The King of Stories -- Days of Courage and Turmoil and Peace

Introductory note from Jason Pratt: see here for the previous entry; and see here for the first entry of the series. (It explains what I'm doing, and how, and contains the Johannine prologue.)

Days of Courage and Turmoil and Peace

Now going back to Capernaum again during these days (says the Follower), people hear Jesus has come home.

And it happened on one of these days (says the Scholar) that He was teaching; and Pharisees and lawyers were sitting (with Him), having come out of the villages of Galilee, and of Judea, and Jerusalem. And there was power of the Lord for their healing. [Note: notice that it is the Pharisees and lawyers whom Jesus is hoping to 'heal' in this case.]

And immediately many (others) were gathered (adds the Follower), so that there absolutely was not any room (in His house), even at the door! And He was speaking the Word to them.

Now look! (say the Follower, Disciple and Scholar) Four men are bringing a paralyzed man lying on a cot, seeking to carry him in and put him before Jesus.

But finding no way to carry him in, because of the crowd, they carry him up on top of the house, removing the tiles; and scooping out a hole in the roof, they are lowering the cot on which the paralytic is laid--right down into the midst, in front of Jesus!

Seeing their faith, Jesus says: "Take courage, My son, and be comforted! Your sins are being forgiven!"

But some of the scribes and Pharisees sitting there began reasoning to themselves: "Why is this man speaking this way? He is blaspheming!--who can send away sins, but the One Who is God?"

Now Jesus, realizing in His Spirit that they are thinking this to themselves, turns straight to them and says: "What is this you are thinking? And why are you brooding evil in your hearts!?

"So, which is easier to say to this paralyzed man? 'Your sins are pardoned'? Or, 'Get up, pick up your pallet, and walk'!?

"But, so that you may be seeing the Son of Man has authority on earth to pardon sins..."

...He is saying to the paralytic: "Get up, pick up your pallet, and go home!"

And instantly, rising before them, picking up his cot, he went straight home, praising God.

Now the crowd outside was filled with fear, saying, "We have never seen things as baffling as this!"

But they also praised God--for giving such authority to men.


After this (probably the following morning), Jesus went out of His house again, going down to the lake (of Galilee); and the crowds followed Him.

Along the way, Jesus saw a man, a tax-gatherer named Matthew Levi, son of Alpheus, sitting in his tax booth; and staring at him, Jesus is saying to him, "Follow Me!"

And standing up, he leaves everything, and follows Him.


Now Jesus was teaching the crowd (says the Follower); and it happened (says the Scholar) that while the crowd was listening to the Word of God, pressing up around Him, He is standing by the lake of Gennesaret. [See first comment below for a footnote here.]

And He sees two boats beached on the lake shore; and the fishers, stepping off the boats, are rinsing the nets (having finished their fishing for the night).

Now, stepping into one of the boats, which was Simon's, He asks him (and Simon's brother Andrew, by later implication) to back out slightly from the land. And, being seated, He taught the crowds from the boat.

As He finishes speaking, He said to Simon, "Back up into the deep water, and let down your nets for a catch."

Simon, answering, said to Him: "Doctor, we worked hard all night and didn't even catch one fish. But, at your declaration, I will lower the nets." [Note: the Scholar has a minor habit of having characters, especially Peter, calling Jesus "Doctor".]

And doing this, they catch a vast multitude of fishes!

But their nets tore through, and they signaled to their partners to come and help them. Even then, both boats were filled so full, they were taking water over the edge!

Now seeing all this (and evidently once safely back on shore!), Simon Peter falls down at Jesus' knees, saying: "You must go away from me, for I am only a sinning man, O Lord!" For awe engulfs him, and all those with him, at the catch of fish they took; including James and John the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon's partners.

But Jesus said to Simon: "Fear not! From now on, you will be catching people alive!

"I will make you all fishers of men!" (the Follower and the Disciple agree He said to them...)


