Children and the kingdom of God (Lk 18:16-18:16)

“But Jesus

Called the disciples.

He said.

‘Let the little children

Come to me!

Do not stop them!

It is to such

As these

That the kingdom of God

Belongs.’”

 

ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς προσεκαλέσατο αὐτὰ λέγων Ἄφετε τὰ παιδία ἔρχεσθαι πρός με καὶ μὴ κωλύετε αὐτά· τῶν γὰρ τοιούτων ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ

 

Luke indicated that Jesus called his disciples (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς προσεκαλέσατο αὐτὰ).  He told them to let the little children come to him (λέγων Ἄφετε τὰ παιδία ἔρχεσθαι πρός με).  They were not to stop them (καὶ μὴ κωλύετε αὐτά), since the kingdom of God belonged to them (τῶν γὰρ τοιούτων ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ).  This story about Jesus and the little children can be found in Mark, chapter 10:14-16, and Matthew, chapter 19:14, but slightly different.  Mark said that Jesus saw what was going on (ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  He was indignant or angry with his disciples (ἠγανάκτησεν).  Once again, there was a little dispute between Jesus and his disciples.  He said to them (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) to let the little children come to him (Ἄφετε τὰ παιδία ἔρχεσθαι πρός με).  They were not to stop or hinder them (μὴ κωλύετε αὐτά).  They belonged to the kingdom of heaven (τῶν γὰρ τοιούτων ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Matthew indicated that Jesus said (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν) to his disciples that the little children should not be forbidden to come to him (Ἄφετε τὰ παιδία καὶ μὴ κωλύετε αὐτὰ ἐλθεῖν πρός με).  They belonged to the kingdom of heaven (τῶν γὰρ τοιούτων ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν).  Once again, there was a difference between Mark with the “kingdom of God” and Matthew with the “kingdom of heaven.”  Then Matthew indicated that Jesus laid his hands on them (καὶ ἐπιθεὶς τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῖς) before he traveled from there on his way (ἐπορεύθη ἐκεῖθεν).  This was not in the Mark or Luke.  Thus, Jesus favored the little children.  There was no mention of infants in any of these gospel stories, except for Luke at the beginning.  Do you think that priests and ministers should bless little children?

 

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Jesus grew (Lk 2:40-2:40)

“The child grew.

He became strong.

Filled with wisdom.

The grace of God

Was upon him.”

 

Τὸ δὲ παιδίον ηὔξανεν καὶ ἐκραταιοῦτο πληρούμενον σοφίᾳ, καὶ χάρις Θεοῦ ἦν ἐπ’ αὐτό.

 

Interesting enough, Luke has Jesus grow in wisdom in the same way that John had done earlier in chapter 1:80.  Growth implies movement from an inferior stage to a higher stage.  Clearly, this was an important part of showing the human side of Jesus.  Luke said that the child Jesus grew (Τὸ δὲ παιδίον ηὔξανεν).  He became a strong person (καὶ ἐκραταιοῦτο), filled with wisdom (πληρούμενον σοφίᾳ), because the grace or favor of God (καὶ χάρις Θεοῦ) was upon him (ἦν ἐπ’ αὐτό).  This also implies that God the Father favored or graced him, showing the distinction between God the Father and God the Son.  Jesus was a special child.

 

The woman in the house of Simon (Mk 14:3-14:3)

“Jesus was

At Bethany,

In the house of Simon,

The leper.

As he sat

At the table,

A woman came

With an alabaster jar

Of very costly

Ointment

Of nard.

She broke open

The jar.

She poured

The ointment

On his head.”

 

Καὶ ὄντος αὐτοῦ ἐν Βηθανίᾳ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ Σίμωνος τοῦ λεπροῦ, κατακειμένου αὐτοῦ ἦλθεν γυνὴ ἔχουσα ἀλάβαστρον μύρου νάρδου πιστικῆς πολυτελοῦς· συντρίψασα τὴν ἀλάβαστρον κατέχεεν αὐτοῦ τῆς κεφαλῆς  

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 26:6-7, and somewhat similar to John, chapter 12:1-3, where Jesus was in Bethany, but at the house of Lazarus and his two sisters, Martha and Mary, 6 days before the Passover.  John identified this woman as Mary, the sister of Lazarus.  Mark also said that Jesus was in Bethany (Καὶ ὄντος αὐτοῦ ἐν Βηθανίᾳ), a town about a mile and a half east of Jerusalem, but in the house of Simon the leper (ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ Σίμωνος τοῦ λεπροῦ).  The identity of this Simon the leper is unknown.  However, it could have been someone whom Jesus had cured from leprosy, who became his disciple.  The people of Bethany may have favored Jesus because of the Lazarus event.  There was also a story of a woman anointing Jesus in Luke, chapter 7:36-50, but within a different context.  Jesus was at the house of a Pharisee, when this woman also brought an alabaster jar to anoint the feet of Jesus.  Mark continued that Jesus was reclining at table (κατακειμένου), when an unnamed woman came or approached Jesus (ἦλθεν γυνὴ) with an alabaster jar full of very expensive imported Indian nard ointment (ἔχουσα ἀλάβαστρον μύρου νάρδου πιστικῆς πολυτελοῦς).  This was anointing oil or as later Christians would call it holy oil, “Myron (μύρου).”  She broke the alabaster jar of ointment (συντρίψασα τὴν ἀλάβαστρον).  Then she then poured it on his head (κατέχεεν αὐτοῦ τῆς κεφαλῆς).  This may appear a little unusual, but this oil might be a foretaste of the prophetic, royal, or priestly anointing of Jesus as prophet, king, and priest.  In the ancient biblical stories, kings were anointed on the head.

