THE MIND OF MESSIAH

Yeshua Preaches from a Boat – James Tissot

NAZARENE THINKING AND THE ‘MIND OF MESSIAH’
The very idea that disciples of the Nazarene ought to strive with all their energy to think like Messiah is cause for anxiety. Most feel they fall so far short of the perfect mind of Messiah as to be dismayed by any encouragement to think as he did – Romans 7:13-24. However, more than once that is exactly what the Scriptures direct us to do: Think Just as Messiah Thought.

For example, Shaul (Paul) makes a loving appeal to the congregation of the Philippians to keep the mind of Messiah:

[TS]

Philippians 2:5 [TS]
let this mind be in you which was also in Messiah יהושע{Yehoshua},

To the Corinthians, Shaul wrote:

1 Corinthians 2:16; 11:1 [TS]
16 ...we have the mind of Messiah. 
... ... ...
11:1 Become imitators of me, as I also am of Messiah.

Indeed, when Shaul felt he did not speak after Messiah’s example he said so.

2 Corinthians 11:17 [TS]
What I speak, I speak not according to the Master, but as in foolishness, in this boldness of boasting. 

Kepha (Peter) also points to Messiah as a role model

1 Peter 2:21  [TS]
 For to this you were called, because Messiah also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps
(see Revelation 14:4)

Kepha uses the Greek word «hypo-grammon» which means ‘under + writing’. It originally carried the idea of a student writing underneath the penmanship of the teacher just as children still do in primary school. In this effort, students seek to copy as closely as possible the cursive strokes of the teacher. Just so, a disciple of the Nazarene was to follow the footsteps of the Master as closely as possible – Revelation 14:4; Matthew 16:24. In order to do this a follower of Messiah must learn to think even as he did.

WHAT CHARACTERISED THE THINKING OF MESSIAH?
Think Just As Messiah Thought? How would we summarise Messiah’s model? What words would best describe his character? What was his thinking?

1) The Will of the Father
The Son of the Eternal was driven by one motivation: the approval of his Father. The Nazarene told his disciples:

John 4:34; 8:29 [TS]
34 My food is to do the desire of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work. 
... ... ...
8:29 I always do what pleases Him {the Father}                                                                                                           (Words of Yeshua in purple)

Shaul writes about this character when he encouraged the Philippians to ‘keep the mind of Messiah’.

[HRB]

Philippians 2:5,7 [HRB]
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in the Messiah Yahshua
... ... ...
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men

Several characteristics are prominent here: Yeshua denied his own personal interests; he followed a humble course; and, he was obedient to that kind of death foretold by the prophet; a sacrificial one which included suffering. (Isaiah 53)
Yeshua was the perfect role model for those persons who will inherit the promises of the Eternal. Shaul concludes what kind of attitude all creatures will ultimately have to display 

[Moffatt]

1 Corinthians 15:28 [Moffatt]
 ... that God may be everything to everyone. 

To Yeshua, the Eternal was ‘everything’. The Father was the single focus of Messiah’s life. This involved that quality of faith. At the end of his life, in one of his final prayers, he said to his Father:

John 17:4 [HRB]
I have glorified You on the earth. I finished the work that You gave Me to do.

So, if we examine the life of Messiah as recorded by the Gospels we will see what the Eternal’s will for him was and how he carried that out. This mind-set of Yeshua, however, involved another important characteristic.

2) Loving Interest in Others
The motivating factor in the coming of Messiah in the person of Yeshua the Nazarene was love for mankind. In his letter to the Philippians, before Shaul pointed to the example of Messiah, he had made this appeal to that congregation:

Philippians 2:1-4 [HRB]; (compare 1 Corinthians 10:24)
1 So then, if there is any comfort in Messiah, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any mercies and compassions,
2 complete my joy, by being in one accord, and one love, and one soul, and one mind.
3 Doing nothing according to strife or self-glory, but in humility, let each regard his neighbor as better than himself;
4 let no one be mindful only of his own things, but let each one also be mindful of the things of his neighbour.

Yeshua Messiah set the example by thinking of others instead of self. The Son did not hesitate with any self-centred or egocentric thoughts. He jumped at the opportunity to do the Eternal’s will! It truly was just like ‘food’ to him, no matter what was required.

