The history of this young man (Mk 9:21-9:22)

“Jesus asked

This father.

‘How long has this

Been happening

To him?’

The father said.

‘From childhood.

It has often cast him

Into a fire

And into water,

To destroy him.

But if you able

To do anything,

Have pity on us!

Help us!’”

 

καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ Πόσος χρόνος ἐστὶν ὡς τοῦτο γέγονεν αὐτῷ; ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Ἐκ παιδιόθεν

καὶ πολλάκις καὶ εἰς πῦρ αὐτὸν ἔβαλεν καὶ εἰς ὕδατα ἵνα ἀπολέσῃ αὐτόν· ἀλλ’ εἴ τι δύνῃ, βοήθησον ἡμῖν σπλαγχνισθεὶς ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς.

 

This is unique to Mark.  Jesus asked the father of this boy (καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ Πόσος) how long a time had these convulsions been happening to him (χρόνος ἐστὶν ὡς τοῦτο γέγονεν αὐτῷ)?  The father said that it had been happening since his childhood (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Ἐκ παιδιόθεν).  This evil spirit would often cast him both into fire (καὶ πολλάκις καὶ εἰς πῦρ αὐτὸν ἔβαλεν) and water (καὶ εἰς ὕδατα), as Matthew had mentioned, in order to destroy him (ἵνα ἀπολέσῃ αὐτόν).  Then the father asked Jesus, if he was able to do anything to help him and his son (ἀλλ’ εἴ τι δύνῃ βοήθησον ἡμῖν)?  He wanted Jesus to have pity and compassion on him and his son (σπλαγχνισθεὶς ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς).

Sheep without a shepherd (Mk 6:34-6:34)

“As Jesus went ashore,

He saw a great crowd.

He had compassion

For them.

Because they were

Like sheep

Without a shepherd.

He began

To teach them

Many things.”

 

Καὶ ἐξελθὼν εἶδεν πολὺν ὄχλον, καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη ἐπ’ αὐτοὺς ὅτι ἦσαν ὡς πρόβατα μὴ ἔχοντα ποιμένα, καὶ ἤρξατο διδάσκειν αὐτοὺς πολλά.

 

A similar statement can be found in all four gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:14, Luke, chapter 9:11, and John, chapter 6:2, plus here.  Jesus continued his mission of compassion.  Mark said that when Jesus went ashore (Καὶ ἐξελθὼν), he saw a great crowd (εἶδεν πολὺν ὄχλον).  There was no indication of the size of this crowd here.  He then had compassion for them (καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς).  However, instead of curing people as in Matthew, Mark had Jesus talk to them as being sheep without a shepherd (ὅτι ἦσαν ὡς πρόβατα μὴ ἔχοντα ποιμένα) as in Matthew, chapter 9:36.  Then Jesus began to teach the people many things (καὶ ἤρξατο διδάσκειν αὐτοὺς πολλά), rather than heal them.  The emphasis here was on teaching rather than healing.

Jesus cures the leper (Mk 1:41-1:42)

“Moved with pity,

Jesus stretched out

His hand.

He touched him.

He said to him.

‘I do choose!

Be made clean!’

Immediately,

The leprosy

Left him.

He was made clean.”

 

καὶ σπλαγχνισθεὶς ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ ἥψατο καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ Θέλω, καθαρίσθητι.

καὶ εὐθὺς ἀπῆλθεν ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ ἡ λέπρα, καὶ ἐκαθερίσθη.

 

Luke, chapter 5:13, has something similar, but there was no mention of pity in Luke or the similar story in Matthew, chapter 8:3.  Mark said that Jesus was moved with pity or compassion (καὶ σπλαγχνισθεὶς).  Jesus stretched out his hand (ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ) and touched the leper (ἥψατο), since it was not against Jewish law to touch a leper.  Then he said that he willed or wanted (λέγων αὐτῷ Θέλω) to cleanse the leper (καθαρίσθητι).  Immediately (καὶ εὐθὺς), the leprosy went away (ἀπῆλθεν ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ ἡ λέπρα).  This leper became clean (καὶ ἐκαθερίσθη), so that there was a prophetic cleansing of a leper, because Jesus had this healing touch.

