Do not cause children to sin (Mk 9:42-9:42)

“If any of you

Put a stumbling block

Before one

Of these little ones,

Who believe in me,

It would be better

For you

If a great millstone

Were hung

Around your neck.

It would be better

If you were thrown

Into the sea.”

 

Καὶ ὃς ἂν σκανδαλίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων τῶν πιστευόντων, καλόν ἐστιν αὐτῷ μᾶλλον εἰ περίκειται μύλος ὀνικὸς περὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ καὶ βέβληται εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν.

 

This saying about causing little believing children to sin or stumble can also be found in Matthew, chapter 18:6, and Luke, chapter 17:1-2, with some minor changes.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that if anyone of them caused these little ones, who believed in him, to be scandalized or stumble on a block (Καὶ ὃς δ’ ἂν σκανδαλίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων τῶν πιστευόντων), it would be better for them (καλόν ἐστιν αὐτῷ μᾶλλον) to fasten a great heavy millstone around their necks (εἰ περίκειται μύλος ὀνικὸς περὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ).  They should be thrown or cast into the deep sea (καὶ βέβληται εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν).  Causing the believing little children to sin meant it was better for that person to die in deep water with a heavy millstone around their neck.  This millstone was a stone for grinding various grains.

 

Teaching from the boat (Mk 4:1-4:1)

“Again,

Jesus began to teach

Beside the sea.

A very large crowd

Gathered about him.

Thus,

He got into a boat

On the sea.

He sat there.

The whole crowd

Was beside the sea

On the land.”

 

Καὶ πάλιν ἤρξατο διδάσκειν παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν. καὶ συνάγεται πρὸς αὐτὸν ὄχλος πλεῖστος, ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς πλοῖον ἐμβάντα καθῆσθαι ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ὄχλος πρὸς τὴν θάλασσαν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἦσαν.

 

A similar statement can be found in Matthew, chapter 13:1, and Luke, chapter 8:4.  However, Luke does not indicate where he was, except that there was a large crowd.  Mark indicated that Jesus began to teach (Καὶ πάλιν ἤρξατο διδάσκειν) beside the Sea of Galilee (παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν).  A great crowd gathered or assembled around him (καὶ συνάγεται πρὸς αὐτὸν ὄχλος πλεῖστος), so that Jesus entered or got into a boat (ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς πλοῖον ἐμβάντα).  He then sat there in the boat (καθῆσθαι) that was in the sea (ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ), while the whole crowd was on the beach shore land near the sea (καὶ πᾶς ὁ ὄχλος πρὸς τὴν θάλασσαν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἦσαν).  Sitting was the normal way that teachers taught.

Jesus sees Simon and Andrew (Mk 1:16-1:16)

“As Jesus

Passed along

The Sea of Galilee,

He saw Simon,

And his brother

Andrew.

They were casting a net

Into the sea.

They were fishermen.”

 

Καὶ παράγων παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας εἶδεν Σίμωνα καὶ Ἀνδρέαν τὸν ἀδελφὸν Σίμωνος ἀμφιβάλλοντας ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ· ἦσαν γὰρ ἁλεεῖς.

 

Mark, as well as the other 3 canonical gospels, has Jesus meeting Simon for the first time at the beginning of his ministry.  Luke, chapter 5:1:11, has an elaborate story about Simon, where there was no mention of his brother Andrew, as Jesus and Simon went out fishing together.  In John, chapter 1:35-42, Andrew and Simon were disciples of John the Baptist, from the town of Bethsaida, about 5 miles north of Capernaum, near the Sea of Galilee.  However, here as in Matthew, chapter 4:18, which is almost word for word, there are only the simple comments about the brothers Simon and Andrew being fishermen.  Mark recounts that as Jesus was passing by, walking, or strolling along the Sea of Galilee (Καὶ παράγων παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας), he saw Simon and his brother Andrew (εἶδεν Σίμωνα καὶ Ἀνδρέαν τὸν ἀδελφὸν Σίμωνος) casting or dropping a net into the sea (ἀμφιβάλλοντας ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ), since they were fishermen (ἦσαν γὰρ ἁλεεῖς).  Mark did not mention the other name of Simon as Peter, like Matthew did.  However, it was common for people to have both a Hebrew name like Simon and a Greek name like Peter.  Both these brothers were casting their large fishing nets into the Sea of Galilee, which was about 13 miles long by 8 miles wide, about 80 miles north of the Dead Sea, at the north end of the Jordan River.

Fourth narrative

The fourth narrative section revealed the increasing opposition to Jesus.  Thus, his disciples had to prepare for his absence.  These instructions emphasized responsibility and humility.  Simon was renamed Peter, the rock upon which he was going to build his church, especially the mystery of the kingdom of heaven.

While Jesus was preaching in the various towns, John the Baptist was put in prison.  The disciples of John questioned Jesus and Jesus responded.  Jesus then asked questions about John.  Was John more than a prophet?  Then Matthew had a series of Old Testament scriptural quotations about John.  How great was John the Baptist?  Was John Elijah?

