Hillel said there are four ways of teaching, each beginning with a Hebrew letter. The first begins with the letter p, the second with the letter r, the third with the letter d, and the fourth with the letter s — prds. That happens to be the word pardes, which is the word for garden. It became known by this acronym. Of the 4 ways of teaching it is the second way (beginning with the letter r – remez) that Jesus employed with the most exquisite sophistication. You will never fully appreciate Jesus’ teachings if you don’t understand that he is continually using remez. What is remez? I have already illustrated it for you with Hosea and Ezekiel.
When you look at John 8:54 you will recognize this technique, although you don’t call it by name. Vs. 58 – ‘before Abraham was I am’. Why did they pick up stones to stone Jesus? Because they recognized what he was claiming in that statement; it is so obvious that 2000 years later and 2 cultures removed, even you recognize it. Here Jesus is referring to the incident where Moses comes before the Lord and says, ‘who shall I say sent me to deliver the people of Israel?’ God reveals his name unto Moses, saying, ‘tell them that I AM sent you’. And then he goes on to amplify it, ‘I am that I am, I will be what I will be’—and finally he says the name: YHWH. When Jesus says this, even NT Protestants today catch the implication; Jesus is saying, ‘I am, just as Yahweh said: ‘I am’. This is remez at work— Jesus is using the technique of referencing or referring to something, or we could say alluding to, hinting at — that is what remez is all about. Jesus was doing it continually; he hardly made a statement that did not have some remez involved.
What did Jesus refer to? The Scriptures, the OT, the Tanach. To understand how he could do this with sophistication you must understand the following: the audience in Jesus’ day was biblically quite literate; they had the main scriptures committed to memory—Jesus had the entire OT committed to memory. And because of that he could say something, and they would immediately know the reference. He wouldn’t have to quote the verse, he just quoted a portion of a verse, or he could just quote a word and they would immediately know what he was referring to — and they would amplify and fill in the lines on this. Jesus was doing this continually; it gives so much depth of meaning if you understand it.
In Luke 19 Zacchaeus, a tax collector – a hated, despised individual – comes to faith in the Messiah Yeshua. He shows true repentance and says: ‘I repay everybody I cheated four times, and I give half of all my possessions to the poor’. That is genuine repentance. Then Jesus says something because he is rejoicing and exalting in this man, this hated despised outcast coming to faith (coming into his kingdom); and he says, ‘this Zacchaeus is a true son of Abraham’. Then for a moment Jesus almost reveals too much of himself — he bursts forth with a statement that is utterly explosive if you understand the remez of it. He says, ‘the Son of man has come to seek and save the lost’. This is such a nice statement, everybody has it memorized; but we don’t begin to fathom the depths of it. Jesus is referencing two things.
1. Dan 7:13, 14. Jesus’ favorite terminology for himself is ‘Son of Man’. That is the term he chooses. Why? Because of all the terms in the Hebrew Bible this term is the most supernatural. It does not refer to his lowly humanity; quite the contrary. Daniel says, ‘I have a vision of one coming like unto a son of man, he is filled with glory, with power, with might. All authority is given to him and he is establishing a kingdom that shall never end’. Every time Jesus spoke of himself as the Son of Man he was saying: ‘I am the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophesy, I am the One he saw who is coming; I am the One who has been given all authority and power and glory – I am the Messiah, the Son of Man’.
2. Then he goes beyond that and says, ‘I have come to seek and save the lost’. What did he say there? His audience knew exactly that he was referring to Ezek. 34:11, 12; 15, 16, etc. Yahweh says, ‘I am displeased with you priests, you shepherds of Israel, you are not taking care of business. A time is coming where I myself, the Lord, will come and seek and save the lost sheep of Israel’.
Jesus says, ‘I am the one Daniel saw. But more than that, I am fulfilling my word which was recorded in Ezekiel’s prophesy – I, the Lord himself have come to seek and save the lost sheep of the house of Israel’.