Fourth narrative

The fourth narrative section revealed the increasing opposition to Jesus.  Thus, his disciples had to prepare for his absence.  These instructions emphasized responsibility and humility.  Simon was renamed Peter, the rock upon which he was going to build his church, especially the mystery of the kingdom of heaven.

While Jesus was preaching in the various towns, John the Baptist was put in prison.  The disciples of John questioned Jesus and Jesus responded.  Jesus then asked questions about John.  Was John more than a prophet?  Then Matthew had a series of Old Testament scriptural quotations about John.  How great was John the Baptist?  Was John Elijah?

Jesus warned that this was a childish generation that was indifferent as they kept on eating and drinking, as if nothing important was happening.  Jesus was against the various Galilean cities and towns, especially Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum.  Jesus explained that there were hidden things from the wise ones, especially the relationship of the Father with the Son, but that the disciples had an easy yoke to bear.

Next came the question of eating on the Sabbath.  The Pharisees reacted against Jesus, but he used the example of David and the priests in the Temple to respond to them.  God was the Lord of the Sabbath.  Thus, when Jesus went into the synagogue, they asked him if he would heal anyone on the Sabbath?  Jesus compared sheep to human beings and then healed the man’s hand.  Thus, the Pharisees conspired against Jesus, while he took a low profile.

Jesus said that the fulfillment of the prophesy of Isaiah was at hand in the servant of Yahweh.  Jesus cured the blind and mute man as the crowds were amazed.  However, the Pharisees compared Jesus to Beelzebul, the devil.  Jesus responded that a divided kingdom would not stand.  The Spirit of God was with Jesus.  The bandits tied up people before stealing from them.  You were either for or against Jesus.  They should be aware of the sin against the Holy Spirit.

Jesus then issued a series of sayings about a tree and its fruit.  He compared the Pharisees to a brood of vipers.  There could be good and bad treasures.  Words would either save or condemn them.

Jesus told them about the sign for this evil generation that was always seeking signs.  He was only going to give them the sign of Jonah.  Notice how the men of Nineveh reacted.  The Queen of Sheba brought gifts to Solomon.  The unclean spirit would return with other evil spirits.  The relatives of Jesus, his mother and brothers showed up, but Jesus said that he had a new family.

Then Jesus spoke in parables siting in a boat by the sea.  There was the parable of the sower with his lost seeds, where only a few of the seeds fell on good soil.  His disciples wanted to know why he was speaking in parables, so that Jesus explained why he used parables.  Once again, he referred to a prophecy of Isaiah.  He explained about the seeds on the rocky ground and the seeds among the thorns.  Finally, he explained the meaning of the seeds on good ground or path since they were the blessed ones.

Then there was the parable about the weeds among the wheat.  The slaves let the weeds grow and then separated them at harvest time.  There were other parables about the mustard seed and the yeast.  Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, but he explained these parables to his disciples, especially the sower, the field, and the seeds.  He explained the enemy and the burning of the weeds.  The punishment for the weeds came at the harvest end times.  Thus, the reward for the righteous will be at the end times.

The kingdom of heaven was like a treasure, like pearls, and like a fishing net.  Jesus explained the parables because the disciples did not understand them.  They were like new and old treasures.

Jesus was an astonishment in his own home town.  They all knew the family of Jesus.  Thus, he was a prophet without honor in his own country.

Herod thought that Jesus was a resurrected John the Baptist, but he was afraid of John the Baptist.  At his birthday party, Herod granted the wish to have the head of John the Baptist on a platter.  Meanwhile, John the Baptist’s disciples buried him.

Jesus was worried as he was healing the sick people.  The disciples complained about the crowds, so that Jesus told them to give them something to eat.  However, they only had five loaves and two fish.  Then Jesus blessed the five loaves of bread and distributed them to the crowd.  There were even leftovers from this crowd of five thousand people.

