The Chronological Gospel –

Jesus on the Road Again

Matthew 19:1-12, Across the Jordan; teaching on divorce
Random Walk in a Gallery of Religious Art, Step 32: Mark 10:13-16, Jesus receives little children
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?

More of The Chronological Gospel

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Matthew 19:1-12, Across the Jordan; teaching on divorce (7/22/14)

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)

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.
Christ Jesus with the children. Click to enlarge. See below for provenance.
“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.
Mark 10:17, Matthew 19:17-19, Mark 10:20-27, The rich young ruler ... (7/24/14)

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 be?

Matthew 19:27-28, Mark 10:29-31, Matthew 20:1-16, ... and follow-up comments on his question (7/25/14)

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 rich reward!

Mark 10:32, Matthew 20:18-19, Luke 18:34, Jesus heads back toward Jerusalem (7/28/14)

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.

Matthew 20:20, Mark 10:35, Matthew 20:21, Mark 10:37-45, The Sons of Thunder on the road (7/29/14)

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.

Mark 10:46, Luke 18:36-37, Mark 10:47-51, Luke 18:42-43, Healing a blind man near Jericho (7/30/14)

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.)

Luke 19:1-10, Salvation of Zacchaeus, Jericho (7/31/14)

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
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
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); 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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