(1) THE STORY OF JESUS
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John rearranged by Subject & in Date order
18 - OPPONENTS OF JESUS:
HIS CONFRONTATIONS WITH RELIGIOUS THINKING AND BEHAVIOUR
Opponents of Jesus and anti-Semitism
Sections 1-22 of Part 18 bring together all the relevant verses from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - in that order.
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Much of the opposition to Jesus takes place in Jerusalem, also the scene of his arrest, trials, execution and resurrection. A map of Jerusalem including the Bethany area follows:
|The City of Jerusalem and its Eastern Approaches|
Opponents of Jesus & Anti-Semitism - In parts of the New Testament and especially some of the following passages, the issue of anti-Semitism has to be faced. More particularly anti-Judaism, as the Semites include many of the peoples of the Middle East such as the Arabs.
But first the facts - Jesus was a Jew, the apostles were Jews, he was followed by Jews, preached his Gospel mainly to Jews and all identified authors of the New Testament other than possibly Luke were Jews.
Jesus was thus not anti-Jewish! His confrontations were not with the people of his race and culture and religion, but with the thinking and behaviour of some Jewish religious and secular leaders and their followers. However, by the time the Gospels were mostly written and especially John's, the Jewish authorities had persecuted the small Christian sect, martyred a number of Christian leaders, and the Jewish revolt of AD66-73 had been ruthlessly suppressed by the Romans and Jerusalem destroyed. The destruction of the Jewish capital and the Temple must have confirmed in the Gospel writer's eyes, that Jesus was right and the Jewish authorities wrong.
The Gospels therefore, no matter how strident their tone can be (and especially John, who refers to "Jews" where the other Gospels would be more specific - Sadducees, Pharisees, High Priest etc.) are not anti-Jewish. Instead they are against the dogma and hypocrisy of man-made religion, and for freedom in relationship with God's son, Jesus Christ.
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Year One - c AD27-28
18.1 JESUS DRIVES THE BUYERS AND SELLERS FROM THE TEMPLE FOR THE FIRST TIME
- Commentators generally consider this a separate incident from the one reported by Matthew, Mark and Luke. In John's Gospel, it marks the start of Jesus' ministry, while in the three Synoptic Gospels it comes during Jesus' last week before his death and resurrection:
John 2:12-25 - After this incident (changing the water into wine at Cana in Galilee), Jesus, accompanied by his mother, his brothers and his disciples, went down to Capernaum (also in Galilee) and stayed there a few days. The Jewish Passover was approaching and Jesus made the journey up to Jerusalem. In the Temple he discovered cattle and sheep dealers and pigeon-sellers, as well as money-changers sitting at their tables. So he made a rough whip out of rope and drove the whole lot of them, sheep and cattle as well, out of the Temple. He sent the coins of the money-changers flying and turned their tables upside down. Then he said to the pigeon-dealers, "Take those things out of here. Don't you dare turn my Father's house into a market!" His disciples remembered the scripture - 'Zeal for your house has eaten me up'.
As a result of this, the Jews said to him, "What sign can you give us to justify what you are doing?"
"Destroy this temple," Jesus retorted, "and I will rebuild it in three days!"
To which the Jews replied, "This Temple took forty-six years to build, and you are going to rebuild it in three days?"
He was, in fact, speaking about the temple of his own body, and when he was raised from the dead the disciples remembered what he had said to them and that made them believe both the scripture and what Jesus had said.
While he was in Jerusalem at Passover-time, during the festivities many believed in him as they saw the signs that he gave. But Jesus, on his side, did not trust himself to them - for he knew them all. He did not need anyone to tell him what people were like: he understood human nature.
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18.2 JESUS MEETS NICODEMUS THE PHARISEE - "YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN"
John 3:1-21 - One night (after Jesus had driven the buyers and sellers from the Temple in Jerusalem) Nicodemus, a leading Jew and a Pharisee, came to see Jesus.
"Master," he began, "we realise that you are a teacher who has come from God. Obviously no one could show the signs that you show unless God were with him."
"Believe me," returned Jesus, "a man cannot even see the kingdom of God without being born again."
"And how can a man who's getting old possibly be born?" replied Nicodemus. "How can he go back into his mother's womb and be born a second time?"
"I assure you," said Jesus, "that unless a man is born from water and from spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit gives birth to spirit: you must not be surprised that I told you that all of you must be born again. The wind blows where it likes, you can hear the sound of it but you have no idea where it comes from and where it goes. Nor can you tell how a man is born by the wind of the Spirit."
"How on earth can things like this happen?" replied Nicodemus.
"So you are a teacher of Israel," said Jesus, "and you do not recognise such things? I assure you that we are talking about something we really know and we are witnessing to something we have actually observed, yet men like you will not accept our evidence. Yet if I have spoken to you about things which happen on this earth and you will not believe me, what chance is there that you will believe me if I tell you about what happens in Heaven? No one has ever been up to Heaven except the Son of Man who came down from Heaven. The Son of Man must be lifted above the heads of men - as Moses lifted up that serpent in the desert - so that any man who believes in him may have eternal life. For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that every one who believes in him shall not be lost, but should have eternal life. You must understand that God has not sent his Son into the world to pass sentence upon it, but to save it - through him. Any man who believes in him is not judged at all. It is the one who will not believe who stands already condemned, because he will not believe in the character of God's only Son. This is the judgment - that light has entered the world and men have preferred darkness to light because their deeds are evil. Anybody who does wrong hates the light and keeps away from it, for fear his deeds may be exposed. But anybody who is living by the truth will come to the light to make it plain that all he has done has been done through God."
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18.3 JESUS IS REJECTED IN NAZARETH FOR THE FIRST TIME -
"THE PROPHET WITHOUT HONOUR IN HIS OWN TOWN"
Luke 4:16-30 - Then (after his return to Galilee from Judea and Samaria) he came to Nazareth where he had been brought up and, according to his custom, went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read the scriptures and the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book and found the place where these words are written - 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord'.
Then he shut the book, handed it back to the attendant and resumed his seat. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed upon him and he began to tell them, "This very day this scripture has been fulfilled, while you were listening to it!"
Everybody noticed what he said and was amazed at the beautiful words that came from his lips, and they kept saying, "Isn't this Joseph's son?"