The disciples left in a boat, so that Jesus prayed alone.  The boat was in the middle of the sea when Jesus walked on water to come to them.   Peter talked to Jesus and then attempted to walk on the water.  Jesus then saved Peter who recognized Jesus as the Son of God.  Then there were the healings at Gennesaret, where Jesus cured the sick.

The Pharisees from Jerusalem came to Jesus to ask him why his disciples did not wash their hands before eating.  Jesus responded by telling them to honor their parents since there was hypocrisy in their traditions.  He cited Isaiah about vain worship.  He told them to hear and understand.  They should watch what came out of their mouth rather than what went into their mouth as defilement.  The Pharisees were offended, but Jesus called them blind guides.  Peter wanted to understand more so that Jesus explained the mouth should speak from the heart.

Jesus went to the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon where he met a Canaanite woman.  He said that he was only going to the lost sheep of Israel, but this Canaanite woman persistently asked for help.  Jesus refused again saying that he could not feed the dogs.  However, she responded that dogs eat crumbs from the table.  Jesus said that she had great faith and healed her.

As Jesus healed the crowds of people in the mountain near the Sea of Galilee, he had compassion for them.  Where will they get food?  His disciples said that they had seven loaves.  Jesus then gave thanks over them and distributed the bread to four thousand men as there was a second multiplication of bread loaves.

Jesus went to Magadan.  There the Pharisees asked for a sign from heaven.  Once again, Jesus said that there are weather signs, but he would only give this evil generation the sign of Jonah.

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, but Jesus warned them about the yeast of the Pharisees.  He reprimanded his disciples for their lack of faith as he reminded them about the multiplication of the loaves of bread.  They should be worried about the Pharisees not food.

What was the role of Peter?  Jesus asked about the Son of Man as the disciples responded.  Then Jesus asked them about himself.  Peter gave a very positive response, so that Jesus rewarded him.  The Messianic secret was tied to the future of Jesus in this conversation between Peter and Jesus.  He would have to take up his cross if wanted to save his life because the Son of Man in his kingdom would be coming soon.

Jesus took three of his apostles up a mountain where he was transfigured before them.  Moses and Elijah appeared with him.  Peter wanted to set up three tents for them.  A voice from the cloud came as the three apostles adored him.  Jesus asked them to be silent about this.  What was the role of Elijah and John the Baptist?

An epileptic man knelt before Jesus that his disciples were unable to heal.  Jesus then healed him, so that his disciples wondered why they were unable to heal this epileptic?  Jesus spoke about the future of the Son of Man.  Should they pay the Temple tax?  Jesus responded that the son of the king did not pay taxes, but he told Peter to pay them anyway.

Finally, we have the ecclesiastical discourse about who is the greatest.  A child is the greatest because when you welcome a little child, you welcome Jesus.  They were not to cause children to sin.  They were not to tempt people.  It would be better to be maimed and blind than suffer eternal fire.  They were not to despise the little ones.  Jesus explained the parable of the lost sheep and fraternal correction.  What were you to do with a sinning brother.  Let him become a gentile, if he does not listen.  Common prayer was important so that they should gather in his name.  How often should they forgive?  The response was the seventy times seven.

Then there was the parable of the unforgiving servant slave.  The master settled accounts with servant slaves.  One owed ten thousand talents, so that the king forgave him his debt.  However, this servant slave would not forgive the debt of his fellow slaves, who were angry.  Thus, this unforgiving slave was tortured.  This parable explanation was simple, forgive your brothers.

Third narrative

This third narrative centered around a variety of miracles and various comments to his disciples.  Jesus cured the leper before great crowds, but then told him to keep it a secret.  Then he cured the centurion’s paralyzed servant at Capernaum.  This Roman soldier understood the role of authority since he had faith.  Jesus chastised the failure of the sons of Abraham but healed the Roman centurion’s servant.

Jesus also cured other sick and possessed people, including Peter’s mother-in-law.  He thus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah.  He had some scribe followers, even though Jesus was homeless.  Was the death of a father enough to disrupt a disciple?  During a stormy boat ride, they woke up Jesus.  Thus, he responded by showing them his power by calming the storm.

