The historical setting (Lk 3:1-3:1)

“In the fifteenth year,

Of the reign

Of Emperor Tiberius,

Pontius Pilate was

Governor of Judea.

Herod was the ruler

Of Galilee.

His brother Philip

Was the ruler

Of the region

Of Ituraea,

And Trachonitis.

Lysanias was the ruler

Of Abilene.”

 

Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου, Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας, καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος,

 

Luke tried to set the public activities of John and Jesus within a larger historical context.  Thus, here he said that it was the 15th year of the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος).  Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea (Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος).  Herod was the tetrarch ruler of Galilee (καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου,).  Herod’s brother Philip was the tetrarch ruler of Ituraea and Trachonitis (Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας), while Lysanias was the tetrarch ruler of Abilene (καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος).  Who and what is this all about?  Tiberius was the Roman Emperor from 14-37 CE.  15 years into his rule would be the year 29 CE.  Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea, but also Samaria to the north, and Idumea to the south, from 26-36 CE, so that this time frame is consistent.  Herod Antipas and Philip were the sons of Herod the Great (37-4 BC).  Herod Antipas ruled as tetrarch of northern Galilee and Perea that was east of the Jordan River from 4 BCE-39 CE.  His brother Philip ruled Ituraea and Trachonitis that were north of Galilee from 4 BCE-34 CE.  Finally, some unknown leader named Lysanias ruled as the tetrarch of Abilene that was north of Damascus, but included Lebanon.  Thus, these were all the rulers of the area where John and Jesus might have traveled within this time frame

They find Jesus on the third day (Lk 2:46-2:46)

“After three days,

They found him

In the Temple.

He was

Sitting among

The teachers,

Listening to them

And asking them questions.”

 

καὶ ἐγένετο μετὰ ἡμέρας τρεῖς εὗρον αὐτὸν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ καθεζόμενον ἐν μέσῳ τῶν διδασκάλων καὶ ἀκούοντα αὐτῶν καὶ ἐπερωτῶντα αὐτούς·

 

Good news!  Luke said that Joseph and Mary found Jesus after 3 days (καὶ ἐγένετο μετὰ ἡμέρας τρεῖς).  That probably means that he was found on the 3rd day since they traveled one day out and one day back on their journey.  These 3 days will play an important role in the resurrection story, because Jesus will rise from the dead after 3 days.  Thus, the distress of these parents will be like the distress of the disciples of Jesus after his death.  The parents of Jesus found him in the Temple (εὗρον αὐτὸν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ), just like the women who found the empty tomb on the 3rd day.  Jesus, the 12-year-old was sitting in the middle or among the Temple masters or teachers (καθεζόμενον ἐν μέσῳ τῶν διδασκάλων), experts in the Jewish religion and traditions.  He was both listening to them (καὶ ἀκούοντα αὐτῶν) and asking them questions (καὶ ἐπερωτῶντα αὐτούς).  Nothing had been mentioned about his prior schooling in Nazareth, if there was any.  Had he been trained at the local synagogue in Nazareth?

 

Find a colt (Mk 11:2-11:2)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Go into the village

Ahead of you!

Immediately,

As you enter it,

You will find

Tied there

A colt

That has never been ridden.

Untie it!

Bring it!”

 

καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς Ὑπάγετε εἰς τὴν κώμην τὴν κατέναντι ὑμῶν, καὶ εὐθὺς εἰσπορευόμενοι εἰς αὐτὴν εὑρήσετε πῶλον δεδεμένον ἐφ’ ὃν οὐδεὶς οὔπω ἀνθρώπων ἐκάθισεν· λύσατε αὐτὸν καὶ φέρετε.