So he said to them, "I expect you will quote this proverb to me, 'Cure yourself, doctor!' Let us see you do in your own country all that we have heard that you did in Capernaum!" Then he added, "I assure you that no prophet is ever welcomed in his own country. I tell you the plain fact that in Elijah's time, when the heavens were shut up for three and a half years and there was a great famine through the whole country, there were plenty of widows in Israel, but Elijah was not sent to any of them. But he was sent to Sarepta, to a widow in the country of Sidon. In the time of Elisha the prophet, there were a great many lepers in Israel, but not one of them was healed - only Naaman, the Syrian."
But when they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was furiously angry. They sprang to their feet and drove him right out of the town, taking him to the brow of the hill on which it was built, intending to hurl him down bodily. But he walked straight through the whole crowd and went on his way.
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Year Two - c AD28-29
18.4 THE FIRST SERIOUS OPPOSITION TO THE CLAIMS OF JESUS TO BE THE SON OF GOD
John 5:16-47 - It was because Jesus did such things (as heal the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda) on the Sabbath day that the Jews persecuted him. But Jesus' answer to them was this, "My Father is still at work and therefore I work as well."
This remark made the Jews all the more determined to kill him, because not only did he break the Sabbath but he referred to God as his own Father, so putting himself on equal terms with God.
Jesus makes his tremendous claim
Jesus said to them, "I assure you that the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. What the Son does is always modelled on what the Father does, for the Father loves the Son and shows him everything that he does himself, Yes, and he will show him even greater things than these to fill you with wonder. For just as the Father raises the dead and makes them live, so does the Son give life to any man he chooses. The Father is no man's judge: he has put judgment entirely into the Son's hands, so that all men may honour the Son equally with the Father. The man who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him. I solemnly assure you that the man who hears what I have to say and believes in the one who has sent me has eternal life. He does not have to face judgment; he has already passed from death into life. Yes, I assure you that a time is coming, in fact has already come, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and when they have heard it they will live! For just as the Father has life in himself, so by the Father's gift, the Son also has life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is Son of Man. No, do not be surprised - the time is coming when all those who are dead and buried will hear his voice and out they will come - those who have done right will rise again to life, but those who have done wrong will rise to face judgment!
"By myself I can do nothing. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is true because I do not live to please myself but to do the will of the Father who sent me. You may say that I am bearing witness about myself, that therefore what I say about myself has no value, but I would remind you that there is one who witnesses about me and I know that his witness about me is absolutely true. You sent to John (the Baptist), and he testified to the truth. Not that it is man's testimony that I accept - I only tell you this to help you to be saved. John certainly was a lamp that burned and shone, and for a time you were willing to enjoy the light that he gave. But I have a higher testimony than John's. The work that the Father gave me to complete, yes, these very actions which I do are my witness that the Father has sent me. This is how the Father who has sent me has given his own personal testimony to me.
"Now you have never at any time heard what he says or seen what he is like. Nor do you really believe his word in your hearts, for you refuse to believe the man who he has sent. You pore over the scriptures for you imagine that you will find eternal life in them. And all the time they give their testimony to me! But you are not willing to come to me to have real life! Men's approval or disapproval means nothing to me, but I can tell that you have none of the love of God in your hearts. I have come in the name of my Father and you will not accept me. Yet if another man comes simply in his own name, you will accept him. How on earth can you believe while you are for ever looking for each other's approval and not for the glory that comes from the one God? There is no need for you to think that I have come to accuse you before the Father. You already have an accuser - Moses, in whom you put all your confidence! For if you really believed Moses, you would be bound to believe me; for is was about me that he wrote. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how can you believe what I say"?
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18.5 THE DISCIPLES PICK CORN ON THE SABBATH - "THE SABBATH IS MADE FOR MAN"
(Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5)
Matthew 12:1-8 - It happened then (following the comparison between Jesus and John the Baptist) that Jesus passed through the cornfields on the Sabbath day. His disciples were hungry and began picking the ears of wheat and eating them. But the Pharisees saw them do it.
"There, you see," they remarked to Jesus, "your disciples are doing what the Law forbids them to do on the Sabbath."
"Haven't any of you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?" replied Jesus, "- how he went into the house of God (to the high priest Ahimelech - 1 Samuel 21:1-6) and ate the presentation loaves, which he and his followers were not allowed to eat since only priests can do so?
"Haven't any of you read in the Law that every Sabbath day priests in the Temple can break the Sabbath and yet remain blameless? I tell you that there is something more important than the Temple here. If you had grasped the meaning of the scripture 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice', you would not have been so quick to condemn the innocent! For the Son of Man is master even of the Sabbath."
Mark 2:23-28 - One day (after Jesus had called Matthew to be a disciple ....) he happened to be going through the cornfields on the Sabbath day. And his disciples, as they made their way along, began to pick the ears of corn. The Pharisees said to him, "Look at that! Why should they do what is forbidden on the Sabbath day?"
Then he spoke to them.
"Have you never read what David did, when he and his companions were hungry? Haven't you read how he went into the house of God when Abiathar (the son of Ahimelech) was High Priest, and ate the presentation loaves (... according to 1 Samuel, it was Ahimelech who actually gave David the bread), which nobody is allowed to eat, except the priests - and gave some of the bread to his companions? The Sabbath," he continued, "was made for man's sake; man was not made for the sake of the Sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is master even of the Sabbath."
Luke 6:1-5 - One Sabbath day (as in Mark), as Jesus happened to be passing through the cornfields, his disciples began picking the ears of corn, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. Some of the Pharisees remarked, "Why are you doing what the Law forbids men to do on the Sabbath day?"
Jesus answered them and said, "Have you never read what David and his companions did when they were hungry? How he went into the house of God, took the presentation loaves, ate some bread himself and gave some to his companions, even though the Law does not permit anyone except the priests to eat it?"
Then he added, "The Son of Man is master even of the Sabbath."
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18.6 JESUS AND JOHN THE BAPTIST COMPARED - "YET STILL THE PEOPLE WILL NOT REPENT"
(Matthew 11:2-24; Luke 7:18-35; 10:13-15)
Matthew 11:2-24 - (Jesus has sent out the twelve apostles to preach and heal .....) John the Baptist was in prison when he heard what Christ was doing, and he sent a message through his own disciples asking the question, "Are you the one who was to come or are we to look for somebody else?"
