For our study this morning I want us to look at that subject of Yeshua the Rabbi:
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Yeshua by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." John 3:1-2 NASB
Our Savior's name when he walked this earth was Yeshua. Matthew 1:1-16 makes it clear that he came from Hebrew decent through the tribe of Judah. In other words, he was Jewish. He was born to and raised by Jewish parents who raised Him under Jewish culture. He spoke Hebrew. The name Yeshua is literally a transliteration of the Messiah's name. When one says, "Yeshua," he is speaking Hebrew. This is the name that all the apostles would have known Him by and what His mother would have called Him. The name Yeshua literally means: "Yahweh's Salvation, or Salvation from Yahweh."
Here we see that Nicodemus, a Jewish leader, calls Yeshua "Rabbi." Why would he do that? Nicodemus called Him "Rabbi" because He was a Jewish Rabbi. Many Christians don't understand this. Have you ever seen the bumper sticker, "My boss is a Jewish Carpenter"? How accurate is that?:
"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?" And they took offense at Him. Mark 6:3 NASB
The word "carpenter" is the Greek word tekton, which actually means: "a craftsman who builds." Given that Israel's buildings were constructed of stones and rocks, Yeshua likely worked as a stonemason rather than a carpenter. He probably spent hours helping His father shape and cut stones. Knowing that Yeshua is a stonemason, look at what Peter has to say:
you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Yeshua the Christ. 1 Peter 2:5 NASB
Peter tells his readers that they are living stones being shaped by the master stonemason, Yeshua the Christ.
So Yeshua was not a carpenter, but He did work with His father as a stonemason. But what I want us to understand is that Yeshua was a Jewish Rabbi. He didn't spend His adult life building houses, but building kingdom citizens. Yeshua functioned in first century Israel as a man who was a Jewish Rabbi. If you want to understand Yeshua and His teaching, you need to understand something of the Jewish Rabbis.
Let me back up a minute. Before we look at Yeshua the Rabbi, I want you to understand that Yeshua of Nazareth was God made man. In theological language, this is called the Doctrine of the Hypostatic Union, which is the doctrine of the personal union of the two natures, the divine and the human, of the Lord Yeshua the Christ. Yeshua is 100% God and 100% man. This is where we get the theological term "theanthropic," which comes from theos, which means: "God" and anthropos, which means: "man." Yeshua is the God-Man. He is One Person with two natures.
If you have trouble understanding the Doctrine of the Hypostatic Union, you're not alone. Daniel Webster, the 19th-century statesman, once dined in Boston with several eminent literary figures. Soon the conversation turned to Christianity. Webster, a convinced Christian, confessed his belief in Christ and His atoning work. A Unitarian minister at the table responded, "Mr. Webster, can you comprehend how Jesus Christ could be both God and Man?"
"No, sir, I cannot understand it," replied Webster, "and I would be ashamed to acknowledge Christ as my Savior if I could comprehend it. He could be no greater than myself, and such is my conviction of accountability to God, my sense of sinfulness before Him, and my knowledge of my own incapacity to recover myself, that I feel I need a superhuman Savior."
There is plenty of scriptural evidence that Yeshua is God. The Tanakh taught that the Messiah would be God:
"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity." Micah 5:2 NASB
This One who is to be born in Bethlehem is eternal. The only Person that is eternal is God. Yeshua the Christ is eternal God. The New Testament also affirms this:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. John 1:1-3 NASB
"The beginning" is before all beginnings, prior to the beginning of Genesis 1:1. The phrase could be rendered "from all eternity." John, in this verse, establishes the preexistence of Christ in eternity past. He already "was" when the beginning took place. Notice what Yeshua said to the Jews of His day:
Yeshua said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." John 8:58 NASB
Yeshua made this staggering statement using the "Tetragramatin," which is the Old Covenant sacred name for God. Yeshua is saying that He, a man, pre-existed the patriarch Abraham, who lived 2,000 years earlier:
And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"Exodus 3:14 NASB
This is referring to absolute existence. By doing so, Yeshua claimed an existence that was timeless. There never was a time when Yeshua was not. He knows no past nor future. The Jews at the feast well knew that Yeshua claimed to be eternal God, look at their response:
Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him; but Yeshua hid Himself, and went out of the temple. John 8:59 NASB
His enemies knew that He claimed to be God. There are many today who claim to be Christians who don't even know what Yeshua's enemies knew—He claimed to be God.
