Third narrative

This third narrative centered around a variety of miracles and various comments to his disciples.  Jesus cured the leper before great crowds, but then told him to keep it a secret.  Then he cured the centurion’s paralyzed servant at Capernaum.  This Roman soldier understood the role of authority since he had faith.  Jesus chastised the failure of the sons of Abraham but healed the Roman centurion’s servant.

Jesus also cured other sick and possessed people, including Peter’s mother-in-law.  He thus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah.  He had some scribe followers, even though Jesus was homeless.  Was the death of a father enough to disrupt a disciple?  During a stormy boat ride, they woke up Jesus.  Thus, he responded by showing them his power by calming the storm.

Jesus cured the two possessed demoniacs who were calling out to him as the Son of God.  These demons wanted to be pigs, so that they died in the sea, jumping off a cliff.  However, the herdsmen in the city were upset so that the people asked Jesus to leave.

Jesus then went home and cured a paralytic.  Did Jesus blaspheme?  What was the difference between sin and sickness?  The people were amazed at his powers.  Jesus then called Matthew, the tax collector.  Jesus hung out with these tax collectors and sinners, so that the Pharisees complained.  Jesus responded by asking if well people needed doctors?  Then there was a citation from Hosea about mercy.

The Pharisees wanted to know why his disciples were not fasting, but the disciples of John the Baptist were.  Jesus explained that there would be no fasting while he, the bridegroom, was present.  You did not use old cloth to mend clothes or put new wine in old wineskins.

Then Jesus cured the woman with hemorrhages, because she was a woman of faith.  Then he cured the dead girl who was only sleeping.  He cured the two blind men because they were believers also.  He cured the mute person so that he could speak again.  The Pharisees questioned the power of Jesus.  However, Jesus had compassion for the sheep because there would be a need for many laborers at the harvest time.

Then Jesus began his apostolic talk to his disciples, in particular about the authority of the twelve disciples, with four major apostles.  Matthew then listed the twelve apostles that would be sent to the Jews and what their work was.  Jesus told them what to bring with them and where to stay.  He told them how to enter a house.  Those unhospitable towns who did not accept them would be punished.  These apostles should be like wise simple sheep.  When they would be persecuted, the Holy Spirit would speak through them.  They would be involved in family disputes and hated.  Both the teacher and his disciples would suffer, but they should not be afraid.  They should proclaim the message.  They were to worry about their souls, since they had more value than sparrows.  They should acknowledge Jesus whether in peace or with the sword.  Who was worthy of Jesus?  You had to pick up your cross and lose your life to find it.  Receive Jesus and be a prophet as the righteous disciple of Jesus.

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The stolen body story spread (Mt 28:15-28:15)

“Thus,

They took the money.

They did

As they were directed.

This story

Is still told

Among the Jews

To this day.”

 

οἱ δὲ λαβόντες ἀργύρια ἐποίησαν ὡς ἐδιδάχθησαν. Καὶ διεφημίσθη ὁ λόγος οὗτος παρὰ Ἰουδαίοις μέχρι τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας.

 

This is unique to Matthew.  He said that these custodian guards or soldiers took the money (οἱ δὲ λαβόντες ἀργύρια).  They did as the Jewish leaders had directed or instructed them to do (ἐποίησαν ὡς ἐδιδάχθησαν).  These guards explained that the disciples of Jesus had stolen the body of Jesus while they were asleep.  Matthew then remarked that this story was spread all over and being told among Jewish people (Καὶ διεφημίσθη ὁ λόγος οὗτος παρὰ Ἰουδαίοις) right up to the day that he was writing this gospel in the 2nd half of the first century, some 30-40 years later or the present day (μέχρι τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας).  Obviously, this was a slap at the Jews who had not become Jewish Christians.

The Old and the New Testament

The two major parts of the Christian Bible are the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Does this give a false impression that we have two different Bibles?  The New Testament books make references to the Old Testament works.  There was no New Testament canon until the second century, since consensus on its contents did not occur until the late fourth century.  The Old Testament or Hebrew Bible canon has an even more complicated history.  Often, people are surprised to learn that two-thirds of what we call the Christian Bible actually existed before the time of Christ, since it describes the words and actions of God’s interaction with his promised chosen people, the Israelites, the Hebrews, or the Jews.