 

Both Matthew, chapter 21:2, and Luke, chapter 19:30, are similar but Matthew had a colt and a donkey, while Luke had merely a colt, as here.  Mark said that Jesus told the two unnamed disciples (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς) to go into the village that was just ahead of them (Ὑπάγετε εἰς τὴν κώμην τὴν κατέναντι ὑμῶν).  There immediately on entering the village (καὶ εὐθὺς εἰσπορευόμενοι εἰς αὐτὴν), they would find a colt tied up (εὑρήσετε πῶλον δεδεμένον).  This was a colt that no person had ever ridden on before (ἐφ’ ὃν οὐδεὶς οὔπω ἀνθρώπων ἐκάθισεν).  Jesus told these two unnamed disciples to untie it (λύσατε αὐτὸν) and bring it back to him (καὶ φέρετε).  Apparently, Jesus and his disciples always traveled on foot or by boat, but never riding animals.

Jesus goes to Judea (Mk 10:1-10:1)

“Jesus left that place.

He went

To the region

Of Judea,

And beyond

The Jordan.

Crowds again

Gathered around him.

As was his custom,

He again taught them.”

 

Καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ἀναστὰς ἔρχεται εἰς τὰ ὅρια τῆς Ἰουδαίας καὶ πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, καὶ συνπορεύονται πάλιν ὄχλοι πρὸς αὐτόν, καὶ ὡς εἰώθει πάλιν ἐδίδασκεν αὐτούς.

 

This move from Galilee to Judea can also be found in Matthew, chapter 19:1-2, and Luke, chapter 9:51.  Mark said that Jesus rose up and left that place (Καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ἀναστὰς), presumably Galilee.  He went to the region of Judea (ἔρχεται εἰς τὰ ὅρια τῆς Ἰουδαίας) and beyond the Jordan (καὶ πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου).  Thus, Jesus moved south towards Jerusalem.  However, he traveled on the other eastern side of the Jordan River, so that he did not have to go into Samaria.  He definitely was leaving Galilee.  Mark, like Matthew, emphasized the crowds that gathered around Jesus again (καὶ συνπορεύονται πάλιν ὄχλοι πρὸς αὐτόν).  Just as in Galilee, as was his custom (καὶ ὡς εἰώθει), Jesus again began to teach (πάλιν ἐδίδασκεν αὐτούς), the people in these crowds in Judea.  Mark had Jesus teaching the crowds instead of healing these people, as in Matthew.

Jesus heals people (Mk 6:56-6:56)

“Wherever Jesus went,

In villages,

Or cities,

Or country farms,

They laid the sick

In the market places.

They begged him

That they might touch

Even the fringe

Of his cloak.

All who touched it

Were healed.”

 

καὶ ὅπου ἂν εἰσεπορεύετο εἰς κώμας ἢ εἰς πόλεις ἢ εἰς ἀγροὺς, ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς ἐτίθεσαν τοὺς ἀσθενοῦντας, καὶ παρεκάλουν αὐτὸν ἵνα κἂν τοῦ κρασπέδου τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτοῦ ἅψωνται· καὶ ὅσοι ἂν ἥψαντο αὐτοῦ ἐσῴζοντο.

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 14:36.  Mark seems to emphasize the various places that these sick people were coming from.  Mark said that wherever Jesus traveled (καὶ ὅπου ἂν εἰσεπορεύετο), whether in villages (εἰς κώμας), in cities (ἢ εἰς πόλεις), or in country areas or farms (εἰς ἀγροὺς), they were placing or laying those ailing or sick people in the public market places (ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς ἐτίθεσαν τοὺς ἀσθενοῦντας).  They begged or entreated him (καὶ παρεκάλουν αὐτὸν) to touch the fringe or the tassel of his clothing (ἵνα κἂν τοῦ κρασπέδου τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτοῦ ἅψωνται).  Everyone who touched him was healed (καὶ ὅσοι ἂν ἥψαντο αὐτοῦ ἐσῴζοντο).  These people in Gennesaret were well aware of the powers of Jesus.  They wanted to take advantage of his healing magic touch.  They wanted to touch his outer garment or tunic coat in order to be healed like the woman with the excessive blood flow.

Jesus went to a Capernaum synagogue (Mk 1:21-1:21)

“They went

Into Capernaum.

