The blind beggar (Lk 18:35-18:35)

“As Jesus

Approached Jericho,

A certain blind man

Was sitting

By the roadside,

Begging.”

 

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ ἐγγίζειν αὐτὸν εἰς Ἱερειχὼ τυφλός τις ἐκάθητο παρὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ἐπαιτῶν.

 

Luke indicated that as Jesus approached or was getting near to Jericho (Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ ἐγγίζειν αὐτὸν εἰς Ἱερειχὼ), a certain blind man was sitting (τυφλός τις ἐκάθητο) by the roadside (παρὰ τὴν ὁδὸν), begging (ἐπαιτῶν).  Jericho was about 16 miles northeast of Jerusalem and about 8 miles north of the Dead Sea.  Jesus was getting closer to Jerusalem, but not quite there.  Both Mark, chapter 10:46, and Matthew, chapter 20:29, have something similar, but with some differences.  Luke has Jesus entering or approaching Jericho, not leaving it, as in Matthew and Mark, who said that Jesus had been in Jericho (Καὶ ἔρχονται εἰς Ἰερειχώ).  However, Jesus was leaving Jericho (Καὶ ἐκπορευομένου αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ Ἰερειχὼ) with his disciples (καὶ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ) and a large crowd (καὶ ὄχλου ἱκανοῦ), when this incident occurred.  Mark is the only gospel writer that named this blind beggar Bartimaeus (Βαρτιμαῖος), the son of Timaeus, even with the name of his father (ὁ υἱὸς Τιμαίου).  This Bartimaeus was a blind beggar (τυφλὸς προσαίτης), sitting by the way or the roadside (ἐκάθητο παρὰ τὴν ὁδόν).  On the other hand, Luke only had an unnamed blind beggar, while Matthew had two unnamed blind beggars.  Matthew also had Jesus and his apostles or disciples leaving Jericho (Καὶ ἐκπορευομένων αὐτῶν ἀπὸ Ἱερειχὼ).  As usual a large crowd followed him (ἠκολούθησεν αὐτῷ ὄχλος πολύς).  All indications are that they were on the way to Jerusalem.  Have you ever seen a blind beggar?

Lot’s wife (Lk 17:32-17:32)

“Remember Lot’s wife!”

 

μνημονεύετε τῆς γυναικὸς Λώτ

 

Luke was the only gospel writer to have Jesus remark about remembering Lot’s wife (μνημονεύετε τῆς γυναικὸς Λώτ).  This was is a reference to Genesis, chapter 19:26.  There Yahweh had rained down on both Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire, so that all who lived in those two towns and the plains around it were destroyed.  Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.  Luke and Jesus did not elaborate on the circumstances of her death, just remember it as if it was well known.  This was quite a striking biblical image, since they were in the plains by the Dead Sea that was also called the Salt Sea.  Have you ever looked back with regret?

The call of John (Lk 3:2-3:2)

“The word of God

Came to John,

The son of Zechariah,

In the wilderness.”

 

ἐγένετο ῥῆμα Θεοῦ ἐπὶ Ἰωάνην τὸν Ζαχαρίου υἱὸν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ.

 

Luke presented John like a prophet who was called like the other Israelite prophets.  The word of God came or happened to John (ἐγένετο ῥῆμα Θεοῦ ἐπὶ Ἰωάνην), the son of Zechariah (τὸν Ζαχαρίου υἱὸν), in the wilderness or desert (ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ), just like it had come to many other ancient Jewish prophets.  There should be no confusion about whom this John is because he was the son of Zechariah that was described in chapter 1.  There is something similar, but not quite the same in all 4 gospel stories.  In Mark, chapter 1:4, John appeared on the scene immediately after a citation from the prophet IsaiahMatthew, chapter 3:1-2, seemed to follow Mark, since Mark began his gospel with this story.  Matthew had John the Baptizer preaching in the wilderness or desert in Judea, southeast of Jerusalem and west of the Dead Sea.  John, chapter 1:19, also introduced John the Baptist immediately after his prologue.  Only Matthew and Luke have the infancy narratives before the introduction of John, who was central to the work of Jesus.

 

John was arrested (Mk 1:14-1:14)

“After John was arrested,

Jesus came

Into Galilee,

Preaching

The gospel of God.”

 

Καὶ μετὰ τὸ παραδοθῆναι τὸν Ἰωάνην ἦλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Θεοῦ

 

The beginning of the ministry of Jesus in Galilee can be found in all 4 gospel stories, Matthew, chapter 4:12, which is very close to Mark here.  Luke, chapter 4:14, has no mention of the arrest of John the Baptist’s arrest, while John 4:1-3 said that there was a comparison between Jesus and John the Baptist.  In all cases, it took place after the temptations of Jesus, except for John who had no mention of any temptations for Jesus.  Mark said that now that John had been arrested or handed over (Καὶ μετὰ τὸ παραδοθῆναι τὸν Ἰωάνην), Jesus went into Galilee (ἦλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν), preaching the gospel or good news about God. (κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Jesus knew that that John the Baptist had been arrested, without any clear indication why.  Although this text does not mention him by name, Herod Antipas, the son of King Herod, was in charge of Galilee from 4 BCE-39 CE.  He was the one who arrested John.   This might have been a warning sign to Jesus to get away from the Jordan River area.  However, Jesus went back to Galilee, about 80 miles north of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea area.  This area was originally part of the Israelite tribal territories of Issachar, Zebulun, Naphtali, and Asher.  Matthew, chapter 4:14-16 used a citation from Isaiah, chapter 9:1-5, to explain why Jesus was in Galilee.  Jesus was preaching about the good news or gospel of God, not as Matthew portrayed Jesus as teaching about the kingdom of heaven.