Jesus cured the two possessed demoniacs who were calling out to him as the Son of God.  These demons wanted to be pigs, so that they died in the sea, jumping off a cliff.  However, the herdsmen in the city were upset so that the people asked Jesus to leave.

Jesus then went home and cured a paralytic.  Did Jesus blaspheme?  What was the difference between sin and sickness?  The people were amazed at his powers.  Jesus then called Matthew, the tax collector.  Jesus hung out with these tax collectors and sinners, so that the Pharisees complained.  Jesus responded by asking if well people needed doctors?  Then there was a citation from Hosea about mercy.

The Pharisees wanted to know why his disciples were not fasting, but the disciples of John the Baptist were.  Jesus explained that there would be no fasting while he, the bridegroom, was present.  You did not use old cloth to mend clothes or put new wine in old wineskins.

Then Jesus cured the woman with hemorrhages, because she was a woman of faith.  Then he cured the dead girl who was only sleeping.  He cured the two blind men because they were believers also.  He cured the mute person so that he could speak again.  The Pharisees questioned the power of Jesus.  However, Jesus had compassion for the sheep because there would be a need for many laborers at the harvest time.

Then Jesus began his apostolic talk to his disciples, in particular about the authority of the twelve disciples, with four major apostles.  Matthew then listed the twelve apostles that would be sent to the Jews and what their work was.  Jesus told them what to bring with them and where to stay.  He told them how to enter a house.  Those unhospitable towns who did not accept them would be punished.  These apostles should be like wise simple sheep.  When they would be persecuted, the Holy Spirit would speak through them.  They would be involved in family disputes and hated.  Both the teacher and his disciples would suffer, but they should not be afraid.  They should proclaim the message.  They were to worry about their souls, since they had more value than sparrows.  They should acknowledge Jesus whether in peace or with the sword.  Who was worthy of Jesus?  You had to pick up your cross and lose your life to find it.  Receive Jesus and be a prophet as the righteous disciple of Jesus.

The healing of the two blind men (Mt 20:32-20:34)

“Jesus stopped.

He called them.

Saying.

‘What do you want me

to do for you?’

They said to him.

‘Lord!

Let our eyes be opened!’

Moved with compassion,

Jesus touched their eyes.

Immediately,

They regained their sight.

They followed him.’”

 

καὶ στὰς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐφώνησεν αὐτοὺς καὶ εἶπεν Τί θέλετε ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Κύριε, ἵνα ἀνοιγῶσιν οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ ἡμῶν.

σπλαγχνισθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἥψατο τῶν ὀμμάτων αὐτῶν, καὶ εὐθέως ἀνέβλεψαν καὶ ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ.

 

Both Mark, chapter 10:49-52, and Luke, chapter 18:40-43 have a more elaborate explanation.  Jesus stopped or stood still (καὶ στὰς ὁ Ἰησοῦς) when he heard all this noise.  He then called (ἐφώνησεν αὐτοὺς) the two blind men.  He wanted to know what they wanted him to do for them (καὶ εἶπεν Τί θέλετε ποιήσω ὑμῖν).  They then called Jesus Lord (λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Κύριε).  They wanted their eyes opened (ἵνα ἀνοιγῶσιν οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ ἡμῶν) so that they could see.  Jesus was moved with compassion and pity on them (σπλαγχνισθεὶς δὲ), so that he touched their eyes (ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἥψατο τῶν ὀμμάτων αὐτῶν).  Immediately (καὶ εὐθέως), they regained their sight (ἀνέβλεψαν) and followed him (καὶ ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ).  These two blind men then became disciples of Jesus.  However, Matthew did not mention their faith explicitly as in Mark and Luke.

The king forgave the debt (Mt 18:26-18:27)

“Thus,

The slave

Fell on his knees

Before him.

He said.

‘Lord!

Have patience with me!

I will pay you everything!’

Out of pity for him

The lord of that slave

Released him.

He forgave him

His debt.”

 

πεσὼν οὖν ὁ δοῦλος προσεκύνει αὐτῷ λέγων Μακροθύμησον ἐπ’ ἐμοί, καὶ πάντα ἀποδώσω σοι.

