The disciples of John the Baptist (Lk 7:18-7:18)

“The disciples of John

Reported

All these things

To him.”

 

Καὶ ἀπήγγειλαν Ἰωάνει οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ περὶ πάντων τούτων.

 

Luke said that the disciples of John the Baptist (οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ) reported to John (Καὶ ἀπήγγειλαν Ἰωάνει) all these things (περὶ πάντων τούτων).  Matthew, chapter 11:2, had something similar.  John the Baptist heard about the works or deeds of Jesus the Christ, the anointed one, the Messiah, while he was in a prison.  Clearly John still had a number of disciples, despite his imprisonment.  Here Luke does not explicitly mention that John was in prison, just that a few of his disciples reported back to John the Baptist about Jesus and his activities.  How do you learn about Jesus?

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The tender mercy of God (Lk 1:78-1:78)

“By the tender mercy

Of our God,

The dawn

From on high

Will break

Upon us.”

 

διὰ σπλάγχνα ἐλέους Θεοῦ ἡμῶν, ἐν οἷς ἐπισκέψεται ἡμᾶς ἀνατολὴ ἐξ ὕψους,

 

Luke continued Zechariah’s canticle with an insistence on the mercy of their God.  Zechariah said that by the heart felt tender mercy and compassion of their God (διὰ σπλάγχνα ἐλέους Θεοῦ ἡμῶν), a new day or a sunrise (ἀνατολὴ) from on high (ἐξ ὕψους) would break out upon them or visit them (ἐν οἷς ἐπισκέψεται ἡμᾶς).  As many of the prophets had pointed out already. the messiah or savior would come like a sunrise to break into their lives.  So too, John, his son, would be part of this process that would culminate in Jesus.

Why do we need witnesses? (Mk 14:63-14:63)

“Then the high priest

Tore his clothes.

He said.

‘Why do we still need

Witnesses?’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἀρχιερεὺς διαρρήξας τοὺς χιτῶνας αὐτοῦ λέγει Τί ἔτι χρείαν ἔχομεν μαρτύρων;

 

This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 26:65.  In Luke, chapter 22:71, there is something similar, but there is nothing like this in John, chapter 18.  Mark said that the high priest tore his clothes (ὁ δὲ ἀρχιερεὺς διαρρήξας τοὺς χιτῶνας αὐτοῦ), generally a sign of mourning or distress.  He then said why did they still need any witnesses (λέγει τί ἔτι χρείαν ἔχομεν μαρτύρων)?  The trial was over.  Jesus was guilty as charged, since he admitted to being the Messiah.

The response of Jesus (Mt 11:4-11:6)

“Jesus answered them.

‘Go on your way!

Tell John

What you hear!

Tell him

What you see!

The blind receive their sight.

The lame people walk.

The lepers are cleansed.

The deaf hear.

The dead are raised up.

The poor have good news

Brought to them.

Blessed is anyone

Who takes no offense at me!’”

 

καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Πορευθέντες ἀπαγγείλατε Ἰωάνει ἃ ἀκούετε καὶ βλέπετε·

τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσιν καὶ χωλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν, λεπροὶ καθαρίζονται καὶ κωφοὶ ἀκούουσιν, καὶ νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται καὶ πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται·

καὶ μακάριός ἐστιν ὃς ἐὰν μὴ σκανδαλισθῇ ἐν ἐμοί.

 

