The dinner with the tax collectors (Lk 5:29-5:29)

“Then Levi

Gave

A great banquet

For Jesus

In his house.

There was a large crowd

Of tax collectors

And others

Sitting at the table

With them.”

 

Καὶ ἐποίησεν δοχὴν μεγάλην Λευεὶς αὐτῷ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ· καὶ ἦν ὄχλος πολὺς τελωνῶν καὶ ἄλλων οἳ ἦσαν μετ’ αὐτῶν κατακείμενοι.

 

Luke said that Levi gave a great banquet for Jesus (Καὶ ἐποίησεν δοχὴν μεγάλην Λευεὶς αὐτῷ) in his house (ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ).  There was a large crowd of tax collectors (καὶ ἦν ὄχλος πολὺς τελωνῶν) and others (καὶ ἄλλων οἳ ἦσαν) sitting or reclining at the table with them (μετ’ αὐτῶν κατακείμενοι).  Mark, chapter 2:15, and Matthew, chapter 9:10, are similar to Luke, so that Mark might be the source of this event.  Mark and Luke explicitly mentioned that Jesus was having a meal in the house of Levi.  Perhaps Levi was wealthy enough to have a house big enough for a large banquet.  As Levi was a tax collector, other tax collectors were there also.  Was this a farewell meal for Levi as he was about to set out as a disciple of Jesus?  Jesus sat or reclined at the dining table in Levi’s house.  However, besides the tax collectors, Mark and Matthew said that a lot of sinners came to sit down or recline with Jesus and his disciples.  However, Luke simply called them “others.”  These tax collectors were collecting money or tolls for the Roman Empire, so that they could hardly be called model Jewish citizens.  The others or sinners, on the other hand, could either be non-Jewish gentiles or other public immoral unclean Jewish men.  In general, tax collectors and sinners were lumped together, since neither cared much for following the Jewish law, unlike the Pharisees.  Matthew said some of the disciples of Jesus were there.  He also said that this meal was in a house without indicating whose house.  Would it have been the house of Jesus in Capernaum?  Presumably, it was the house of Matthew, the tax collector, since other tax collectors were there also.

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The naked man (Mk 14:51-14:52)

“A certain young man

Was following Jesus.

He was wearing

Nothing

But a linen cloth.

They caught hold

Of him.

But he left

The linen cloth.

He ran off naked.”

 

Καὶ νεανίσκος τις συνηκολούθει αὐτῷ περιβεβλημένος σινδόνα ἐπὶ γυμνοῦ, καὶ κρατοῦσιν αὐτόν·

ὁ δὲ καταλιπὼν τὴν σινδόνα γυμνὸς ἔφυγεν.

 

This story is unique to Mark, so that much speculation has centered around whether this was Mark himself of someone he knew.  Anyway, the other gospel writers never mentioned this naked man.  Was he a follower of Jesus from nearby Bethany or a vagrant?  We do no not know.  Mark thought it was important enough to write about it.  He said that a certain young man was following Jesus (αὶ νεανίσκος τις συνηκολούθει αὐτῷ), perhaps indicating a follower of Jesus.  He was wearing nothing but a linen cloth on his naked body (περιβεβλημένος σινδόνα ἐπὶ γυμνοῦ).  They, the crowd that came to arrest Jesus, caught hold of him or seized him just like Jesus (καὶ κρατοῦσιν αὐτόν).  However, he left his linen cloth behind (ὁ δὲ καταλιπὼν τὴν σινδόνα), as he ran off naked into the night (γυμνὸς ἔφυγεν).  Apparently, no one followed him.

The crowds follow Jesus (Mk 6:33-6:33)

“Now many saw them

Going.

They recognized them.

They hurried there

On foot

From all the towns.

They arrived

Ahead of them.”

 

καὶ εἶδον αὐτοὺς ὑπάγοντας καὶ ἐπέγνωσαν πολλοί, καὶ πεζῇ ἀπὸ πασῶν τῶν πόλεων συνέδραμον ἐκεῖ καὶ προῆλθον αὐτούς.

 

This opening to the multiplication of the loaves story can be found in all four gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:13, Luke, chapter 9:10, John, chapter 6:1-2, and here.  Jesus wanted to get away to a deserted place in a boat, but somehow the crowds followed him.  It is not clear if they were looking for his reaction to the death of John the Baptist, or just following him as an itinerant preacher and healer.  Mark said that many people saw and recognized Jesus and his disciples leaving in the boat (καὶ εἶδον αὐτοὺς ὑπάγοντας καὶ ἐπέγνωσαν πολλοί).  They ran together on foot there along the shore from all the various towns (καὶ πεζῇ ἀπὸ πασῶν τῶν πόλεων συνέδραμον ἐκεῖ).  The crowds, in fact, arrived ahead of them (καὶ προῆλθον αὐτούς). This crowd seemed to follow along the bank of the sea, so that Jesus and his apostles could not get away by themselves.