The Nazarene knew he would have to suffer a death which for all observable purposes was a rejection by the Eternal as well as having all the appearances of being an apostate and a criminal. No creature of Yahweh ever moved so far and so low in order to help others than the Son of the Eternal.
He was rejected as a leprous apostate and then suffered a slow and agonising death, abandoned by his dearest friends. Surely, the prophet foretold the attitude of the Jews regarding Messiah

Isaiah 53:3  [HRB]                                                                                                                                                                He is despised and abandoned of men, a Man of pains, and acquainted with sickness. And as it were hiding our faces from Him, He being despised, and we did not value Him.

Despite all of this no man in history has personified love more than Messiah Yeshua of Nazareth. The night before his death Yeshua expressed his love for his disciples, whom he then called ‘friends’. He told them

[Lamsa NT]

John 15:12-13 [Lamsa NT]
12 This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 
13 There is no greater love than this, when a man lays down his life for the sake of his friends.

Surely, not just his death, but his entire sacrificial life was an example of this great love. Yeshua was a loving person characterised by thinking of others, and this in obedience to his Father’s will.

The beloved apostle was present that evening and the words of the Nazarene here are echoed by this disciple in his general letter. (See WHO WAS THE DISCIPLE THAT YESHUA LOVED?)

1 John 3:14-16 [Lamsa NT]
14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 
15 Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer: and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 
16 By this we know his love for us, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for our brethren. 

He explains how this love is manifest when he continues

1 John 3:17 [HRB]
But whoever has worldly possessions, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his mercy from him, how is the love of YAHWEH in him?

Certainly, the disciple could think of his own Master Yeshua whose origins are of old, from the days of eternity (the Messiah was in the mind of the Eternal since the beginning of time) – Micah 5:2 –  and came to a lowly place on earth to teach mankind about love.
Indeed, this subject of love is to fill his ministry, by teachings and example. A reading of the Sermon on the Mount will reveal this heaven-sent theme. (See Matthew chapters 5-7.)

So, two things motivated Yeshua and caused his thinking to focus on — not himself –
a) obedience to the Eternal
b) love of others.

THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER
Yeshua taught the Parable of the Sower which illustrates how the Adversary was at work against the his followers

[Moffatt]

Mark 4:14-20 [Moffatt] 
14 The sower sows the Word...
15 s soon as they hear it, Satan at once comes and carries off the word sown within them. 

The Adversary uses fear in an environment of oppression and persecution. He also seduces by riches as well as its associated anxieties.

Mark 4:18-19 [Moffatt]
18 ...they listen to the word, 
19 but the worries of the world and the delight of being rich and all the other passions come in to choke the word; so it proves unfruitful

Though this is the work of the Adversary, there is a large degree of selfish greed on the part of those deceived. They have thought more of themselves and their own comforts and pleasures rather than the needs of others.

THE RICH, SELF-ABSORBED FARMER
The Nazarene gives a timely parable showing the extent of this egotism in the illustration of the self-centred farmer. This is found in Luke 12:16-21 and the teaching is prompted by a member of the audience who insisted Yeshua settle a matter regarding his inheritance. Yeshua cautions the whole crowd

[AOB]

Luke 12:15 [AOB]
...beware and be on your guard against every form of greed; for even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions

With that in mind, examine the parable. Note the farmer is already well off and prosperous but this does not satisfy him. He plans to expand his agricultural business for his own satisfaction. Note how often in this parable the farmer uses the personal pronoun a dozen times. He is thinking only of himself. Nowhere in the parable does the farmer have any plans to care for the needy or share his riches with the poor. Before the farmer can realise his dreams, before he can even begin his selfish expansions, he dies!
Yeshua concludes the parable with the moral

Luke 12:21 [HRB]
Such is he who lays up treasures for himself, and does not abound in Elohim.

How does one become ‘rich regarding the Eternal’? What does the Eternal want from us in order to become rich from His standpoint? It is interesting how often the Nazarene uses the word ‘credit’ or ‘reward’ when it comes to giving and charitably sharing with others – Matthew 5:46; 6:1, 2; 10:41, 42; Luke 6:32-35.
This idea of becoming rich in the things of the Eternal by thinking of others rather than self was not new with the Nazarene. The principle was well established in the Law of Moses and repeated in the Proverbs of Solomon. Moses commands

Deuteronomy 15:7-11 [HRB]
7 If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers inside any of your gates in your land which YAHWEH your Elohim is giving to you, you shall not harden your heart, nor shut your hand from your needy brother.
8 But you shall open your hand wide to him, and surely you shall lend him enough for his need in that which he lacks.
9 Beware that there is no evil thought in your heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release draws near; and your eye be evil against your needy brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to YAHWEH against you and it be sin to you.
10 Surely, you shall give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because YAHWEH your Elohim will bless you for this thing, in all your work, and in all that you put your hand to.
11 For the needy will never cease from the midst of the land. On account of this I command you, saying, Opening you shall open your hand to your poor and needy brother in your land.