Yeshua, who is eternal God, became a man. We call this "the incarnation," which comes from two Latin words, "in" plus "cargo," meaning: "infleshment, the act of assuming flesh." God chose to become united to true humanity. Paul teaches this in:
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Yeshua, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, Philippians 2:5-6 NASB
Verse 6 teaches us that Yeshua is God. This is where the incarnation begins, this is the point from which He descends, God becomes man. The word "form" is morphe. It has nothing to do with shape or size. Multin and Millagan say that "morphe" is a form which truly and fully expresses the being which under lies it. Morphe is the essential character of something. Yeshua pre-existed in the essence of God.
Verse 6 says that Christ, "did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped," The word "grasped" is from the Greek word harpogmos, which means: "to take by force, to seize." It is used only here in the Scriptures. The noun refers to: "taking an attitude of seizing something." Our Lord did not consider the expression of His Divine essence such a treasure that it should be retained at all costs. He was willing to wave His rights to the expression of His Deity.
Let me give you a Curtis paraphrase of verse 6: "Who always being the exact essence of the eternal God, did not consider equality with God as something that must be demonstrated."
The word "equality" is isos, and it means: "exactly the same, in size, quality, quantity, character and number." We use it this way in English, for example: Isomer— is a chemical molecule having a slightly different structure from another molecule, but being identical with it in terms of its chemical elements and weight. Its schema may be different, but its morphe is the same. Isomorph—is having the same form. Isometric —is equal in number. Isosceles triangle—is one with two equal sides.
Paul is saying that Yeshua is exactly equal with God. Is God omniscient? Then so is Yeshua. Is God omnipresent? Then so is Yeshua. Is God omnipotent? Then so is Yeshua. Is God the creator? Then so is Yeshua. Is God the beginning and end? Then so is Yeshua. But He did not consider His equality with God as a prize that had to be hung on to. He is equal with God in every way, but while He walked the earth, He didn't look equal to God, He looked just like a man.
Yeshua didn't grasp or clutch or cling to His rights but:
but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:7 NASB
The word "but" here is a contrastive—"not this but this." The word "emptied" is the Greek word kenoo, it means: "to make empty." Figuratively, it means: "to abase, naturalize, to make of none effect, of no reputation."
This is what theologians call the "Doctrine of the Kenosis"—the self emptying of Yeshua the Christ. What did Yeshua empty Himself of?:
"And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was. John 17:5 NASB
He is asking to have His glory restored, because His glory was put aside when He became man. The Greek noun for "glory" here is doxa. At first the verb meant: "to appear" or "to seem," and then in time the noun doxa, that came from it, then meant: "an opinion." In time the noun was used only for having a good opinion about some person, and the verb came to mean: "the praise" or "honor" due to one of whom a good opinion was held.
If a man had a right opinion about God, this meant that he was able to form a correct opinion of God's attributes. The orthodox Jew knew God as all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, merciful, faithful, holy, just, loving, and so on with all His other perfections. When he acknowledged this, he was said to give glory to God. God's glory consisted of His intrinsic worth embedded in His character, and all that could be known of God was merely an expression of it.
Our word "worth" is somewhat equal to the word "glory." The worth refers to intrinsic character. The worth of a man is his character. Have you ever heard someone say, "That person is worthless"? By this they mean he has no character. The worth of God is God's glory. When we praise God, we are acknowledging His worth-ship. We shorten that word, and we get worship. That is what worship is, folks, it's acknowledging God's worth.
There is another and entirely different meaning of the word "glory," which is: "light or splendor." In Hebrew thought, an outward manifestation of God's presence involved a display of light. This brilliant outward manifestation of God's presence was described by the word shekinah, and in the LXX the word "doxa" is often used to translate it.
Put these two meanings of the word glory together and you have a clear picture of Christ's oneness with God and of the humbling of Himself that went with the kenosis. When He became a man, He laid aside the brilliant manifestation of His glory. Secondly, He veiled His glory in the sense that He did not demonstrate His attributes. He did not walk this earth in the power of deity, He walked this earth in the power of the Holy Spirit, in total dependance.
From His own will, Yeshua did not use His attributes to benefit Himself. They were not surrendered, but voluntarily restricted in keeping with the Father's plan. Christ gave up any independent exercise of certain divine attributes in living among men with their human limitations that He might become truly man. Dependance is a necessary characteristic or real humanity. Christ lived in dependance upon the Holy Spirit in all that He did while He walked this earth.
In Matthew 4, the temptations of Christ were related to His deity and the kenosis. His humanity longed for what His deity could have provided. He did not exercise the prerogatives of His deity, but was dependant upon the Father.