Jesus gave them this reply, "Go and tell John what you see and her - that blind men are recovering their sight, cripples are walking, lepers being healed, the deaf hearing, the dead being brought to life and the good news is being given to those in need. And happy is the man who never loses faith in me."
As John's disciples were going away Jesus began talking to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to look at? A reed waving in the breeze? No? Then what was it you went out to see? - a man dressed in fine clothes? But the men who wear fine clothes live in the courts of kings! But what did you really go to see - a prophet? Yes, I tell you, a prophet and far more than a prophet! This is the man of whom the scripture says - 'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you'.
"Believe me, no one greater than John the Baptist has ever been born of all mankind, and yet a humble member of the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.
"From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of Heaven has been taken by storm and eager men are forcing their way into it. For the Law and all the prophets foretold it till the time of John and - if you can believe it - John himself is the 'Elijah' who must come before the kingdom. The man who has ears to hear must use them.
"But how can I show what the people of this generation are like? They are like children sitting in the market-place calling out to their friends, 'We played at weddings for you but you wouldn't dance, and we played at funerals and you wouldn't cry!' For John came in the strictest austerity and people say, 'He's crazy!' Then the Son of Man came, enjoying life, and people say, 'Look, a drunkard and a glutton - the bosom-friend of the tax-collector and the sinner.' Ah, well, wisdom stands or falls by her own actions."
Jesus denounces apathy - and thanks God that simple men understand his message
Then Jesus began reproaching the towns where most of his miracles had taken place because their hearts were unchanged.
"Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! For if Tyre and Sidon had seen the demonstrations of God's power which you have seen they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Yet I tell you this, that it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.
"And as for you, Capernaum, are you on your way up to Heaven? I tell you will go hurtling down among the dead! If Sodom had seen the miracles that you have seen, Sodom would be standing today. Yet I tell you now that it will be more bearable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you."
Luke 7:18-35 - John's disciples reported all these happenings to him (such as Jesus raising the widow of Nain's dead son). Then he summoned two of them and sent them to the Lord with this message, "Are you the one who was to come, or are we to look for someone else?"
When the men came to Jesus, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to you with this message, 'Are you the one who was to come, or are we to look for someone else?'"
At that very time Jesus was healing many people of their diseases and ailments and evil spirits, and he restored sight to many who were blind. Then he answered them, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard. The blind are recovering their sight, cripples are walking again, lepers being healed, the deaf hearing, dead men are being brought to life again, and the good news is being given to those in need. And happy is the man who never loses his faith in me."
Jesus emphasises the greatness of John - and the greater importance of the kingdom of God
When these messengers had gone back, Jesus began to talk to the crowd about John.
"What did you go out into the desert to look at? Was it a reed waving in the breeze? Well, what was it you went out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? But the men who wear fine clothes live luxuriously in palaces. But what did you really go to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, a prophet and far more than a prophet! This is the man of whom the scripture says, 'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you'.
Believe me, no one greater than John has ever been born, and yet a humble member of the kingdom of God is greater than he.
"All the people, yes, even the tax-collectors, when they heard John, acknowledged God and were baptised by his baptism. But the Pharisees and the experts in the Law frustrated God's purpose for them, for they refused John's baptism.
"What can I say that the men of this generation are like - what sort of men are they? They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling out to each other, 'We played at weddings for you, but you wouldn't dance, and we played at funerals for you, and you wouldn't cry!' For John the Baptist came in the strictest austerity and you say he is crazy. Then the Son of Man came, enjoying life, and you say, 'Look, a drunkard and a glutton, a bosom-friend of the tax-collector and the outsider!' Ah, well, wisdom's reputation is entirely in the hands of her children!"
Luke 10:13-15 - Luke reports these similar words in Matthew later in his own Gospel:
"Alas for you, Chorazin, and alas for you, Bethsaida! For if Tyre and Sidon had seen the demonstrations of God's power that you have seen, they would have repented long ago and sat in sackcloth and ashes. It will be better for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you! As for you, Capernaum, are you on your way up to heaven? I tell you will go hurtling down among the dead!"
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18.7 JESUS IS ACCUSED OF USING THE POWER OF THE DEVIL TO HEAL
(Matthew 12:22-32; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 11:14-23; 12:8-10)
Matthew 12:22-32 - Then (after Jesus had healed the man with the shrivelled hand) a devil-possessed man who could neither see nor speak was brought to Jesus. He healed him, so that the dumb man could both speak and see. At this the whole crowd went wild with excitement, and people kept saying, "Can this be the Son of David?"
The Pharisees draw an evil conclusion, and Jesus rebukes them
But the Pharisees on hearing this remark said to each other, "This man is only expelling devils because he is in league with Beelzebub, the prince of devils."
Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is bound to collapse, and no town or household divided against itself can last for long. If it is Satan who is expelling Satan, then he is divided against himself - so how do you suppose that his kingdom can continue? And if I expel devils because I am an ally of Beelzebub, what alliance do your sons make when they do the same thing? They can settle that question for you! But if I am expelling devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has swept over you unawares! How do you suppose anyone could get into a strong man's house and steal his property unless he first tied up the strong man? But if he did that, he could ransack his whole house.
"The man who is not on my side is against me, and the man who does not gather with me is really scattering. That is why I tell you that men may be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the (Holy) Spirit cannot be forgiven. A man may say a word against the Son of Man and be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven either in this world or in the world to come!
Mark 3:22-30 - (Jesus has just appointed his twelve apostles; his family hear that people are saying "he must be mad" ......) The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying that he was possessed by Beelzebub, and that he drove out devils because he was in league with the prince of devils. So Jesus called them to him and spoke to them in a parable - "How can Satan be the one who drives out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot last either. And if Satan leads a rebellion against Satan - his days are certainly numbered. No one can break into a strong man's house and steal his property, without first tying up the strong man hand and foot. But if he did that, he could ransack the whole house.
"Believe me, all men's sins can be forgiven and their blasphemies. But there can never be any forgiveness for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. That is an eternal sin."
He said this because they were saying, "He is in the power of an evil spirit."
