Matthew 19:1-12, Across the Jordan; teaching on divorce (7/22/14)
The Chronological Gospel –
Jesus on the Road Again
|Matthew 19:1-12, Across the Jordan; teaching on divorce|
|Mark 10:17, Matthew 19:17-19, Mark 10:20-27, The rich young ruler ...|
|Matthew 19:27-28, Mark 10:29-31, Matthew 20:1-16, ... and follow-up comments on his question|
|Mark 10:32, Matthew 20:18-19, Luke 18:34, Jesus heads back toward Jerusalem|
|Matthew 20:20, Mark 10:35, Matthew 20:21, Mark 10:37-45, The Sons of Thunder on the road|
|Mark 10:46, Luke 18:36-37, Mark 10:47-51, Luke 18:42-43, Healing a blind man near Jericho|
|Luke 19:1-10, Salvation of Zacchaeus, Jericho|
|Luke 19:11-28, A parable at Zacchaeus’s place? Or on the road?|
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Sometimes it’s clear that one or another group of Pharisees was trying to put Jesus into a position where, no matter what he said, he would offend someone. For example, when the Pharisees and Herodians approached Jesus together with a question about taxes (Matthew 22), “yes” would offend Pharisees, and “no” would offend Herodians.
Other times, I can believe that some Pharisees just wanted to get an opinion about some difficult question from Jesus as a well-known rabbi. How your translator renders Matthew 19:3 will probably affect your thoughts about these Pharisees’ motives. Be aware that the verb peirazo
can mean examine
as well as test, tempt, assay,
or, as Weymouth renders is, put to the proof
. Various translations use various English words here. Read the context, make up your own mind, and try not to be too dogmatic about someone else’s motives.
Random Walk in a Gallery of Religious Art, Step 32: Matthew 19:13-15, Christ and the Children, by Pietro Benvenuti (7/14/15)
Mark 10:17, Matthew 19:17-19, Mark 10:20-27, The rich young ruler ... (7/24/14)
It turns out that while you are reading the Bible for yourself, you need to make time to read art books for yourself! The Gamble Bible calls this “Jesus Blesses the Little Children, by P. Benevenuti.” Several websites want to sell me a copy of it, called, “Christ and the Children by Peitro Benevenuti.” The Bible in Art, by Walter Shaw Sparrow, says it’s “Jesus Christ Receiving Little Children,” by Pietro Benvenuti (which is apparently the correct spelling), and that it resides in Florence in the Academy of Fine Arts. These may seem like trivial differences, but they do act as a reminder not to believe everything we read about the Bible or anything else without some homework of our own.
How many of us have never heard the story of Jesus taking the little children in his arms and blessing them? What a lovely picture, and how often it has been depicted in art! The story is only four verses in Mark, and even less in Matthew and Luke, but we all know it.
Benvenuti (1769 – 1844) gives us a lovely illustration the scene. Most painters put this incident out in the countryside, which seems to be a little more scriptural, although I do like Benvenuti’s pretty Greek building. Even though Jesus has his arm around the little boy, the disciple on the left is holding his garment away from the children on the left. Probably he doesn’t want them to get any jam on it. The mom on the left, like moms everywhere, is trying to keep order among her children as they wait their turn. I can imagine being her. Like me, the women are wearing modern clothing; Jesus and the disciples are not. Probably it’s just too much of a stretch for the viewer to imagine being Jesus or one of the disciples.
Previous Step. Next Step.
“Jesus Christ Receiving Little Children” by Pietro Benvenuti,
from the Gamble family Bible, now in the private collection
of Regina Hunter. Photography by Daryl Lee.
Two points of conventional wisdom were that rich-and-healthy = blessed-by-God and following-all-the-details-of-the-Law = righteous = blessed-by-God. Jesus has told quite a number of parables portraying the righteous, law-keeping Pharisees as being in trouble with God. Now he tells the rich young man (who also keeps all the Law) that his wealth is a burden to him, and he comments to the disciples that the wealthy are going to have a hard time being saved. They are astonished. If neither the wealthy nor the followers of the Law are saved, who on earth can
7 As He went out to resume His journey, there came a man running up to Him, who knelt at His feet and asked, “Good Rabbi, what am I to do in order to inherit the Life of the Ages?”
Matthew 19:27-28, Mark 10:29-31, Matthew 20:1-16, ... and follow-up comments on his question (7/25/14)
17 “Why do you ask me,” He replied, “about what is good? There is only One who is truly good. But if you desire to enter into Life, keep the Commandments.”
18 “Which Commandments?” he asked. Jesus answered, “‘THOU SHALT NOT KILL;’ ‘THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY;’ ‘THOU SHALT NOT STEAL;’ ‘THOU SHALT NOT LIE IN GIVING EVIDENCE;’
19 ‘HONOUR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER’; AND ‘THOU SHALT LOVE THY FELLOW MAN AS MUCH AS THYSELF.’”
20 “Rabbi,” he replied, “all these Commandments I have carefully obeyed from my youth.”