Immediately,

When Sabbath came,

Jesus entered

The synagogue.

He taught there.”

 

Καὶ εἰσπορεύονται εἰς Καφαρναούμ· καὶ εὐθὺς τοῖς σάββασιν εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὴν συναγωγὴν ἐδίδασκεν.

 

There is something similar to this in Luke, chapter 4:31, where Jesus was teaching on the Sabbath in Capernaum.  Jesus and his entourage of at least 4 disciples went, traveled, or entered Capernaum (Καὶ εἰσπορεύονται εἰς Καφαρναούμ).  When suddenly the Sabbath came (καὶ εὐθὺς τοῖς σάββασιν), Jesus entered the synagogue (εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὴν συναγωγὴν) and taught there (ἐδίδασκεν).  Matthew, chapter 4:13, mentioned that Jesus set up his home in Capernaum.  John, chapter 2:12, said that he went with his family to Capernaum for a few days.  Capernaum was about 20 miles northeast of Nazareth, probably a fishing village of about 1,500 people at that time, on the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee, in the old Israelite tribal territory of Zebulun and Naphtali.  Synagogues were a new thing in the first century CE, something like local Jewish town hall meetings, but also as centers of study and worship, obviously outside of Jerusalem and its Temple.  There may have been some sort of Sabbath worship taking place.  Jesus with his disciples went there, which would not have been unusual.  However, the fact that he taught there might seem a little strange, if not invited.

Fifth narrative

Jesus traveled toward Jerusalem and taught in the Temple there, debating with the chief priests and religious leaders.  Then he spoke about the coming kingdom of heaven and the future end times.

Jesus finally went to Judea, where he cured large crowds of people.  The Pharisees questioned him about divorce.  Jesus reiterated the importance of marriage, as he spoke about Moses and divorce.  After hearing the response of Jesus about divorce, his disciples wondered why they should marry at all.  Jesus explained about different kind of eunuchs.

The children came forward to Jesus and he blessed them.  He warned against wealth.  To gain eternal life you had to keep the commandments.  They wanted to know which commandments?  The great commandment was not a problem.  However, Jesus asked them to give up their possessions, so that the rich young man walked away.  It was hard for rich people to enter the kingdom like a camel going through the eye of a needle.  Who could be saved?  The response was that all things are possible with God.  Peter wanted to know about the disciples and the eternal life reward, so that Jesus told them that the first shall be last and vice versa.

Then Jesus presented the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.  He hired the first laborers, and then late in the day a second group, a third group and finally a fourth group of laborers.  The last group hired got a full day’s pay.  The first group hired were upset when they got the same as the last group hired.  This brought up the problem of generosity versus fairness, as Jesus explained the parable.

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus predicted what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem.  The mother of the sons of Zebedee wanted to know if her two sons, James and John, could be the greatest, on either side of Jesus.  Jesus pointed out the difficulties and said that only the Father set up the seating arrangements.  This led to ten angry men as they resented the two trying to be first.  Jesus reminded them about servant leadership, as the Son of Man was going to give up his life.

There were great crowds at Jericho where Jesus found two blind men asking for mercy, so he healed them.  Then began the final ministry in Jerusalem with a triumphal entry.  Jesus sent two disciples from Bethpage to get a donkey and a colt because he needed them.  Thus, the prophecy of Zechariah might be fulfilled.  They brought the donkey and the colt to Jesus.  Then crowds welcomed the Son of David into Jerusalem as they began to wonder who this man was?

Jesus went into the Temple and chased out the money changers to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah.  When he cured people in the Temple, the chief priests were angry, but the little children praised him.

Then Jesus went to Bethany.  The next morning, he was hungry.  He saw a fig tree, but it had no figs, so he cursed the fig tree as it withered because of his faith.

People began to question where did Jesus get his authority?  Jesus responded with a question for a question.  He asked them about the value of the baptism of John.  They gave a timid response.  Then he told the parable about the two sons.  The first son said no at first, and then did the work, while the second son said yes and did not do the work.  Which son did the will of his father?  Thus, they did not believe John the Baptist.

