Jesus spoke about John (Lk 7:24-7:24)

“When John’s messengers

Had gone,

Jesus began

To speak

To the crowds

About John.

‘What did you go out

Into the wilderness

To look at?

A reed shaken

By the wind?’”

 

Ἀπελθόντων δὲ τῶν ἀγγέλων Ἰωάνου ἤρξατο λέγειν πρὸς τοὺς ὄχλους περὶ Ἰωάνου Τί ἐξήλθατε εἰς τὴν ἔρημον θεάσασθαι; κάλαμον ὑπὸ ἀνέμου σαλευόμενον;

 

Luke indicated that after John’s messengers had gone (Ἀπελθόντων δὲ τῶν ἀγγέλων Ἰωάνου), Jesus began to speak (ἤρξατο λέγειν) to the crowds (πρὸς τοὺς ὄχλους) about John the Baptist (περὶ Ἰωάνου).  These questions are word for word like Matthew, chapter 7:24, indicating a possible Q source.  Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John.  He asked them what did they go out into the wilderness to look at (Τί ἐξήλθατε εἰς τὴν ἔρημον θεάσασθαι)?  Was it a reed shaken by the wind (κάλαμον ὑπὸ ἀνέμου σαλευόμενον)?  Matthew indicated the same when he said that as these disciples of John were leaving on their journey, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John.  He asked them these questions.  Why did they go out into the wilderness to see John?  Was he a reed shaking in the wind?  This idea of the plentiful reeds waving in the desert would be compared to the luxury of a royal palace.  What do you think of John the Baptist?

The forty day fast (Lk 4:2-4:2)

“For forty days,

Jesus was tempted

By the devil.

He ate nothing

At all

During those days.

When these days

Were over,

He was very hungry.”

 

ἡμέρας τεσσεράκοντα πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου. Καὶ οὐκ ἔφαγεν οὐδὲν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις, καὶ συντελεσθεισῶν αὐτῶν ἐπείνασεν.

 

This text is like Matthew, chapter 4:2, almost word for word, indicating a common source, perhaps Q.  Luke said that Jesus was tempted (πειραζόμενος) for 40 days (ἡμέρας τεσσεράκοντα) by the devil (ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου).  During this time or in those days (ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις), Jesus did not eat anything at all (Καὶ οὐκ ἔφαγεν οὐδὲν), since he was fasting.  When the 40 days were over or completed (καὶ συντελεσθεισῶν αὐτῶν), Jesus was really hungry or famished (ἐπείνασεν).  There was a symbolism in this fast of 40 days.  Luke did not mention 40 nights, like Matthew.  Fasting was a common Hebrew exercise, while 40 was the same number of years that the Israelites were in the wilderness during the Exodus.  Jesus was really hungry at the end of his 40 day fast.  The devil, the personification of evil, tempted Jesus.  Mark, chapter 1:13, has an abbreviated description of the temptations of Jesus compared to Matthew, and Luke.  All 3 synoptics agreed that Jesus was in the wilderness 40 symbolic days.  All agreed that Jesus was tempted by Satan or the devil, the adversary or the accuser.  This concept of the adversary showed the Persian influence on the Israelites after the exile.  The older devil concept was considered a fallen angel without all the powers of God, but nevertheless very strong.  Mark said that Jesus was with the wild beasts, but this remark was not found in the other longer detailed descriptions of Matthew and Luke.  Mark made it seem like the temptation was physical, like the fear of wild animals, as he then said that the good angels ministered to Jesus, waiting on him and taking caring for him.

John the Baptizer (Mk 1:4-1:4)

“John the Baptizer

Appeared

In the wilderness.

He was proclaiming

A baptism

Of repentance

For the forgiveness of sins.”

 

ἐγένετο Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτίζων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν

 

There is something similar, but not quite the same in all 4 gospel stories.  Matthew, chapter 3:1-2, called John the Baptist (βαπτιστὴς) not the Baptizer (ὁ βαπτίζων), but John was in the wilderness, like here, calling for repentance.  In Matthew, John also warned the people that the kingdom of heaven was near.  Luke, chapter 3:2:3, is actually closer to Mark, since he used the exact same words about John in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  John, chapter l:19-29, had a long dialogue with John and the priests and Levites about what he was doing.  Mark has this simple statement that John the Baptizer, or the one baptizing, appeared (ἐγένετο Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτίζων) in the wilderness or desert (ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ).  How and what he did before or after did not matter.  He was there proclaiming or preaching a baptism of repentance, a life change, or metanoia (κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας) to have sins or faults forgiven or wiped away (ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν).  John tied this repentant change of life style baptism with the forgiving of sins or wiping away of past faults, since he was calling for repentance.  John and Jesus are linked in some ways like Aaron and Moses or the later Peter and Paul.  One is superior to the other but the other plays an indispensable role.

The blessing of the five loaves of bread (Mt 14:18-14:19)

“Jesus said.

‘Bring them here to me.’

Then he ordered

The crowds

To sit down

On the grass.

He took

The five loaves

And the two fish.

He looked up to heaven.

He blessed them.

He broke the loaves.

He gave them

To the disciples.

Then the disciples

Gave them

To the crowds.”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· Φέρετέ μοι ὧδε αὐτούς.

