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.

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The king destroys his Bel priests and their families (Dan 14:21-14:22)

“Then the king

Was enraged.

He arrested

The priests,

Their wives,

With their children.

They showed him

The secret doors

Through which they

Used to enter

The temple.

They would consume

What was on the table.

Therefore,

The king

Put them

To death.

He gave Bel

Over to Daniel.

Daniel destroyed it.

He destroyed also

Its temple.”

The king was very upset. He arrested the priests, their wives, and their children. These priests showed the king the secret door that they used to get into the temple to eat the food on the table. Thus, the king put them to death. He even let Daniel destroy the idol god Bel and its temple. Once again, good overcame evil. Thus, Daniel showed his great power, by eliminating the great idol god Bel along with its temple.

The king finds the rations gone (Dan 14:16-14:18)

“Early in the morning,

The king arose.

He came

With Daniel.

The king said.

‘Are the seals unbroken?

Daniel!’

He answered.

‘They are unbroken.’

O king!’

As soon as the doors

were opened,

The king looked

At the table.

He shouted

In a loud voice.

‘You are great!

O Bel!

In you

There is no deceit

At all!’”

The next morning, both the king and Daniel got up early and went to the temple. The king wanted to know if the seals had been broken. Daniel responded that the seals were still intact. Then they opened the doors to the temple. The king then went to the table where the food had been set up. Then, he shouted out that there was no deceit in the god Bel, because all the food was gone.

The wooden altar (Ezek 41:21-41:22)

“The doorposts

Of the nave

Were square.

In front of the holy place

Was something resembling

An altar of wood.

It was

Three cubits high,

Two cubits long,

Two cubits wide.

Its corners,

Its base,

Its walls were

Of wood.

He said to me.

‘This is the table

That stands

Before Yahweh.’”

Next Ezekiel explained the wooden altar. There were square doorposts in the nave in front of the holy place. Ezekiel seemed vague as he said that he saw something resembling an altar of wood that was 3 cubits high or 5 feet high. However, the top was a small square, 2 cubits long and wide, about 3 feet square. All its corners, base, and walls were made of wood. Then the bronze man explicitly told Ezekiel that this was the table that stood before Yahweh.

Eat and drink well (Ezek 39:18-39:20)

“‘You shall eat

The flesh

Of the mighty!

You shall drink

The blood

Of the princes

Of the earth!

You shall eat

Rams,

Lambs,

Goats,

Bulls,

All of them fatlings

Of Bashan.

You shall eat fat

Until you are filled.

You shall drink blood

Until you are drunk.

I am preparing

This sacrificial feast

For you.

You shall be filled

At my table

With horses,

With charioteers,

With warriors,

With all kinds of soldiers.’

Says Yahweh God.”

What were they going to do at this great festival? Yahweh God said that they were going to eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of the earthly princes in some symbolic way. However, they were also going to have some real food with rams, lambs, goats, and bulls from the great grazing land on the east side of the Jordan River in Bashan. They were going to eat until they were full and drink until they were drunk. Gluttony and drunkenness was not a problem since Yahweh was preparing this sacrificial feast for them. With them at the table would be horses, charioteers, warriors, and all kinds of soldiers. However, I don’t know why.

A reproach against heavy drinking (Isa 5:22-5:22)

“Woe to you

Who are heroes

At drinking wine!

Woe to you

Who are valiant

At mixing strong drink!”

Isaiah was against those who pretend to be drinking heroes. They seem to be like those who say that they can drink everyone under the table. Some are very good with mixed drinks, like a bartender.

Disciplined eating and sleeping (Sir 31:19-31:22)

“How ample a little is

For a well-disciplined person.

He does not breathe heavily

When in bed.

Healthy sleep depends

On moderate eating.

He rises early.

He feels fit.

The distress of sleeplessness

Is with the glutton.

The distress of nausea

Is with the glutton.

The distress of colic

Is with the glutton.

If you are overstuffed with food,

Get up to vomit.

You will have relief.

Listen to me!

My child!

Do not disregard me!

In the end,

You will appreciate my words.

In everything you do,

Be moderate!

No sickness will overtake you.”

If you are a well disciplined person, you do not need a lot of food. You should not breathe heavily or snore in bed. In fact, good sleep depends on moderate eating habits. If you get up early, you will feel fit. Being a glutton can cause sleeplessness, nausea, and indigestion. However, if you eat too much, just leave the table and go vomit. Thus we have a hint of bulimia. Sirach wants you to listen to his words. Do not disregard them, because you will appreciate them later in life. You should be moderate in all that you do, in order to avoid any kind of sickness.