Yeshua is the God/man, but He lived and functioned as a man. We must understand that He lived and functioned as a man in first century Israel. If we are going to understand this, we must get involved in Isagogics. Isagogics is a word that has all but disappeared from English-language dictionaries. It is from the Greek eis, "into," and ago, "to lead." In English, an "isagoge" is an introduction. "Isogogic," Is defined in the 1955 Oxford English Dictionary as "introductory studies, especially that part of theology which is introductory to exegesis."
lsagogics is the study of the historical and cultural background of biblical passages. The Bible must be interpreted in light of the time in which it was written. All Scripture was written for every believer (2 Tim. 3:16), but not all Scripture was written to every believer. If our goal is to understand what the writer wanted his readers to understand, then we have to know something about history.
Yeshua was a Jewish Rabbi
From accounts found in Jewish sources, one can form a reasonably accurate picture of what Yeshua was doing in His childhood and adolescence. He was studying, committing to memory large amounts of material—Scripture and commentary on Scripture—all the available sacred literature of the day.
This was exactly what most of the other Jewish boys of Yeshua's day were doing. The memorization of written and oral Torah was such a large part of Jewish education that most contemporaries of Yeshua had large portions of this material—at the least almost all of the Scriptures—firmly committed to memory.
Professor and Rabbi Shmuel Safrai, who was professor emeritus of Jewish History of the Mishnaic and Talmudic Period at the Hebrew University, writes this:
The Scriptures were known almost by heart by everyone. From quite early in the Second Temple period, one could hardly find a little boy in the street who didn't know the Scriptures. According to Jerome (342-420 A.D.) who lived in Bethlehem and learned Hebrew from local Jewish residents in order to translate the Scriptures into Latin [producing the Vulgate Bible]: "There doesn't exist any Jewish child who doesn't know by heart the history from Adam to Zerubbabel [i.e., from the beginning to the end of the Bible]." Perhaps this was a bit of an exaggeration on Jerome's part, but in most cases his reports have proved reliable. ("Safrai," lecture on June 5, 1985)
Yeshua was born, grew up, and spent His ministry among people who knew the Scripture by memory, who debated its application with enthusiasm, and who loved God with all their hearts, all their souls, and all their might (Deut. 6:5). God prepared this environment carefully so that Yeshua would have exactly the context He needed to present His message of "the Kingdom of Heaven." He fit His world perfectly. Understanding this helps to understand the great faith and courage of His followers who left Galilee and went to the whole world to bring the good news. Their courage, their message, the methods they used, and their complete devotion to God and His Word were born in the religious communities in Galilee.
Capernaum was a small village of about 2,500 people. We might think of it as just some small hick town. This would be wrong. It was, in its day, Harvard or Yale. If you take the Mishnah—the record of Jewish thinking from A.D. 0 - 100—there are more quotes from Rabbis of Capernaum than all the rest of the Rabbis of the world put together. The Synagogue school found in Capernaum is four times larger than any other Synagogue school found until the 1500's. This is the world where Yeshua ministered. A world highly educated in the Word of God.
By the time Yeshua began His public ministry, He had not only received the thorough religious training typical of the average Jewish man of His day, He had probably spent years studying with one of the outstanding Rabbis in the Galilee. Yeshua thus appeared on the scene as a respected Rabbi Himself.
The term "rabbi" is derived from the Hebrew word rav, which in biblical Hebrew meant: "much, many, numerous, great." It also was sometimes used to refer to high government officials or army officers (e.g., Jeremiah 39:3,13).
In Yeshua's day, rav was used to refer to the master of a slave or of a disciple. Thus rabi literally meant: "my master" and was a term of respect used by slaves in addressing their owners and by disciples in addressing their teachers.
The term "rabbi" in the time of Yeshua did not necessarily refer to a specific office or occupation. That would be true only after the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed (A.D. 70 ). Rather, it was a word meaning: "great one; or my master," which was applied to many kinds of people in everyday speech. It clearly was used as a term of respect for one's teacher as well, even though the formal position of Rabbi would come later. Calling Yeshua "Rabbi" by the people of His day is a measure of their great respect for Him as a person and as a teacher and not just a reference to the activity of teaching He was engaged in.
Many people in Yeshua's day referred to Him as Rabbi as did His disciples:
In the meanwhile the disciples were requesting Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." John 4:31 NASB
Peter called Him Rabbi:
Peter said to Yeshua, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." Mark 9:5 NASB
A Sadducee called Him Rabbi:
Now there came to Him some of the Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection), 28 and they questioned Him, saying, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that IF A MAN'S BROTHER DIES, having a wife, AND HE IS CHILDLESS, HIS BROTHER SHOULD TAKE THE WIFE AND RAISE UP OFFSPRING TO HIS BROTHER. Luke 20:27-28 NASB
"Teacher" here is didaskalos, which means: "doctor, master, teacher."
