The visit of the leader (Mt 9:18-9:19)

“While he was saying

These things to them,

A leader came in.

He knelt before him.

Saying,

‘My daughter

Has just died.

But come!

Lay your hand

On her!

Then she will live.’

Jesus got up.

He followed him,

With his disciples.”

 

Ταῦτα αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος αὐτοῖς ἰδοὺ ἄρχων εἷς προσελθὼν προσεκύνει αὐτῷ λέγων ὅτι Ἡ θυγάτηρ μου ἄρτι ἐτελεύτησεν· ἀλλὰ ἐλθὼν ἐπίθες τὴν χεῖρά σου ἐπ’ αὐτήν, καὶ ζήσεται.

καὶ ἐγερθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ

 

This episode about the healing of the ruler’s daughter can be found in Mark, chapter 5:21 and Luke, chapter 8:40, except that there this leader had a name, Jairus, the leader of the synagogue.  Here, he is only called a generic leader or ruler (ἄρχων).  Apparently, this took place while Jesus was speaking to the people about his sayings (Ταῦτα αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος αὐτοῖς).  This unnamed leader or Jarius came and knelt before Jesus (ἰδοὺ ἄρχων εἷς προσελθὼν προσεκύνει αὐτῷ).  He then spoke to Jesus telling him that his daughter had just died (λέγων ὅτι Ἡ θυγάτηρ μου ἄρτι ἐτελεύτησεν).  There is no mention of her age here as in Luke, where she was 12 years old.  In Mark, she was very sick, not dead.  However, his belief in the power of Jesus was clear.  He said that if Jesus came (ἀλλὰ ἐλθὼν), he could lay his hand on her (τὴν χεῖρά σου ἐπ’ αὐτήν).  Then she would live (καὶ ζήσεται).  This leader had a great belief in Jesus to raise the dead.  Jesus then responded immediately, without saying anything.  He simply got up (καὶ ἐγερθεὶς) with his disciples (καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ).  They followed this leader (ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ).

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Sin and sickness (Mt 9:5-9:7)

“Which is easier

To say?

‘Your sins are forgiven!’

Or to say?

‘Stand up!

Walk!’

But that you may know

That the Son of man

Has authority on earth

To forgive sins,

He then said

To the paralytic.

‘Stand up!

Take your bed!

Go home!’

He stood up.

He went to his home.”

 

τί γάρ ἐστιν εὐκοπώτερον, εἰπεῖν Ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι, ἢ εἰπεῖν Ἔγειρε καὶ περιπάτει;

ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτε ὅτι ἐξουσίαν ἔχει ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας — τότε λέγει τῷ παραλυτικῷ Ἔγειρε ἆρόν σου τὴν κλίνην καὶ ὕπαγε εἰς τὸν οἶκόν σου.

καὶ ἐγερθεὶς ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ.

 

This is exactly the same as in Mark, chapter 2:9-12, and Luke, chapter 5:22-25, about the healing and forgiving of sins for the paralytic.  Jesus posed the question which was it easier to do (τί γάρ ἐστιν εὐκοπώτερον) to say that your sins are forgiven (εἰπεῖν Ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι) or to say get up and walk (ἢ εἰπεῖν Ἔγειρε καὶ περιπάτει).  Jesus said that they should know that the Son of Man had the power and authority on earth (ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτε ὅτι ἐξουσίαν ἔχει ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς) to forgive sins (ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας).  He then told the paralytic to stand up (τότε λέγει τῷ παραλυτικῷ Ἔγειρε), take his bed (ἆρόν σου τὴν κλίνην), and go home (καὶ ὕπαγε εἰς τὸν οἶκόν σου).  Thus, that is exactly what the paralyzed man did.  He got up and went to his home (καὶ ἐγερθεὶς ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ).  Jesus forgave this man his sins and cured him of paralysis.  Normally, the power to forgive sins was what only God could do.  How were these powers related?

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.

The second part of the Lord’s prayer (Mt 6:11-6:13)

“Give us

Our daily bread

Today!

Forgive us

Our debts!

We also have forgiven

Our debtors.

Do not bring us

Into the time of trial!

Rescue us

From the evil one!

 

Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον

καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν, ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν·

καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν, ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.

