Herod feared John (Mk 6:20-6:20)

“Herod feared John.

He knew

That John

Was a righteous

And holy man.

He protected John.

When he heard him,

He was greatly perplexed.

Yet he liked

To listen

To him.”

 

ὁ γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ἐφοβεῖτο τὸν Ἰωάνην, εἰδὼς αὐτὸν ἄνδρα δίκαιον καὶ ἅγιον, καὶ συνετήρει αὐτόν, καὶ ἀκούσας αὐτοῦ πολλὰ ἠπόρει, καὶ ἡδέως αὐτοῦ ἤκουεν.

 

This mention of Herod being afraid of John the Baptist can be found in Matthew, chapter 14:5, and here.  In Matthew, Herod was afraid of the large crowds that regarded John as a prophet.  Here, however, King Herod is more seriously confused.  Mark said that Herod also feared John (ὁ γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ἐφοβεῖτο τὸν Ἰωάνην).  However, he was not afraid of the crowds, but because he knew that John was a righteous and holy man (εἰδὼς αὐτὸν ἄνδρα δίκαιον καὶ ἅγιον).  Herod was protecting or keeping John safe (καὶ συνετήρει αὐτόν).  When he heard John (καὶ ἀκούσας αὐτοῦ), he was greatly perplexed or in doubt (πολλὰ ἠπόρει).  Yet he liked to gladly listen to him (καὶ ἡδέως αὐτοῦ ἤκουεν).

King Herod heard about Jesus (Mk 6:14-6:14)

“King Herod

Had heard

That Jesus’ name

Had become known.

Some were saying.

‘John the baptizer

Has been raised

From the dead.

For this reason,

These powers are

At work

In him.’”

 

Καὶ ἤκουσεν ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἡρῴδης, φανερὸν γὰρ ἐγένετο τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔλεγον ὅτι Ἰωάνης ὁ Βαπτίζων ἐγήγερται ἐκ νεκρῶν, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἐνεργοῦσιν αἱ δυνάμεις ἐν αὐτῷ.

 

This mention of Herod can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:1, Luke, chapter 9:7, and here.  The Roman educated Herod, was the ruler or tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 BCE-39 CE, as a client ruler, part of the Roman Empire.  This Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great.  He had built and named the capital city of Galilee, Tiberias, since the Roman Emperor Tiberius (14-37 CE) was his favorite emperor.  Mark called him a king.  King Herod had heard reports (Καὶ ἤκουσεν ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἡρῴδης) about Jesus, because his name had become well known or famous (φανερὸν γὰρ ἐγένετο τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ).  Jesus was a celebrity in Galilee.  Here we have the intersection of the Galilean official of the Roman Empire, Herod, and the famous Galilean preacher and faith healer, Jesus.  Herod, the Roman ruler in Galilee, or those around him said (καὶ ἔλεγον) that Jesus might be the resurrected John the Baptist, since some people believed that righteous people rose from the dead.  Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead (ὅτι Ἰωάνης ὁ Βαπτίζων ἐγήγερται ἐκ νεκρῶν).  How ironic, since Jesus was to rise from the dead.  Herod thought the miraculous powers of John the Baptist were at work in Jesus (καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἐνεργοῦσιν αἱ δυνάμεις ἐν αὐτῷ).  He and his people thought that John might have reincarnated himself in Jesus,

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.

Eternal punishment or reward (Mt 25:46-25:46)

“These evil ones

Will go away

Into eternal punishment.

But the righteous

Will go

Into eternal life.”

 

καὶ ἀπελεύσονται οὗτοι εἰς κόλασιν αἰώνιον, οἱ δὲ δίκαιοι εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

 

This last judgment section is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said that these left side goat unrighteous people would go into a long eternal torment or punishment (καὶ ἀπελεύσονται οὗτοι εἰς κόλασιν αἰώνιον), while the righteous would go into a long eternal life existence (οἱ δὲ δίκαιοι εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον).  The reward or punishment was simple, eternal torment or eternal life.

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.

When did we take care of you? (Mt 25:37-25:39)

“Then the righteous

Will answer him.

‘Lord!

When was it

That we saw you hungry?

When did we

Give you food?

When were you thirsty?

When did we

Give you something to drink?

When was it

That we saw you

A stranger?

When did we

Welcome you?