21 Then Jesus looked at him and loved him, and said, “One thing is lacking in you: go, sell all you possess and give the proceeds to the poor, and you shall have riches in Heaven; and come and be a follower of mine.”
22 At these words his brow darkened, and he went away sad; for he was possessed of great wealth.
23 Then looking round on His disciples Jesus said, “With how hard a struggle will the possessors of riches enter the Kingdom of God!”
24-25 The disciples were amazed at His words. Jesus, however, said again, “Children, how hard a struggle is it for those who trust in riches to enter the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”
26 They were astonished beyond measure, and said to one another, “Who then *can* be saved?”
27 Jesus looking on them said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for everything is possible with God.”
The disciples were astonished when Jesus told the rich young ruler, who had always obeyed the Law, to sell everything he had and follow Jesus. Peter, the bluntest spokesman for the group, asks him: “What’s in it for us? We already have
left everything to follow you. What reward are we
going to get?”
Jesus’ answer is double-edged. First he assures them of rich rewards, which of course we all like. And then he tells them a parable that says their reward is no greater than that of any other Christian. What? I –
an eighth-generation Methodist and a Christian since I was about eight years old – I
get nothing more than some newbie with a deathbed confession??? No. Thanks be to God, we both get the same
27 Then Peter said to Jesus, “See, *we* have forsaken everything and followed you; what then will be *our* reward?”
Mark 10:32, Matthew 20:18-19, Luke 18:34, Jesus heads back toward Jerusalem (7/28/14)
28 “I solemnly tell you,” replied Jesus, “that in the New Creation, when the Son of Man has taken His seat on His glorious throne, all of you who have followed me shall also sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel.
29-30 “In solemn truth I tell you,” replied Jesus, “that there is no one who has forsaken house or brothers or sisters, or mother or father, or children or lands, for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, but will receive a hundred times as much now in this present life – houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, lands – and persecution with them – and in the coming age the Life of the Ages.
31 But many who are now first will be last, and the last, first.”
1-2 “For the Kingdom of the Heavens is like an employer who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard, and having made an agreement with them for a shilling a day, sent them into his vineyard.
3-5 About nine o’clock he went out and saw others loitering in the market-place. To these also he said, “‘You also, go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ “So they went. Again about twelve, and about three o’clock, he went out and did the same. And going out about five o’clock he found others loitering, and he asked them, “‘Why have you been standing here all day long, doing nothing?’
7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they replied. “‘You also, go into the vineyard,’ he said.
8 “When evening came, the master said to his steward, “‘Call the men and pay them their wages. Begin with the last set and finish with the first.’
9-10 “When those came who had begun at five o’clock, they received a shilling apiece; and when the first came, they expected to get more, but they also each got the shilling.
11-12 So when they had received it, they grumbled against the employer, saying, “‘These who came last have done only one hour’s work, and you have put them on a level with us who have worked the whole day and have borne the scorching heat.’
13-15 “‘My friend,’ he answered to one of them, ‘I am doing you no injustice. Did you not agree with me for a shilling? Take your money and go. I choose to give this last comer just as much as I give you. Have I not a right to do what I choose with my own property? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last shall be first, and the first last.”
Years ago, I learned of the unexpected and untimely death of a colleague at another lab. I sent an email to our mutual colleagues, who were spread out over another 11 labs. I put in the subject line, “Very bad news. Please prepare yourself before reading.” A short while later, one of them called and said, “There’s no way I could have prepared myself for that.”
Jesus tried his best to prepare his disciples for his coming death. He knew, and they knew, that the authorities wanted him dead. He knew, and they knew, that it was dangerous for him to return to Jerusalem. He told them he was going to die, but they didn’t understand it. Some translations seem to imply that they couldn’t understand it because the meaning was deliberately withheld from them, but I think the explanation is much simpler: there was no way they could prepare themselves for that.
32 They were still on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were full of wonder, and some, though they followed, did so with fear. Then, once more calling to Him the Twelve, He began to tell them what was about to happen to Him.
Matthew 20:20, Mark 10:35, Matthew 20:21, Mark 10:37-45, The Sons of Thunder on the road (7/29/14)
18-19 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and there the Son of Man will be betrayed to the High Priests and Scribes. They will condemn Him to death, and hand Him over to the Gentiles to be made sport of and scourged and crucified; and on the third day He will be raised to life.”
34 Nothing of this did they understand. The words were a mystery to them, nor could they see what He meant.
Fellow-reader Larry L. had a wonderful insight into this passage last Sunday. He noticed that the mother of James and John was a “helicopter mother,” hovering around her children and speaking to the boss to make sure that they would be successful. Larry said, correctly, that she is asking that they get a big promotion.
The usual take on drinking Jesus’ cup and being baptized with Jesus’ baptism is that he is referring to his own crucifixion and death. I’m unsure. James was the first disciple to be martyred, and that would fit. Jesus spoke to them using the plural form of “you,” however, and John lived to be a very old man and was the only disciple who died of natural causes, as far as we know.
