The Chronological Gospel –

John the Baptist

Matthew 11:2-3, Luke 7:20-23, John’s question from prison
Luke 7:24-28, Matthew 11:12-15, Luke 7:29-30, Jesus’ thoughts on John the Baptist
Matthew 11:16-30, Denunciation of unrepentant cities
Luke 7:36-50, Luke 8:1-3, Forgiveness and love
Mark 6:21-29, Matthew 14:12b-13, Death of John the Baptist
Mark 3:20-21, Matthew 12:22-37, Mark 3:30-35, Jesus’ sanity in question during a debate with the Pharisees (probably in Capernaum)

More of The Chronological Gospel

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Matthew 11:2-3, Luke 7:20-23, John’s question from prison (4/11/14)

Hmm. You probably already knew this, but it comes as quite a surprise to me! The disciples that John the Baptist sent to Jesus have to travel all the way from Jerusalem, where John was in prison, to Galilee. Jesus is somewhere in the vicinity of Nain, as we saw yesterday. Luke puts Jesus in Capernaum and Nain immediately before the messengers come. Matthew puts Jesus in Capernaum in Matthew 9:1 and then has him doing a few other things before today’s passage. Either way, he’s in Galilee, and John’s disciples had to travel for several days to get an answer and get back to John. John wasn’t just curious: he was determined to know whether Jesus was the Messiah or not!

My vague idea that Jesus was close to Jerusalem and that John’s disciples just popped out and back in an afternoon was clearly wrong. Read your Bible carefully, and don’t take my word for anything!


Luke 7:24-28, Matthew 11:12-15, Luke 7:29-30, Jesus’ thoughts on John the Baptist (4/14/14)

If you’ve been paying attention to the scripture references, you will have noticed that we aren’t able to interweave the Gospels and read each one straight through simultaneously. The four Gospels do not report events in the same order, which is one reason that no certain “chronology” of Jesus’ time on earth can be given. We’re just doing the best we can and trying to get some new insights, as I did when I discovered that Jesus was in Galilee when John’s disciples came to him.

Anyway, after John’s disciples leave, Jesus starts asking the crowd what they think about John the Baptist. I love the way he tries to get them to describe John by teasing them. “Did you go out to see a stalk of grass bent by the wind?” We don’t read their answer, but it had to be “no,” both because John certainly didn’t bend with the wind – if he had, he wouldn’t be in jail! – and because Jesus gives them another option. “Did you go out to see splendid clothes?” Of course not, because everyone who had heard of him knew he wore the simplest of clothing. “Well then, what did you go out to see??” Finally someone says, “A prophet.” Jesus not only agrees with that, but he says John is the greatest of the prophets, Elijah, who everyone knew would return before the coming of the Messiah.

Matthew 11:16-30, Denunciation of unrepentant cities (4/15/14)

Jesus continues to talk about John for a moment, contrasting John’s lifestyle with his own. “But no matter what either of us does,” he says, “people reject our message.” This leads into a denunciation of several cities in which Jesus had done miracles, but which did not repent. This passage reminds me of the book of Jonah. When Jonah preached to the Gentile city of Nineveh, everybody repented – the king, the court, the people, and the cattle repented and turned to God. Now Jesus has come to Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum – not only preaching but also doing mighty works – and many of the people there reject him. Jesus says that things are going to be real bad for them come Judgment Day, because even the Gentile cities of Tyre and Sidon, Sodom and Gomorrah would have repented if they had seen his miracles!

By the way, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum are all located near the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee. We have no idea what Jesus did in Chorazin, because this is the only time it’s mentioned.


Luke 7:36-50, Luke 8:1-3, Forgiveness and love (4/16/14)

In the beginning of Luke 7, Jesus was in Capernaum, and then he went to Nain, and then he was talking to crowds about three towns in Galilee, and then he went to Simon’s house. In Luke 8:3, Luke mentions several women who are with Jesus, including Mary of Magdala (a town in Galilee), and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s household manager. At this time, Herod was the Tetrarch in Galilee. So Luke puts this dinner firmly in Galilee. Shortly after the dinner, Luke includes the Parable of the Sower, which Jesus taught at the Sea of Galilee, according to both Matthew 13:1 and Mark 4:1.

I sort of always “thought” that Simon the Pharisee lived in Jerusalem, but I was wrong, which just goes to show that I hadn’t thought about it very carefully. Read your Bible carefully, and try to read 10 verses before and after the bit that you are currently interested in. If you are reading one of the Gospels, always read the parallel passages in the other Gospels, which you can find by using a concordance or the cross-references in your Bible. Or you can do what I did, and use the cross-references in e-Sword, which is available for free. Where Simon lived isn’t especially important, but it is important that we read carefully.


Mark 6:21-29, Matthew 14:12b-13, Death of John the Baptist (4/17/14)

How many men do you know named “Jim”? Three men named “Herod” are mentioned in the New Testament. Two of them are called “Herod the King” or “King Herod.” The first one, later known as “Herod the Great,” died in 4 BC. This is the one plotted against the infant Jesus and ordered the deaths of all the baby boys in Bethlehem. He (like all the Herods) was a puppet king under the Romans. When he died, Palestine was divided among three of his sons: You can see why it’s easy to get confused about who’s who in this family, so I could easily have some of this wrong. One thing is clear: Luke 9:7 says that the Herod who had John beheaded was Herod the Tetrarch.

Mark 3:20-21, Matthew 12:22-37, Mark 3:30-35, Jesus’ sanity in question during a debate with the Pharisees (probably in Capernaum) (4/18/14)

Have you ever heard the saying, “Jesus was either a lunatic, a liar, or the Son of God”? This saying is not recorded in the Bible; however, there were people during his own lifetime who thought he might be a lunatic, or at very least in need of some enforced quiet time. In today’s passage, both Jesus’ family and the Pharisees think he is out of his mind.

First let’s think about his family. Their relative John was preaching in the desert, attracting huge crowds, criticizing the establishment, jailed, and beheaded. Now Jesus is preaching in the desert, attracting huge crowds, criticizing the establishment, and .... You’ve got to have at least some sympathy for their feeling that he was out of his mind!

The Pharisees are a different story. They see a man who is working miracles of healing, and they conclude that he is possessed by a demon, that is, mentally ill (vss. 24, 30). This is not only morally wrong, it’s completely illogical, because demons cause illness, they don’t participate in curing illness! (Remember our study on demons which you can find here.) Jesus points out their errors of logic (vss. 25-30, 33-35) and their danger of condemnation for falsely attributing to demons the works of the Holy Spirit (vss. 31-32, 36-37).

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
Sabbath Controversies
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 Teachings
To Jerusalem for the Festival of Tabernacles
Some Results of Luke’s Research
Light
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, More Trials
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). 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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