People were baptized (Mk 1:5-1:5)

“People from the whole

Judea countryside,

And all the people

Of Jerusalem

Were going out

To John.

They were baptized

By him

In the Jordan River,

Confessing their sins.”

 

καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο πρὸς αὐτὸν πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαία χώρα καὶ οἱ Ἱεροσολυμεῖται πάντες, καὶ ἐβαπτίζοντο ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ ποταμῷ ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν.

 

Mark and Matthew, chapter 3:5-6, are very similar here, almost word for word.  Luke and John do not have these statements about the people that John baptized.  Mark said that all the people from the whole Judea countryside or region (πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαία χώρα), as well as all the people of Jerusalem (καὶ οἱ Ἱεροσολυμεῖται πάντες) were going out to see John (καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο πρὸς αὐτὸν).  Perhaps not all the people of Judea and Jerusalem went out to be baptized by John.  They were being baptized by John (καὶ ἐβαπτίζοντο ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ) in the Jordan River (ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ ποταμῷ), confessing their sins (ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν).  Matthew also added that the people from along the Jordan River, a little further north, were also coming out to see him.  The Jordan River is north of the Dead Sea and Jerusalem.  Jewish baptisms were not that uncommon.  Washing was a physical and spiritual cleansing for sins, as people were unclean or dirty.  Thus, in the process of this spiritual cleansing, they would confess their sins.  John’s baptism had a few unique qualities, since it was a moral statement with an expectation of a coming Messiah or savior.  Clearly, John holds a central role in the Gospel of Mark since he started his story about Jesus with John here.

The head of John the Baptist on a platter (Mt 14:9-14:11)

“King Herod was sorry.

Yet out of regard

For his oaths

And his guests,

He gave his command.

He sent his men.

He had John beheaded

In the prison.

His head

Was brought on a platter.

The dish was given

To the girl.

She then brought it

To her mother.”

 

καὶ λυπηθεὶς ὁ βασιλεὺς διὰ τοὺς ὅρκους καὶ τοὺς συνανακειμένους ἐκέλευσεν δοθῆναι,

καὶ πέμψας ἀπεκεφάλισεν Ἰωάνην ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ.

καὶ ἠνέχθη ἡ κεφαλὴ αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι καὶ ἐδόθη τῷ κορασίῳ, καὶ ἤνεγκεν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς.

 

This beheading of John the Baptist can be found in Mark, chapter 6:25-28, and here.  King Herod was pained and sorry (καὶ λυπηθεὶς ὁ βασιλεὺς) for what he had just promised, much like in the story of Esther, chapter 5:3, where the king was willing to give Esther anything she wanted.  Yet out of regard for his oaths (διὰ τοὺς ὅρκους) and his guests reclining at table with him (καὶ τοὺς συνανακειμένους ἐκέλευσεν δοθῆναι), Herod commanded his men to carry out this request (ἐκέλευσεν δοθῆναι).  He sent his men to behead John in the prison (καὶ πέμψας ἀπεκεφάλισεν Ἰωάνην ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ) at Machaerus, about 5 miles east of the Dead Sea.  It is not clear whether they waited around for the men to come back with the head of John, which was one way to make sure a person was dead.  Then his head was brought on a platter or dish to Herod (καὶ ἠνέχθη ἡ κεφαλὴ αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι).  He then gave it to the girl Salome (καὶ ἐδόθη τῷ κορασίῳ), who then gave it to her mother (καὶ ἤνεγκεν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς), Herodias.  This was her revenge against John the Baptist because he had criticized her marriage to Herod.  Off with his head!

John the Baptist in prison (Mt 11:2-11:2)

“In prison,

John heard

About the works

Of the Christ.

He sent word

By his disciples.”

 

Ὁ δὲ Ἰωάνης ἀκούσας ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Χριστοῦ, πέμψας διὰ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ

 

Now we are back to the question of John the Baptist.  Luke, chapter 7:18, has something similar.  John the Baptist heard (Ὁ δὲ Ἰωάνης ἀκούσας) about the works or deeds of Jesus the Christ, the anointed one, the Messiah (τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Χριστοῦ), while he was in a prison (ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ).  Clearly John still had a number of disciples, despite his imprisonment.  Thus, he sent a few of his disciples (πέμψας διὰ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ).  Luke said that there were two, but there is no number here.  John may have been in prison in Machaerus, about 5 miles east of the Dead Sea.  Notice that this is the first time that Jesus is called the Christ (τοῦ Χριστοῦ).