When did we

See you naked?

When did we

Give you clothing?

When was it

That we saw you

Sick?

When did we

See you in prison?

When did we

Visit you?’”

 

τότε ἀποκριθήσονται αὐτῷ οἱ δίκαιοι λέγοντες Κύριε, πότε σε εἴδομεν πεινῶντα καὶ ἐθρέψαμεν, ἢ διψῶντα καὶ ἐποτίσαμεν;

πότε δέ σε εἴδομεν ξένον καὶ συνηγάγομεν, ἢ γυμνὸν καὶ περιεβάλομεν;

πότε δέ σε εἴδομεν ἀσθενοῦντα ἢ ἐν φυλακῇ καὶ ἤλθομεν πρός σε;

 

This last judgment section is unique to Matthew.  Jesus then said that the righteous ones answered the Lord (τότε ἀποκριθήσονται αὐτῷ οἱ δίκαιοι λέγοντες Κύριε).  They wanted to know when they had seen him hungry and gave him food (πότε σε εἴδομεν πεινῶντα καὶ ἐθρέψαμεν)?  When was he thirsty and they gave him something to drink (ἢ διψῶντα καὶ ἐποτίσαμεν)?  When was he a stranger and they welcomed him (ἢ διψῶντα καὶ ἐποτίσαμεν)?  When was he naked and they gave him some clothing (ἢ γυμνὸν καὶ περιεβάλομεν)?  When was he sick (πότε δέ σε εἴδομεν ἀσθενοῦντα)?  When was in prison (ἢ ἐν φυλακῇ)?  When did they visit him (καὶ ἤλθομεν πρός σε)?  They wanted to know when did all these activities take place?

The tombs of the prophets (Mt 23:29-23:30)

“Woe to you!

Scribes!

Woe to you!

Pharisees!

Hypocrites!

You build the tombs

Of the prophets.

You decorate the graves

Of the righteous.

You say.

‘If we had lived

In the days

Of our ancestors,

We would not have taken part

With them

In shedding the blood

Of the prophets.’”

 

Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι οἰκοδομεῖτε τοὺς τάφους τῶν προφητῶν καὶ κοσμεῖτε τὰ μνημεῖα τῶν δικαίων,

καὶ λέγετε Εἰ ἤμεθα ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν, οὐκ ἂν ἤμεθα αὐτῶν κοινωνοὶ ἐν τῷ αἵματι τῶν προφητῶν.

 

There is something similar in Luke, chapter 11:47-48.  Jesus continued to curse the Pharisees and the Scribes, much like earlier in verses 13, 14, 15, 25, and 27.  The first part of this diatribe is exactly the same as those earlier verses.  Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)!  Scribes (γραμματεῖς)!  Woe to you!  Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)!  Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)!  This time it was how they and their ancestors had treated the prophets of Israel.  They built the tombs of the prophets (ὅτι οἰκοδομεῖτε τοὺς τάφους τῶν προφητῶν) and decorated the graves or tombs of the righteous (καὶ κοσμεῖτε τὰ μνημεῖα τῶν δικαίων).  These Pharisees said that if they had lived in the days of their ancestors or fathers (καὶ λέγετε Εἰ ἤμεθα ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν), they would not have participated in the shedding of the blood of these prophets (οὐκ ἂν ἤμεθα αὐτῶν κοινωνοὶ ἐν τῷ αἵματι τῶν προφητῶν).  The problem is that there were not that many prophets murdered.

Whitewashed tombs (Mt 23:27-23:28)

“Woe to you!

Scribes!

Woe to you!

Pharisees!

Hypocrites!

You are like

Whitewashed tombs,

Which outwardly

Look beautiful.

But inside,

They are full

Of the bones

Of the dead

With all kinds of filth.

Thus,

You also on the outside

Look righteous

To others.

However,

Inside you

Are full of hypocrisy

And iniquity.”

 

Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι παρομοιάζετε τάφοις κεκονιαμένοις, οἵτινες ἔξωθεν μὲν φαίνονται ὡραῖοι, ἔσωθεν δὲ γέμουσιν ὀστέων νεκρῶν καὶ πάσης ἀκαθαρσίας.

οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ἔξωθεν μὲν φαίνεσθε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις δίκαιοι, ἔσωθεν δέ ἐστε μεστοὶ ὑποκρίσεως καὶ ἀνομίας.

