Fourth narrative

The fourth narrative section revealed the increasing opposition to Jesus.  Thus, his disciples had to prepare for his absence.  These instructions emphasized responsibility and humility.  Simon was renamed Peter, the rock upon which he was going to build his church, especially the mystery of the kingdom of heaven.

While Jesus was preaching in the various towns, John the Baptist was put in prison.  The disciples of John questioned Jesus and Jesus responded.  Jesus then asked questions about John.  Was John more than a prophet?  Then Matthew had a series of Old Testament scriptural quotations about John.  How great was John the Baptist?  Was John Elijah?

Jesus warned that this was a childish generation that was indifferent as they kept on eating and drinking, as if nothing important was happening.  Jesus was against the various Galilean cities and towns, especially Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum.  Jesus explained that there were hidden things from the wise ones, especially the relationship of the Father with the Son, but that the disciples had an easy yoke to bear.

Next came the question of eating on the Sabbath.  The Pharisees reacted against Jesus, but he used the example of David and the priests in the Temple to respond to them.  God was the Lord of the Sabbath.  Thus, when Jesus went into the synagogue, they asked him if he would heal anyone on the Sabbath?  Jesus compared sheep to human beings and then healed the man’s hand.  Thus, the Pharisees conspired against Jesus, while he took a low profile.

Jesus said that the fulfillment of the prophesy of Isaiah was at hand in the servant of Yahweh.  Jesus cured the blind and mute man as the crowds were amazed.  However, the Pharisees compared Jesus to Beelzebul, the devil.  Jesus responded that a divided kingdom would not stand.  The Spirit of God was with Jesus.  The bandits tied up people before stealing from them.  You were either for or against Jesus.  They should be aware of the sin against the Holy Spirit.

Jesus then issued a series of sayings about a tree and its fruit.  He compared the Pharisees to a brood of vipers.  There could be good and bad treasures.  Words would either save or condemn them.

Jesus told them about the sign for this evil generation that was always seeking signs.  He was only going to give them the sign of Jonah.  Notice how the men of Nineveh reacted.  The Queen of Sheba brought gifts to Solomon.  The unclean spirit would return with other evil spirits.  The relatives of Jesus, his mother and brothers showed up, but Jesus said that he had a new family.

Then Jesus spoke in parables siting in a boat by the sea.  There was the parable of the sower with his lost seeds, where only a few of the seeds fell on good soil.  His disciples wanted to know why he was speaking in parables, so that Jesus explained why he used parables.  Once again, he referred to a prophecy of Isaiah.  He explained about the seeds on the rocky ground and the seeds among the thorns.  Finally, he explained the meaning of the seeds on good ground or path since they were the blessed ones.

Then there was the parable about the weeds among the wheat.  The slaves let the weeds grow and then separated them at harvest time.  There were other parables about the mustard seed and the yeast.  Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, but he explained these parables to his disciples, especially the sower, the field, and the seeds.  He explained the enemy and the burning of the weeds.  The punishment for the weeds came at the harvest end times.  Thus, the reward for the righteous will be at the end times.

The kingdom of heaven was like a treasure, like pearls, and like a fishing net.  Jesus explained the parables because the disciples did not understand them.  They were like new and old treasures.

Jesus was an astonishment in his own home town.  They all knew the family of Jesus.  Thus, he was a prophet without honor in his own country.

Herod thought that Jesus was a resurrected John the Baptist, but he was afraid of John the Baptist.  At his birthday party, Herod granted the wish to have the head of John the Baptist on a platter.  Meanwhile, John the Baptist’s disciples buried him.

Jesus was worried as he was healing the sick people.  The disciples complained about the crowds, so that Jesus told them to give them something to eat.  However, they only had five loaves and two fish.  Then Jesus blessed the five loaves of bread and distributed them to the crowd.  There were even leftovers from this crowd of five thousand people.

The disciples left in a boat, so that Jesus prayed alone.  The boat was in the middle of the sea when Jesus walked on water to come to them.   Peter talked to Jesus and then attempted to walk on the water.  Jesus then saved Peter who recognized Jesus as the Son of God.  Then there were the healings at Gennesaret, where Jesus cured the sick.

The Pharisees from Jerusalem came to Jesus to ask him why his disciples did not wash their hands before eating.  Jesus responded by telling them to honor their parents since there was hypocrisy in their traditions.  He cited Isaiah about vain worship.  He told them to hear and understand.  They should watch what came out of their mouth rather than what went into their mouth as defilement.  The Pharisees were offended, but Jesus called them blind guides.  Peter wanted to understand more so that Jesus explained the mouth should speak from the heart.

Jesus went to the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon where he met a Canaanite woman.  He said that he was only going to the lost sheep of Israel, but this Canaanite woman persistently asked for help.  Jesus refused again saying that he could not feed the dogs.  However, she responded that dogs eat crumbs from the table.  Jesus said that she had great faith and healed her.

As Jesus healed the crowds of people in the mountain near the Sea of Galilee, he had compassion for them.  Where will they get food?  His disciples said that they had seven loaves.  Jesus then gave thanks over them and distributed the bread to four thousand men as there was a second multiplication of bread loaves.

Jesus went to Magadan.  There the Pharisees asked for a sign from heaven.  Once again, Jesus said that there are weather signs, but he would only give this evil generation the sign of Jonah.

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, but Jesus warned them about the yeast of the Pharisees.  He reprimanded his disciples for their lack of faith as he reminded them about the multiplication of the loaves of bread.  They should be worried about the Pharisees not food.

