Preaching a baptism of repentance (Lk 3:3-3:3)

“John went

Into all the region

Around the Jordan River.

He was proclaiming

A baptism

Of repentance

For the forgiveness

Of sins.”

 

καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν περίχωρον τοῦ Ἰορδάνου κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν,

 

This section of Luke is very similar to all the other 4 gospel stories.  Luke explicitly said that John went into all the region around the Jordan River (καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν περίχωρον τοῦ Ἰορδάνου).  Mark, chapter 1:4, had the simple statement that John the Baptizer, appeared in the wilderness or desert, without mentioning the Jordan River.  However, Luke was actually closer to Mark, since he used the exact same words about John’s preaching.  He indicated that John was proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν).  Matthew, chapter 3:2, said that the preaching message of John was very simple.  They should repent, turn their lives around, with a profound metanoia, a change of their spirit.  The equivalent about repentance, metanoia, or the change of heart can also be found in both Mark and Luke.  Matthew had John say that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, coming near.  The other canonical gospel writers did not use this term “kingdom of heaven.”  John, chapter l:19-29, had a long dialogue with John and the priests and Levites about what he was doing.  How and what John did before or after this preaching in the wilderness did not matter.  He was there proclaiming a baptism of repentance, a life change, or a metanoia, to have sins or faults forgiven or wiped away.

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The fame of Jesus spread throughout Galilee (Mk 1:28-1:28)

“At once,

His fame

Spread throughout

Everywhere

In all

The surrounding regions

Of Galilee.”

 

καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἡ ἀκοὴ αὐτοῦ εὐθὺς πανταχοῦ εἰς ὅλην τὴν περίχωρον τῆς Γαλιλαίας.

 

This is very similar, to Luke, chapter 4:37.  Mark said that at once, the news reports or rumors about Jesus or his fame spread (καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἡ ἀκοὴ αὐτοῦ εὐθὺς) everywhere throughout all the surrounding regions or neighboring areas of Galilee (πανταχοῦ εἰς ὅλην τὴν περίχωρον τῆς Γαλιλαίας).  Suddenly, Jesus was famous, a celebrity In Galilee.

How come the unclean spirits obey? (Mk 1:27-1:27)

“They were all amazed.

They kept on asking

One another.

‘What is this?”

A new teaching

With authority!

He commands

Even the unclean spirits.

They obey him!’”

 

καὶ ἐθαμβήθησαν ἅπαντες, ὥστε συνζητεῖν αὐτοὺς λέγοντας Τί ἐστιν τοῦτο; διδαχὴ καινή κατ’ ἐξουσίαν· καὶ τοῖς πνεύμασι τοῖς ἀκαθάρτοις ἐπιτάσσει, καὶ ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ.

 

This is very similar, almost word for word, to Luke, chapter 4:36.  Mark said, that they were all amazed or astonished (καὶ ἐθαμβήθησαν ἅπαντες), a common word people used to describe the activities of Jesus.  They kept on saying or asking each other, questioning among themselves (ὥστε συνζητεῖν αὐτοὺς λέγοντας).  What is this new teaching with authority (Τί ἐστιν τοῦτο; διδαχὴ καινή κατ’ ἐξουσίαν·)?  Thus, he commands even the unclean spirits (καὶ τοῖς πνεύμασι τοῖς ἀκαθάρτοις ἐπιτάσσει) so that they listen or obey him (καὶ ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ).  Jesus seemed to have some special spiritual powers that no one else had ever seen.

 

Jesus rebukes the man with the unclean spirit (Mk 1:25-1:26)

“But Jesus rebuked him.

He said.

‘Be silent!

Come out of him!’

The unclean spirit

Convulsed him.

Crying

With a loud voice,

He came out of him.”

 

καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς Φιμώθητι καὶ ἔξελθε ἐξ αὐτοῦ.

καὶ σπαράξαν αὐτὸν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἀκάθαρτον καὶ φωνῆσαν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ἐξῆλθεν ἐξ αὐτοῦ.

 

This is very similar, almost word for word, to Luke, chapter 4:35, but as usual, Luke had more details.  Both Mark and Luke said that Jesus rebuked him (καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  Rebuking was a common Hebrew term used in exorcisms, while in Greek it has a more English sense of warning, chiding, or admonishing.  Jesus told him to be silent or muzzled (Φιμώθητι), so that the unclean or evil spirit could come out of that person (καὶ ἔξελθε ἐξ αὐτοῦ).  Then Luke had an explanation about how the unclean spirit left these people unharmed.  Luke continued to have two persons, while Mark only had one person.  Here Mark said that that the unclean spirit convulsed this person (καὶ σπαράξαν αὐτὸν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἀκάθαρτον), so that crying with a great loud voice (καὶ φωνῆσαν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ) he came out of that one person (ἐξῆλθεν ἐξ αὐτοῦ).  Thus, the exorcism was complete.

