It is hard to enter the kingdom of God (Mk 10:24-10:24)

“The disciples

Were perplexed

At his words.

But Jesus

Answered them again.

‘Children!

How hard it is

For those who trust

In riches

To enter

The kingdom of God!’”

 

οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο ἐπὶ τοῖς λόγοις αὐτοῦ. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς πάλιν ἀποκριθεὶς λέγει αὐτοῖς Τέκνα, πῶς δύσκολόν ἐστιν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν·

 

This unique saying of Mark is really the repetition of what was said in the previous verse, a redundancy, to drive home a point.  Mark indicated how difficult it would be for rich people to get into the kingdom of God.  Mark said that the disciples were perplexed or amazed at his words (οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο ἐπὶ τοῖς λόγοις αὐτοῦ.).  However, Jesus responded or answered his disciples again (δὲ Ἰησοῦς πάλιν ἀποκριθεὶς), calling them children (λέγει αὐτοῖς Τέκνα,), not understanding what was being said.  He indicated once again how hard it was for those who trusted in riches or wealth to enter the kingdom of God (πῶς δύσκολόν ἐστιν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν τοὺς πεποιθότας ἐπὶ χρήμασιν).  Mark had Jesus repeat things because the disciples were not that sharp.  Quite often wealth had been seen as a sign that God was pleased with that person.

 

A prophet without honor (Mk 6:4-6:4)

“Then Jesus said

To them.

‘Prophets are not

Without honor,

Except in their hometown,

Among their own relatives,

And in their own house.’”

 

καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι Οὐκ ἔστιν προφήτης ἄτιμος εἰ μὴ ἐν τῇ πατρίδι αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τοῖς συγγενεῦσιν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ.

 

This saying about no honor for prophets in their hometown can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 13:57, and Luke, chapter 4:24, and here.  Mark said that Jesus told them (καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς) that prophets are not without honor or not despised (ὅτι Οὐκ ἔστιν προφήτης ἄτιμος), except in their own country (εἰ μὴ ἐν τῇ πατρίδι αὐτοῦ), among their own relatives (καὶ ἐν τοῖς συγγενεῦσιν αὐτοῦ), and in their own house (καὶ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ).  They would be not honored among their own hometown, relatives, and in their own house.  It is always more difficult in your own home town.  This was common among the Old Testament prophets, especially the Israelite prophets Jeremiah and Amos.

 

The explanation that many are called, but few chosen (Mt 22:14-22:14)

“Many are called.

But few are chosen.”

 

Πολλοὶ γάρ εἰσιν κλητοὶ, ὀλίγοι δὲ ἐκλεκτοί

 

This is unique to Matthew.  Jesus’ explanation of this parable was simple.  Many were called or invited (Πολλοὶ γάρ εἰσιν κλητοὶ), but few were chosen (Πολλοὶ γάρ εἰσιν κλητοὶ).  However, this parable has only one person rejected from the wedding banquet because of not having the wedding garment.  Many were called and then some were killed or punished because they refused the invitation.  However, many did come to the wedding feast in the end.  Obviously, this is a reference to the teaching of Jesus.  He spoke to many people and large crowds.  Thus, this invitation went out to many people.  However, only a few, as in this case the 12 apostles or the other disciples, were chosen to follow him.  Nevertheless, it would be difficult to be a follower of Jesus.

Hard for rich people (Mt 19:23-19:23)

“Jesus said

To his disciples.

‘Truly!

I say to you!

It will be hard

For a rich person

To enter

The kingdom of heaven.”

 

Ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πλούσιος δυσκόλως εἰσελεύσεται εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν.

 

This saying about the difficulty of rich people trying to get into the kingdom of heaven can be found in Mark, chapter 10:24, and Luke, chapter 18:16, almost word for word.  Jesus turned to his disciples (Ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ) with a strong harsh solemn proclamation (Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν).  It would be hard or difficult for a wealthy rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven (ὅτι πλούσιος δυσκόλως εἰσελεύσεται εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν).  Wealth would clearly be an obstacle to those who wanted to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Why marry? (Mt 19:10-19:10)

“The disciples said to Jesus.

‘If such is the case

Of a man

With his wife,

It is better not to marry.’”

 

λέγουσιν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταί Εἰ οὕτως ἐστὶν ἡ αἰτία τοῦ ἀνθρώπου μετὰ τῆς γυναικός, οὐ συμφέρει γαμῆσαι.

 

This section about eunuchs, celibacy, and marriage is unique to Matthew.  The disciples raised the question (λέγουσιν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταί) about a man with his wife (Εἰ οὕτως ἐστὶν ἡ αἰτία τοῦ ἀνθρώπου μετὰ τῆς γυναικός), no divorce in marriage, would it not be better to not marry at all (οὐ συμφέρει γαμῆσαι).  They though that this restriction about marriage and divorce was too harsh or difficult.

A prophet without honor in his own country (Mt 13:57-13:58)

“They took offense

At Jesus.

But He said to them.

‘Prophets are not without honor

Except in their own country

And in their own house.’

Jesus did not do

Many deeds of powers there,

Because of their unbelief.”

 

καὶ ἐσκανδαλίζοντο ἐν αὐτῷ. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Οὐκ ἔστιν προφήτης ἄτιμος εἰ μὴ ἐν τῇ πατρίδι καὶ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ.

καὶ οὐκ ἐποίησεν ἐκεῖ δυνάμεις πολλὰς διὰ τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν.