The wealth of Joakim (Dan 13:4-13:4)

“Joakim was very rich.

He had a fine garden,

Adjoining his house.

The Jews used to come

To him,

Because he was

The most honored

Of them all.”

Obviously, despite being a captive in Babylon, some Jews prospered.  This story does not say how or why Joakim grew wealthy.  Nevertheless, he was very rich.  He also had a wonderful garden that was right next to his house.  Many of the Jews, since they are no longer called Israelites or Judeans, would come to his spacious house.  They also honored him, probably because he had so much wealth.  Thus, this Joakim was a big shot among the well to do exiled Israelites in Babylon.

The new decree (Dan 6:7-6:9)

“All the presidents

Of the kingdom,

The prefects,

The satraps,

The counselors,

The governors,

All agreed.

The king

Should establish

An ordinance.

He should enforce

An interdict.

‘Whoever prays

To anyone,

Divine,

Or human,

For thirty days,

Except to you,

O king!

Shall be cast

Into a den of lions.

Now,

O king!

Establish the interdict!

Sign the document!

Thus,

It cannot be changed,

According to the law

Of the Medes,

Of the Persians.

It cannot be revoked.’

Therefore,

King Darius signed

The document.

He signed

The interdict.”

Thus, the two other presidents of the kingdom, with the prefects, the satraps, the counselors, and the governors all agreed that the king should establish an ordinance to be enforced as an interdict. This ordinance would say that anyone who prayed to any divine or human for the next 30 days, except to the king himself, should be cast into a den of lions. Then the king established this interdict and signed the document that could not be changed, according to the laws of Medes and Persia. This is somewhat reminiscent of the story of the king in Book of Esther, chapters 3-4 and 8-9, against the Jews.

The concern of Daniel about food defilement (Dan 1:8-1:8)

“But Daniel resolved

That he would not

Defile himself

With the royal rations

Of food,

Or wine.

Thus,

He asked

The palace master

To allow him

Not to defile himself.”

Daniel resolved that he would not eat the royal food or wine, since that would make him unclean. He then asked Ashpenaz, the chief of the palace not to eat this royal food. The food restrictions became a major issue in the 2nd century BCE, when Antiochus IV Epiphanes (174-164 BCE) was the Greek Seleucid king who persecuted the Jews of Samaria and Judah. King Antiochus sided with the Hellenized Jews that led to the Maccabean revolt over the issue of who was a true Jewish person. The answer could be found by observing the food that they ate.

The revolt in Antioch (1 Macc 11:45-11:51)

“Then the people of the city assembled within the city, to the number of one hundred twenty thousand. They wanted to kill the king. But the king fled into the palace. Then the people of the city seized the main streets of the city and began to fight. So the king called the Jews to his aid. They all rallied about him. Then they spread out through the city. They killed on that day about one hundred thousand men. They set fire to the city. They seized a large amount of spoil on that day. They saved the king. When the people of the city saw that the Jews had gained control of the city as they pleased, their courage failed. They cried out to the king with this entreaty.

‘Grant us peace!

Make the Jews stop fighting against us and our city.’

They threw down their arms and made peace. So the Jews gained glory in the eyes of the king and of all the people in his kingdom. They returned to Jerusalem with a large amount of spoil.”

There were about 120,000 people in revolt against King Demetrius II as this mob wanted to kill him. The king ran into his palace, but they seized the main streets of Antioch. Then the king asked the Jews for help. Supposedly, there were about 3,000 Jews in Antioch sent by Jonathan. Somehow, these 3,000 Jews spread out and killed 100,000 inhabitants of Antioch. It does not explain how this happened. They must have been great fighters. They even set fire to the city and took its spoils. Apparently, those remaining people of Antioch wanted peace. They wanted the Jews to stop fighting. The king was happy with the Jews as they returned to Jerusalem with their spoil. That was a great feat of the Jewish fighters but it was for a foreign king and made others mad.