The meal with the tax collectors (Mk 2:15-2:15)

“And as he sat

At dinner

In Levi’s house,

Many tax collectors

And sinners

Were also sitting

With Jesus

And his disciples.

There were many

Who followed him.”

 

Καὶ γίνεται κατακεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ, καὶ πολλοὶ τελῶναι καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ συνανέκειντο τῷ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ, ἦσαν γὰρ πολλοὶ καὶ ἠκολούθουν αὐτῷ.

 

Luke, chapter 5:29, and Matthew, chapter 9:10, are similar to Mark, so that Mark might be the source of this event.  Here and in Luke, it was explicitly mentioned that Jesus was having a meal in the house of Levi (Καὶ γίνεται κατακεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ).  As Levi was a tax collector, other tax collectors (καὶ πολλοὶ τελῶναι) 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 this house.  However, besides the tax collectors, a lot of sinners came to sit down or recline (καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ συνανέκειντο) with Jesus and his disciples (τῷ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ).  The tax collectors were collecting money or tolls for the Roman Empire, so that they could hardly be called model Jewish citizens.  The sinners (ἁμαρτωλοὶ), on the other hand, could either be non-Jewish gentiles or other public immoral Jewish men, who were unclean.  In general, tax collectors and sinners were lumped together, since neither cared much for following the Jewish law, unlike the Pharisees.  However, many people were already followers of Jesus (ἦσαν γὰρ πολλοὶ καὶ ἠκολούθουν αὐτῷ).  How were these followers different from his disciples?

The angel at the tomb (Mt 28:2-28:3)

“An angel

Of the Lord

Descended from heaven.

He came.

He rolled back

The stone.

He sat upon it.

His appearance was

Like lightning.

His clothing

Was as white

As snow.”

 

ἄγγελος γὰρ Κυρίου καταβὰς ἐξ οὐρανοῦ καὶ προσελθὼν ἀπεκύλισεν τὸν λίθον καὶ ἐκάθητο ἐπάνω αὐτοῦ.

ἦν δὲ ἡ εἰδέα αὐτοῦ ὡς ἀστραπὴ, καὶ τὸ ἔνδυμα αὐτοῦ λευκὸν ὡς χιών.

Matthew is the only one to explicitly describe the actions and the angel at the tomb.  In Mark, chapter 16:5, the women found a young man with a white robe sitting in the tomb, while in Luke, chapter 24:4, there were 2 men in dazzling clothes standing in the tomb.  John, chapter 20:11-13, had 2 angels talk to Mary Magdalene in the tomb.  Matthew uniquely said that an angel of the Lord (ἄγγελος γὰρ Κυρίου) descended from heaven (καταβὰς ἐξ οὐρανοῦ).  He came and rolled back the stone (καὶ προσελθὼν ἀπεκύλισεν τὸν λίθον), so that he was sitting on this stone (καὶ ἐκάθητο ἐπάνω αὐτοῦ).  He looked like a bright flash of lightning (ἦν δὲ ἡ εἰδέα αὐτοῦ ὡς ἀστραπὴ) because his clothing was as white as snow (καὶ τὸ ἔνδυμα αὐτοῦ λευκὸν ὡς χιών).  Once again, Matthew was more dramatic in his descriptions.

Peter follows Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest (Mt 26:58-26:58)

“But Peter

Was following Jesus

At a distance.

He went

As far as the courtyard

Of the high priest.

Going inside,

He sat

With the guards

In order to see

How this would end.”

 

ὁ δὲ Πέτρος ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ ἀπὸ μακρόθεν ἕως τῆς αὐλῆς τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, καὶ εἰσελθὼν ἔσω ἐκάθητο μετὰ τῶν ὑπηρετῶν ἰδεῖν τὸ τέλος.

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 14:54, and Luke, chapter 22:54-55, but Peter was there to warm himself and not see what was happening.  In John, chapter 18:15-16, Peter was with another disciple, who helped him to get into the courtyard.  Here Matthew said that Peter had followed Jesus (ὁ δὲ Πέτρος ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ), but at a distance (ἀπὸ μακρόθεν).  Peter even went as far as the courtyard of the high priest (ἕως τῆς αὐλῆς τοῦ ἀρχιερέως).  Then he went inside the courtyard (καὶ εἰσελθὼν ἔσω) and sat with the guards or servants (ἐκάθητο μετὰ τῶν ὑπηρετῶν) of the high priest in order to see what was going to happen in the end (ἰδεῖν τὸ τέλος), since he was curious to see what was going to happen to Jesus.  Yet at the same time, he was careless in entering the courtyard with the servants and guards of the high priest.  This could be trouble for Peter.