 

In the second part of the “Lord’s Prayer,” “The Our Father,” Matthew and Luke, chapter 11:3-4, have the 4 human petitions, perhaps indicating a common Q source.  We should ask the Father to give us (δὸς ἡμῖν) our daily bread or sustenance to sustain our human life (Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον) today (σήμερον).  Every day, even today, we need our daily nutrition to live.  The hope is that God the Father will provide for us.  We should ask the Father to forgive our debts (καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν).  This includes whatever we owe to God, because our sins that have put us in debt with God.  If we ask for forgiveness, that assumes that we have forgiven our debtors (ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν).  We ask the Father not to lead us into temptation or be tested in a trial (καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν).  Finally, we ask the Father to rescue or deliver us from painful evil or the evil one (ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ).  A Byzantine manuscript has an addition here that has become popular as the ending of the Lord’s Prayer because it has an “Amen” at the end of it.  “For the kingdom (Ὅτι σοῦ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία) and the power (καὶ ἡ δύναμις) and the glory (καὶ ἡ δόξα) are yours forever. Amen (εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. Ἀμήν).”  This would have fit in better after the first 3 petitions about God the Father, since these 4 petitions are about us here on earth.

The third temptation (Mt 4:8-4:9)

“Again,

The devil took Jesus

To a very high mountain.

He showed him

All the kingdoms

Of the world

With all their splendor.

He said to him.

‘All these,

I will give you,

If you will fall down,

And worship me.’”

 

Πάλιν παραλαμβάνει αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος εἰς ὄρος ὑψηλὸν λίαν, καὶ δείκνυσιν αὐτῷ πάσας τὰς βασιλείας τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν,

καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ταῦτά σοι πάντα δώσω, ἐὰν πεσὼν προσκυνήσῃς μοι.

 

This 3rd and final temptation was the 2nd temptation in Luke, chapter 4:5-8. The wording is the same, indicating a shared common source, perhaps Q. This time, the devil took Jesus to an exceeding high mountain (Πάλιν παραλαμβάνει αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος εἰς ὄρος ὑψηλὸν λίαν). He then showed him all the great kingdoms of the world with all their splendor and glory (καὶ δείκνυσιν αὐτῷ πάσας τὰς βασιλείας τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν). Then he asked Jesus to worship him. If Jesus fell down and worshipped him (ἐὰν πεσὼν προσκυνήσῃς μοι), the devil would then give all these kingdoms with their glory to him (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ταῦτά σοι πάντα δώσω). Somehow this devil thought that he was in control of all the nations in the world. Perhaps the early followers of Jesus thought that the world outside Jerusalem was under the power of the devil. For many Christians, this seemed like a stupid temptation since God, the Father and his Son, already controlled the world.

The children of Abraham should not be presumptuous (Mt 3:8-3:10)

“Bear fruit

Worthy of repentance!

Do not presume

To say to yourselves.

‘We have Abraham

As our ancestor!’

I tell you

That God is able

To raise up children

To Abraham

From these stones.

Even now,

The axe is lying ready

At the root

Of the trees.

Every tree therefore

That does not bear good fruit

Is cut down.

It is thrown into the fire.’”

 

ποιήσατε οὖν καρπὸν ἄξιον τῆς μετανοίας·καὶ μὴ δόξητε λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς Πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν Ἀβραάμ· λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι δύναται ὁ Θεὸς ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ. ἤδη δὲ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται· πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται.

 

Here is the first of the sayings from the so-called Q source. Both Matthew and Luke have the exact same pronouncement of John to the people, who presumed that they were saved by being the children of Abraham. Instead of just the Pharisees and Sadducees, Luke, chapter 3:7, had John address this to all the people coming to be baptized. This saying emphasized deeds, rather than relying on ancestry. They were to produce fruit that was worthy of repentance (ποιήσατε οὖν καρπὸν ἄξιον τῆς μετανοίας). They had to perform good deeds. They should not presume that because they have had Abraham as their father, as the privileged chosen ones (καὶ μὴ δόξητε λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς Πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν Ἀβραάμ), that all would go well for them. Then John pointedly said to them (λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν) that God had the power (ὅτι δύναται ὁ Θεὸς) to change stones and rocks into the children of Abraham (ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ). This was a Hebrew play on words translated into Greek. The axe was already lying at the foot of the trees, ready to go to work (ἤδη δὲ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται). Every tree that was not bearing or producing good fruit would be cut down (πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται). Then they would be thrown into the fire (καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται).

Christian Sacraments

Christian sacraments have the power to enact what they symbolize.  These are outward signs instituted by Christ to be efficacious, to do what they symbolize.  The power of a ritual is more than the actual physical baptismal or sharing of the bread and wine event.  We remember and enact the experience of Jesus Christ.  This is not magic.  We do not need to be like a sports fan (fanatic) at a sporting event that goes crazy into the event.  Yet our involvement demands an expressing and deepening of the sense and experience of the mystery of God, as expressed in Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the sacrament of God.  His Christian Church is the sacrament of Jesus.  The individual Christian sacraments are the expression of Jesus and his Christian community.  The sacramental symbols of the Christian churches effect what they symbolize.  They do what they say they are doing in a special graced filled moment.