Luke 11:14-23; 12:8-10 - Another time (in Luke, after teaching about prayer) , Jesus was expelling an evil spirit which was preventing a man from speaking, and as soon as the evil spirit left him, the dumb man found his speech, to the amazement of the crowds.
But some of them said, "He expels these spirits because he is in league with Beelzebub, the chief of the evil spirits."
Others among them, to test him, tried to get a sign from Heaven out of him. But he knew what they were thinking and told them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is doomed and a disunited household will collapse. And if Satan disagrees with Satan, how does his kingdom continue? - for I know you are saying that I expel evil spirits because I am in league with Beelzebub. But if I do expel devils because I am an ally of Beelzebub, who is your own sons' ally when they do the same thing? They can settle that question for you. But if it is by the finger of God that I am expelling evil spirits, 'then the kingdom of God has swept over you unawares'!
"When a strong man armed to the teeth guards his own house, his property is in peace. But when a stronger man comes and conquers him, he removes all the arms on which he pinned his faith and divides the spoils among his friends.
"Anyone who is not with me is against me, and the man who does not gather with me is really scattering.
(Chapter 12:8 ....) I tell you that every man who publicly acknowledges me, I, the Son of Man, will acknowledge in the presence of the angels of God. But the man who publicly disowns me will find himself disowned before the angels of God!
"Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but there is no forgiveness for the man who speaks evil against the Holy Spirit."
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18.8 THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES DEMAND A SIGN FROM JESUS
(Matthew 12:38-42; Luke 11:29-32)
Matthew 12:38-42 - Then (after Jesus had been accused of being in league with the devil) some of the scribes and Pharisees said, "Master, we want to see a sign from you." But Jesus told them, "It is an evil and unfaithful generation that craves for a sign, and no sign will be given to it - except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was in the belly of that great sea-monster for three days and nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and nights. The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation in the judgment and will condemn it. For they did repent when Jonah preached to them, and you have more than Jonah's preaching with you now! The Queen of the South will stand up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it. For she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and you have more than the wisdom of Solomon with you now!
Luke 11:29-32 - Then (after the accusation of being in league with the devil ....) as the people crowded closely around him, he continued, "This is an evil generation! It looks for a sign and it will be given no sign except that of Jonah. Just as Jonah was a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign to this generation. When the judgement comes, the Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation and she will condemn them. For she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and there is more than the wisdom of Solomon with you now! The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and will condemn it. For they did repent when Jonah preached to them, and there is something more than Jonah's preaching with you now!"
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18.9 JESUS CRITICISES THE HYPOCRISY OF THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES
- Much of this criticism is repeated in Matthew's Gospel after Jesus' final entry into Jerusalem:
Luke 11:37-54 - While he was talking (about the demand for a sign), a Pharisee invited him (Jesus) to dinner. So he went into his house and sat down at table. The Pharisee noticed with some surprise that he did not wash before the meal. But the Lord said to him, "You Pharisees are fond of cleaning the outside of your cups and dishes, but inside yourselves you are full of greed and wickedness! Have you no sense? Don't you realise that the one who made the outside is the maker of the inside as well? If you would only make the inside clean by doing good to others, the outside things become clean as a matter of course! But alas for you Pharisees, for you pay out your tithe of mint and rue and every little herb, and lose sight of the justice and love of God. Yet these are the things you ought to have been concerned with - it need not mean leaving the lesser duties undone. Yes, alas for you Pharisees, who love the front seats in the synagogues and having men bow down to you in public! Alas for you, for you are like unmarked graves - men walk over your corruption without knowing it is there."
Jesus denounces the learned for obscuring the truth
Then one of the experts in the Law said to him, "Master, when you say things like this, you are insulting us as well."
And he returned, "Yes, and I do blame you experts in the Law! For you pile up back-breaking burdens for men to bear, but you yourselves will not raise a finger to lift them. Alas for you, for you build memorial tombs for the prophets - the very men whom your fathers murdered. You show clearly enough how you approve your father's actions. They did the actual killing and you put up a memorial to it. That is why the wisdom of God has said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles; some they will kill and some they will persecute!' So that the blood of all the prophets shed from the foundation of the earth, from Abel to Zachariah who died between the altar and the sanctuary, shall be charged to this generation!
"Alas for you experts in the Law, for you have taken away the key of knowledge. You have never gone in yourselves and you have hindered everyone else who was at the door!"
And when he left the house, the scribes and the Pharisees began to regard him with bitter animosity and tried to draw him out on a great many subjects, waiting to pounce on some incriminating remark.
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18.10 JESUS AND HIS OWN FAMILY - THE INITIAL DIVISIONS BETWEEN THEM
(Mark 3:20-21; Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21)
"He must be mad"
Mark 3:20-21 - Then (after calling the twelve apostles) he went indoors, but again such a crowd collected that it was impossible for them even to eat a meal. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, for people were saying, "He must be mad!"
"Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?
Matthew 12:46-50 - While he was still talking to the crowds (after the Pharisees had demanded a sign), his mother (Mary) and his brothers happened to be standing outside wanting to speak to him. Somebody said to him, "Look, you mother and your brothers are outside wanting to speak to you." But Jesus replied to the one who told him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?"; then with a gesture of his hand towards his disciples he went on, "There are my mother and brothers! For whoever does the will of my Heavenly Father is brother and sister and mother to me."
Mark 3:31-35 - Then (as in Matthew) his mother and his brothers arrived. They stood outside the house and sent a message asking him to come out to them. There was a crowd sitting round him when the message was brought telling him, "Your mother and your brothers are outside looking for you."
Jesus replied, "And who are really my mother and my brothers?"
And he looked round at the faces of those sitting in a circle about him.
"Look!" he said, "my mother and my brothers are here. Anyone who does the will of God is brother and sister and mother to me."
Luke 8:19-21 - Then (in Luke's Gospel, as Jesus continued teaching in parables) his mother and his brothers arrived to see him, but could not get near him because of the crowd. So a message was passed to him, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside wanting to see you."
To which he replied, "My mother and my brothers? That means those who listen to God's message and obey it."