The disciples flee (Mt 26:55-26:56)

“At that hour,

Jesus said

To the crowds.

‘Have you come out

With swords

And clubs

To arrest me

As though

I was a bandit?

Day after day,

I sat in the Temple

Teaching.

You did not arrest me.

But all this has taken place

That the scriptures

Of the prophets

Might be fulfilled.’

Then all the disciples

Deserted him.

They fled.”

 

Ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῖς ὄχλοις Ὡς ἐπὶ λῃστὴν ἐξήλθατε μετὰ μαχαιρῶν καὶ ξύλων συλλαβεῖν με; καθ’ ἡμέραν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ ἐκαθεζόμην διδάσκων, καὶ οὐκ ἐκρατήσατέ με.

Τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν ἵνα πληρωθῶσιν αἱ γραφαὶ τῶν προφητῶν. Τότε οἱ μαθηταὶ πάντες ἀφέντες αὐτὸν ἔφυγον.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 14:48-50.  In Luke, chapter 22:52-53, there is something similar, while John, chapter 18, does not have anything like this.  Matthew recounted that at that hour (Ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ), Jesus spoke to the crowds (εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῖς ὄχλοις), as he normally did.  Why had they come out with swords and clubs to capture or arrest him (ἐξήλθατε μετὰ μαχαιρῶν καὶ ξύλων συλλαβεῖν με), as though he was a bandit or robber (Ὡς ἐπὶ λῃστὴν)?  Day after day or every day, he had sat in the Temple teaching (καθ’ ἡμέραν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ ἐκαθεζόμην διδάσκων), but they did not seize or arrest him (καὶ οὐκ ἐκρατήσατέ με).  All this took place or happened (Τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν) so that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled (ἵνα πληρωθῶσιν αἱ γραφαὶ τῶν προφητῶν).  Once again, there was no indication of which scriptural prophets he was referring to.  Then all the disciples deserted him as they escaped or fled from Jesus (Τότε οἱ μαθηταὶ πάντες ἀφέντες αὐτὸν ἔφυγον).

 

They brought the donkey and the colt (Mt 21:6-21:7)

“The disciples went out.

They did

As Jesus

Had directed them.

They brought the donkey

And the colt.

They put their garments

On them.

Then Jesus sat on them.”

 

πορευθέντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ καὶ ποιήσαντες καθὼς συνέταξεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς

ἤγαγον τὴν ὄνον καὶ τὸν πῶλον, καὶ ἐπέθηκαν ἐπ’ αὐτῶν τὰ ἱμάτια, καὶ ἐπεκάθισεν ἐπάνω αὐτῶν.

 

Both Mark, chapter 11:4-7, and Luke, chapter 19:32-35, are similar but more elaborate in explaining how the two disciples got the donkey.  The two disciples went out (πορευθέντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ).  They did just as Jesus had directed or commanded them to do (καὶ ποιήσαντες καθὼς συνέταξεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  They brought the donkey and the colt back (ἤγαγον τὴν ὄνον καὶ τὸν πῶλον) to Jesus.  Then they put their outer garments or coats on them (καὶ ἐπέθηκαν ἐπ’ αὐτῶν τὰ ἱμάτια).  Then Jesus sat on them (καὶ ἐπεκάθισεν ἐπάνω αὐτῶν).  This is where the two animals concept falls apart since Jesus could not sit on two animals at the same time.  Thus, the Mark and Luke stories and the prophet Zechariah are right about one young colt donkey, not a donkey and a colt.

Jesus siting in a boat by the sea (Mt 13:1-13:2)

“That same day,

Jesus went out

Of the house.

He sat beside the sea.

Such great crowds

Gathered around him,

That he got into a boat.

He sat there.

Meanwhile,

The whole crowd stood

On the beach.”

 

Ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ ἐξελθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῆς οἰκίας ἐκάθητο παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν

καὶ συνήχθησαν πρὸς αὐτὸν ὄχλοι πολλοί, ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς πλοῖον ἐμβάντα καθῆσθαι, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ὄχλος ἐπὶ τὸν αἰγιαλὸν εἱστήκει.

