Cut off your hand (Mk 9:43-9:43)

“If your hand

Causes you

To stumble,

Cut it off!

It is better

For you

To enter life

Maimed

Than with two hands

And go to hell,

To the unquenchable fire.”

 

Καὶ ἐὰν σκανδαλίσῃ σε ἡ χείρ σου, ἀπόκοψον αὐτήν· καλόν ἐστίν σε κυλλὸν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν, ἢ τὰς δύο χεῖρας ἔχοντα ἀπελθεῖν εἰς τὴν γέενναν, εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον

 

This saying about better to be maimed than sin can also be found in Matthew chapter 18:8, with some minor changes since he united the hand and foot together.    In a rather harsh statement, Mark indicated that Jesus said that if your hand caused you to stumble, sin, or scandalize others (Καὶ ἐὰν σκανδαλίσῃ σε ἡ χείρ σου), cut it off (ἀπόκοψον αὐτήν).  It would be better for you to enter life maimed or crippled (καλόν ἐστιν σε κυλλὸν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν) than to have two hands (ἢ δύο χεῖρας).  Then you would go away into Gehenna (ἀπελθεῖν εἰς τὴν γέενναν), the unquenchable fire (εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον).  The Greek word for hell was “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna, based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom.  That was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place.  You were better off maimed with one hand than being in these everlasting hell fires.  Whatever, the temptation, stumbling block, or snare, get rid of it, even if it is one of your own hands.

Advertisements

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.

Healing the crowds of people (Mt 15:30-15:31)

“Great crowds

Came to him.

They brought with them

The lame,

The maimed,

The blind,

The mute,

And many others.

They put them

At his feet.

Jesus healed them.

Thus,

The crowd was amazed

When they saw

The mute speaking,

The maimed whole,

The lame walking,

And the blind seeing.

They praised

The God of Israel.”

 

καὶ προσῆλθον αὐτῷ ὄχλοι πολλοὶ ἔχοντες μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν χωλούς, κυλλούς, τυφλούς, κωφούς, καὶ ἑτέρους πολλούς, καὶ ἔριψαν αὐτοὺς παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ· καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτούς·

ὥστε τὸν ὄχλον θαυμάσαι βλέποντας κωφοὺς λαλοῦντας κυλλοὺς ὑγιεῖς καὶ χωλοὺς περιπατοῦντας καὶ τυφλοὺς βλέποντας· καὶ ἐδόξασαν τὸν Θεὸν Ἰσραήλ.

 

This seems to be unique to Matthew, with his emphasis on the great crowds of people and mass healings.  In chapter 8:17, He had talked about these healing actions as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, but here this prophet is not mentioned.  As usual, great crowds came out to see Jesus (καὶ προσῆλθον αὐτῷ ὄχλοι πολλοὶ).  They brought with them (ἔχοντες μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν) the lame (χωλούς), the maimed (κυλλούς), the blind (τυφλούς), the mute (κωφούς), and many other sick people (, καὶ ἑτέρους πολλούς).  They were all placed at the feet of Jesus (καὶ ἔριψαν αὐτοὺς παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ).  Then he healed them (καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτούς), so that the crowd was amazed or marveled at what they saw (ὥστε τὸν ὄχλον θαυμάσαι βλέποντας).  The mute people were able to speak (κωφοὺς λαλοῦντας).  The maimed people were made sound or whole (κυλλοὺς ὑγιεῖς).  The lame people were able to walk (καὶ χωλοὺς περιπατοῦντας).  The blind people were able to see (καὶ τυφλοὺς βλέποντας).  They all praised or honored the God of Israel (καὶ ἐδόξασαν τὸν Θεὸν Ἰσραήλ), and not Jesus.

The worthless shepherd (Zech 11:15-11:16)

“Then Yahweh said to me.

‘Take once more

The implements

Of a worthless shepherd!

I am raising up

In the land

A shepherd

Who does not care

For the perishing.

He does not care

To seek the wandering.

He does not care

To heal the maimed.

He does not care

To nourish the sound.

But he devours

The flesh

Of the fat ones,

Tearing off even their hoofs.’”

Yahweh explained what a worthless shepherd would be like.  This useless shepherd did not care about those sheep that were dying, wandering, or maimed.  He never tried to help those that were in good health.  However, he wanted to devour the flesh of the fat sheep, even tearing off their hoofs.  This was a concise description of a bad leader.