They did not believe John the Baptist (Mt 21:32-21:32)

“John came to you

In the way of righteousness.

You did not believe him.

But the tax collectors

And the prostitutes

Believed him.

Even after you saw it,

You did not change your mind.

You did not believe him.”

 

ἦλθεν γὰρ Ἰωάνης πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ὁδῷ δικαιοσύνης, καὶ οὐκ ἐπιστεύσατε αὐτῷ· οἱ δὲ τελῶναι καὶ αἱ πόρναι ἐπίστευσαν αὐτῷ· ὑμεῖς δὲ ἰδόντες οὐδὲ μετεμελήθητε ὕστερον τοῦ πιστεῦσαι αὐτῷ.

 

This saying about John the Baptist is unique to Matthew, based on his continual emphasis on the role of John the Baptist.  However, there is something similar to this in Luke, chapter 7:29-30, but within another context.  Jesus used the example of John the Baptist who had come to them in his righteousness way (ἦλθεν γὰρ Ἰωάνης πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ὁδῷ δικαιοσύνης).  They had not believed him (καὶ οὐκ ἐπιστεύσατε αὐτῷ), but the Roman tax collectors and the prostitutes had believed him (οἱ δὲ τελῶναι καὶ αἱ πόρναι ἐπίστευσαν αὐτῷ).  Even after they saw John (ὑμεῖς δὲ ἰδόντες), they did not change their minds, or repent (οὐδὲ μετεμελήθητε ὕστερον), or believe in him (πιστεῦσαι αὐτῷ).  Jesus chided them for their rejection of John the Baptist.

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The believing blind men (Mt 9:28-9:28)

“When Jesus

Entered the house,

The blind men

Came to him.

Jesus said to them,

‘Do you believe

That I am able to do this?’

They said to him.

‘Yes!

Lord!’”

 

ἐλθόντι δὲ εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν προσῆλθον αὐτῷ οἱ τυφλοί, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς Πιστεύετε ὅτι δύναμαι τοῦτο ποιῆσαι; λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Ναί, Κύριε.

 

Not only are there similar stories about healing the blind men found in Mark, chapter 10:49-52, and Luke, chapter 18:40-43, but also in Matthew, chapter 20:32-33, but the other more elaborate stories took place in Jericho, and not as here in Galilee.  Their faith was at the heart of this healing.  It is not clear whose house Jesus went into, but he did go into a house (ἐλθόντι δὲ εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν).  These blind men followed him into the house (προσῆλθον αὐτῷ οἱ τυφλοί).  Then Jesus asked them (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς) if they believed that he was capable of healing them (Πιστεύετε ὅτι δύναμαι τοῦτο ποιῆσαι).  They responded that they believed in him the Lord (λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Ναί, Κύριε).  Matthew has them refer to Jesus at “Lord (Κύριε).”  That could mean an important person or literally the Lord or God.  Perhaps the latter is intended here.

The healing of the centurion’s servant (Mt 8:13-8:13)

“Jesus said

To the centurion.

‘Go!

Let it be done

For you

According to your faith.’

The servant

Was healed

At that very hour.”

 

καὶ εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῷ ἑκατοντάρχῃ Ὕπαγε, ὡς ἐπίστευσας γενηθήτω σοι. καὶ ἰάθη ὁ παῖς ἐν τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐκείνῃ.

 

There is a slightly different ending to this healing of the centurion’s servant in Luke, chapter 7:10.  Here there is an emphasis on the faith of the centurion.  Jesus told the centurion (καὶ εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῷ ἑκατοντάρχῃ) to go home (Ὕπαγε), because the healing was going to take place as he had believed that it would (ὡς ἐπίστευσας γενηθήτω σοι.).  Simply the word of Jesus, not his presence would cure his servant.  Then Matthew indicated that at that very moment, at that very hour (ἐν τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐκείνῃ), the servant was healed (καὶ ἰάθη ὁ παῖς), without the presence of Jesus.

Arius (256-336)

One of the earliest protesters in Christianity was Arius (256-336 CE), the fourth century priest in Alexandria, Egypt.  He believed that God the Father created the universe through the divinely created Christ, but that Jesus was a creature.  Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria disagreed.  The Roman Emperor Constantine called a general council at Nicaea in 325 to settle this dispute.  The result was the definition that Christ was the Son of the Father begotten of the same substance – homousious.  Jesus was truly divine.

The Christ of Faith

For the followers of Jesus, he was the anointed one, the Messiah, the Christ.  They believed that Jesus the Christ implied that God was unique in Jesus of Nazareth, in his life, death and resurrection.  Jesus reconciled humanity to God and us with one another.  He redeemed mankind.  He rose from the dead.  Christians believe in Jesus Christ, the savior, who was not like everyone else, since he was the Christ of faith.  As later doctrinal statements will say, he was truly human and truly God, the son of the Father, filled with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Seminar failure

The Jesus Seminar was a group of about 150 critical Biblical scholars founded in 1985 by Robert Funk (1926-2005).  Although never formally disbanded, the seminar effectively ceased functioning in 2006.  Their goal was to reconstruct the historical Jesus and find out what exactly Jesus said.  The result was that they portrayed Jesus as an itinerant Hellenistic Jewish sage, a faith-healer, who preached a gospel of liberation from injustice.  However, they believed that Jesus did not hold an apocalyptic worldview, as indicated in the canonical writings.  The methods and conclusions of the Jesus Seminar came under very harsh criticism by some biblical scholars, historians, and clergy.  However, this Jesus Seminar produced a significant number of publications for over 20 years, especially articles about the Gospel of Thomas.

The prophets in general

Some prophets wrote things, while others had people write things about them.  Thus, there is a mixed bag about the Hebrew prophets.  Generally speaking, a prophet was someone who believed that a higher power had contacted them.  Thus, they became the intermediary between Yahweh, their God, and their fellow human beings.  Almost like angels, these humans delivered a divine message.  Quite often, the message itself that the prophet conveyed was called a prophecy.  The Hebrew prophets were moral teachers.  Some prophets may have had a role with the institutional Temple priests.  Many religious groups have had what are called prophetic priests.  The Hebrew word navi, meaning spokesperson, has been traditionally translated as prophet.  These navi was considered to be the mouth of Yahweh or God, since they were open to receive and transmit his divine wisdom.  Besides writing and speaking messages from God, these Israelite Nevi’im often acted out prophetic parables in their life.  They were not always praised, since some prophets were even considered bad or false prophets.  Thus, they were sometimes the target of persecution and opposition.