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Year Three - c AD29-30
18.11 JESUS IS REJECTED IN NAZARETH FOR THE SECOND TIME
(Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6a)
Matthew 13:53-58 - When Jesus (at the end of Matthew's Third Discourse, "Parables of the kingdom of Heaven") had finished these parables he left the place (Capernaum), and came into his own country (of Nazareth). Here he taught the people in their own synagogue, till in their amazement they said, "Where does this man get his wisdom and these powers? He's only the carpenter's son. Isn't Mary his mother, and aren't James, Joseph, Simon and Judas his brothers? And aren't all his sisters living here with us? Where did he get all this?" And they were deeply offended with him.
But Jesus said to them, "No prophet goes unhonoured except in his own country and in his own home!"
And he performed very few miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Mark 6:1-6a - Then (according to Mark, after Jesus has raised Jairus' daughter) he left that district (Capernaum) and came into his own native town followed by his disciples. When the Sabbath day came, he began to teach in the synagogue. The congregation was astonished and remarked, "Where does he get all this? What is this wisdom that he has been given - and what about these marvellous things that he can do? He's only the carpenter, Mary's son, the brother of James, Joses, Judas and Simon; and his sisters are living here with us!" And they were deeply offended with him. But Jesus said to them, "No prophet goes unhonoured - except in his native town or with his own relations or in his own home!"
And he could do nothing miraculous there apart from laying his hands on a few sick people and healing them; their lack of faith astonished him.
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18.12 JESUS AND THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES - "WHAT REALLY MAKES A PERSON CLEAN"
(Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23)
Matthew 15:1-20 - Then (after Jesus had fed the 5,000) some of the scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem came and asked Jesus, "Why do your disciples break our ancient tradition and eat their food without washing their hands properly?"
"Tell me," replied Jesus, "why do you break God's commandment through your tradition? For God said, 'Honour your father and your mother', and 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death'.
But you say that if a man tells his parents, 'Whatever use I might have been to you is now given to God', then he owes no further duty to his parents. And so your tradition empties the commandment of God of all its meaning. You hypocrites! Isaiah describes you beautifully when he said: 'These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'."
Superficial and true cleanliness
Then he called the crowd to him and said, "Listen, and understand this thoroughly! It is not what goes into a man's mouth that makes him common or unclean. It is what comes out of a man's mouth that makes him unclean."
Later his disciples came to him and said, "Do you know that the Pharisees are deeply offended by what you said?"
"Every plant which my Heavenly Father did not plant will be pulled up by the roots," returned Jesus. "Let them alone. They are blind guides, and when one blind man leads another blind man they will both end up in the ditch!"
"Explain this parable to us," broke in Peter.
"Are you still unable to grasp things like that?" replied Jesus.
"Don't you see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and then out of the body altogether? But the things that come out of a man's mouth come from his heart and mind, and it is they that really make a man unclean. For it is from a man's mind that evil thoughts arise - murder, adultery, lust, theft, perjury and blasphemy. These are the things which make a man unclean, not eating without washing his hands properly!"
Mark 7:1-23 - And now (as in Matthew) Jesus was approached by the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem. They had noticed that his disciples ate their meals with "common" hands - meaning that they had not gone through a ceremonial washing. (The Pharisees, and indeed all the Jews, will never eat unless they have washed their hands in a particular way, following a traditional rule. And they will not eat anything bought in the market until they have first performed their "sprinkling". And there are many other things which they consider important, concerned with the washing of cups, jugs and basins.) So the Pharisees and the scribes put this question to Jesus, "Why do your disciples refuse to follow the ancient tradition, and eat their bread with 'common' hands?"
Jesus replied, "You hypocrites, Isaiah described you beautifully when he wrote - 'This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'.
You are so busy holding on to the traditions of men that you let go the commandment of God!"
Then he went on, "It is wonderful to see how you can set aside the commandment of God to preserve your own tradition! For Moses said, 'Honour your father and your mother' and 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death'.
But you say, 'if a man says to his father or his mother, Korban (or Corban - Hebrew for a gift or an offering dedicated to God, again explained by Mark for his readers) - meaning, I have given God whatever duty I owed to you', then he need not lift a finger any longer for his father or mother, so making the word of God invalid for the sake of the tradition which you hold. And this is typical of much of what you do."
Then he called the crowd close to him again, and spoke to them, "Listen to me now, all of you, and understand this, There is nothing outside a man which can enter into him and make him 'common'. It is the things which come out of a man that make him 'common'!"
Later, when he had gone indoors away from the crowd, his disciples asked him about this parable.
"Oh, are you as dull as they are?" he said. "Can't you see that anything that goes into a man from outside cannot make him 'common' or unclean? You see, it doesn't go into his heart, but into his stomach, and passes out of the body altogether, so that all food is clean enough. But," he went on, "whatever comes out of a man, that is what makes a man 'common' or unclean. For it is from inside, from men's hearts and minds, that evil thoughts arise - lust, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, arrogance and folly! All these evil things come from inside a man and make him unclean!"
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18.13 THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES DEMAND MORE SIGNS FROM JESUS
(Matthew 16:1-4; Mark 8:11-12; Luke 12:54-56)
Matthew 16:1-4 - (Jesus has fed the 4,000 .....) Once the Pharisees and the Sadducees arrived together to test him, and asked him to give them a sign from Heaven. But he replied, "When the evening comes you say, 'Ah, fine weather - the sky is red.' In the morning you say, 'There will be a storm today, the sky is red and threatening.' Yes, you know how to interpret the look of the sky but you have no idea how to interpret the signs of the times! A wicked and unfaithful age insists on a sign; and it will not be given any sign at all but that of the prophet Jonah." And he turned on his heel and left them.
Mark 8:11-12 - Now (after feeding the 4,000) the Pharisees came out and began an argument with him, wanting a sign from Heaven. Jesus gave a deep sigh, and then said, "What makes this generation want a sign? I can tell you this, they will certainly not be given one!"
Luke 12:54-56 - Then (in Luke after warning and encouraging his disciples about various matters) he said to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once that it is going to rain, and so it does. And when you feel the south wind blowing, you say that it is going to be hot, and so it is. You frauds! You know how to interpret the look of the earth and the sky. Why can't you interpret the meaning of the times in which you live?"
