Fifth narrative

Jesus traveled toward Jerusalem and taught in the Temple there, debating with the chief priests and religious leaders.  Then he spoke about the coming kingdom of heaven and the future end times.

Jesus finally went to Judea, where he cured large crowds of people.  The Pharisees questioned him about divorce.  Jesus reiterated the importance of marriage, as he spoke about Moses and divorce.  After hearing the response of Jesus about divorce, his disciples wondered why they should marry at all.  Jesus explained about different kind of eunuchs.

The children came forward to Jesus and he blessed them.  He warned against wealth.  To gain eternal life you had to keep the commandments.  They wanted to know which commandments?  The great commandment was not a problem.  However, Jesus asked them to give up their possessions, so that the rich young man walked away.  It was hard for rich people to enter the kingdom like a camel going through the eye of a needle.  Who could be saved?  The response was that all things are possible with God.  Peter wanted to know about the disciples and the eternal life reward, so that Jesus told them that the first shall be last and vice versa.

Then Jesus presented the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.  He hired the first laborers, and then late in the day a second group, a third group and finally a fourth group of laborers.  The last group hired got a full day’s pay.  The first group hired were upset when they got the same as the last group hired.  This brought up the problem of generosity versus fairness, as Jesus explained the parable.

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus predicted what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem.  The mother of the sons of Zebedee wanted to know if her two sons, James and John, could be the greatest, on either side of Jesus.  Jesus pointed out the difficulties and said that only the Father set up the seating arrangements.  This led to ten angry men as they resented the two trying to be first.  Jesus reminded them about servant leadership, as the Son of Man was going to give up his life.

There were great crowds at Jericho where Jesus found two blind men asking for mercy, so he healed them.  Then began the final ministry in Jerusalem with a triumphal entry.  Jesus sent two disciples from Bethpage to get a donkey and a colt because he needed them.  Thus, the prophecy of Zechariah might be fulfilled.  They brought the donkey and the colt to Jesus.  Then crowds welcomed the Son of David into Jerusalem as they began to wonder who this man was?

Jesus went into the Temple and chased out the money changers to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah.  When he cured people in the Temple, the chief priests were angry, but the little children praised him.

Then Jesus went to Bethany.  The next morning, he was hungry.  He saw a fig tree, but it had no figs, so he cursed the fig tree as it withered because of his faith.

People began to question where did Jesus get his authority?  Jesus responded with a question for a question.  He asked them about the value of the baptism of John.  They gave a timid response.  Then he told the parable about the two sons.  The first son said no at first, and then did the work, while the second son said yes and did not do the work.  Which son did the will of his father?  Thus, they did not believe John the Baptist.

Then Jesus told the parable about the wicked tenants.  This absentee land owner of the vineyard sent people to collect his rent.  Instead, the tenants beat and killed the landowner’s slaves.  He sent a second group that was also killed.  Then the tenants killed the landowner’s son.  Finally, the landowner came to take back his vineyard, citing Psalm 118 about the kingdom of God and the falling cornerstone.  The Pharisees understood this parable and tried to arrest Jesus.

Jesus continued to speak in parables.  This parable was about the king who gave a great wedding banquet.  However, the invited guests refused to come to the wedding banquet.  He sent out a second invitation to the wedding banquet, but they refused the second invitation also.  They treated his slaves badly.  The king was angry and sent out new invitations to the wedding feast.  Finally, a man without a wedding garment showed up, but he threw him out of the feast.  The explanation of this parable was that many are called, but few are chosen.

Next the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by flattering him.  They asked him a question about taxes.  Jesus gave a harsh response as he had a dialogue about the Roman coin about whose image was on it.  Give Caesar his due.  The Pharisees and their disciples left.

However, the Sadducees asked a question about the resurrection.  There was a law about marrying the brother of a dead man.  There was a woman who married seven brothers, who was her husband in the resurrection?  Jesus responded that there was no marriage in the resurrection.  The living God of their ancestors would show them the way.  The crowd was astonished.

