Matthew 11:2-3, Luke 7:20-23, John’s question from prison (4/11/14)
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)|
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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.
24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
Matthew 11:16-30, Denunciation of unrepentant cities (4/15/14)
25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts.
26-27 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’
28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
12-14 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.
15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
29-30 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)
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:
- Herod Archelaus (tetrarch of Judea, Mathew. 2:22);
- Herod Antipas, also known as Herod the king, Herod the Tetrarch, or plain Herod (tetrarch of Galilee), mentioned quite a number of times; and
- Philip (tetrarch of Ituraea, Luke 3:1), mostly mentioned as the ex-husband of Herod Antipas’s wife Herodias (who was the granddaughter of Herod the Great and the niece of both her husbands).
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.
21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee.
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)
22-23 For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.”
24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.”
25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her.
27-28 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother.
29, 12b-13 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb, and they went and told Jesus. Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.
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).
20-21 Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
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22-23 Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?”
24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”
25-27 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.
28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.
30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
31-32 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
33-35 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.
36-37 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
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). 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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