Simon and friends pursue Jesus (Mk 1:36-1:37)

“Simon

And his companions

Hunted for Jesus.

When they found him,

They said to him.

‘Everyone is searching

For you.’”

 

καὶ κατεδίωξεν αὐτὸν Σίμων καὶ οἱ μετ’ αὐτοῦ

καὶ εὗρον αὐτὸν καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ ὅτι Πάντες ζητοῦσίν σε.

 

There is something similar in Luke, chapter 4:42, but there it was a crowd of people with no mention of Simon.  Mark said that Simon was with some of his companions or fellow disciples (Σίμων καὶ οἱ μετ’ αὐτοῦ) who were hunting or following after or looking for Jesus (καὶ κατεδίωξεν αὐτὸν).  When they found him (καὶ εὗρον αὐτὸν), they said to him (καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ) that everyone was seeking, searching, or looking for him.  Jesus could not be alone.

John the Baptist (Mt 3:1-3:1)

“In those days,

John the Baptist

Appeared

In the wilderness

Of Judea,

Preaching.”

 

Ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις παραγίνεται Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτιστὴς κηρύσσων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τῆς Ἰουδαίας,

 

Matthew now switched to more common material about Jesus and his life. John the Baptist is mentioned in all four canonical gospels. In fact, if anything, Matthew seemed to be following Mark, chapter 1:4, since Mark began his gospel with this story. Matthew began this episode with his trademark transitional phrase, “In those days it happened (Ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις).” John the Baptizer (Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτιστὴς) came preaching (παραγίνεται…κηρύσσων) in the wilderness or desert in Judea (ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τῆς Ἰουδαίας). This wilderness was southeast of Jerusalem and west of the Dead Sea. Apparently, John the Baptist was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early first century CE. He used baptism, some kind of dipping in water, as the central symbol or sacrament of his messianic movement. Thus, he became known as the one who baptizes, the Baptizer, John the Baptist. He certainly had a relationship with Jesus, but the exact relationship between John and Jesus is also problematic. According to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1:36, John’s mother and Jesus’ mother were relatives of some sort. Both John and Jesus may have originally been co-workers. However, they separated as Jesus went along a different route. However, the shadow of John the Baptist appeared again and again in the biblical stories about Jesus and his apostles. Some believe that Jesus may have been a follower or disciple of John, but the textual indications are that John saw himself as subservient to Jesus. Some of Jesus’ early followers had previously been followers of John, as in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 19:2-6. There may have been some contact between John the Baptist and the Qumran-Essene community, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Thus, John might have been associated with them or part of their community for a while. John the Baptist died by beheading, as explained later in this gospel, chapter 14:10. Thus, John the Baptist has been revered as a prophet and a Christian saint throughout the centuries.

The accusations against his Jewish appointees (Dan 3:12-3:12)

“‘There are certain Jews

Whom you have appointed

Over the affairs

Of the province

Of Babylon,

Shadrach,

Meshach,

Abednego.

These pay no heed

To you.

O king!

They do not serve

Your gods.

They do not worship

The golden statue

That you have set up.’”

These Chaldeans were more specific. They accused the 3 companions of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were in charge of the provinces of Babylon, of not listening to the king. They were not serving the gods of Babylon. They even did not worship the golden statue that the King had set up. Thus, these Babylonian officials, although Jewish, were not following the king’s orders.

Wisdom is in the Law of God (Bar 4:1-4:4)

“Wisdom is the book

Of the commandments

Of God.

Wisdom is

The law

That endures forever.

All who hold her fast

Will live.

Those who forsake her

Will die.

Turn!

O Jacob!

Take her!

Walk toward

The shining of her light!

Do not give

Your glory

To another!

Do not give

Your advantages

To an alien people!

Happy are we!

O Israel!

We know

What is pleasing

To God.”

The author of Baruch clearly states that wisdom is the book of the commandments of God, the law that endures forever. There is an equivalency between wisdom and the commandments of God since they are one and the same. Thus the beginning of wisdom is following God’s law. Everyone who holds fast to wisdom will live, while those who forsake her will die. Jacob was to turn and take wisdom. They were to walk towards the shining light of wisdom. They were not to give glory to anyone else. They were not to give their advantages to an alien people. Israel was happy, because they knew what was pleasing to God.