This is word for word like Luke, chapter 7:22-23, indicating a possible Q source.  Jesus responded or answered these disciples and their question (καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  He told them to report back after their journey to John (εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Πορευθέντες ἀπαγγείλατε Ἰωάνει) what they had heard and seen (ἃ ἀκούετε καὶ βλέπετε).  Then Jesus listed what he had been doing.  The blind recovered their sight (τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσιν).  The lame people were walking around (καὶ χωλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν καὶ χωλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν).  The lepers were cleansed (, λεπροὶ καθαρίζονται).  The deaf were able to hear (καὶ κωφοὶ ἀκούουσιν).  The dead were raised up (καὶ νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται).  The poor and destitute people were getting good news brought to them (καὶ πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται).  The blessed, happy, and fortunate people were not scandalized, offended, or stumbled because of Jesus (καὶ μακάριός ἐστιν ὃς ἐὰν μὴ σκανδαλισθῇ ἐν ἐμοί).  This is a very strong response, as if to say that he was the Messiah, the Christ, the anointed one, something that Jesus did not do often.  The messianic expectation was based on Isaiah, chapter 35:4-6, when the savior, their God would come with a vengeance to make up for past problems.  He would come to save them.  Isaiah seems to indicate that there would be a reversal of fortune, a change in the ways that things happen.  The blind would see.  The deaf would hear.  The lame would run.  The mute people would speak.

John the Baptist in prison (Mt 11:2-11:2)

“In prison,

John heard

About the works

Of the Christ.

He sent word

By his disciples.”

 

Ὁ δὲ Ἰωάνης ἀκούσας ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Χριστοῦ, πέμψας διὰ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ

 

Now we are back to the question of John the Baptist.  Luke, chapter 7:18, has something similar.  John the Baptist heard (Ὁ δὲ Ἰωάνης ἀκούσας) about the works or deeds of Jesus the Christ, the anointed one, the Messiah (τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Χριστοῦ), while he was in a prison (ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ).  Clearly John still had a number of disciples, despite his imprisonment.  Thus, he sent a few of his disciples (πέμψας διὰ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ).  Luke said that there were two, but there is no number here.  John may have been in prison in Machaerus, about 5 miles east of the Dead Sea.  Notice that this is the first time that Jesus is called the Christ (τοῦ Χριστοῦ).

The powerful one to come (Mt 3:11-3:11)

“I baptize you

With water

For repentance.

But one,

Who is more powerful

Than I,

Is coming after me.

I am not worthy

To carry his sandals.

He will baptize you

With the Holy Spirit,

And with fire.”

 

ἐγὼ μὲν ὑμᾶς βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι εἰς μετάνοιαν· ὁ δὲ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἰσχυρότερός μού ἐστιν, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς τὰ ὑποδήματα βαστάσαι· αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει ἐν Πνεύματι Ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί·

 

The wording here is the same as in Mark, chapter 1:7-8 and Luke, chapter 3:16-17, indicating a common source. However, in Luke, John the Baptist was responding to questions about whether he was the Messiah. Instead, John said that he was anticipating a messianic figure greater than himself. He was the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, so that sometimes he was also identified with the prophet Elijah. John the Baptist was clear in this utterance (ἐγὼ μὲν). He baptized in water for repentance (βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι εἰς μετάνοιαν). However, after him (ὁ δὲ ὀπίσω μου), there would be a messianic one more powerful than him (ἐρχόμενος ἰσχυρότερός μού ἐστιν,). He felt that he was not fit or worthy to carry his sandals (οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς τὰ ὑποδήματα βαστάσαι). This one to come was going to baptize them (αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει) in the Holy Spirit (ἐν Πνεύματι Ἁγίῳ) and fire (καὶ πυρί). Mark, chapter 1:8, also said that the one to come would baptize with the Holy Spirit, did not mention any fire. This is the second mention of the Holy Spirit in Matthew since he was also the originator of Jesus in the womb of Mary. Now he was going to use purifying fire in the baptismal washing.

Christian Community

We experience God in our community in the celebration of the story of Jesus Christ.  The coherent story of Jesus overcomes self-deception.  Jesus showed us how to be faithful to others and provides a model for constancy.  The Jesus narrative story transforms and empowers us.  Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the anointed one, the suffering servant.  For many the scandal of death by crucifixion was too much.  Christ’s resurrection defies scientific verification.  This is not just about Jesus of Nazareth, but Jesus, the Lord and Savior.  Jesus speaks to our hearts and minds.  Jesus lives on with his Holy Spirit in our community when we gather together.  There is a personal and social transformation that continually takes place with a deeper and richer understanding of the human person and authentic community.  We all have a personal development of our faith.  We live our discipleship of Jesus in justice, love and healing as our faith springs into action.