Jesus warned that this was a childish generation that was indifferent as they kept on eating and drinking, as if nothing important was happening.  Jesus was against the various Galilean cities and towns, especially Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum.  Jesus explained that there were hidden things from the wise ones, especially the relationship of the Father with the Son, but that the disciples had an easy yoke to bear.

Next came the question of eating on the Sabbath.  The Pharisees reacted against Jesus, but he used the example of David and the priests in the Temple to respond to them.  God was the Lord of the Sabbath.  Thus, when Jesus went into the synagogue, they asked him if he would heal anyone on the Sabbath?  Jesus compared sheep to human beings and then healed the man’s hand.  Thus, the Pharisees conspired against Jesus, while he took a low profile.

Jesus said that the fulfillment of the prophesy of Isaiah was at hand in the servant of Yahweh.  Jesus cured the blind and mute man as the crowds were amazed.  However, the Pharisees compared Jesus to Beelzebul, the devil.  Jesus responded that a divided kingdom would not stand.  The Spirit of God was with Jesus.  The bandits tied up people before stealing from them.  You were either for or against Jesus.  They should be aware of the sin against the Holy Spirit.

Jesus then issued a series of sayings about a tree and its fruit.  He compared the Pharisees to a brood of vipers.  There could be good and bad treasures.  Words would either save or condemn them.

Jesus told them about the sign for this evil generation that was always seeking signs.  He was only going to give them the sign of Jonah.  Notice how the men of Nineveh reacted.  The Queen of Sheba brought gifts to Solomon.  The unclean spirit would return with other evil spirits.  The relatives of Jesus, his mother and brothers showed up, but Jesus said that he had a new family.

Then Jesus spoke in parables siting in a boat by the sea.  There was the parable of the sower with his lost seeds, where only a few of the seeds fell on good soil.  His disciples wanted to know why he was speaking in parables, so that Jesus explained why he used parables.  Once again, he referred to a prophecy of Isaiah.  He explained about the seeds on the rocky ground and the seeds among the thorns.  Finally, he explained the meaning of the seeds on good ground or path since they were the blessed ones.

Then there was the parable about the weeds among the wheat.  The slaves let the weeds grow and then separated them at harvest time.  There were other parables about the mustard seed and the yeast.  Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, but he explained these parables to his disciples, especially the sower, the field, and the seeds.  He explained the enemy and the burning of the weeds.  The punishment for the weeds came at the harvest end times.  Thus, the reward for the righteous will be at the end times.

The kingdom of heaven was like a treasure, like pearls, and like a fishing net.  Jesus explained the parables because the disciples did not understand them.  They were like new and old treasures.

Jesus was an astonishment in his own home town.  They all knew the family of Jesus.  Thus, he was a prophet without honor in his own country.

Herod thought that Jesus was a resurrected John the Baptist, but he was afraid of John the Baptist.  At his birthday party, Herod granted the wish to have the head of John the Baptist on a platter.  Meanwhile, John the Baptist’s disciples buried him.

Jesus was worried as he was healing the sick people.  The disciples complained about the crowds, so that Jesus told them to give them something to eat.  However, they only had five loaves and two fish.  Then Jesus blessed the five loaves of bread and distributed them to the crowd.  There were even leftovers from this crowd of five thousand people.

The disciples left in a boat, so that Jesus prayed alone.  The boat was in the middle of the sea when Jesus walked on water to come to them.   Peter talked to Jesus and then attempted to walk on the water.  Jesus then saved Peter who recognized Jesus as the Son of God.  Then there were the healings at Gennesaret, where Jesus cured the sick.

The Pharisees from Jerusalem came to Jesus to ask him why his disciples did not wash their hands before eating.  Jesus responded by telling them to honor their parents since there was hypocrisy in their traditions.  He cited Isaiah about vain worship.  He told them to hear and understand.  They should watch what came out of their mouth rather than what went into their mouth as defilement.  The Pharisees were offended, but Jesus called them blind guides.  Peter wanted to understand more so that Jesus explained the mouth should speak from the heart.

Jesus went to the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon where he met a Canaanite woman.  He said that he was only going to the lost sheep of Israel, but this Canaanite woman persistently asked for help.  Jesus refused again saying that he could not feed the dogs.  However, she responded that dogs eat crumbs from the table.  Jesus said that she had great faith and healed her.

As Jesus healed the crowds of people in the mountain near the Sea of Galilee, he had compassion for them.  Where will they get food?  His disciples said that they had seven loaves.  Jesus then gave thanks over them and distributed the bread to four thousand men as there was a second multiplication of bread loaves.

Jesus went to Magadan.  There the Pharisees asked for a sign from heaven.  Once again, Jesus said that there are weather signs, but he would only give this evil generation the sign of Jonah.

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, but Jesus warned them about the yeast of the Pharisees.  He reprimanded his disciples for their lack of faith as he reminded them about the multiplication of the loaves of bread.  They should be worried about the Pharisees not food.

What was the role of Peter?  Jesus asked about the Son of Man as the disciples responded.  Then Jesus asked them about himself.  Peter gave a very positive response, so that Jesus rewarded him.  The Messianic secret was tied to the future of Jesus in this conversation between Peter and Jesus.  He would have to take up his cross if wanted to save his life because the Son of Man in his kingdom would be coming soon.

