There is a strong defense of taking care of your parents at the beginning of the chapter. We commented about that in the past children were much more active about caring for parents, now we turn to institutions to do this. It is much like our response to caring for the less fortunate people we encounter. If there is an institution we can direct them to, we do so, rather than having to deal with them personally. Is this what Jesus intended for us, to create institutions that handle these problems? It appears that some of the Pharisees were directing funds that should have been going to their parents to the church and maybe to themselves indirectly, and Jesus told them this was wrong. Al asked where the money was going. Maybe it is like the Vatican today? They seem to have a wealth of resources that should be directed to people in need. But on the other hand, Jesus said when Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, anointed him with oils and lotions and Judas objected and said that the money spent on the expensive perfume should have gone to the poor. Jesus replied, that she should be allowed to honor him and then said the poor are always with us. This was on the way to Jerusalem where he was killed on the cross, and is recorded in John 12:1-8. An internet reference to all of the interactions between Jesus, and Mary, Martha, and Lazarus is in http://www.womeninthebible.net/2.3.Martha_and_Mary.htm
Eldon also pointed out the reference at the end of chapter 12 in which Jesus was told that his mother and brothers were standing outside waiting to speak to him and he said “Who are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Yet here in Matthew, he says that one should obey the 4th commandment and honor thy father and mother and implying that the Pharisees were not doing this.
Then we moved on to the Canaanite woman who asked Jesus to heal her daughter and he said that he came to minister to lost sheep of Israel. At what point does he say that he has come not only for Israel but for all people. Maybe the great commission. We discussed then our role in helping others. Mark talked of people who kept coming back for handouts. Do we continue to give even when it appears we are possibly being taken advantage of by the individuals? What would Jesus have us do. Should we put conditions on our gifts? I will help you but only once, then you need to take care of yourself. I will give you something, but don’t you dare use it for alcohol or cigarettes or pets. How many other conditions to we establish and did Jesus do some of the same kind of thing to people. Do our institutions, both private and public relieve of these responsibilities to help the poor and unfortunate?
The chapter concluded with the feeding of the 4,000 whom Jesus felt responsible. He stretched 7 loaves and a few fishes to feed them. We didn’t discuss this very much as we had just talked about the feeding of the 5,000 in a previous session.
This chapter starts with the death of John at the hand of Herod Antipas (20 BC -40 AD). Mark introduced some information about the various rulers named Herod. Herod the Great ruled Judea as King and rebuilt the second temple in Jerusalem. There were some 8 men named Herod who ruled over various areas in the middle eastern area now called either Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Syria. Herod Antipas ordered John the Baptist’s head at the behest of his daughter by wife, Salome. Salome was the daughter of Herod II (27 BC – 33AD). There is a rather complicated genealogy of the Herods. Herodias was married to Herod II, the son of Herod the great and had a daughter Salome. Herod Anipater II was Herod the Great’s eldest son and he objected to the marriage above, so Herod the Great put Herod Antipator ahead of Herod II in the line of succession, however Herod Antipator was executed when he plotted to poison Herod the Great. This could have led to Herod II being in line to succeed Herod the great, but Herod II’s mother knew of the poison plot and didn’t do anything to stop it.
Mark also commented about the numerology in the Bible. The lesson last Sunday had the number of talents given the servants as 5, 2, and 1. There were 5 loaves and 2 fishes at the feeding of the 5000 in this chapter. There were 12 baskets left over and there were 12 disciples and 12 tribes of Israel. There is a lot of this type of numerology in the Bible. Although there were some questions about the flow of the narrative in Matthew, it does appear that that despite meeting the outline of this book by the author there is evidence of the flow. In chapter 13, the author’s goal was to discuss the Kingdom of God and it was done with various parables from Jesus while teaching in Nazareth, his home town. We also read about Jesus feeling unappreciated in Nazareth as he repeated the saying from Jeremiah.
We then confronted the miracle of Jesus walking on water and Peter walking to meet him and then starting to sink. Jesus used it as another lesson in faith, but questions were raised about whether or not this could have happened. Some say that it was at the edge of the water and there were rocks that he was stepping on to get to the boat. Mark said, God created all the galaxies and we question being able to walk on water? This is one of the mysteries of God and that is what keeps us coming. Aristotle wrote about faith and doubt and Paul Tillich renewed this discussion. Aristotle wrote that Doubt is the beginning of wisdom. Faith and doubt are two sides of the same coin.
There was an early explanation of why Jesus spoke in parables so much. Part of the explanation is that it is the way the rabbis of that day taught the people. The whole lesson was about trying to describe the kingdom of God. Matthew is the only gospel that really tries to prepare for the kingdom of God and others do not mention it in the way that Matthew does. Matthew faces the problem of coming home and lacking the respect of the locals. The people here were unwilling to embrace his wisdom and miraculous powers. Jesus made the point that he did not (would not) act because of their unbelief. If there is a hostility of unbelief, they will not receive an attestation of His power. The kingdom of God is surprising and is quite counter intuitive to the way that many of us think. We think in terms of earthly kingdoms or regimes and how they must act. But here we have a kingdom that doesn’t act at all like we are used to seeing a king act. It is not even like the past kings of Israel.
I was gone for this meeting, but will report later.