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18.14 THE YEAST OF THE PHARISEES
(Matthew 16:5-12; Mark 8:13-21; Luke 12:1)
Matthew 16:5-12 - Then (after the Pharisee's demand for a sign) his disciples came to him on the other side of the lake (the Sea of Galilee), forgetting to bring any bread with them. "Keep your eyes open," said Jesus to them, "and be on your guard against the 'yeast' of the Pharisees and Sadducees!" But they were arguing with each other, and saying, "We forgot to bring the bread." When Jesus saw this he said to them, "Why all this argument among yourselves about not bringing any bread, you little-faiths? Don't you understand yet, or have you forgotten the five loaves and the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up afterwards; or the seven loaves and the four thousand and how many baskets you took up then? I wonder why you don't understand that I wasn't talking about bread at all - I told you to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they grasped the fact that he had not told them to be beware of yeast in the ordinary sense but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Mark 8:13-21 - Then (as in Matthew) he left them and got aboard the boat again, and crossed the lake.
The disciples had forgotten to take any food and had only one loaf with them in the boat. Jesus spoke seriously to them, "Keep your eyes open! Be on your guard against the 'yeast' of the Pharisees and the 'yeast' of Herod!" And this sent them into an earnest consultation among themselves because they had brought no bread. Jesus knew it and said to them, "Why all this discussion about bringing no bread? Don't you understand or grasp what I say even yet? Are you like the people who 'having eyes, do not see, and having ears, do not hear'? Have your forgotten - when I broke five loaves for five thousand people, how many baskets full of pieces did you pick up?"
"Twelve," they replied.
"And then there were seven loaves for four thousand people, how many baskets of pieces did you pick up?"
"Seven," they said.
"And does that still mean nothing to you?" he said.
Luke 12:1 - Meanwhile (in Luke's account, after Jesus has criticised the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees), the crowds had gathered in thousands, so that they were actually treading on each other's toes, and Jesus, speaking primarily to his disciples, said, "Be on your guard against yeast - I mean the yeast of the Pharisees, which is sheer pretence."
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18.15 JESUS AND THE SAMARITANS - HIS REJECTION BY A VILLAGE IN SAMARIA
- Although this story is found in Luke chapter 9, the incident is believed to have taken place after Jesus left Galilee for the last time and around the time he healed the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19):
Luke 9:51-56 - Now as the days before he should be taken back into Heaven were running out, he resolved to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers in front of him. They set out and entered a Samaritan village to make preparations for him. But the people there refused to welcome him because he was obviously intending to go to Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Master, do you want us to call down fire from heaven and burn them all up?"
But Jesus turned and reproved them ....
(some manuscripts include verses 55b-56a) - "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them,"
.... and they all went on to another village.
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18.16 THE OPPOSITION TO JESUS CONTINUES; THE AUTHORITIES TRY TO ARREST HIM
John 7:1-53; 8:1 - After this (feeding the 5,000, walking on water, and teaching about himself as the bread of life), Jesus moved about in Galilee but decided not to do so in Judea since the Jews were planning to take his life. A Jewish festival, "The feast of the tabernacles", was approaching and his brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples can see what you are doing, for nobody works in secret if he wants to be known publicly. If you are going to do things like this, let the world see what you are doing." For not even his brothers had any faith in him. Jesus replied by saying, "It is not yet the right time for me, but any time is right for you. You see, it is impossible for you to arouse the world's hatred, but I provoke hatred because I show the world how evil its deeds really are. No, you go up to the festival; I shall not go up now, for it is not yet time for me to go." And after these remarks he remained where he was in Galilee.
Later, after his brothers had gone up to the festival, he went up himself, not openly but as though he did not want to be seen. Consequently, the Jews kept looking for him at the festival and asking "Where is that man?" And there was an undercurrent of discussion about him among the crowds. Some would say, "He is a good man", others maintained that he was not, but that he was "misleading the people". Nobody, however, spoke openly about him for fear of the Jews.
But at the very height of the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began teaching. The Jews were amazed and remarked, "How does this man know all this - he has never been taught?"
Jesus replied to them, "My teaching is not really mine but comes from the one who sent me. If anyone wants to do God's will, he will know whether my teaching is from God or whether I merely speak on my own authority. A man who speaks on his own authority has an eye for his own reputation. But the man who is considering the glory of God who sent him is a true man. There can be no dishonesty about him.
"Did not Moses give you the Law? Yet not a single one of you obeys the Law. Why are you trying to kill me?"
The crowd answered, "You must be mad! Who is trying to kill you?"
Jesus answered them, "I have done one thing and you are all amazed at it. Moses gave you circumcision (not that it came from Moses originally but from your forefathers), and you will circumcise a man even on the Sabbath. If a man receives the cutting of circumcision on the Sabbath to avoid breaking the Law of Moses, why should you be angry with me because I have made a man's body perfectly whole on the Sabbath? You must not judge by the appearance of things but by the reality!"
Some of the people of Jerusalem, hearing him talk like this, were saying, "Isn't this the man whom they are trying to kill? It's amazing - he talks quite openly and they haven't a word to say to him. Surely our rulers haven't decided that this really is Christ! But then, we know this man and where he comes from (Nazareth) - when Christ comes, no one will know where he comes from."
Jesus makes more unique claims
Then Jesus, in the middle of his teaching, called out in the Temple, "So you know me and know where I have come from? But I have not come of my own accord; I am sent by one who is true and you do not know him! I do know him, because I come from him and he has sent me here."
Then they attempted to arrest him, but actually no one laid a finger on him because the right moment had not yet come. Many of the crowd believed in him and kept on saying, "When Christ comes, is he going to show greater signs than this man?"
The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering these things about him, and they and the chief priests (of the Temple) sent officers to arrest him. Then Jesus said, "I shall be with you only a little while longer and then I am going to him who sent me. You will look for me then but you will never find me. You cannot come where I shall be."
This made the Jews say to each other, "Where is he going to hide himself so that we cannot find him? Surely he's not going to our refugees (Jews of the Dispersion or Diaspora) among the Greeks to teach Greeks? What does he mean when he says, 'You will look for me and you will never find me' and 'You cannot come where I shall be'?"