Then Jesus told the parable about the wicked tenants.  This absentee land owner of the vineyard sent people to collect his rent.  Instead, the tenants beat and killed the landowner’s slaves.  He sent a second group that was also killed.  Then the tenants killed the landowner’s son.  Finally, the landowner came to take back his vineyard, citing Psalm 118 about the kingdom of God and the falling cornerstone.  The Pharisees understood this parable and tried to arrest Jesus.

Jesus continued to speak in parables.  This parable was about the king who gave a great wedding banquet.  However, the invited guests refused to come to the wedding banquet.  He sent out a second invitation to the wedding banquet, but they refused the second invitation also.  They treated his slaves badly.  The king was angry and sent out new invitations to the wedding feast.  Finally, a man without a wedding garment showed up, but he threw him out of the feast.  The explanation of this parable was that many are called, but few are chosen.

Next the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by flattering him.  They asked him a question about taxes.  Jesus gave a harsh response as he had a dialogue about the Roman coin about whose image was on it.  Give Caesar his due.  The Pharisees and their disciples left.

However, the Sadducees asked a question about the resurrection.  There was a law about marrying the brother of a dead man.  There was a woman who married seven brothers, who was her husband in the resurrection?  Jesus responded that there was no marriage in the resurrection.  The living God of their ancestors would show them the way.  The crowd was astonished.

The Pharisees regrouped and wanted to know what is the greatest commandment?  Jesus responded about the two great commandments to love God and your neighbor.  Then Jesus asked the Pharisees a question.  Was the Christ the son of David?  Then who was the Lord for David?  After that there were no more questions for Jesus.

Jesus then cursed the Scribes and Pharisees.  He told his disciples to do what they say, but not what they do.  They tied up heavy burdens on the people.  They wore special clothing and sought the places of honor.  They want to be called Rabbis.  No one was your father or master.  Greatness comes with humility.  They tried to lock people out of heaven as they shut it off.  Even when they tried to make converts, they are like blind guides and fools.  They swore by the altar or the gift of the altar.  They swore by heaven, but they had forgotten the law.  They wanted the gnat out your eye but had a camel in their own eye.  They worried about the outside of the cup instead of the inside.  They were like whitewashed tombs.  They proclaimed reverence for the tombs of the prophets, but they were like their sinning ancestors. They were like serpents.  They would kill the prophets.  They spread innocent blood.  Soon the house of Jerusalem would be desolate.

Finally, there were the predictions about the end times.  Jesus left the Temple as he predicted its destruction.  What are the signs of the Parousia?  There would be the beginning of the great suffering so that they should not be lead astray.  There would be rumors of wars in those troubled times.  They would be persecuted for the sake of Jesus.  There would be betrayals and false prophets.  Love would grow cold.  Endurance would be necessary.  The importance of Daniel the prophet was emphasized.  In Judea, they would flee to the housetops.  It would be too late for the people in the fields.  This would be the wrong time to be pregnant or nursing.  There would be great tribulation, but the days would be short.

The end was coming because there would be false Christs and people looking for the Messiah.  The Son of Man would come on the clouds as the darkness in the skies appeared.  There would be a gathering of the chosen ones.  Using the parable of the fig tree, they could tell that the end was near.  This generation would pass away, but Jesus’ words would not pass away.  No one knew the day, since it would be like in the days of Noah.  Only one would be taken and the other left, so be ready.  Be a wise and faithful slave, not a wicked slave.

Jesus told the parable of the ten bridesmaids where half were wise and half foolish.  They all fell asleep.  When the bridegroom came, they all got up.  However, the foolish ones had no oil and wise ones said that there was not enough oil for both of them.  When the foolish left to get oil, they shut the door.  When they came back, the bridegroom said that he did not know them.  Thus, you do not know the day.