σπλαγχνισθεὶς δὲ ὁ κύριος τοῦ δούλου ἐκείνου ἀπέλυσεν αὐτόν, καὶ τὸ δάνειον ἀφῆκεν αὐτῷ.

 

This parable about the unforgiving servant slave is unique to Matthew.  This debtor servant slave fell on his knees in front of the king (πεσὼν οὖν ὁ δοῦλος προσεκύνει αὐτῷ).  He asked his master lord to have patience with him (λέγων Μακροθύμησον ἐπ’ ἐμοί).  He said that he would repay him everything (καὶ πάντα ἀποδώσω σοι), an impossible task.  However, the king and master of this slave, out of pity and compassion for him (σπλαγχνισθεὶς δὲ ὁ κύριος τοῦ δούλου), released him (ἐκείνου ἀπέλυσεν αὐτόν) and forgave him his debt (καὶ τὸ δάνειον ἀφῆκεν αὐτῷ).  This was extremely generous on the part of this slaveowner king.

Jesus heals the sick (Mt 14:14-14:14)

“When Jesus went ashore,

He saw a great crowd.

He had compassion

For them.

He cured their sick.”

 

Καὶ ἐξελθὼν εἶδεν πολὺν ὄχλον, καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν τοὺς ἀρρώστους αὐτῶν.

 

A similar statement can be found in all four gospels, Mark, chapter 6:34, Luke, chapter 9:11, and John, chapter 6:2, plus here.  Jesus continued his mission of compassion and curing the ill and the sick.  When Jesus went ashore (Καὶ ἐξελθὼν), he saw a great crowd (εἶδεν πολὺν ὄχλον).  There is no indication of the size of this crowd.  He then had compassion for them (καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς), so that he cured the feeble and sick people (καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν τοὺς ἀρρώστους αὐτῶν).  One of the great acts of kindness of Jesus was curing people of their illnesses or sicknesses.

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew had 3 chapters devoted to Jesus and his preaching on the mount or hill.  This Sermon on the Mount is a collection of sayings and teachings of Jesus that emphasize his moral teaching, the first of his 5 discourses. early in the ministry of Jesus.  Luke had something similar in his sermon on the plain.  This sermon is the longest continuous section of Jesus speaking in the New Testament, containing the central tenets of Christian discipleship.  Thus, it had become the most widely quoted and best known of the teachings of Jesus, with the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer.  These Jesus sayings echo the highest ideals of Jesus’ teachings on spirituality and compassion with acts of mercy, providing both temporal and spiritual benefits.  Jesus also used many metaphors in his sermon.  He reinterpreted the Ten Commandments, particularly about lying, killing and adultery.  The teachings of this sermon have been a key element of Christian ethics with its demanding high moral standards.  Christians were to be perfect with a Christian righteousness.  There have been many different interpretations of this demanding ethical life.  Was this only for clergy and monks?  Is it only an impossible ideal?  Should we take this literally?  Is this only an interim ethic or a future ethic?  Is this the basis of the social gospel and Christian existentialism?  What value do these ideals have for our lives today?

The fifth beatitude on mercy (Mt 5:7-5:7)

“Blessed are

The merciful!

They shall receive mercy.”

 

μακάριοι οἱ ἐλεήμονες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ ἐλεηθήσονται.

 

The happy, blessed, and fortunate ones (μακάριοι) would be those who were merciful.  Along with justice, one of Yahweh’s two great attributes was mercy.  Matthew just said that people who hungered and thirsted after righteousness or justice would be holy or blessed.  Now, you would be emulating God, if you showed mercy.  Not only that, if you were merciful (οἱ ἐλεήμονες), you would receive mercy (ὅτι αὐτοὶ ἐλεηθήσονται).  God would be merciful to you, just as in Psalm 145:8-9.  Yahweh, God the Father, was gracious and merciful, slow to anger, in his abundant steadfast love.  Yahweh was good to all the people, because he had compassion and mercy over all that he had made.