The Pharisees regrouped and wanted to know what is the greatest commandment?  Jesus responded about the two great commandments to love God and your neighbor.  Then Jesus asked the Pharisees a question.  Was the Christ the son of David?  Then who was the Lord for David?  After that there were no more questions for Jesus.

Jesus then cursed the Scribes and Pharisees.  He told his disciples to do what they say, but not what they do.  They tied up heavy burdens on the people.  They wore special clothing and sought the places of honor.  They want to be called Rabbis.  No one was your father or master.  Greatness comes with humility.  They tried to lock people out of heaven as they shut it off.  Even when they tried to make converts, they are like blind guides and fools.  They swore by the altar or the gift of the altar.  They swore by heaven, but they had forgotten the law.  They wanted the gnat out your eye but had a camel in their own eye.  They worried about the outside of the cup instead of the inside.  They were like whitewashed tombs.  They proclaimed reverence for the tombs of the prophets, but they were like their sinning ancestors. They were like serpents.  They would kill the prophets.  They spread innocent blood.  Soon the house of Jerusalem would be desolate.

Finally, there were the predictions about the end times.  Jesus left the Temple as he predicted its destruction.  What are the signs of the Parousia?  There would be the beginning of the great suffering so that they should not be lead astray.  There would be rumors of wars in those troubled times.  They would be persecuted for the sake of Jesus.  There would be betrayals and false prophets.  Love would grow cold.  Endurance would be necessary.  The importance of Daniel the prophet was emphasized.  In Judea, they would flee to the housetops.  It would be too late for the people in the fields.  This would be the wrong time to be pregnant or nursing.  There would be great tribulation, but the days would be short.

The end was coming because there would be false Christs and people looking for the Messiah.  The Son of Man would come on the clouds as the darkness in the skies appeared.  There would be a gathering of the chosen ones.  Using the parable of the fig tree, they could tell that the end was near.  This generation would pass away, but Jesus’ words would not pass away.  No one knew the day, since it would be like in the days of Noah.  Only one would be taken and the other left, so be ready.  Be a wise and faithful slave, not a wicked slave.

Jesus told the parable of the ten bridesmaids where half were wise and half foolish.  They all fell asleep.  When the bridegroom came, they all got up.  However, the foolish ones had no oil and wise ones said that there was not enough oil for both of them.  When the foolish left to get oil, they shut the door.  When they came back, the bridegroom said that he did not know them.  Thus, you do not know the day.

Next Jesus told the parable of the talents.  A man entrusted his assets to his slaves.  He gave them money.  One slave added five more talents, another added two more talents, but the third slave dug a hole and buried his money.  The master settled their accounts.  The slave with five talents got five more talents.  The slave with two talents got two more talents.  The slave with one talent was rebuked and punished.  Thus, there will be rewards and punishments at the end times.

In the last judgment, the Son of Man would appear in glory.  There would be sheep and goats, with the sheep on the right hand.  They had taken care of him.  They wondered when they had done this.  The Son of Man replied that they took care of him when they cared for the least of his brothers.  Then he told the goats on his left side to depart from him because they had not taken care of him when they did not care for the lowly people.  Thus, there would be eternal punishment or eternal reward.

Depart from me (Mt 25:41-25:41)

“Then the king

Will say to those

At his left hand.

‘You are cursed!

Depart from me!

Enter into the eternal fire

Prepared for the devil

And his angels!’”

 

τότε ἐρεῖ καὶ τοῖς ἐξ εὐωνύμων Πορεύεσθε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ κατηραμένοι εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ αἰώνιον τὸ ἡτοιμασμένον τῷ διαβόλῳ καὶ τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ.

 

This last judgment section is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said that the king turned to those goats on his left side (τότε ἐρεῖ καὶ τοῖς ἐξ εὐωνύμων).  He wanted these goat people to leave him and go away (Πορεύεσθε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ).  He called them cursed (κατηραμένοι). They were to go into the eternal fire (εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ αἰώνιον) that had been prepared for the devil and his angels (τὸ ἡτοιμασμένον τῷ διαβόλῳ καὶ τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ).  They were to depart from the king and be cursed to join the devil and his angels in the eternal fire that had been prepared for the devil.  Thus, we have the basis for the classic Christian teaching of eternal heaven with God, the Father, Jesus, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the righteous or the eternal fire of hell with the devil and his companions for the evil or wicked people.  This was the final judgment awaiting all people.