20, 35 Then the mother of the sons of Zabdi came to Him with her sons, and knelt before Him to make a request of Him. Then James and John, the sons of Zabdi, came up to Him and said, “Rabbi, we wish you would grant us whatever request we make of you.”
Mark 10:46, Luke 18:36-37, Mark 10:47-51, Luke 18:42-43, Healing a blind man near Jericho (7/30/14)
21, 37 “What is it you desire?” He asked.
“Command,” she replied, “that these my two sons may sit one at your right hand and one at your left in your Kingdom.”
“Allow us,” they replied, “to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left hand, in your glory.”
38 “You know not,” said He, “what you are asking. Are you able to drink out of the cup from which I am to drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am to be baptized?”
39, 40 “We are able,” they replied.
“Out of the cup,” said Jesus, “from which I am to drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I am to be baptized you shall be baptized; but as to sitting at my right hand or at my left, that is not mine to give: it will be for those for whom it is reserved.”
41 The other ten, hearing of it, were at first highly indignant with James and John.
42-44 Jesus, however, called them to Him and said to them, “You are aware how those who are deemed rulers among the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men make them feel their authority; but it is not to be so among you. No, whoever desires to be great among you must be your servant; and whoever desires to be first among you must be the bondservant of all.
45 For the Son of Man also did not come to be waited upon, but to wait on others, and to give His life as the redemption-price for a multitude of people.”
Quick! Raise your hand if you know where Jericho is!
Jericho is in the northeastern part of E3 on our map
, west of the Jordan River. Jericho is the town that Joshua fit the battle at, according to Joshua 6. It may be the oldest continuously occupied city in the world, according to Wikipedia. Jericho certainly has a rich history, and this week we read about two important events that occurred there. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, and the blind Bartimaeus calls out to him using the Messianic title, “Son of David.” (Bartimaeus was probably accompanied by another blind man, whose name we don’t know; see Matthew 20:29-30.)
46 They came to Jericho; and as He was leaving that town – Himself and His disciples and a great crowd – Bartimaeus (the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting by the way-side.
Luke 19:1-10, Salvation of Zacchaeus, Jericho (7/31/14)
36 He heard a crowd of people going past, and inquired what it all meant.
37 “Jesus the Nazarene is passing by,” they told him.
47 Hearing that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out, “Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me.”
48 Many angrily told him to leave off shouting; but he only cried out all the louder, “Son of David, have pity on me.”
49 Then Jesus stood still. “Call him,” He said. So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said; “rise, he is calling you.”
50 The man flung away his outer garment, sprang to his feet, and came to Jesus.
51 “What shall I do for you?” said Jesus. “Rabboni,” replied the blind man, “let me recover my sight.”
42 “Recover your sight,” said Jesus: “your faith has cured you.”
43 No sooner were the words spoken than the man regained his sight and followed Jesus, giving glory to God; and all the people, seeing it, gave praise to God.
We all learned the story of Zacchaeus in Sunday School, so the only news here is that it seems to have happened while Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem for the last time. Probably you already understood that. Jesus said on several occasions that he was looking for sinners and not the righteous, who didn’t need to be looked for. Just remember that when we are begrudging someone else’s salvation, we are not
among the righteous!
Luke 19:11-28, A parable at Zacchaeus’s place? Or on the road? (8/1/14)
Either late in his visit with Zaccheaus or shortly after he left, Jesus told a parable about the responsibilities of people who have money. Remember that Zacchaeus was a tax collector, which meant that he did have money, some of which he had likely gained by extortion. He repented and promised to pay back four times anything he had come by wrongly. Jesus told this parable in a couple of different versions (see Matthew 25); this is the grimmer version in which the king is rejected by his people. So wealth was on Jesus’ mind, and Jerusalem was on his mind, when he told the Parable of the Pounds.
More of The Chronological Gospel
Birth Announcements and Early Lives of Jesus and John the Baptist
Early Ministries of Jesus and John the Baptist
Jesus’ Early Ministry
Jesus’ Galilean Ministry
The Sermon on the Mount
The Sermon on the Plain
John the Baptist
Signs and Parables
Miracles and Mission Trips
Bread of Life
Miracles and Meanings
Transfiguration and TeachingsTo Jerusalem for the Festival of Tabernacles
Some Results of Luke’s Research
More of Luke’s Research
On the Road Again
The Raising of Lazarus
Holy Week: Palm Sunday and Monday
Holy Week: Tuesday, Parables and Questions
Holy Week: Wednesday Part 1, Discussions
Holy Week: Wednesday Part 2, Be Ready!
Holy Week: Thursday Part 1,
Jesus' Celebration of the Passover
Holy Week: Thursday Part 2,
Jesus' Farewell Discourse
Holy Week: Friday Part 1,
Jesus' Arrest and Two Informal Trials
Holy Week: Friday Part 2,
Holy Week: Friday, Part 3, and Saturday, Jesus' Death and Burial
The Empty Tomb
Final Appearances of Jesus Prior to Pentecost
Copyright 2014 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. Scripture readings are from the Weymouth New Testament (1912); caps indicate quotations from the Old Testament. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
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