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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Separate at harvest time (Mt 13:28-13:30)

“The householder answered.

‘An enemy has done this.’

The slaves or servants said to him.

`Then do you want us to go

And gather them?’

But he replied.

‘No!

In gathering the weeds,

You would uproot the wheat

Along with them.

Let both of them grow together

Until the harvest.

At harvest time,

I will tell the reapers,

‘Collect the weeds first!

Bind them in bundles to be burned!

But gather the wheat into my barn.’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἔφη αὐτοῖς Ἐχθρὸς ἄνθρωπος τοῦτο ἐποίησεν. οἱ δὲ δοῦλοι αὐτῷ λέγουσιν Θέλεις οὖν ἀπελθόντες συλλέξωμεν αὐτά;

ὁ δέ φησιν Οὔ, μή ποτε συλλέγοντες τὰ ζιζάνια ἐκριζώσητε ἅμα αὐτοῖς τὸν σῖτον·

ἄφετε συναυξάνεσθαι ἀμφότερα ἕως τοῦ θερισμοῦ· καὶ ἐν καιρῷ τοῦ θερισμοῦ ἐρῶ τοῖς θερισταῖς Συλλέξατε πρῶτον τὰ ζιζάνια καὶ δήσατε αὐτὰ εἰς δέσμας πρὸς τὸ κατακαῦσαι αὐτά, τὸν δὲ σῖτον συναγάγετε εἰς τὴν ἀποθήκην μου.

 

There is no equivalent to this parable in the other synoptic gospels.   Only Matthew has this parable about the good seed and the weeds.  The head of the house answered his slaves or servants (ὁ δὲ ἔφη αὐτοῖς).  He said that an unnamed enemy had done this (Ἐχθρὸς ἄνθρωπος τοῦτο ἐποίησεν).  The slaves or servants wanted to know what to do (οἱ δὲ δοῦλοι αὐτῷ λέγουσιν Θέλεις).  Did he want them to gather up the weeds (οὖν ἀπελθόντες συλλέξωμεν αὐτά)?  The head of the house said no (ὁ δέ φησιν Οὔ).  He was afraid that they would uproot the wheat along with the weeds (μή ποτε συλλέγοντες τὰ ζιζάνια ἐκριζώσητε ἅμα αὐτοῖς τὸν σῖτον).  Instead he wanted both of them to grow together until the harvest time (ἄφετε συναυξάνεσθαι ἀμφότερα ἕως τοῦ θερισμοῦ).  Then he would tell the harvest reapers to collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned (καὶ ἐν καιρῷ τοῦ θερισμοῦ ἐρῶ τοῖς θερισταῖς Συλλέξατε πρῶτον τὰ ζιζάνια καὶ δήσατε αὐτὰ εἰς δέσμας πρὸς τὸ κατακαῦσαι αὐτά).  Then, they were to gather the wheat grains into his barn (τὸν δὲ σῖτον συναγάγετε εἰς τὴν ἀποθήκην μου).  There was no explanation of this parable, but the sense is that the good and bad should live together until the harvest end times, when the bad would be burned.

The farmers should mourn (Joel 1:11-1:12)

“Be dismayed!

You farmers!

Wail!

You vinedressers!

The wheat,

The barley,

The crops

Of the field

Are ruined.

The vine withers.

The fig tree droops.

Pomegranate trees,

Palm trees,

Apple trees,

All the trees

Of the field

Are dried up.

Surely,

Joy withers away

Among the people.”

The famers and the vinedressers should wail and be upset. All the crops of the field, the wheat and the barley, are ruined. The vines wither away, while the fig trees droop. All the trees of the field, the pomegranate, the palm, and the apple trees, have dried up. There is no longer any joy among the people because of this plague of locusts.

The dead bodies (Jer 9:22-9:22)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘Speak!

Human corpses shall fall

Like dung upon the open field,

Like sheaves after the reaper.

No one shall gather them.’”

Yahweh told Jeremiah to speak. Dead human bodies would be falling all over the place. These bodies would be like dung in the open fields. They would be like handfuls of grain after the reaper has cut the wheat. However, there would be no one to gather up this wheat, since all these dead bodies would be laid all over the harvested field.

The famers plant the crops (Isa 28:24-28:26)

“Do those who plow for sowing plow continually?

Do they continually open their ground?

Do they continually harrow their ground?

When they have leveled its surface,

Do they not scatter dill herbs?

Do they not sow carrot seeds?

Do they not plant wheat in rows?

Do they not plant barley in its proper place?

Do they not plant spelt hardy wheat as the border?

They are well instructed.

Their God teaches them.”

Here is a story or parable about farmers asked in a series of questions. First, they had to plow the ground before the planting of seeds. They had to open and turn the land over by harrowing it. Then they leveled it out. After this, they were able to scatter some dill herbs and sow some carrot seeds. Then they properly put the wheat and barley in rows with hardy inferior spelt wheat as the border to their farms. How did they know how to do this? Well, God has instructed them on how to do this.

The plight of the poor (Job 24:9-24:12)

“There are those who snatch

The orphan child from the breast.

They take as a pledge the infant of the poor.

They go about naked,

Without clothing.

Though hungry, they carry the sheaves.

Between their terraces they press out oil.

They tread the wine presses,

But suffer thirst.

From the city,

The dying groan.

The throat of the wounded cries for help.

Yet God pays no attention to their prayer.”

Job maintained that God did not pay attention to the prayers of the poor. They have their children snatched from their breast as collateral. They have no clothing. Although hungry and thirsty, they carry the wheat and press the olive oil and the grapes for wine. They groan from the city, but no one hears them. Their prayers go unanswered.