A lawyer called Him Rabbi:
And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" Matthew 22:35-36 NASB
The crowds called Him Rabbi:
And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, "Rabbi, when did You get here?" John 6:25 NASB
Note the diversity of those who addressed Yeshua as Rabbi: a lawyer, a rich man, Pharisees, Sadducees, Peter, and ordinary people. Clearly, there was a wide range of Yeshua's contemporaries who saw Him as a Rabbi.
What was it like to be a first century Rabbi? From the Gospel accounts, Yeshua clearly appears as a typical first-century Rabbi, or Jewish teacher. He traveled from place to place; He depended upon the hospitality of the people; He taught outdoors, in homes, in villages, in synagogues and in the Temple; He had disciples who followed Him as He traveled. This is the very image of a Jewish teacher in the land of Israel at that time.
Perhaps the most convincing proof that Yeshua was a Rabbi was His style of teaching, for He used the same methods of Scripture interpretation and instruction as other Jewish teachers of His day. A simple example of this is Yeshua's use of parables to convey His teachings. Parables such as Yeshua used were extremely prevalent among ancient Jewish sages and over 4,000 of them have survived in rabbinic literature.
In Yeshua's day there were two types of Rabbis. The first were called "Torah teachers." The word Torah is used to speak of the first five books of the Bible. Torah teachers were people who were considered to be masters of the Torah, which meant they knew the first five books of the Bible by memory. Secondly, they were master teachers, they could use parables and alliteration. They were recognized by the community as teachers of God's Word. A Torah teacher could only teach what the community believed was right. They could not come up with new teachings. A Torah teacher would teach in three parts like this:
- It is written—he would quote the text by memory.
- And that means—he would explain using parables or stories.
- According to—and then he would quote one of their Rabbis as authority to the meaning he had given for the text.
These men were brilliant teachers, but were limited by the authority of others. In Yeshua's world there was also a small group of what are called "Rabbis with semikhah." We know of about a dozen of them by name that lived from 30 B.C to A.D. 70. They were not common, and they didn't exist in Judea.
The Rabbis with semikhah were masters of the Torah and the Haftorah. Haftorah is a Hebrew word that simply means: "the rest." They were masters of the whole Tanakh. Tanakh is an acronym that identifies the Hebrew Bible. The acronym is based on the initial Hebrew letters of each of the text's three parts: 1.Torah, meaning: "Instruction"—"The five books of Moses," also called the "Pentateuch." 2. Nevi'im, meaning: "Prophets." 3. Ketuvim, meaning: "Writings" or "Hagiographa."
These Rabbis knew the entire Tanakh by memory. How many verses could you recite right now by memory from the Tanakh? Think of the time commitment to memorize the entire Tanakh.
They were also master teachers who were recognized by the community, and many of them were healers. Most miracles that Yeshua did, except for raising the dead, these Rabbis with semikhah did. They cast out demons, healed the blind and lepers, fed people, caused storms. So most of the miracles Yeshua did were done by the Rabbis of His day who had semikhah. The Mishnah records 150-180 miracles done by other Rabbis with semikhah.
Because of their unique ability to teach Torah and heal, they received what was known as semikhah. Semikhah means: "authority." They had the authority to teach new ideas. They were so close to God that He had given them new insight into His Word. Hillell, Shammai, Gamliel were all Rabbi's that had semikhah. This was their teaching method:
- It was written...
- You have heard that that means this...
- But I tell you it means this...
Do you recognize that form of teaching? This is how Yeshua taught:
"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; 28 but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28 NASB
Notice what the people said of Yeshua's teaching:
And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Mark 1:22 NASB
Yeshua was one of this select group that was considered teachers with authority to make new teaching.
How do you get semikhah? You had to have the Tanakh memorized, as well as the Mishnah, and be a gifted teacher. You also had to have two other Rabbis with semikhah who publically put their hands on your head and declared from God that you had God's authority. When that happened, you were considered a Rabbi who could make new teachings. Over and over in the New Testament people come to Yeshua and ask Him where did You get the authority to say that?:
And when He had come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him as He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?" Matthew 21:23 NASB
What they are saying is: Who gave you semikhah? Who were your two Rabbis?
