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.

Jesus reprimands his disciples for their lack of faith (Mt 16:8-16:8)

“Becoming aware of it,

Jesus said.

‘You of little faith!

Why are you talking

Among yourselves

About not having

Any bread?’”

 

γνοὺς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν Τί διαλογίζεσθε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, ὀλιγόπιστοι, ὅτι ἄρτους οὐκ ἔχετε;

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 8:17, where the reprimand is much sharper.  Jesus became aware of their discussions (γνοὺς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  He reprimanded them by calling them men of little faith (ὀλιγόπιστοι).  This word “ὀλιγόπιστοι” was a favorite of Matthew, since 5 of the 6 times it appears in the New Testament literature, Matthew used it.  Why were they worried, talking, or debating among themselves (εἶπεν Τί διαλογίζεσθε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς) about not having any bread (ἄρτους οὐκ ἔχετε)?  The disciples were missing the point about Jesus, since he would provide nourishment for them.

The Pharisees were offended (Mt 15:12-15:12)

“Then the disciples

Approached Jesus.

They said to him.

‘Do you know

That the Pharisees

Took offense

When they heard

What you said?’”

 

Τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Οἶδας ὅτι οἱ Φαρισαῖοι ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον ἐσκανδαλίσθησαν;

 

This seems to be a unique saying in Matthew.  The disciples pointed out that Jesus had offended the Pharisees with his sayings.  Then the disciples approached Jesus (Τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ).  They asked him (λέγουσιν αὐτῷ) if he knew that he had offended the Pharisees (ὅτι οἱ Φαρισαῖοι ἐσκανδαλίσθησαν) when they heard what he had said (ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον).  Jesus’ disciples seemed concerned or worried that Jesus might have offended the Pharisees.

Jesus was worried (Mt 14:13-14:13)

“Now when Jesus heard this,

He withdrew from there

In a boat

To a deserted place

By himself.

However,

When the crowds heard it,

They followed him

On foot

From the towns.”

 

Ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀνεχώρησεν ἐκεῖθεν ἐν πλοίῳ εἰς ἔρημον τόπον κατ’ ἰδίαν· καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ ὄχλοι ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ πεζῇ ἀπὸ τῶν πόλεων.

 

This opening to the multiplication of the loaves story can be found in all four gospels, Mark, chapter 6:32-33, Luke, chapter 9:10-11, and John, chapter 6:1-2, plus here, with a slightly different twist.  Jesus wanted to get away by himself in a boat, but somehow the crowds followed him.  It is not clear if they were looking for his reaction to the death of John the Baptist, or just following him as an itinerant preacher and healer.  When Jesus heard the news about John the Baptist (Ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς), he seemed worried.  He left that place in a boat to be in a deserted or secluded place alone (ἀνεχώρησεν ἐκεῖθεν ἐν πλοίῳ εἰς ἔρημον τόπον).  However, the crowds heard about it (καὶ ἀκούσαντες), so that they followed him on foot from the various towns (οἱ ὄχλοι ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ πεζῇ ἀπὸ τῶν πόλεων).  They seemed to follow along the bank of the sea.  Jesus could not get away by himself.

Seek the kingdom first (Mt 6:31-6:33)

“Therefore,

Do not be anxious!

Saying.

‘What will we eat?

What will we drink?

What will we wear?’

The gentiles

Strive for all these things.

Your heavenly Father

Knows

That you need

All these things.

But strive first

For the kingdom!

Strive

For his righteousness!

Then all these things

Will be given

To you as well.”

 

μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε λέγοντες· Τί φάγωμεν; ἤ· Τί πίωμεν; ἤ· Τί περιβαλώμεθα;

πάντα γὰρ ταῦτα τὰ ἔθνη ἐπιζητοῦσιν· οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος ὅτι χρῄζετε τούτων ἁπάντων.

ζητεῖτε δὲ πρῶτον τὴν βασιλείαν καὶ τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ, καὶ ταῦτα πάντα προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν.