The Proverbs echo the command

[Brenton’s English Septuagint – 1851]

Proverbs 14:31 [Brenton's English Septuagint - 1851]
He that oppresses the needy provokes his Maker: but he that honours him has pity upon the poor.
Proverbs 17:5 [Brenton's English Septuagint - 1851]
He that laughs at the poor provokes him that made him; and he that rejoices at the destruction of another shall not be held guiltless: but he that has compassion shall find mercy.
Proverbs 19:17 [TS]
He who shows favour to the poor lends to יהוה, And He repays his deed. 

AN EGOTISTIC KING
In his own historical period king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon thought too highly of himself and showed himself to be an egomaniac.

Daniel 4:30 [HRB]
The king spoke and said, Is this not great Babylon that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?

Instantly what was foretold earlier in the same chapter befell him from Heaven.

A PRIDEFUL CAPITALIST WHO FORGETS THE ETERNAL
Pride leaves the Eternal out of the equation and can lead to an excessive belief in one’s own merits.

James 4:13-17 [HRB]
13 Come now, those saying, Today or tomorrow we will go into this city, and we will spend one year there, and we will trade and prosper,
... ... ...
15 Instead, you should say, If YAHWEH wills, even we shall live, and we will do this or that;
16 ...All such pride is evil.
17 Therefore, to anyone knowing to do good, and not doing it, it is sin to him.

The Book of Proverbs makes several warnings about pride and haughtiness.
the Eternal states

Proverbs 8:13 [TS]
...I have hated pride and arrogance

What materialistic property gained by such godless egotism will prove no security at all

Proverbs 15:25 [TS]
...יהוה tears down the house of the proud

The better choice is given in 

Proverbs 16:18-19 [TS]
18 Before destruction comes pride, And before a fall a haughty spirit! 
19 Better to be lowly in spirit with the poor, Than to divide the spoil with the proud. 

Echoing the words of James above, Proverbs counsels

Proverbs 27:1 [TS]
Do not boast of tomorrow, For you do not know what a day brings forth.

THE EXAMPLE OF MESSIAH
Over and over in the Gospels we find examples of this Messiah-thinking. We see Yeshua highly conscious of the needs of others; and most often their physical well-being but also in their standing with the Eternal.
The Nazarene shows his interest in social outcasts like lepers and occupying Roman army officers, as well as the sickness of a woman (Matthew 8:1-17).
 He is accused of associating with sinners and tax-collectors (Matthew 9:9-13).
An “unclean” woman is healed by a touch (Matthew 9:19-22).
Even a demonised person, whose behaviour must have been something highly objectionable by Jewish society, does not escape the loving interest of Yeshua (Matthew 9:32-34).
Yeshua even shows his interest in a non-Jewish woman to whom he admits he was not sent. Despite stating that she was not part of his mission he heals this woman (Matthew 15:21-28).
(See YESHUA’S MISSION)
The Nazarene is keenly aware — or, interested — in the hunger of a crowd of thousands, and then feeds them all by a miracle. (Matthew 15:32-39)
His own disciples are shocked to find him teaching a woman in private, let alone a person considered a demonised apostate by the Jews in general. (
John 4:7-30; 8:48)

MESSIAH’S THINKING: LOVE OF THE ETERNAL AND NEIGHBOUR
When his religious opponents tried to trap Yeshua in his speech they asked a loaded question: what is the greatest commandment? The Nazarene’s answer was two-fold:
a) You shall love יהוה your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your mind.’  – Matthew 22:37 (see Deuteronomy 6:5[TS]
b) You shall love your neighbour as yourself – Matthew 22:39 (see Leviticus 19:18) – [TS] 

However, the trick question was propounded, “Who is my ‘neighbour’?” Yeshua then went on to give the well-known parable of The Good Samaritan

PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITANLuke 10:29-37
In this parable we see what Messiah-thinking is: unselfish interest in another’s welfare manifest by considerable charity. However, Yeshua amplifies the whole matter by including the illustration of two cultural-religious enemies who had demonstrated a long history of mutual hatred – Ezra 4:1, 2. 
The Jews considered the Samaritans demonised apostates and had no dealings with them – (John 4:9; 8:48). What must, therefore, have been to their surprise, the unloving in the parable were Jews — and temple priests at that — and the loving one was a Samaritan! The Samaritan demonstrates Messiah-thinking: an interest in others rejected by society with any hidden agenda or greedy motivations. The Samaritan — “moved with pity” — stops what his own journey must have been, attends to the wounds of the injured Jew, takes him to an inn, and gives the inn-keeper what amounts to two days wages. Further, the loving Samaritan assures the inn-keeper that he will cover any additional expenses upon his return.