Eat and drink well (Ezek 39:18-39:20)

“‘You shall eat

The flesh

Of the mighty!

You shall drink

The blood

Of the princes

Of the earth!

You shall eat

Rams,

Lambs,

Goats,

Bulls,

All of them fatlings

Of Bashan.

You shall eat fat

Until you are filled.

You shall drink blood

Until you are drunk.

I am preparing

This sacrificial feast

For you.

You shall be filled

At my table

With horses,

With charioteers,

With warriors,

With all kinds of soldiers.’

Says Yahweh God.”

What were they going to do at this great festival? Yahweh God said that they were going to eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of the earthly princes in some symbolic way. However, they were also going to have some real food with rams, lambs, goats, and bulls from the great grazing land on the east side of the Jordan River in Bashan. They were going to eat until they were full and drink until they were drunk. Gluttony and drunkenness was not a problem since Yahweh was preparing this sacrificial feast for them. With them at the table would be horses, charioteers, warriors, and all kinds of soldiers. However, I don’t know why.

Arabia (Ezek 27:21-27:21)

“Arabia,

With all the princes

Of Kedar,

Were your favored dealers

In lambs,

Rams,

Goats.

They did business

With you

In these things.”

The princes of the Arabian Peninsula were the favorite trading partners of Tyre as regards livestock, especially lambs, rams, and goats. The princes of Kedar referred to those dark skinned Arabs who were descendants of Ishmael that lived in the northwestern section of the Arabian Peninsula.

The defeat of Babylon (Jer 51:38-51:40)

“‘Like lions,

They shall roar together.

They shall growl

Like lions’ whelps.

While they are inflamed,

I will set out their drink.

I will make them drunk,

Until they become merry.

I will make them sleep

A perpetual sleep.

They will never wake.’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will bring them down

Like lambs

To the slaughter,

Like rams,

Or like goats.’”

The mighty lion Babylon will no longer roar or growl. They will be reduced to young baby lions, whelps. They would get drunk and be merry until they fell into a perpetual sleep. Thus they will never wake up again. They will be like lambs, rams, and goats brought to the slaughter. They would not realize what hit them.

The vengeance on Babylon (Jer 51:34-51:37)

“‘Like lions,

They shall roar together.

They shall growl

Like lions’ whelps.

While they are inflamed,

I will set out their drink.

I will make them drunk,

Until they become merry.

I will make them sleep

A perpetual sleep.

They will never wake.’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will bring them down

Like lambs

To the slaughter,

Like rams,

Or like goats.’”

The mighty lion Babylon will no longer roar or growl. They will be reduced to young baby lions, whelps. They would get drunk and be merry until they fell into a perpetual sleep. Thus they will never wake up again. They will be like lambs, rams, and goats brought to the slaughter. They would not realize what hit them.

 

The sword of Yahweh on Edom (Isa 34:5-34:7)

“When my sword has drunk

Its fill in the heavens,

It will descend upon Edom.

My sword will descend

Upon the people I have doomed.

Yahweh has a sword.

It is sated with blood,

With the blood of lambs,

With the blood of goats.

It is gorged with fat,

With the fat of the kidneys of rams.

Yahweh has a sacrifice in Bozrah.

There was a great slaughter

In the land of Edom.

Wild oxen shall fall with them.

Young steers shall fall with them.

Mighty bulls shall fall with them.

Their land shall be soaked with blood.

Their soil made rich with fat.”

Isaiah has Yahweh talk about his sword that was going to descend on the country of Edom, southeast of Judah, where the twin brother of Jacob, Esau, had settled as in Genesis, chapter 36. Yahweh’s heavenly sword would fall upon the doomed country of Edom. This sword would be full of blood from goats and rams as well as fat from their kidneys. There was going to be a great sacrificial slaughter in Bozrah, the capital city of Edom. There was going to be such a sacrifice of oxen, steers, and bulls that the land would be soaked with blood and fat so that the soil would become rich.