Then, on the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If any man is thirsty, he can come to me and drink! The man who believes in me, as the scripture says, will have rivers of living water flowing from his inmost heart." (Here he was speaking about the Spirit which those who believe in him would receive. The Holy Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.) When they heard these words, some of the people were saying, "This really is the Prophet." Others said, "This is Christ!" But some said, "And does Christ come from Galilee? Don't the scriptures say that Christ will be descended from David, and will come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?"
So the people were in two minds about him - some of them wanted to arrest him, but so far no one laid hands on him.
Then the officers returned to the Pharisees and chief priests, who said to them, "Why haven't you brought him?"
"No man ever spoke like that!" they replied.
"Has he pulled the wool over your eyes, too?" retorted the Pharisees. "Have any of the authorities or any of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, who know nothing about the Law, is damned anyway!"
One of their number, Nicodemus (the one who had previously been to see Jesus), remarked to them, "But surely our Law does not condemn the accused without hearing what he has to say, and finding out what he has done?"
"Are you a Galilean, too?" they answered him. "Look where you will - you won't find any prophet comes out of Galilee!"
So they broke up their meeting and went home,
(Verse 8.1 ....) while Jesus went off to the Mount of Olives.
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18.17 THE WOMAN CAUGHT IN ADULTERY - "HE WHO IS WITHOUT SIN"
- This beautiful story, although considered genuine, is either not included in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts or placed at the end of John or in Luke's Gospel:
John 8:2-11 - Early next morning he returned to the Temple (after the authorities failed to arrest him) and the entire crowd came to him. So he sat down and began to teach them. But the scribes and Pharisees brought in to him a woman who had been caught in adultery. They made her stand in front, and then said to him, "Now, master, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. According to the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women to death. Now, what do you say about her?"
They said this to test him, so that they might have some good grounds for an accusation. But Jesus stooped down and began to write with his finger in the dust on the ground. But as they persisted in their questioning, he straightened himself up and said to them, "Let the one among you who has never sinned throw the first stone at her." Then he stooped down again and continued writing with his finger on the ground. And when they heard what he said, they were convicted by their own consciences and went out, one by one, beginning with the eldest until they had all gone.
Jesus was left alone, with the woman still standing where they had put her. So he stood up and said to her, "Where are they all - did no one condemn you?"
And she said, "No one, sir."
"Neither do I condemn you," said Jesus to her. "Go home and do not sin again."
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18.18 THE OPPOSITION TO JESUS INCREASES - "BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, I AM!"
John 8:12-59 - Later (after dealing with the woman caught in adultery), Jesus spoke to the people again and said, "I am the light of the world. The man who follows me will never walk in the dark but will live his life in the light."
This made the Pharisees say to him, "You are testifying to yourself - your evidence is not valid."
Jesus answered, "Even if I am testifying to myself, my evidence is valid, for I know where I have come from and I know where I am going. But as for you, you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You are judging by human standards, but I am not judging anyone. Yet if I should judge, my decision would be just, for I am not alone - the Father who sent me is with me. In your Law, it is stated that the witness of two persons is valid. I am one testifying to myself and the second witness to me is the Father who sent me."
"And where is this father of yours?" they replied.
"You do not know my Father," returned Jesus, "any more than you know me: if you had known me, you would have known him."
Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the Temple treasury.
Yet no one arrested him, for his time had not yet come.
Later, Jesus spoke to them again and said, "I am going away and you will try to find me, but you will die in your sins. You cannot come where I am going."
This made the Jews say, "Is he going to kill himself, then? Is that why he says, "You cannot come where I am going'?"
"The difference between us," Jesus said to them, "is that you come from below and I am from above. You belong to this world but I do not. That is why I told you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am who I am, you will die in your sins."
Then they said, "Who are you?"
"I am what I have told you I was from the beginning," replied Jesus. "There is much in you that I could speak about and condemn. But he who sent me is true and I am only speaking to this world what I myself have heard from him."
They did not realise that he was talking to them about the Father. So Jesus resumed, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realise that I am who I say I am, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak simply as my Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me now: the Father has never left me alone for I always do what pleases him." And even while he said these words, many people believed in him.
Jesus speaks of personal freedom
So Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, "If you are faithful to what I have said, you are truly my disciples. And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free!"
"But we are descendants of Abraham," they replied, "and we have never in our lives been any man's slaves. How can you say to us, 'You will be set free'?"
Jesus returned, "Believe me when I tell you that every man who commits sin is a slave. For a slave is no permanent part of a household, but a son is. If the Son, then, sets you free, you are really free! I know that you are descended from Abraham, but some of you are looking for a way to kill me because you can't bear my words. I am telling you what I have seen in the presence of my Father, and you are doing what you have seen in the presence of your father."
"Our father is Abraham!" they retorted.
"If you were the children of Abraham, you would do the sort of things Abraham did. But in fact, at this moment, you are looking for a way to kill me, simply because I am a man who has told you the truth that I have heard from God. Abraham would never have done that. No, you are doing your father's work."
"We are not illegitimate!" they retorted. "We have one Father - God."
"If God were really your Father," replied Jesus, "you would have loved me. For I came from God, and I am here. I did not come of my own accord - he sent me, and I am here. Why do you not understand my words? It is because you cannot hear what I am really saying. Your father is the devil, and what you are wanting to do is what your father longs to do. He always was a murderer, and has never dealt with the truth, since the truth will have nothing to do with him. Whenever he tells a lie, he speaks in character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. And it is because I speak the truth that you will not believe me. Which of you can prove me guilty of sin? If I am speaking the truth, why is it that you do not believe me? The man who is born of God can hear these words of God and the reason why you cannot hear the words of God is simply this, that you are not the sons of God."
"How right we are," retorted the Jews, "in calling you a Samaritan, and mad at that!"
"No," replied Jesus, "I am not mad. I am honouring my Father and you are trying to dishonour me. But I am not concerned with my own glory: there is one whose concern it is, and he is the true judge. Believe me when I tell you that if anybody accepts my words, he will never see death at all."
"Now we know that you're mad," replied the Jews. "Why, Abraham died and the prophets, too, and yet you say, 'If a man accepts my words, he will never experience death!' Are you greater than our father, Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets - who are you making yourself out to be?"