What was the role of Peter?  Jesus asked about the Son of Man as the disciples responded.  Then Jesus asked them about himself.  Peter gave a very positive response, so that Jesus rewarded him.  The Messianic secret was tied to the future of Jesus in this conversation between Peter and Jesus.  He would have to take up his cross if wanted to save his life because the Son of Man in his kingdom would be coming soon.

Jesus took three of his apostles up a mountain where he was transfigured before them.  Moses and Elijah appeared with him.  Peter wanted to set up three tents for them.  A voice from the cloud came as the three apostles adored him.  Jesus asked them to be silent about this.  What was the role of Elijah and John the Baptist?

An epileptic man knelt before Jesus that his disciples were unable to heal.  Jesus then healed him, so that his disciples wondered why they were unable to heal this epileptic?  Jesus spoke about the future of the Son of Man.  Should they pay the Temple tax?  Jesus responded that the son of the king did not pay taxes, but he told Peter to pay them anyway.

Finally, we have the ecclesiastical discourse about who is the greatest.  A child is the greatest because when you welcome a little child, you welcome Jesus.  They were not to cause children to sin.  They were not to tempt people.  It would be better to be maimed and blind than suffer eternal fire.  They were not to despise the little ones.  Jesus explained the parable of the lost sheep and fraternal correction.  What were you to do with a sinning brother.  Let him become a gentile, if he does not listen.  Common prayer was important so that they should gather in his name.  How often should they forgive?  The response was the seventy times seven.

Then there was the parable of the unforgiving servant slave.  The master settled accounts with servant slaves.  One owed ten thousand talents, so that the king forgave him his debt.  However, this servant slave would not forgive the debt of his fellow slaves, who were angry.  Thus, this unforgiving slave was tortured.  This parable explanation was simple, forgive your brothers.

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The transplanted vine (Ezek 19:12-19:14)

“But the vine

Was plucked up

In fury.

It was cast down

To the ground.

The east wind

Dried it up.

Its fruit

Was stripped off.

Its strong stem

Was withered.

The fire

Consumed it.

Now it was transplanted

Into the wilderness,

Into a dry,

Thirsty land.

The fire has gone out

From its stem.

It has consumed

Its branches.

It has consumed

Its fruit.

Thus there remains

In it

No strong stem.

There is no scepter

For ruling.

This is a lamentation.

It is used

As a lamentation.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel continued this allegory. The good mother vine was plucked up in anger. It was cast down to the ground. The east wind dried it up. Its fruit was stripped off. The strong stem was withered. Fire consumed it. Then they transplanted it into the wilderness, the desert, a dry thirsty land. A fire consumed its stem, branches, and fruit. There no longer was a strong stem for a ruling scepter. This is a reference that Judah no longer had a ruler. Thus this was a useful lamentation.

Yahweh poses questions about the withering vine (Ezek 17:9-17:10)

“Say!

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘Will the vine prosper?

Will he not pull up

Its roots?

Will this cause

Its fruit to rot?

Will it wither?

Will its fresh sprouting leaves

Fade?

No strong arm

Or mighty army

Will be needed

To pull it

From its roots.

When it is transplanted,

Will it thrive?

When the east wind

Strikes it,

Will it not utterly wither?

Will it wither

On the bed

Where it grew?’”

Yahweh then posed a series of questions about this vine that was transplanted by the second eagle. Would this vine prosper in the new place, after it was pulled up by its roots? Would its fruit be rotten? Would it wither away? Sometimes letting a vine wither is easier than having a strong army come in and try to tear it up. Would the east wind be too strong for this vine? Basically Yahweh, via Ezekiel, was casting doubts about transplanting this vine.

The personal plot against Jeremiah (Jer 11:18-11:19)

“Yahweh made it known to me.

I knew it.

Then you showed me

Their evil deeds.

But I was

Like a gentle lamb

Led to the slaughter.

I did not know

It was against me.

They devised schemes.

Saying.

‘Let us destroy the tree

With its fruit!

Let us cut him off

From the land of the living!

Thus his name will no longer

Be remembered!’”

Jeremiah recounts how Yahweh let him know about the plot to end his life. Jeremiah knew about their evil deeds, but he was like a gentle lamb led to slaughter. He did not realize that they were plotting a scheme against him. These evil doers wanted to destroy this tree with its fruit, Jeremiah. They wanted to cut him off from the land of the living, kill him. Thus his name would not be remembered anymore.

Good consequences (Prov 27:17-27:19)

“Iron sharpens iron.

One person sharpens the wits of another.

Anyone who tends a fig tree

Will eat its fruit.

Anyone who takes care of a master

Will be honored.

Just as water reflects the face,

So one human heart reflects another.”

It takes iron to sharpen iron. You can help another person to become sharp and witty. If you take care of a fig tree, you can eat its fruit. If you take care of a master, you will be honored. Just as water reflects your face, so the human heart can reflect another person. Human interaction has some very good consequences on others.

Yahweh gave us the holy land (Ps 80:8-80:13)

“You brought a vine out of Egypt.

You drove out the nations.

You planted it.

You cleared the ground for it.

It took deep root.

It filled the land.

The mountains were covered with its shade.

The mighty cedars were covered with its branches.

It sent out its branches to the sea.

It sent out its shoots to the River.

Why then have you broken down its walls?

Thus all who pass along the way pluck its fruit.

The boar from the forest ravages it.

All that move in the field feed on it.”

This is a great parable about the vine and Israel that was so familiar to all. The vine was taken from Egypt. Then the ground was prepared for it and planted. Thus nations were cleared out to let the vine grow as it took deep root. This vine spread all over the land as it covered the mountains and the trees. Its branches went from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River. However, then its walls were broken down. Now anyone can come along and pluck its fruit. All the wild animals and any animals come to feed on it. Israel was being ravaged by all sets of animals and people.