Second narrative

This second narrative centered around the Sermon on the Mount and the famous so-called Beatitudes.  The first beatitude was about poverty, while the second beatitude was about mourning.  The third beatitude was about the meek or the humble.  The fourth beatitude was about righteousness.  The fifth beatitude was on mercy, while the sixth beatitude was about the pure of heart.  The seventh beatitude was on peacemakers, while the eighth beatitude was on persecution.  There was a grand blessing for the persecuted Christians, who were the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  They had to value and become the lighted lamp.

Next came the law and the prophets.  The law with all its commandments remained.  The righteous ones would not murder, nor would they get angry with insults.  They would offer their gifts at the Temple.  They would pay their debts and not commit adultery.  Jesus warned against the sinning eye and the sinning right hand.  He favored the traditional divorce stance, but warned about marrying a divorced woman.  They should not bear false witness, nor swear at all, since they should have a simple speech.  No longer was it an eye for an eye, but rather turn the other cheek with unusual kindness.  They were to love their enemies and their heavenly Father with a perfect love.

The followers of Jesus should fast and pray.  We should have piety with almsgiving.  Our charity and prayer should be secret with short prayers.  Thus, there was the famous “Our Father” prayer.  The first part of the Lord’s prayer was about God the Father.  The second part of the Lord’s prayer was about our human problems.  We should seek forgiveness and fast in secret.  We should not want earthly treasures, but heavenly treasures.  We need to have a healthy eye because we cannot serve two masters.

We should trust in Providence.  We do not need to worry.  Just look at the birds who do not worry.  The lilies of the field have more beauty than Solomon in all his glory.  Seek the kingdom of heaven first and you will not have to worry about tomorrow.

As far as judgment was concerned, do not judge the speck in the eye of your neighbor.  Be careful with your holy treasures.  Be seekers and give to your sons.  Pray to your heavenly Father and follow the golden rule.  The gate was narrow and there were many false prophets.  Know them by their fruits.  The sound tree has good fruits.  Cut down the bad tree.  Seek the kingdom of heaven.  Stay away from evildoers.  Wise men build on a rock foundation, while the foolish ones build on a sand foundation.  The crowds were astonished at the authority of Jesus.

Jesus at Bethany (Mt 26:6-26:6)

“Jesus was

In Bethany,

At the house of Simon

The leper.”

 

Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ γενομένου ἐν Βηθανίᾳ ἐν οἰκίᾳ Σίμωνος τοῦ λεπροῦ,

 

This is almost word for word to Mark, chapter 14:3, and somewhat similar to John, chapter 12:1, where Jesus was in Bethany, but at the house of Lazarus and his two sisters, Martha and Mary.  Matthew said that Jesus was in Bethany (Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ γενομένου ἐν Βηθανίᾳ), a town about a mile and a half east of Jerusalem.  He was in the house of Simon the leper (Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ γενομένου ἐν Βηθανίᾳ).  The identity of this Simon the leper is unknown.  However, it could have been someone whom Jesus had cured from leprosy, who became his disciple.  The people of Bethany may have favored Jesus because of the Lazarus event.  In fact, in chapter 21:17, Jesus had stayed overnight in Bethany.  There was also a story of a woman anointing Jesus in Luke, chapter 7:36-50, but within a different context.

Against the Pharisees and Sadducees (Mt 3:7-3:7)

“But when John saw

Many of the Pharisees,

And many of the Sadducees,

Coming for baptism,

He said to them.

‘You brood of vipers!

Who warned you

To flee

From the wrath to come?’”

 

Ἰδὼν δὲ πολλοὺς τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων ἐρχομένους ἐπὶ τὸ βάπτισμα εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, τίς ὑπέδειξεν ὑμῖν φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης ὀργῆς

 

Matthew is the only one who had this warning against the many Pharisees (δὲ πολλοὺς τῶν Φαρισαίων) and the many Sadducees (καὶ Σαδδουκαίων) who were coming to be baptized by John (ἐρχομένους ἐπὶ τὸ βάπτισμα εἶπεν αὐτοῖς). Unlike Mark, Matthew described John as critical of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees followed the Law of Moses, but with a number of oral traditions. This, they might be considered proto-Rabbis. The Sadducees were priestly, tied to the Temple and ritual purifications. They were less concerned about oral traditions. There may have been about 6.000 in each group. John the Baptist, as presented by Matthew, was against both groups, so that he may have favored the ascetic Essenes, who were another small group of Jews. John told them that they were like a group of vipers (Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν,) who would kill young people. They should be warned to flee from the wrath to come (τίς ὑπέδειξεν ὑμῖν φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης ὀργῆς). This might be allusion to the prophet Amos, chapter 5:18-20. Amos saw the day of Yahweh as an angry day of judgment.

They example of northern Israel (Mic 6:16-6:16)

“You have kept

The statutes of Omri.

You have kept

All the works

Of the house of Ahab.

You have followed

Their counsels.

Therefore,

I will make you

A desolation.

I will make your inhabitants

An object of hissing.

Thus,

You shall bear

The scorn of my people.”

The statutes of King Omri (885-874 BCE) and King Ahab (874-853 BCE), the kings of northern Israel, favored the Baal worship and various injustices in Samaria.  They had followed the bad counsels of these northern kings of Israel.  Thus, Yahweh was going to make them a desolation.  The people of the north would become an object of hissing, as they bore the scorn of Yahweh’s people.