There is a Jewish Rabbinic technique that is commonly used to this day, where they would begin a debate or dialogue with a question. And the response from the group comes in the form of a question. The question that comes is first of all an answer to the first question, and it also extends it to a deeper level:
And it came about that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. Luke 2:46-47 NASB
Yeshua was asking questions, and they were amazed at His questions. We see many times in Yeshua's teaching ministry that He will respond to a question with a question. And in His question is the answer:
And it came about on one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him, 2 and they spoke, saying to Him, "Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?" Luke 20:1-2 NASB
To this Yeshua responds in the typical Rabbinic fashion with a question:
And He answered and said to them, "I shall also ask you a question, and you tell Me: 4 "Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?" Luke 20:3-4 NASB
He is asking, "Did John get his authority, his semikhah, from God or man?" Now remember His question answers theirs. Their question was, "Where did you get semikhah?" And His question to them was, "Where did John get semikhah?" What did He just tell them? "I got semikhah from John." When did John declare God's authority being in Yeshua?:
The next day he saw Yeshua coming to him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 "This is He on behalf of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.' John 1:29-30 NASB
Who is the second one to declare God's authority on Yeshua?:
And immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: "Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased." Mark 1:10-11 NASB
Yeshua is the only Rabbi in history who got His semikhah directly from God Himself.
These Rabbis with semikhah had talmid or disciples. Torah teachers did not have disciples, only Rabbis with semikhah had talmidim. Yeshua was not the only Rabbi who had talmidim. What made Yeshua stand out was His age. He was only in His early thirties. Apart from Yeshua, the youngest Rabbi that we know of with semikhah was Akiba, and he was sixty. Hillell got his when he was 70, Shammai, when he was 85. How could Yeshua have semikhah at 30? That is part of what blew them away. How could Yeshua know the Tanakh so well in only 30 years?
Each of these Rabbis with semikhah had their own way of coming up with new teachings. And that method of interpretation was called their "yoke." The yoke of Torah is the way you take the burden of keeping Torah on your shoulder. You do it according to their method. Every Rabbi had a different yoke. Torah teachers would teach the accepted interpretations, or yoke, of their community.
If you wanted to know what a Rabbi with semikhah's yoke, was, you would simply ask him, "What is the greatest commandment?" The greatest commandment will tell you what his yoke is. What was Yeshua' yoke?:
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 37 And He said to him, "'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' 38 "This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' 40 "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." Matthew 22:36-40 NASB
This was Yeshua's yoke. Other Rabbi's had other yokes. So the talmid would test the various Rabbi's to find out what their yoke was. We see this happening often to Yeshua in the Bible. Various people came to Him to test His yoke. They wanted to know if His interpretation fit the Torah. Now picture that you have these different Rabbi's with their different yokes all really trying to understand the Torah. Then along comes Yeshua and says:
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 "For My yoke is easy, and My load is light." Matthew 11:28-30 NASB
Yeshua is saying: "Does your yoke tire you out? Come and take my yoke." He was probably not speaking to unsaved people burdened with sin, but people unsure of the many interpretations they heard in the dynamic religious debate in Galilee. What is Yeshua's yoke? Love God with everything in you, and love your neighbor as yourself. Is that an easy yoke? Easy to understand, not necessarily to do. Yoke gives you the picture of an animal with a yoke pulling a burden. The burden is keeping the will of God, which is going to take hard work. Do you think it is easy to obey God? No, it's difficult and in order to do it, you must have a yoke. Your yoke is your way of interpreting the Torah.
In Yeshua's day the great teachers used a technique today called remez or hint, in which they used part of a Scripture passage in discussion, assuming their audience's knowledge of the Bible would allow them to deduce for themselves fuller meaning. Apparently, Yeshua used this method often.
An example of this is Yeshua's comments to Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). Yeshua said:
"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:10 NASB
The background to this statement is probably Ezekiel 34. God, angry with the leaders of Israel for scattering and harming His flock (the people of Israel) states the He Himself will become the Shepherd and will seek the lost ones and deliver (save) them:
"I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick; but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with judgment. Ezekiel 34:16 NASB
Based on this, the people of Yeshua's day understood that the Messiah to come would "seek and save" the lost. By using this phrase, knowing the people knew the Scripture, Yeshua said several things. To the people He said, "I am the Messiah and God no less." To the leaders (whose influence kept Zacchaeus out of the crowd) He said "You have scattered and harmed God's flock." To Zacchaeus He said, "You are one of God's lost sheep, He still loves you."
This technique indicated a brilliant understanding of Scripture and incredible teaching skills on Yeshua's part. It also demonstrates the background knowledge of Scripture the common people had.
Believer, do you want to understand the words of Yeshua? Understand that He was a Jewish Rabbi, He taught using the methods and techniques of a Rabbi. He taught to people who knew the Word. So if you really want to understand the teaching of Yeshua, learn the Scripture! The more you know the Bible, the more you will understand the words of Yeshua. Read it, and re-read, and re-read it until it comes out of you in all your speech and actions.