted by God (1 Chr 28.6) and these titles will merge in Psa 2.6-7.
In John 1.51 it says “you shall see the heavens opened” and this is an idiom for a “new, deeper revelation.” The outer veil to the Heichal of the Sanctuary had a depiction of the planets on it, and it was called “The Heaven’s.” So, when the term “heaven’s were opened” is used, it is an allusion back to the practice of opening up this veil in the Temple. When this veil was torn at Yeshua’s death, the message being communicated was a new revelation and deeper meaning was coming. He then goes on to say that angels (messengers) will ascend and descend upon the Son of Man (Bar Enosh, another messianic title based on Dan 7.13), giving the idea of a ladder. A Torah scroll is like a “ladder” and the numerical value of the word “Sinai” is 130, the same for ladder. This “ladder” connects heaven and earth and this passage alludes to Jacob’s ladder in Gen 28.12. All of this leads to a deeper revelation of God.
In John 2.1, we learn that after a seven day period (John 1.19 is the first day, then v 29, 35, 43 is a total of four days. John 2.1 says “on the third day” which means there were two hidden days, and then the third after those two, for a total of seven days) there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. This seven day period from John 1.19 to John 2.1 is a picture of the 7000 year plan of God. On the seventh day, there will be a wedding in Heaven. Galilee is an idiom for Heaven (“gal”= “circle” and a circle symbolizes eternity). So, there is an eschatological message in these passages.
In John 3.3, we see the term “born again” or “born from above.” This is not a new concept being introduced here by Yeshua. The word for heaven is “shamayim” in Hebrew. Sham means “there” and mayim means “water.” Combined, it means “there is water.” We know that there was water in the heavens before the flood and there was water that flowed through the Garden of Eden. Due to the water cycle, all water has it roots in the water in Eden. So, when you fill up a mikvah (immersion bath) with water, this water connects us back to Eden and we are a “new creation” when we emerge out of the water. A new womb symbolizes the virgin birth, and we know that Yeshua was buried in a “new tomb.” The word for “tomb” and “womb” are related in Hebrew. So, what Yeshua is describing to Nicodemus is not a new concept. Yeshua’s immersion by John recreates Gen 1, but it is now a new creation.
In John 3.5-13, the people (like Nicodemus) thought they were righteous just because they were descendants of Abraham, so all the promises automatically went to them. Nicodemus did not understand Yeshua’s meaning. What Yeshua is telling him is that each individual person must “crossover” and be “born again” or “born from heaven” not just born from a woman.
In John 3.14-21, we have an interesting parallel with the Brazen serpent and the coming crucifixion. This will be linked to Num 21.6-9. He has told Nicodemus about being “born again” and Yeshua is developing this concept. Now he brings in a passage on a type of the crucifixion from the Torah. A “standard” is called a “nes” in Hebrew and it is a term for the Messiah (Isa 11.10, 13.2, 18.3). The people in the wilderness were being bitten by snakes, or serpents (Ha Satan, sin). God told Moses to make a “saraph” (fiery, burning one, a type of angel= “Saraphim”) serpent and put it on a pole (nes) and if the people looked at the serpent (saraph, or “burning one”), they would be healed. But, when Moses made the serpent, the word for serpent there is “nachash” and when the people looked at the nachash they would live. But the people thought this was crazy. All they saw was a serpent, a cursed creature (cursed is one who hangs upon a tree), but the end result is they would live (be born again). But God saw a “saraph” or his “angel” or messenger. They must act in faith, or they would die. They ran through the camp and many looked upon this serpent on a pole, and lived. At the cross, the people have been bitten by nachash (sin). All they have to do is have faith in God and look to Yeshua and they will be born again. But, all the people saw in the natural was a Jew hanging on a tree, a cursed one. But God saw his son, a “saraph” or sent messenger. Yeshua tells Nicodemus to “look at me when I am crucified” and you will live. All of this comes down to how will you direct your heart. Is all you see is a cursed Jew hanging on a cross to die, or do you see the sent one from God? In 2 Kings 18.4, we see that this serpent on a pole (called “Nachushtan”) was kept because of the kedusha, but it was turned into an idol. So it was destroyed. This is a picture eschatologically of the Abomination of Desolation and the crucifix in the Birth-pains.
In John 3.29, John identifies himself as the “friend of the bridegroom” and this alludes to the concept of the two witnesses at a Jewish wedding. One witness is assigned to bring the bride to God, like Moses. The other one brings the bridegroom to the bride, like John did. The groom is the Messiah. John came in the spirit and power of Elijah and is the “messenger of the covenant.” The Prophets were one witness, symbolized by Elijah. The bride (believers) also had a witness and that witness was to bring the bride to the groom. Moses brought the people to God and he symbolizes the Torah. So, the two witnesses are the Torah and the Prophets, personified in Moses and Elijah and John was alluding to this concept.
In Part 22, we will pick up in John 4.1-15 and compare themes of thirst, water and the rock that was struck in the wilderness with this story.