 

A similar statement can be found in Mark, chapter 4:1.  This seems to be a transition statement.  It was the same day (Ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ), but Jesus left his house (ἐξελθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῆς οἰκίας) and sat beside the Sea of Galilee (ἐκάθητο παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν).  Such great crowds gathered or assembled around him (καὶ συνήχθησαν πρὸς αὐτὸν ὄχλοι πολλοί), so that Jesus got into a boat (ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς πλοῖον ἐμβάντα).  He then sat there in the boat (καθῆσθαι), while the whole crowd stood on the beach shore (καὶ πᾶς ὁ ὄχλος ἐπὶ τὸν αἰγιαλὸν εἱστήκει).  Jesus was no longer talking to just his apostles since this was a whole crowd of people.

The tax collectors and sinners (Mt 9:10-9:10)

“As he sat

At the dinner table

In the house,

Many tax collectors,

As well as sinners

Came in.

They were sitting

With Jesus

As well as his disciples.”

 

Καὶ ἐγένετο αὐτοῦ ἀνακειμένου ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ, καὶ ἰδοὺ πολλοὶ τελῶναι καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ ἐλθόντες συνανέκειντο τῷ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ.

 

This story about this dinner party is similar to Mark, chapter 2:15, and Luke, chapter 5:29, but there it was explicitly mentioned that this meal took place in the house of Levi, the Jewish name for Matthew.  Here it simply says that this meal was in a house (ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ) 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 (καὶ ἰδοὺ πολλοὶ τελῶναι) were there also.  Was this a farewell meal for Matthew as he was to set out as a disciple of Jesus?  If this Matthew was the author of this gospel, there is very little elaboration here about his house or dinner party.  Jesus sat or reclined at the dining table in this house (Καὶ ἐγένετο αὐτοῦ ἀνακειμένου ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ).  However, besides the tax collectors, a lot of sinners came to sit down or recline (καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ ἐλθόντες συνανέκειντο) with Jesus and his disciples (τῷ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ).  The tax collectors were collecting money for the Roman Empire, so that they could hardly be called model Jewish citizens.  The sinners (ἁμαρτωλοὶ), on the other hand, could either be non-Jewish gentiles or other public immoral Jewish men, who were unclean.

Jonah sits outside the city (Jon 4:5-4:5)

“Then Jonah

Went out of the city.

He sat down

East of the city.

He made a booth

For himself there.

He sat under it

In the shade.

He was waiting

To see

What would become

Of the city.”

Jonah then went outside Nineveh on the east side of the city to see what was going to happen.  He made a tent or a booth to get some shade from the sun.  He sat there awaiting the eventual future of the city of Nineveh.

The Spirit and the people at the River Chebar (Ezek 3:14-3:15)

“The Spirit

Lifted me up.

He took me away.

I went in bitterness

In the heat

Of my spirit.

The hand

Of Yahweh

Was strong upon me.

I came

To the exiles

At Tel-abib.

They lived

By the river Chebar.

I sat there

Among them,

Stunned,

For seven days.”

Ezekiel continued his first person recounting of what happened to him after he saw this colorful vision. The same Spirit of Yahweh or the Holy Spirit lifted up Ezekiel and took him away. Ezekiel went in bitterness of spirit, because the hand of Yahweh was strongly on him. Thus he went to the exiles at Tel-abib, by the river Chebar, near Nippur, not far from the Chebar canal. There Ezekiel sat among these exiles for about a week stunned, in a state of shock.

The useless false wooden gods (Bar 6:70-6:73)

“Like a scarecrow

In a cucumber bed,

That guards nothing,

So are their gods of wood,

Overlaid with gold

Or silver.

In the same way,

Their gods of wood,

Overlaid with gold

Or silver,

Are

Like a thorn bush

In a garden,

On which every bird perches.

They are

Like a corpse

Thrown out in the darkness.

From the purple

Or the linen

That rot upon them,

You will know

That they are not gods.

They will finally

Be consumed themselves.

They will be a reproach

In the land.

Better,

Therefore

Is someone upright.

Such a person

Will be far above reproach.”

This letter of Jeremiah found as the last chapter in this book of Baruch ends with a comparison of these false wooden gods covered with gold and silver. The author compared them to a scarecrow in a cucumber bed that guarded nothing. They were compared to a thorn bush in a garden where birds sat on it. They were compared to a dead corpse in the dark. All of these useless items were like these useless idol gods. Even with purple or linen on them, they would still rot. They would be finally consumed and become a reproach to all. It was much better to be an upright person beyond reproach than any of these gods. So ends the letter of Jeremiah in the Book of Baruch.