A description of John (Mk 1:6-1:6)

“Now John was clothed

With camel’s hair.

He had

A leather belt

Around his waist.

He ate locusts

And wild honey.”

 

καὶ ἦν ὁ Ἰωάνης ἐνδεδυμένος τρίχας καμήλου καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περὶ τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔσθων ἀκρίδας καὶ μέλι ἄγριον.

 

Mark and Matthew, chapter 3:4, are very similar in their descriptions of John the Baptist, almost word for word.  Mark said that John was clothed with camel’s hair (καὶ ἦν ὁ Ἰωάνης ἐνδεδυμένος τρίχας καμήλου).  John had a leather belt around his waist (καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περὶ τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ).  He also ate locusts and wild honey (καὶ ἔσθων ἀκρίδας καὶ μέλι ἄγριον).  Matthew had this description before the preceding verses.  There was nothing special about this simple dull clothing and a weak sweet vegetarian diet of food.  This description is very reminiscent of the description of Elijah in 2 Kings, chapter 1:8, who also wore a garment of hair and a leather belt.  Thus, the comparison of John the Baptist with Elijah was only natural.

People were baptized (Mk 1:5-1:5)

“People from the whole

Judea countryside,

And all the people

Of Jerusalem

Were going out

To John.

They were baptized

By him

In the Jordan River,

Confessing their sins.”

 

καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο πρὸς αὐτὸν πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαία χώρα καὶ οἱ Ἱεροσολυμεῖται πάντες, καὶ ἐβαπτίζοντο ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ ποταμῷ ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν.

 

Mark and Matthew, chapter 3:5-6, are very similar here, almost word for word.  Luke and John do not have these statements about the people that John baptized.  Mark said that all the people from the whole Judea countryside or region (πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαία χώρα), as well as all the people of Jerusalem (καὶ οἱ Ἱεροσολυμεῖται πάντες) were going out to see John (καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο πρὸς αὐτὸν).  Perhaps not all the people of Judea and Jerusalem went out to be baptized by John.  They were being baptized by John (καὶ ἐβαπτίζοντο ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ) in the Jordan River (ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ ποταμῷ), confessing their sins (ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν).  Matthew also added that the people from along the Jordan River, a little further north, were also coming out to see him.  The Jordan River is north of the Dead Sea and Jerusalem.  Jewish baptisms were not that uncommon.  Washing was a physical and spiritual cleansing for sins, as people were unclean or dirty.  Thus, in the process of this spiritual cleansing, they would confess their sins.  John’s baptism had a few unique qualities, since it was a moral statement with an expectation of a coming Messiah or savior.  Clearly, John holds a central role in the Gospel of Mark since he started his story about Jesus with John here.

Jesus give thanks and distributes the bread (Mt 15:35-15:36)

“Jesus ordered

The crowd

To sit down

On the ground.

He took the seven loaves

And the fish.

He gave thanks.

He broke them.

He gave them

To the disciples.

Then the disciples

Gave them

To the crowds.”

 

καὶ παραγγείλας τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν

ἔλαβεν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς ἰχθύας καὶ εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς, οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις.

 

Mark, chapter 8:6-7, has a similar statement about the thanksgiving blessing and the distribution of the 7 loaves of bread and fish.  Jesus ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground, instead of earlier on the grass (καὶ παραγγείλας τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν).  This was going to be like a large picnic.  He took the seven loaves and the fish (ἔλαβεν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς ἰχθύας).  He gave thanks or eucharized them (καὶ εὐχαριστήσας) and broke them apart (ἔκλασεν).  He gave them to the disciples (καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς).  Then the disciples gave them to the crowds (οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις).  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, but on a smaller scale.  Yet the word “thanksgiving” was used here instead of a “blessing” as at the feeding of the 5,000 people in chapter 14:19.  This has almost a foretaste of the Eucharistic Last Supper of Jesus, when he gave thanks, blessed and broke the bread.  Otherwise, this is very similar to the first multiplication of the loaves of bread.  However, Jesus did not look up to heaven here.  The process is pretty much the same.  Jesus gave the food to his disciples, who in turn gave the food to the people in the crowd.