On what did Yeshua found His congregation?
Immediately the mind goes to His statement to Kefa, “I tell you also that you are a stone, and upon this stone I will build my Congregation; and the gates of She’ol shall not shut in on it.”
The harlot teaches that this ‘stone’/’rock’ is Kefa, the man. Context and plain interpretation teaches us that it is the confession that Yeshua is “the Mashi’akh, Ben Elohim Khayim,” Messiah, the Son of the living G-d, that is the cornerstone of His congregation.
The congregation of Messiah is founded on the CHARACTER of Messiah.
Yeshua’s first message to a Jewish crowd is recorded in Matti 5-7; this would be considered His ‘foundational’ teaching; this passage was the ‘eye-opener’ for me some 32 years ago. I had been brought to life in Messiah at 11 years old, had lived it for three years, and then ‘slept’ spiritually for eight years, going off not into egregious sin, but into a habit of not following Messiah daily. As such, I was having a difficult time in my young years; I had joined the Navy, and was on a Submarine when finally I called on the Creator. I was in my bunk, mourning the loss of a girlfriend, just a sweetheart, just before we left port, sorrowing also over the lack of communication from my family, and over a close friend going cold and silent on the boat. I picked up the bible my grandmother gave me when I was 14. I said a small prayer, asking Abba to show me what Yeshua would say to me if He were standing there. I ‘saw’ in my mind, whether imagined or not I do not know, Yeshua standing beside my top bunk; I opened that Bible to Matti 5 and began to read. And the ‘character’ of Yeshua LEAPED off the pages at me.
“poor in spirit”, “mournful”, “meek”, “hungry/thirsty for righteousness”, “merciful”, “pure in heart”, “maker of shalom”, “persecuted”, reproached because of who He is”….And Yeshua goes on and teaches The Torah, expressly saying that He came to ‘confirm’ the Torah, and He does that in the next 2 ½ chapters, elucidating the behaviors of those who build that character in themselves.
I saw all these character traits, and mourned the fact that this was not me. I set out that day to change that. I was at sea with 180+ men whose mouths were foul, and the first thing that happened is that mine was cleaned up, immediately, without effort at all on my part. The salt water turned sweet. The next thing that happened is that I hungered and thirsted for righteousness, and I devoured the whole NT in those next weeks. After that, I started reading the OT. In those days, I felt like He was doing a miracle for me every day: I was first persecuted for my new ‘behavior,’ and that persecution actually got me off the boat two years early, and I was ‘miraculously’ transferred to shore duty 2 years before I was supposed to be eligible, without having to reenlist like my peers who also transferred. The ‘favors’ that He did for me over the next few years were numerous and obvious. I wish I could recount them all here.
As I said, however, its been 32 years. I still see the passages in Matti 5-7 as a description of the CHARACTER of Messiah Yeshua. To confess Him means to confess that His Character is the goal at which we aim [Rom 10:4, Phil 3:14]. For 32 years I’ve desired to achieve those traits, and I still ‘press on’, in spite of my failures over the years.
He founded His congregation, ONE congregation, on that character. His Nature: who He is. And His followers began to exude that character, and to teach HIS way to the Jewish people, and then the nations, also demonstrating His Power. But, even though Yeshua Himself founded His congregation, others came along and perverted it, despoiled it. They built on His foundation with ‘wood, hay, and stubble’. They ‘re-founded’ it on harlotry, lies, deceit, selfish pride, and false accusations against the righteous, judgmental hearts, and murder.
I have seen the pain of Yeshua in regard to the perversion of His congregation. He showed it to me thirty years ago in a dream, and periodically through those years. And it is sad that mankind can seem to have such power over His congregation, and yet ‘think’ that they are anointed by Him, and still call themselves by His Name. At times, His congregation seems to ‘fail’. But, Yeshua said ‘the gates of She’ol shall NOT shut in on it.’ On what? On HIS congregation! The LIVING entity that exudes His character.
His congregation is a LIVING ENTITY, and is NOT confined within the walls of a building or within the paperwork of a manmade institution. His congregation is HIS BODY. And it does NOT move in harlotry, lies, false accusations, judgmental attitudes, and murder! It moves in poorness in spirit [detachment from mammon and trust in His provision], mournfulness, meekness/humility, hunger/thirst for tzedaka, mercy, pureness of heart, shalom….when these things are not present, or are overwhelmed by the others, His Body is separated from it, by its very nature. And for that, His congregation suffers persecutions and reproaches. By the self-righteous, usually. “ 20For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner ceases, and all they that watch for iniquity are cut off; 21that make a man an offender by words, and lay a snare for him that reproves in the gate, and turn aside a tzadik with a thing of nought.”
History tends to repeat itself. But, Messiah is indeed still preparing for Himself a SPOTLESS Bride. I have maintained for years now that she is the ‘remnant,’ and is a very, very small number of people. I only PRAY that I am consecrated as the remnant. I do NOT assume I am. And I mourn my failures deeply. But, I also STRIVE to love the brethren, and all people, and not to judge them, and to see if there is any unclean way in me. And continually to confess trust in the blood shed by Messiah, the Son of the Living God, offering that forgiveness to those who offend me, though they do not offer it up in return sometimes.
Another summation of the character of Yeshua is known by Jews as the “Thirteen Attributes of G-d.” I have tried to inspire others to be like that. Some very few have moved more toward His character, and some few have shown me those attributes. For that, and for those few, I am most grateful.
יהוה, יהוה , El, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in compassion and truth; guardian of compassion unto the thousandth generation; forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and pardoning…
The word ‘guardian’ has a special character in a Torah scroll, a descended ‘nun’ [noon], in the word ‘notzer’. This word does mean ‘guardian’ or ‘protector,’ but is also “branch/offshoot’, and is the root word for “Natzri”, or Nazarene. Yeshua is truly the GUARDIAN of compassion! HE will make CERTAIN that those who love Him WILL receive compassion!