 

There is something similar in Luke, chapter 11:44.  Jesus continued to curse the Pharisees and the Scribes, much like earlier in verses 13, 14, 15 and 25.  The first part of this diatribe is exactly the same as those earlier verses.  Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)!  Scribes (γραμματεῖς)!  Woe to you!  Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)!  Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)!  There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees.  This time it was a continuation against the false hearts of the Pharisees.  They were like whitewashed tombs (ὅτι παρομοιάζετε τάφοις κεκονιαμένοις), that looked outwardly beautiful (οἵτινες ἔξωθεν μὲν φαίνονται ὡραῖοι).  However, the inside of these unmarked tombs was full of the bones of dead people and other kinds of filth or impure things (ἔσωθεν δὲ γέμουσιν ὀστέων νεκρῶν καὶ πάσης ἀκαθαρσίας).  Thus, the Pharisees appear to look righteous on the outside to others (οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ἔξωθεν μὲν φαίνεσθε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις δίκαιοι).  However, on the inside of them, in their hearts, they are full of hypocrisy and iniquity or lawlessness (ἔσωθεν δέ ἐστε μεστοὶ ὑποκρίσεως καὶ ἀνομίας).

The explanation of the parable about the fishing net (Mt 13:49-13:50)

“Thus,

It will be

At the end of the age.

The angels will come out.

They will separate

The evil

From the righteous.

They will throw them

Into the furnace of fire.

There will be weeping

And gnashing of teeth.”

 

οὕτως ἔσται ἐν τῇ συντελείᾳ τοῦ αἰῶνος· ἐξελεύσονται οἱ ἄγγελοι καὶ ἀφοριοῦσιν τοὺς πονηροὺς ἐκ μέσου τῶν δικαίων,

καὶ βαλοῦσιν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὴν κάμινον τοῦ πυρός· ἐκεῖ ἔσται ὁ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὁ βρυγμὸς τῶν ὀδόντων.

 

Only Matthew has this explanation of the parable about the fishing net that was just mentioned.  Once again, there is a reference to the end times (οὕτως ἔσται ἐν τῇ συντελείᾳ τοῦ αἰῶνος) as in the parable about the weeds.  The angels, like with the weeds, would come and separate the evil or bad fish from the righteous or good fish (ἐξελεύσονται οἱ ἄγγελοι καὶ ἀφοριοῦσιν τοὺς πονηροὺς ἐκ μέσου τῶν δικαίων).  These angels would then throw the evil ones or the bad fish into the furnace of fire (καὶ βαλοῦσιν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὴν κάμινον τοῦ πυρός), where there would be weeping or lamenting and gnashing or grinding of teeth (ἐκεῖ ἔσται ὁ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὁ βρυγμὸς τῶν ὀδόντων).  These angels burned the fish like they burned the weeds in the earlier parable in chapter 13:42.  In fact, the same exact words were used in both parables about the furnace of fire and the weeping and gnashing of teeth.  This later was the normal form of mourning or behavior of those who were upset or frustrated.

The dark day of Yahweh (Am 5:18-5:20)

“Woe to you!

You who desire

The day of Yahweh!

Why do you want

The day of Yahweh?

It is darkness,

Not light.

It is like

As if someone fled

From a lion,

But a bear met him.

It is like

Someone went into the house.

They then rested

Their hand

Against the wall.

Then a serpent bit him.

Is not

The day of Yahweh

Darkness,

Not light?

It is gloom

With no brightness in it.”

The day of Yahweh meant many different things to the ancient Israelites. For some, it was a favorable intervention of Yahweh. For others, as here, it was a day of Yahweh’s anger. After the exile, it was considered a day of hope that the anger of Yahweh would turn on Israel’s oppressors. Then this day of Yahweh became a day of judgment, as a triumph for the righteous. Finally, there were cosmic signs that would accompany this day of Yahweh. Here, Amos wanted to know why anyone would want the day of Yahweh to come, because it was a time of darkness, not light. In fact, he wanted to curse them for wishing the day of Yahweh to come. This day of Yahweh was more like a person fleeing from a lion, only to run into a bear. It was like going into a house, and then resting your arm on the wall, only to be bit by a snake. For Amos, the day of Yahweh was a time of darkness, not light, a time of gloom and not brightness.