καὶ κελεύσας τοὺς ὄχλους ἀνακλιθῆναι ἐπὶ τοῦ χόρτου, λαβὼν τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας, ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εὐλόγησεν, καὶ κλάσας ἔδωκεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς τοὺς ἄρτους, οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις.

 

This is the only blessing miracle that is recorded in all four gospels, Mark, chapter 6:39-41, Luke, chapter 9:14-16, and John, chapter 6:10-11, plus here.  The blessing of the bread and the fish is exactly the same in the synoptic gospels, but merely summarized in John.  This feeding of a large group of people harkens back to the Exodus story, chapter 16:1-36, about the manna and the quails in the wilderness.  Yet the blessing itself has almost a foretaste of the Eucharistic Last Supper of Jesus, when he blessed and broke the bread.  Jesus said to his disciples (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν) to bring him the food (Φέρετέ μοι ὧδε αὐτούς), the 5 loaves of bread and the 2 fish.  Then he ordered or directed the crowd to sit down on the grass (καὶ κελεύσας τοὺς ὄχλους ἀνακλιθῆναι ἐπὶ τοῦ χόρτου,).  He took the 5 loaves and the 2 fish (λαβὼν τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας).  He looked up to heaven (ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν).  He blessed them (εὐλόγησεν).  Then he broke (καὶ κλάσας) the loaves of bread and the fishes into pieces.  He gave the loaves of bread to his disciples (ἔδωκεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς τοὺς ἄρτους).  They, in turn, gave them to the crowd (οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις).  This almost sounds like a large later distribution of Holy Communion.

Jesus asks questions about John (Mt 11:7-11:8)

“As the disciples of John

Went away,

Jesus began to speak

To the crowds

About John.

‘What did you go out

Into the wilderness

To look at?

Was he a reed

Shaken by the wind?’

Why then did you go out

To see him?

Was he a man

Dressed in fine clothes?

Look!

Those who wear fine clothes

Are in royal palaces.’”

 

Τούτων δὲ πορευομένων ἤρξατο ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγειν τοῖς ὄχλοις περὶ Ἰωάνου Τί ἐξήλθατε εἰς τὴν ἔρημον θεάσασθαι; κάλαμον ὑπὸ ἀνέμου σαλευόμενον;

ἀλλὰ τί ἐξήλθατε ἰδεῖν; ἄνθρωπον ἐν μαλακοῖς ἠμφιεσμένον; ἰδοὺ οἱ τὰ μαλακὰ φοροῦντες ἐν τοῖς οἴκοις τῶν βασιλέων.

 

These question sayings are word for word like Luke, chapter 7:24-25, indicating a possible Q source.  As these disciples of John were leaving on their journey (Τούτων δὲ πορευομένων), Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John (ἤρξατο ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγειν τοῖς ὄχλοις περὶ Ἰωάνου).  He asked them some questions.  Why did they go out into the wilderness to see John (Τί ἐξήλθατε εἰς τὴν ἔρημον θεάσασθαι)?  Was he a reed shaking in the wind (κάλαμον ὑπὸ ἀνέμου σαλευόμενον)?  Why did they go out to see him (ἀλλὰ τί ἐξήλθατε ἰδεῖν)?  Was he a man dressed in fine clothes or soft robes (ἄνθρωπον ἐν μαλακοῖς ἠμφιεσμένον)?  Or course not, since fine clothes or soft robes can only be found in royal palaces (ἰδοὺ οἱ τὰ μαλακὰ φοροῦντες ἐν τοῖς οἴκοις τῶν βασιλέων).

The prophet Isaiah and John (Mt 3: 3-3:3)

“This is the one

Of whom

The prophet Isaiah

Spoke

When he said.

‘The voice of one crying out

In the wilderness.

Prepare

The way of the Lord!

Make his paths straight!’”

 

οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ῥηθεὶς διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν Κυρίου, εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ.

 

Matthew followed Mark who introduced John as a fulfilment of a prophecy from the Book of Isaiah. However, the text from Mark, chapter 1:2, was a composite of texts from Isaiah, Malachi and Exodus. Matthew, as well as Luke, dropped the first part of these references. However, Luke, chaper 3:4-6, has a more extended citation from Isaiah. Matthew began with the modified quotation from Isaiah, chapter 40:3, while he moved the Malachi and Exodus material to later in the text, where Jesus quoted them. However, it was clear that John the Baptist was the one (οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ῥηθεὶς) that Isaiah the prophet was talking about (διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος). He was the messenger being sent ahead. He was a voice crying out in the wilderness (Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ). He was to prepare the way for the Lord (Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν Κυρίου,). He was going to make the paths straight (εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ). Deutero-Isaiah originally talked about a voice in the wilderness leading to a new path out of the Exile, in this oracle of Yahweh, just as there had been a path out of the Exodus. In this wilderness or desert, they were to make a straight path, like a highway for God or the Holy Way. However, this would also be a time of upheaval. The valleys would rise as the mountains and hills would fall, so that the uneven and rough places would become level and plain. All the people would then see the glory of God revealed. Clearly, there was a connection between John the Baptist and Isaiah the prophet.