This parable is as timely today as it was two thousand years ago. Today many so-called believers are quite willing to ‘love’ those members of their own organisation or church, but have all kinds of excuses for avoiding charitable kindness to modern ‘Samaritans’ — demonised religious apostates. These forget that the Nazarene taught there was no ‘credit’ in ‘loving those who love you’ – (Matthew 5:46-48). No such ‘love’ — which may have its hidden agendas — would perk the Eternal’s own interest in such people. However, the Eternal does note in His book of accounts those charitable acts toward the “unrighteous” as well as the “wicked and ungrateful.” (Matthew 5:45; Luke 6:35)

LEARNING TO THINK LIKE MESSIAH
How can each disciple of the Nazarene learn to think of others first and only after to think of self? Shaul gives one of the finest summaries when he lists those characteristics of the transformed mind.

Romans 12:2 [HRB]
...be not conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is the good and pleasing and perfect will of YAHWEH.

He then goes on to list those attributes of the renewed mind

[AOB]

Romans 12:9-21 [AOB]
9 Let love be without hypocrisy...cling to what is good 
10 be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honour
11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit...
12 Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer
13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse
15 rejoice with those who rejoice and cry with those who cry.
16 Be of the same mind toward one another.  Do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
17 never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.
18 If possible , so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
19 Never take your own revenge... 
20 ...if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him drink 
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good

A new disciple, just embarking on  Messiah’s footpath, may find the above difficult and daunting. This ‘metamorphosis’ of the renewed mind takes time and continues throughout the Believer’s life. However, after a person has been following the Nazarene for some years, these characteristics ought to become more and more pronounced. Others who observe these progressive changes in your life and attitude ought to discern how much your thinking has become more and more Messiah-like. In time, given strong discipline on your part, the Messiah-thinking will become natural. Your first and initial reactions to any given situation will always be: How can I love this person? What do I need to do to seek their highest good?
One of the most important factors in this Messiah-thinking is to allow a pause — enough time for you to make the simple decision to seek the highest good of your fellowmen. Usually quick and rash thoughts, speech, and actions are self-serving, not self-less. Time and your determination to walk after Messiah will help you in your struggle to conquer those tendencies to see and judge every circumstance as to how it benefits you. One must train the mind to think less of me and more of you.
One of the most graphic manifestations of self-absorption or egocentricity is the use of the tongue. Do you find yourself saying something negative about a person in their absence? Why? Is it because you wish to exalt yourself over another human being? Or, a friend comes to you with a bit of gossip (news-mongering) which tends to place another in a poor light? How do you respond to this? Do you make excuses for the subject of the gossip if you believe what has been said to be true, though damaging? Can you find it in yourself to treat others as you would be treated?
Slander — spreading an untruth which is derogatory to another’s reputation — is highly condemned in the Scriptures. Indeed, Yeshua says everyone will be judged by how we spoke about others.  Do you go so far as to spread a rumour — or start one — which down-grades a person and damages their reputation? Do you wish to be spoken of in this manner? Why do it to others? If one persists in this kind of slander the Golden Rule has been thrown to the ground and trampled on. One is in severe danger of being parted from Messiah.

There is a weighty thought that may result in thinking less of oneself and more of others. No doubt it was something Messiah thought of daily: his ultimate judgement before the Eternal of the universe. When we realise there is to be only one trip through this journey called life and that this experience is to be judged by the Almighty — it is a sobering thought. (Hebrews 9:27) Additionally, if we realise this judgement will be largely based on how we treated others, there ought to be a strong impetus to begin each day with that thought in mind: How can I treat others today the way I would be treated? It might be the last entry into that record the Judge of all the earth is keeping on your personal life. (Matthew 12:36, 37; Romans 2:16; Matthew 25:31-46)
The problem of our self-view might be reflected in what was an ongoing point of dissension among Yeshua’s own apostles: who was the greatest among them? (Luke 9:46-48; 22:24-27; compare Matthew 18:1-4; 23:11
It would be wise to memorise Shaul’s admonition to the congregation in Corinth

1 Corinthians 10:24 [AOB]
Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbour

And then, strive to do your best to: Think Just As Messiah Thought!
Source:
Mark Heber Miller

NAZARENE NOTES