 

Once again, Luke, chapter 12:29-31, has a similar Jesus saying, indicating a common Q source.  The same theme continues.  They should not be worried or anxious (μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε λέγοντες).  Why are they anxious about what to eat (Τί φάγωμεν), to drink (ἤ Τί πίωμεν), or to wear (ἤ·Τί περιβαλώμεθα)?  Those are the kind of questions that gentiles ask about (πάντα γὰρ ταῦτα τὰ ἔθνη ἐπιζητοῦσιν).  Matthew continued his attack on the gentile, non-Jewish people.  Their heavenly Father knew about everything that they needed (οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος ὅτι χρῄζετε τούτων ἁπάντων).  Thus, they should seek or strive first (ζητεῖτε δὲ πρῶτον) for the kingdom (τὴν βασιλείαν) and his righteousness (καὶ τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ).  Then all these other things would be taken care of for them (καὶ ταῦτα πάντα προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν).  A couple of manuscripts say kingdom of God (βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ), instead of just the kingdom, but that is not in the main manuscripts.  Matthew always used the kingdom of heaven, not the kingdom of God.

Do not worry (Mt 6:25-6:25)

“Therefore,

I tell you!

‘Do not worry

About your life!

Do not worry

About what you shall eat!

Do not worry

About what you shall drink!

Do not worry

About your body!

What you shall put on?

Is not life

More than food?

Is the body

More than clothing?’”

 

Διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν, μὴ μεριμνᾶτε τῇ ψυχῇ ὑμῶν τί φάγητε, ἢ τί πίητε μηδὲ τῷ σώματι ὑμῶν τί ἐνδύσησθε· οὐχὶ ἡ ψυχὴ πλεῖόν ἐστιν τῆς τροφῆς καὶ τὸ σῶμα τοῦ ἐνδύματος;

 

Once again, Luke, chapter 12:22-23, has a similar Jesus saying, indicating a common Q source.  Matthew has Jesus begin with his solemn saying (λέγω ὑμῖν) that if they were to serve God only (Διὰ τοῦτο) as just explained, then they did not have to be worried or anxious (μὴ μεριμνᾶτε).  They should not worry about their life (τῇ ψυχῇ ὑμῶν), their food (τί φάγητε) or their drink (ἢ τί πίητε).  They should not worry about their body (μηδὲ τῷ σώματι ὑμῶν) and what to wear (τί ἐνδύσησθε).  Their life was more than food (οὐχὶ ἡ ψυχὴ πλεῖόν ἐστιν τῆς τροφῆς).  Their body was more than clothes (καὶ τὸ σῶμα τοῦ ἐνδύματος).  If they were serving God, and not wealth, they would not have to worry about life, food, drink, or clothes.  Life and the body were more important than these incidentals of life.

Herod was annoyed and frightened (Mt 2:3-2:4)

“When King Herod heard this,

He was frightened.

All of Jerusalem

Was troubled

With him.

King Herod called together

All the chief priests,

As well as the scribes

Of the people.

He inquired of them

Where the Christ

Was to be born.”

 

ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἡρῴδης ἐταράχθη, καὶ πᾶσα Ἱεροσόλυμα μετ’ αὐτοῦ, καὶ συναγαγὼν πάντας τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ γραμματεῖς τοῦ λαοῦ ἐπυνθάνετο παρ’ αὐτῶν ποῦ ὁ Χριστὸς γεννᾶται.

 

When the old King Herod heard this (ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἡρῴδης) from the magi, he was frightened, troubled, and annoyed (ἐταράχθη), since he did not have a new born son.  He might have worried about his own sons, since his oldest son Archelaus would become the ethnarch of the tetrarchy of Judea, while Herod Antipas would become tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, when he died.  In fact, the whole town of Jerusalem (πᾶσα Ἱεροσόλυμα μετ’ αὐτοῦ) was troubled also, because they had not heard anything about a new king.  Thus, King Herod assembled all the chief priests and the scribes (συναγαγὼν πάντας τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ γραμματεῖς τοῦ λαοῦ) in Jerusalem to find out (ἐπυνθάνετο) where this new anointed king might have been born (αὐτῶν ποῦ ὁ Χριστὸς γεννᾶται).  Interesting enough, Matthew has the new child called Χριστὸς, the anointed one.  King Herod probably gathered the great Jewish Sanhedrin to discuss this matter.  Herod himself was from Edom and not really a traditional Jew, but had converted to Judaism, so that his knowledge of Jewish traditions was weak.