Next Jesus told the parable of the talents.  A man entrusted his assets to his slaves.  He gave them money.  One slave added five more talents, another added two more talents, but the third slave dug a hole and buried his money.  The master settled their accounts.  The slave with five talents got five more talents.  The slave with two talents got two more talents.  The slave with one talent was rebuked and punished.  Thus, there will be rewards and punishments at the end times.

In the last judgment, the Son of Man would appear in glory.  There would be sheep and goats, with the sheep on the right hand.  They had taken care of him.  They wondered when they had done this.  The Son of Man replied that they took care of him when they cared for the least of his brothers.  Then he told the goats on his left side to depart from him because they had not taken care of him when they did not care for the lowly people.  Thus, there would be eternal punishment or eternal reward.

The eleven disciples go to the mountain in Galilee (Mt 28:16-28:16)

“Now the eleven disciples

Went to Galilee.

They went

To the mountain

That Jesus

Had directed them

To go.”

 

Οἱ δὲ ἕνδεκα μαθηταὶ ἐπορεύθησαν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν, εἰς τὸ ὄρος οὗ ἐτάξατο αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς,

 

This is unique to Matthew, since he was the only one that has the post-resurrection Jesus appear on a mountain in Galilee talking to his 11-member leadership team of apostolic disciples.  He said that these 11 disciples traveled or went to Galilee (Οἱ δὲ ἕνδεκα μαθηταὶ ἐπορεύθησαν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν), since Judas had been eliminated.  They went to an unspecified or unnamed hill or mountain that Jesus had directed or assigned them to go to (εἰς τὸ ὄρος οὗ ἐτάξατο αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  Once again, like Moses, the commanding statements from God will be on a mountain, closer to heaven or the sky rather than on plain ground.

Jesus blessed the children (Mt 19:14-19:15)

“But Jesus said.

‘Let the little children

Come to me!

Do not stop them!

It is to such as these

That the kingdom of heaven

Belongs.’

He laid his hands

On them.

Then he went on his way.”

 

ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν Ἄφετε τὰ παιδία καὶ μὴ κωλύετε αὐτὰ ἐλθεῖν πρός με· τῶν γὰρ τοιούτων ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.

καὶ ἐπιθεὶς τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῖς ἐπορεύθη ἐκεῖθεν.

 

This story about Jesus laying his hand on the little children can be found in Mark, chapter 10:14-16, and Luke, chapter 18:16, but slightly different.  Jesus said (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν) to his disciples that the little children should not be forbidden to come to him (Ἄφετε τὰ παιδία καὶ μὴ κωλύετε αὐτὰ ἐλθεῖν πρός με).  They belonged to the kingdom of heaven (τῶν γὰρ τοιούτων ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν).  Then he laid his hands on them (καὶ ἐπιθεὶς τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῖς) before he traveled from there on his way (ἐπορεύθη ἐκεῖθεν).  This emphasis on little children in the kingdom of heaven could be found earlier in chapter 18:1-5.

 

Jesus goes to Judea (Mt 19:1-19:1)

“When Jesus had finished

Saying these things,

He left Galilee.

He went

To the region of Judea,

Beyond the Jordan.”

 

Καὶ ἐγένετο ὅτε ἐτέλεσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοὺς λόγους τούτους, μετῆρεν ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς τὰ ὅρια τῆς Ἰουδαίας πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου.

 

This move from Galilee to Judea and Jerusalem can also be found in Mark, chapter 10:1, and Luke, chapter 9:51, with Matthew closer to Mark, with some minor changes.  Matthew used the transition words “Καὶ ἐγένετο,” it happened or came to pass.  When Jesus had finished or completed saying these things (Καὶ ἐγένετο ὅτε ἐτέλεσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοὺς λόγους τούτους), he left or departed from Galilee (μετῆρεν ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας) and went to the region of Judea (καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς τὰ ὅρια τῆς Ἰουδαίας), beyond the Jordan (πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου).  Thus, Jesus moved south towards Jerusalem.  However, he traveled on the other side of the Jordan River, on the east side of Jordan, so that he did not have to go into Samaria.  He definitely was leaving Galilee.