First narrative

This first narrative began with the baptism of Jesus and his preaching about the kingdom of heaven.  Once again, there are five sections.  First there was the preaching of John the Baptist with his message of repentance.  Matthew made a comparison of the prophet Isaiah with John, including a description of John.  People went to John at the Jordan River where he baptized people.  John was against the Pharisees and the Sadducees, since he felt that the children of Abraham should not be presumptuous.  However, there was a powerful one yet to come when the chaff would burn.

The second section was about the baptism of Jesus, as he came to John.  However, John did not want to baptize Jesus, but Jesus insisted.  At the baptism of Jesus, a voice declared that Jesus was the beloved son, as the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended on Jesus.  Thus, John the Baptist and Jesus remain linked together.

The third section was about the temptations of Jesus in the desert.  Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.  Then Jesus had his first temptation with his response.  After the second and third temptations and responses of Jesus, the devil left.

The fourth section had Jesus return to Galilee after the arrest of John the Baptist.  He went to Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee.  Like the prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist, Jesus taught a call for repentance.

The fifth and final section was the call of the first four disciples.  The first two brother fishermen called were Simon and Andrew, who became his first two disciples.  Then he called James and John, the sons of Zebedee.  Then Jesus taught and healed in Galilee, where he was a faith healer with great crowds.

 

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The temptations of Jesus

Once John baptized Jesus, according to all three synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the Judaean desert. After this fast, the devil, the tempter, or Satan appeared to Jesus trying to test or tempt him. Jesus refused each of the 3 human temptations concerning the hedonism of hunger, the egotism of power, and the materialism of wealth. These temptations were to mislead and pervert the thinking, wishing, and feeling of Jesus. Although Mark‘s account was very brief, Matthew and Luke described the temptations in great detail that may have come from their common Q source. Is this a parable? What was the purpose of these accounts? There is no doubt that Matthew used language from the Old Testament Septuagint with a series of quotations from Deuteronomy. Fasting was a preparation for a great spiritual struggle. Once the temptations were over, Satan departed. Then angels of God began looking after Jesus. These temptations of Jesus have had many portrayals in art, literature, film, and music, since they have captured the imagination of many of the followers of Jesus Christ

Another oracle about the past fasting (Zech 7:4-7:7)

“Then the word

Of Yahweh of hosts

Came to me.

‘Say to all the people

Of the land

As well as the priests.

‘When you fasted,

When you lamented,

In the fifth month

As well as the seventh month,

For these seventy years,

Was it for me

That you fasted?

When you eat.

When you drink,

Do you not eat

Only for yourselves?

Do you not drink

Only for yourselves?

Were not these the words

That Yahweh proclaimed

By the former prophets?

This was when

Jerusalem was inhabited

In prosperity.

Was this not when

The towns around it

Were inhabited?

Was this not when

The Negeb

With the Shephelah

Were inhabited?’”

Yahweh sent another oracle to Zechariah about the fasting and lamenting that they had done for the past 70 years during the 5th and 7th months because of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 587 BCE and the murder of their governor.  Zechariah was to ask the people of the land and the priests why they had fasted.  Why did they not eat or drink?  Did they do if for themselves or for Yahweh?  Yahweh had warned them, via the prophets, when Jerusalem was prosperous and inhabited.  The towns around Jerusalem, as well as desert Negeb and the low land Shephelah were inhabited at that time also.

The den was sealed with a stone (Dan 6:17-6:18)

“A stone was brought.

They laid it

On the mouth

Of the den.

The king sealed it

With his own signet,

As well as with the signet

Of his lords.

Thus,

Nothing might be changed

Concerning Daniel.

Then the king

Went to his palace.

He spent the night

Fasting.

No food was brought

To him.

Sleep fled from him.”

They took a stone and put it at the mouth of the den. The king sealed the opening to the den with his own signet, as well as that of his lords. Nothing would be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace that night and fasted. He did not sleep. He was still a little uneasy about this whole Daniel affair.

The collection for Jerusalem (Bar 1:5-1:7)

“Then they wept.

They fasted.

They prayed

Before the Lord.

They collected

As much money

As each could give.

They sent it

To Jerusalem

To the high priest

Jehoiakim,

The son of Hilkiah,

The son of Shallum,

To the priests,

To all the people

Who were present

With him

In Jerusalem.”

Apparently, this gathering was with all the Judean exiles, and not any Babylonians. There, after the reading, they wept, fasted, and prayed to the Lord. After that, they took up a collection for the people who were left behind in Jerusalem. They were going to send it to the now high priest and the priests left in Jerusalem, Jehoiakim, the son of Hilkiah, the son of Shallum. There was no indication of how this money would get there. It was a free will offering, with each one giving what they could.

Yahweh will not accept their offerings (Jer 14:11-14:12)

“Yahweh said to me.

‘Do not pray

For the welfare of this people.

Although they fast,

I do not hear their cry.

Although they offer burnt offerings,

I will not accept them.

Although they offer grain offerings,

I will not accept them.

But I will consume them

By the sword,

By famine,

By pestilence.’”

Yahweh continues to show his displeasure for the people of Judah, when he spoke to Jeremiah. Yahweh told Jeremiah not to pray or intercede for these people and their welfare. If they fasted, he would not hear their cries. If they brought burnt, grain, or cereal offerings, he would not accept them. Yahweh was clear. They were going to be consumed by the sword, famine, or pestilence. There was no hope for them.

The difficult situation of David (Ps 69:9-69:12)

“It is zeal for your house

That has consumed me.

The insults of those

Who insult you

Have fallen on me.

When I humbled my soul with fasting,

They insulted me for doing so.

When I made sackcloth my clothing,

I became a byword to them.

I am the subject of gossip

For those who sit in the gate.

The drunkards make songs about me.”

David explained his situation. He had great zeal for the house of Yahweh that he was about to construct. However, he felt that the insults against Yahweh had fallen on him. He had fasted but people insulted him for doing that. He was wearing mourning sackcloth, but all they did was gossip about him in the public meeting places at the gate. Even the drunkards were making up songs about him.