 

This saying about no honor for prophets in their hometown can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 6:4-6, and Luke, chapter 4:23-30, but in a more elaborate way.  Matthew said that Jesus had offended them (καὶ ἐσκανδαλίζοντο ἐν αὐτῷ).  However, Jesus said to them (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that prophets are not without honor or not despised (Οὐκ ἔστιν προφήτης ἄτιμος), except in their own country (εἰ μὴ ἐν τῇ πατρίδι) and in their own house (καὶ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ).  Jesus did not do many miracles there (καὶ οὐκ ἐποίησεν ἐκεῖ δυνάμεις πολλὰς), because of their unbelief (διὰ τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν.).  It is always more difficult in your own home town.  The Israelite prophets Jeremiah and Amos were also rejected by their own people.

You will be persecuted (Mt 10:17-10:18)

“Beware of those men!

They will hand you over

To tribunals.

They will flog you

In their synagogues.

You will be dragged

Before governors

And before kings,

Because of me.

You will be

A testimony

Before them

And the gentiles.”

 

Προσέχετε δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων· παραδώσουσιν γὰρ ὑμᾶς εἰς συνέδρια, καὶ ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν μαστιγώσουσιν ὑμᾶς·

καὶ ἐπὶ ἡγεμόνας δὲ καὶ βασιλεῖς ἀχθήσεσθε ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ, εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς καὶ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν.

 

Equivalent passages to this can be found in Mark, chapter 13:9, and Luke, chapter 21:12.  Jesus, via Matthew warned his apostles and disciples that they would be persecuted because of him.  They should realize or be aware of what other men were going to do to them (Προσέχετε δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων).  They would be handed over to the local councils, courts, tribunals, or local Jewish Sanhedrin (παραδώσουσιν γὰρ ὑμᾶς εἰς συνέδρια).  These were local gatherings called “συνέδρια.”  They would be flogged or scourged in the synagogues (καὶ ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν μαστιγώσουσιν ὑμᾶς).  This “μαστιγώσουσιν” would be a whipping that one would endure after being tied to a pole.  They would also be dragged before governors and kings (καὶ ἐπὶ ἡγεμόνας δὲ καὶ βασιλεῖς ἀχθήσεσθε).  All this would happen to them (ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ) because they were going to give testimony or witness about Jesus before other people even the gentiles (εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς καὶ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν).  They were warned about how difficult the task of being a follower or apostle of Jesus might be.

Secret charity (Mt 6:3-6:4)

“But when you give alms,

Do not let your left hand

Know

What your right hand

Is doing.

Thus,

Your alms

May be done

In secret.

Your Father,

Who sees in secret,

Will reward you.”

 

σοῦ δὲ ποιοῦντος ἐλεημοσύνην μὴ γνώτω ἡ ἀριστερά σου τί ποιεῖ ἡ δεξιά σου,

ὅπως ᾖ σου ἡ ἐλεημοσύνη ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ· καὶ ὁ Πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ ἀποδώσει σοι.

 

Jesus, via Matthew, continued with the idea of secretly giving alms or charity.  When you performed charitable acts or almsgiving (σοῦ δὲ ποιοῦντος ἐλεημοσύνην), it should be so secret, that your left hand would not know (μὴ γνώτω ἡ ἀριστερά σου) what your right hand was doing (τί ποιεῖ ἡ δεξιά σου).  That seems a little difficult.  Thus, almsgiving in secret (ὅπως ᾖ σου ἡ ἐλεημοσύνη ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ) would be rewarded by your heavenly Father (ὁ Πατήρ σου… ἀποδώσει σοι) who sees what is hidden in secret (ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ).  Charitable giving is a good thing, best done in secret.  Your reward will be in heaven.

The Magi go home (Mt 2:12-2:12)

“Having been warned

In a dream

Not to return

To Herod,

They left

For their own country

By another road.”

 

καὶ χρηματισθέντες κατ’ ὄναρ μὴ ἀνακάμψαι πρὸς Ἡρῴδην, δι’ ἄλλης ὁδοῦ ἀνεχώρησαν εἰς τὴν χώραν αὐτῶν.

 

The magi were warned (χρηματισθέντες) not to return to Herod (μὴ ἀνακάμψαι πρὸς Ἡρῴδην) in some sort of divine dream (κατ’ ὄναρ). This led them to withdraw from this scene and return to their own country (ἀνεχώρησαν εἰς τὴν χώραν αὐτῶν), wherever that may be.   They were not going to stop to see King Herod, as he had asked them to do. Thus, they went home using another road (δι’ ἄλλης ὁδοῦ), avoiding Jerusalem. So, ends the saga of these worshipping magi, magicians, wise men, or kings. Clearly, they symbolize the outreach of Jesus to other than Jewish people, but beyond that, it is difficult to say more. The idea of 3 kings does not come from the text itself. It can only be implied from the 3 gifts that were presented, but from nothing else.

The difficult day of Yahweh (Mal 3:2-3:2)

“But who can endure

The day of his coming?

Who can stand

when he appears?

Yahweh is

Like a refiner’s fire,

Like fullers’ soap.”

The day of Yahweh would be difficult for everyone.  Who could endure it?  Who would be able to stand up when it happened.  This day of Yahweh was going to be like the fire that refined precious metals.  This day was going to be like being rubbed with fuller’s soap.  A fuller was someone who made clothes white.  He used some kind of alkali, like a lye soap or a modern-day bleach.  This fuller soap was very strong.