Jesus took three of his apostles up a mountain where he was transfigured before them.  Moses and Elijah appeared with him.  Peter wanted to set up three tents for them.  A voice from the cloud came as the three apostles adored him.  Jesus asked them to be silent about this.  What was the role of Elijah and John the Baptist?

An epileptic man knelt before Jesus that his disciples were unable to heal.  Jesus then healed him, so that his disciples wondered why they were unable to heal this epileptic?  Jesus spoke about the future of the Son of Man.  Should they pay the Temple tax?  Jesus responded that the son of the king did not pay taxes, but he told Peter to pay them anyway.

Finally, we have the ecclesiastical discourse about who is the greatest.  A child is the greatest because when you welcome a little child, you welcome Jesus.  They were not to cause children to sin.  They were not to tempt people.  It would be better to be maimed and blind than suffer eternal fire.  They were not to despise the little ones.  Jesus explained the parable of the lost sheep and fraternal correction.  What were you to do with a sinning brother.  Let him become a gentile, if he does not listen.  Common prayer was important so that they should gather in his name.  How often should they forgive?  The response was the seventy times seven.

Then there was the parable of the unforgiving servant slave.  The master settled accounts with servant slaves.  One owed ten thousand talents, so that the king forgave him his debt.  However, this servant slave would not forgive the debt of his fellow slaves, who were angry.  Thus, this unforgiving slave was tortured.  This parable explanation was simple, forgive your brothers.

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.

The need for faith (Mt 21:21-21:22)

“Jesus answered them.

‘Truly!

I say to you!

If you have faith,

If you do not doubt,

Not only will you do

What has been done

To the fig tree,

But even if you say

To this mountain.

‘Be lifted up!

Be thrown into the sea!’

It will be done.

Whatever you ask for

In prayer,

With faith,

You will receive.’”

 

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν καὶ μὴ διακριθῆτε, οὐ μόνον τὸ τῆς συκῆς ποιήσετε, ἀλλὰ κἂν τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ εἴπητε Ἄρθητι καὶ βλήθητι εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν, γενήσεται·

καὶ πάντα ὅσα ἂν αἰτήσητε ἐν τῇ προσευχῇ πιστεύοντες λήμψεσθε.

 

This Jesus saying about faith can be found in Mark, chapter 11:20-24, word for word, but it was the next day after the curse, not the same day.  Jesus answered the disciple’s question (ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) about how the fig tree withered with a solemn pronouncement (Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) about the importance of faith.  If they had faith (ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν) and did not doubt (καὶ μὴ διακριθῆτε), they too would be able to effectively curse a fig tree (οὐ μόνον τὸ τῆς συκῆς ποιήσετε).  Not only that, but if they had faith, they could move mountains.  They could tell a mountain (ἀλλὰ κἂν τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ εἴπητε) to be lifted up or taken away (Ἄρθητι) and thrown into the sea (καὶ βλήθητι εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν), and it would happen (γενήσεται).  Whatever they asked for in believing prayer (καὶ πάντα ὅσα ἂν αἰτήσητε ἐν τῇ προσευχῇ πιστεύοντες), they would receive it (λήμψεσθε).  The essential ingredient of effective prayer was faith.

Pay the tax anyway (Mt 17:27-17:27)

“However,

Not to give offense

To them,

Go to the sea!

Cast a hook!

Take the first fish

That comes up!

When you open its mouth,

You will find a coin.

Take that!

Give it to them

For you

And for me!”

 

ἵνα δὲ μὴ σκανδαλίσωμεν αὐτούς, πορευθεὶς εἰς θάλασσαν βάλε ἄγκιστρον καὶ τὸν ἀναβάντα πρῶτον ἰχθὺν ἆρον, καὶ ἀνοίξας τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ εὑρήσεις στατῆρα· ἐκεῖνον λαβὼν δὸς αὐτοῖς ἀντὶ ἐμοῦ καὶ σοῦ.

 

This section about the temple tax is unique to Matthew.  After just saying that they did not have to pay the Temple tax, Jesus reminded them that they should not offend or scandalize the Temple tax collectors (ἵνα δὲ μὴ σκανδαλίσωμεν αὐτούς).  He told Peter to go the sea (πορευθεὶς εἰς θάλασσαν), probably the Sea of Galilee, and throw out a hook into the sea (βάλε ἄγκιστρον).  Peter was to catch the first fish that came up out of the water (καὶ τὸν ἀναβάντα πρῶτον ἰχθὺν ἆρον).  Then Peter was to open the mouth of this fish (καὶ ἀνοίξας τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ).  He would find a coin called a “statara” “στατῆρα,” in its mouth (εὑρήσεις στατῆρα).  This coin was worth about 2 didrachmas, enough to pay the temple tax for two people.  Thus, Peter was to pay the Temple tax collectors for Peter and himself (ἐκεῖνον λαβὼν δὸς αὐτοῖς ἀντὶ ἐμοῦ καὶ σοῦ).  The money did not come from Jesus and his disciples, but from this magic fish.  There was no mention of the other disciples paying this tax.