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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Explanation of the seeds on the good soil (Mt 13:23-13:23)

“As for what was sown

On good soil,

This is the one

Who hears the word

And understands it.

He indeed bears fruit.

He yields,

In one case a hundredfold,

In another sixtyfold,

And in another thirtyfold.”

 

ὁ δὲ ἐπὶ τὴν καλὴν γῆν σπαρείς, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τὸν λόγον ἀκούων καὶ συνιείς, ὃς δὴ καρποφορεῖ καὶ ποιεῖ ὃ μὲν ἑκατὸν ὃ δὲ ἑξήκοντα ὃ δὲ τριάκοντα.

 

This explanation of the sower parable about the good seeds can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 4:20, and Luke, chapter 8:15, with Matthew closer to Mark.  As for what was sown on good soil (ὁ δὲ ἐπὶ τὴν καλὴν γῆν σπαρείς), these are the people who hear the word of the kingdom and understand it (οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τὸν λόγον ἀκούων καὶ συνιείς).  They then bear good fruit (ὃς δὴ καρποφορεῖ).  They yield either a hundredfold (καὶ ποιεῖ ὃ μὲν ἑκατὸν), sixtyfold (ὃ δὲ ἑξήκοντα), or thirtyfold (ὃ δὲ τριάκοντα).  Only about 25% of the seeds sown were effective.  Thus, only about 25% of the people hearing the word of the kingdom will follow it.  There had to be good circumstances or pre-depositions to hearing and understanding for the word or the seed to be effective.  The seeds or the word that fell on the path, on the rocky ground, or the thorns were ineffective.  However, even among the effective seeds that were on good soil, the word would have different results.  Some would yield 100 times, some 60, and some 30.  There was no magic formula.  The circumstances among the good hearers would also bring about a variety of responses and effectiveness.

The call to Judah and Jerusalem (Jer 4:3-4:4)

“Thus says Yahweh

To the people of Judah,

To the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

‘Break up your fallow ground!

Do not sow among thorns!

Circumcise yourselves to Yahweh!

Remove the foreskin of your hearts!

O people of Judah!

Inhabitants of Jerusalem!

Otherwise my wrath will go forth like fire.

My wrath will burn with no one to quench it,

Because of the evil of your doings.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, has a call to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They were to work their uncultivated lands. They were not to sow seeds among the thorns. They were to circumcise themselves to Yahweh by removing the foreskins on their hearts. The call to Judah and Jerusalem was clear. If they did not listen, the wrath of Yahweh would go forth against them like a roaring unquenchable burning fire, because of their evil deeds.

The song of the Yahweh’s vineyard (Isa 27:2-27:5)

“On that day,

A pleasant vineyard was there!

Sing of it!

I,

Yahweh,

Am its keeper.

Every moment,

I water it.

I guard it at night.

I guard it during the day,

So that no one can harm it.

I have no wrath.

If it give me thorns,

If it gives me briers,

I will march

To battle against it.

I will burn it up.

Let it cling to me

For protection!

Let it make peace with me!

Let it make peace with me!”

Isaiah uses the symbol of Yahweh’s vineyard to represent what was going to happen to Israel, much like earlier in chapter 5 of this work. However, here, Yahweh is not as mad as he was in the earlier chapter. Using the first person singular for Yahweh, Isaiah said that Yahweh wanted to sing about this pleasant vineyard. Yahweh was careful with this vineyard since he watered it every day. He guarded it night and day so that no one could harm it. He was not angry. However, when the thorns and briers came, he was going to go against this vineyard by burning it down. He wanted the vineyard to cling to him and make peace with him, with a double refrain for peace. Thus we see the obvious connection of Yahweh to the people of Israel.

 

Future problems for the king of Assyria (Isa 10:16-10:19)

“Therefore the Sovereign,

Yahweh of hosts,

Will send

A wasting sickness

Among his stout warriors.

Under his glory

A burning will be kindled,

Like the burning of a fire.

The light of Israel

Will become a fire.

His Holy One

Will be a flame.

It will burn his thorns.

It will devour his briers in one day.

Yahweh will destroy

The glory of his forest.

Yahweh will destroy

The glory of his fruitful land,

Both soul and body.

It will be as

When an invalid wastes away.

The remnant of the trees

Of his forest

Will be so few

That a child

Can write them down.”

Isaiah predicts the devastation of the army and land of the king of Assyria. Yahweh was going to send a wasting sickness among his warriors. This maybe an allusion to 2 Kings, chapter 19, when 185,000 Assyrian troops died. The light of Israel will become a raging flame starting a great fire that will destroy and devour the thorns and briers of Assyria itself. Yahweh will destroy the forests and the fruitful land with a wild fire, so that both their bodies and souls will be destroyed. There will be so few trees left, so that a mere child can count and write the number down.