The dream of Joseph (Mt 1:20-1:20)

“But just when he resolved

To do this,

An angel of the Lord

Appeared to him

In a dream.

Saying.

‘Joseph!

Son of David!

Do not be afraid

To take Mary

As your wife.

The child conceived

In her is

From the Holy Spirit.”

 

ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου κατ’ ὄναρ ἐφάνη αὐτῷ λέγων Ἰωσὴφ υἱὸς Δαυείδ, μὴ φοβηθῇς παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαν τὴν γυναῖκά σου, τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ Πνεύματός ἐστιν Ἁγίου·

 

Joseph had resolved (αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος) to put away Mary, instead of taking her as his wife. Then an angel of the Lord (ἄγγελος Κυρίου) appeared to him in a dream (ὄναρ ἐφάνη αὐτῷ). This is somewhat reminiscent of Joseph in Egypt, who interpreted dreams, but said that only God could tell them what they meant in Genesis, chapters 40-41. The various Israelite prophets often got their oracle messages in dreams. Notice that it is an angel of the Lord, “Κυρίου.” There will be no mention of Yahweh in the New Testament, since the Greek Old Testament had translated “Yahweh” into “Lord.” However, the sense was that this was God, the Father, the God of the Old Testament. Angels were the messengers of God, especially in the Book of Tobit, chapter 5, where the angel Raphael appeared to him. This angel goes unnamed here, not like the angel Gabriel of Luke, chapter 1. This angel told Joseph, the son of David, not to be afraid (μὴ φοβηθῇς) to take Mary (παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαν) as his wife (τὴν γυναῖκά σου). He had nothing to be worried about. Thus, God, via his angel, was trying to reassure Joseph that everything would be alright. This angel then told Joseph that the child that had been conceived in her (ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν) was from the Holy Spirit (ἐκ Πνεύματός ἐστιν Ἁγίου). In a somewhat awkward phrasing, this text said the conception was from a Spirit that is holy rather than a Holy Spirit as earlier in this text. This shows a developing sense of the divine Holy Spirit.

The prophet Habakkuk (Dan 14:33-14:34)

“Now the prophet Habakkuk

Was in Judea.

He had made a stew.

He had broken bread

Into a bowl.

He was going

Into the field

To take it

To the reapers.

But the angel

Of the Lord

Said to Habakkuk.

‘Take the dinner

That you have

To Babylon,

To Daniel,

In the lions’ den.’”

Who is this prophet Habakkuk? It is not clear whether he was one of the minor prophets with the same name. Here, he is a prophet in Judea. Since the minor prophets were already known, this may be an attempt to connect the two prophets, Habakkuk and Daniel together. Anyway, he had some stew and bread that he was bringing to the workers reaping in the field, when an angel of the Lord appeared to him. This unnamed angel told Habakkuk to bring his dinner to Daniel in the lion’s den in Babylon. That would be quite a task since foot travel was the normal form of transportation between Judea and Babylon. Once again, there is an emphasis on eating. I would; think that the last thing that Daniel was worried about in the lion’s den would be food.

The king is troubled about Daniel (Dan 6:14-6:14)

“When the king,

Heard the charge,

He was very much distressed.

He was determined

To save Daniel.

Until the sun went down,

He made every effort

To rescue him.”

The king, on the other hand, was not too worried about his decree. When he heard the charges against Daniel, he was a little upset and concerned about him. He was determined to save Daniel from the lions. He tried everything to figure out how to rescue Daniel. Finally, the sun set. With that, so did Daniel’s chances of help dim.