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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Jesus at Bethany (Mt 26:6-26:6)

“Jesus was

In Bethany,

At the house of Simon

The leper.”

 

Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ γενομένου ἐν Βηθανίᾳ ἐν οἰκίᾳ Σίμωνος τοῦ λεπροῦ,

 

This is almost word for word to Mark, chapter 14:3, and somewhat similar to John, chapter 12:1, where Jesus was in Bethany, but at the house of Lazarus and his two sisters, Martha and Mary.  Matthew said that Jesus was in Bethany (Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ γενομένου ἐν Βηθανίᾳ), a town about a mile and a half east of Jerusalem.  He was in the house of Simon the leper (Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ γενομένου ἐν Βηθανίᾳ).  The identity of this Simon the leper is unknown.  However, it could have been someone whom Jesus had cured from leprosy, who became his disciple.  The people of Bethany may have favored Jesus because of the Lazarus event.  In fact, in chapter 21:17, Jesus had stayed overnight in Bethany.  There was also a story of a woman anointing Jesus in Luke, chapter 7:36-50, but within a different context.

Secrecy (Mt 8:4-8:4)

“Then Jesus said

To the leper.

‘See that you say nothing

To any one!

But go!

Show yourself

To the priest!

Offer the gift

That Moses commanded,

As a testimony to them.’”

 

καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς Ὅρα μηδενὶ εἴπῃς, ἀλλὰ ὕπαγε σεαυτὸν δεῖξον τῷ ἱερεῖ, καὶ προσένεγκον τὸ δῶρον ὃ προσέταξεν Μωϋσῆς εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς.

 

This admonition to the leper can be found in Luke, chapter 5:14, and Mark, chapter 1:41-42, perhaps indicating Mark as the source.  Jesus told the leper (καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς) not to say anything (Ὅρα μηδενὶ εἴπῃς), often referred to as the messianic secret.  Jesus did not want anyone to know about his power.  Instead the leper was to show himself to the priest (ἀλλὰ ὕπαγε σεαυτὸν δεῖξον τῷ ἱερεῖ,), as recommended in Leviticus, chapter 14:2-9.  He should offer the gifts (καὶ προσένεγκον τὸ δῶρον) as outlined in Leviticus, since this is what Moses had commanded (ὃ προσέταξεν Μωϋσῆς) in the Torah.  He wanted this cleansed leper to show himself as a witness or testimony to the priests (εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς).

The leper (Mt 8:2-8:2)

“There was a leper

Who came to Jesus.

He knelt before him.

Saying.

‘Lord!

If you choose,

You can make me clean.’”

 

καὶ ἰδοὺ λεπρὸς προσελθὼν προσεκύνει αὐτῷ λέγων Κύριε, ἐὰν θέλῃς δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι.

 

This leper story can be found in Luke, chapter 5:12, and Mark, chapter 1:40, perhaps indicating Mark as the source, since Matthew was closer to Mark.  A leper came to Jesus (καὶ ἰδοὺ λεπρὸς προσελθὼν).  Leprosy was some kind of skin disease that was usually found among poor people.  Today, there are about 2,000,000 people with leprosy or Hansen’s disease, mostly in India, Indonesia, and Brazil.  The Greek word “λεπρὸς” used here is a broader definition of leprosy than just Hansen’s disease.  Leprosy was a religious problem also.  What to do about it was clearly defined in Leviticus, chapters 13-14.  Leprosy in the wide sense was considered unclean and had religious connotations, since only a priest could declare a person clean with a distinct ritual for cleansing the leper.  As a leper, you were considered unclean and not fit to live in normal communal life.  This leper then knelt down before Jesus as to offer obedience to him (προσεκύνει αὐτῷ).  Then he spoke to Jesus, calling him Lord (λέγων Κύριε).  Then the leper asked Jesus to cure him if he wanted to (ἐὰν θέλῃς).  He knew that Jesus had the power to do this, since many prophets had cured lepers.  The leper was asking Jesus to perform as a prophet and make him clean (δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι), so that he could join normal Jewish society again.