"If I were trying to glorify myself," returned Jesus, "such glory would be worthless. But it is my Father who glorifies me, the very one whom you say is your God - though you have never known him. But I know him, and if I said I did not know him, I should be as much a liar as you are! But I do know him and I am faithful to what he says. As for your father, Abraham, his great joy was that he would see my coming. Now he has seen it and he is overjoyed."
"Look," said the Jews to him, "you are not fifty yet, and has Abraham seen you?"
"I tell you in solemn truth," returned Jesus, "before there was an Abraham, I AM!"
At this, they picked up stones to hurl at him, but Jesus disappeared and made his way out of the Temple.
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The Last Months - c AD29-30
18.19 THE OPPOSITION CONTINUES; AGAIN THE AUTHORITIES TRY TO ARREST HIM
John 10:19-42 - Once again (after Jesus had taught about the Good Shepherd), the Jews were in two minds about him because of these words, many of them remarking, "The devil's in him and he's insane. Why do you listen to him?"
But others were saying, "This is not the sort of thing a devil-possessed man would say! Can a devil make a blind man see?"
Then came the dedication festival at Jerusalem. It was winter-time and Jesus was walking about inside the Temple in Solomon's cloisters. So the Jews closed in on him and said, "How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense? If you really are Christ, tell us so straight out!"
"I have told you," replied Jesus, "and you do not believe it. What I have done in my Father's name is sufficient to prove my claim, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep recognise my voice and I know who they are. They follow me and I give them eternal life. They will never die and no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. And no one can tear anything out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are One."
Again the Jews reached for stones to stone him to death, but Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good things from the Father - for which of these do you intend to stone me?"
"We're not going to stone you for any good things," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy: because you, who are only a man, are making yourself out to be God."
"Is it not written in your own Law," replied Jesus, "'I have said you are gods'?
And if he called these men 'gods' to whom the word of God came (and the scripture cannot be broken), can you say to the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? If I fail to do what my Father does, then do not believe me. But if I do, even though you have no faith in me personally, then believe in the things that I do. Then you may come to know and realise that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."
And again they tried to arrest him, but he moved out of their reach.
Then Jesus went off again across the Jordan to the place where John had first baptised and there he stayed. A great many people came to him, and said, "John never gave us any sign but all that he said about this man was true.."
And in that place many believed in him.
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18.20 JESUS AND THE ANTAGONISM OF HEROD ANTIPAS
Luke 13:31-35 - Just then (as he taught about the broad and narrow ways) some Pharisees arrived to tell him, "You must get right away from here, for Herod (Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea) intends to kill you."
"Go and tell that fox," returned Jesus, "today and tomorrow I am expelling evil spirits and continuing my work of healing, and on the third day my work will be finished. But I must journey on today, tomorrow, and the next day, for it would never do for a prophet to meet his death outside Jerusalem!
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you murder the prophets and stone the messengers that are sent to you! How often have I longed to gather your children round me like a bird gathering her brood together under her wings, but you would never have it. Now, all that is left is yourselves, and your house. For I tell you that you will never see me again till the day when you cry, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'"
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18.21 THE PHARISEES AND PROSPERITY
Luke 16:14-15 - Now the Pharisees, who were very fond of money, heard all this (... the parable of the shrewd but dishonest manager) with a sneer. But he said to them, "You are the people who advertise your goodness before men, but God knows your hearts. Remember, there are things men consider perfectly splendid which are detestable in the sight of God!"
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18.22 THE PHARISEES AND DIVORCE
(Matthew 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12)
Matthew 19:1-12 - When Jesus had finished talking on these matters (at the end of Matthew's Fourth Discourse, "Greatness and Forgiveness"), he left Galilee and went on to the district of Judea on the far side of the Jordan (to Perea). Vast crowds followed him, and he cured them.
Then the Pharisees arrived with a test-question.
"Is it right," they asked, "for a man to divorce his wife on any grounds whatever?"
"Haven't you read," he answered, "that the one who created them from the beginning 'made them male and female' and said: 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?
So they are no longer two separate people but one. No man therefore must separate what God has joined together."
"Then why," they retorted, "did Moses command us to give a written divorce-notice and dismiss the woman?"
"It was because you knew so little of the meaning of love that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives! But that was not the original principle. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife on any grounds except her unfaithfulness and marries some other woman commits adultery."
His disciples said to him, "If that is a man's position with his wife, it is not worth getting married!"
"It is not everybody who can live up to this," replied Jesus, "- only those who have a special gift. For some are incapable of marriage from birth, some (such as eunuchs) are made incapable by the action of men, and some have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let the man who can accept what I have said accept it."
Mark 10:1-12 - Then (in Mark's Gospel, after healing the epileptic boy) he got up and left Galilee and went off to the borders of Judea and beyond the Jordan. Again great crowds assembled to meet him, and again, according to his custom, he taught hem. Then some Pharisees arrived to ask him this test-question.
"Is it right for a man to divorce his wife?"
Jesus replied by asking them, "What has Moses commanded you to do?"
"Moses allows men to write a divorce-notice and then to dismiss her," they said.
"Moses gave you that commandment," returned Jesus, "because you know so little of the meaning of love. But from the beginning of the creation, God 'made them male and female'. 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'.
So that in body they are no longer two people but one. That is why man must never separate what God has joined together."
On reaching the house, his disciples questioned him again about this matter.
"Any man who divorces his wife and marries another woman," he told them, "commits adultery against his wife. And if she herself divorces her husband and marries someone else, she commits adultery."
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Other confrontations and similar reactions to Jesus are included in the following Parts:
14.6 Healing the paralysed man 14.7 Healing the invalid at the pool of Bethesda 14.8 Healing the man with the shrivelled hand 14.12 The madman (or men) and the Gadarene pigs 14.21 Healing the man born blind who goes before the Pharisees 14.23 Healing the crippled woman 14.24 Healing the man with dropsy 14.25 Raising Lazarus from the dead 15.23 A parable, "The lost sheep" 17.2 Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well 17.5 Jesus, the bread of life 17.15 Jesus the good shepherd 17.20 Jesus, the way, the truth, the life 17.21 Jesus, the vine and the branches 17.22 Jesus and the Holy Spirit 17.23 Jesus prays for his disciples
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J.B.Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition, published by HarperCollins, is presented here with the kind permission of Mrs Vera Phillips and the J.B.Phillips estate