Now Matthew Levi prepares a great banquet for Jesus in his house (the Scholar, Disciple and Follower tell); and look! many tax-collectors and sinners, arriving, recline at the table with Jesus and His disciples.

Seeing this, some scribes of the Pharisees murmured toward His disciples: "Why is your rabbi eating with traitors and sinners...?"

But overhearing this, Jesus said toward them: "The strong and the whole have no need of the physician, but those who are sick! Now go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifices!' (as the Lord God said through the prophet Hosea) For I did not come to call the righteous to change their hearts, but sinners."

Now some disciples of John (the Baptist, currently imprisoned by Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee) had come (and some, such as Peter and his friends had now joined Jesus); so the scribes said toward Him: "We, and the disciples of John, are fasting frequently (probably twice a week, a normal Pharisee standard) and making petitions (i.e. specially praying to God during the fast, for the sake of which praying the fasting is made); yet your disciples are eating and drinking! Why is this?"

And Jesus said toward them: "The sons of the bridal chamber cannot be fasting as long as the groom of the bride is with them! As long as the bridegroom is with them, they cannot fast. But, the days will come when the groom is also taken away; and then they will be fasting--on that day."

And He spoke toward them (across the table?) a parable also: "No one rends a piece from a new cloak to sew as a patch on an old cloak--otherwise the new cloak will be rent, and the patch from the new won't agree with the old! And when the old is washed the unshrunken piece of new cloth will tear away, and so the old will be ruined as well.

"Nor does anyone drain fresh wine into old wineskins--otherwise the fresh wine will surely burst the wineskins, and it will be spilled and the old wineskins will perish. But they drain fresh wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.

"Yet (He added), no one drinking the old immediately wants the fresh; for he is saying, 'The old is smoother.'"


Now as Jesus is saying these things (tells the Disciple, along with the Scholar and the Follower): look! a man named Jairus is coming, a synagogue chieftain, bowing prostrate before Him, pleading strenuously in His direction: "My little daughter, my only begotten child, is breathing her final gasps! But come, and place your hands on her, and she shall live!"

And being roused, Jesus and His disciples follow him.

A crowd went also (evidently to a neighboring town a few miles up or down the road, based on later implications--Chorazin to the north or Magdala to the south for instance); pressing stifling close to Him.

Now look! here is a woman, suffering for twelve years now from a hemorrhage--also suffering much from many physicians consuming her all and benefiting her nothing but rather making her worse, until she is now too weak to be healed.

Hearing about Jesus, and coming up through the crowd from behind Him, she touches the tassel of His cloak (the tassels worn by a rabbi), saying to herself, "If I could even touch his garment, I shall be saved...!"

And instantly, her bleeding was closed; the spring of her blood dried up straightaway; she knew in her body that she had been healed of her scourge!

But Jesus, recognizing in Himself the power coming out from Him, turned straight around and said, "Who touches My garments!?"

Now everyone, including the disciples, denies it! And Peter said, "Doctor, you can see the throngs are pressing and jostling you--and you are asking 'Who touched me'?!"

Yet Jesus said, "Someone has touched Me, for I know power has gone out from Me." And He turned to look at who did this.

Now the woman could see that she was not eluding Him; and afraid and trembling, yet also aware of what had happened within her, she came and prostrated herself to Him in the sight of all the people, explaining the whole truth of what she had done, and why she had done it--and that she had been instantly healed.

And Jesus said to her: "Take courage, My daughter! Your trust has saved you. Go in peace, and be whole from your scourge."

And from that hour, the woman was saved.


While He is still speaking these words, someone is coming from the house of the chief of the synagogue, saying to him, "...your daughter has died. You mustn't trouble the rabbi any longer... ...Why are you still bothering the Rabbi?!"

But Jesus, disregarding what was being said, immediately answered the (pleas of the) synagogue chieftain: "Fear not! Trust Me; she shall be saved!"

The flutes were already wailing their dirges, and the mourners screaming laments, in the house of the synagogue chieftain. [Note: at least some of these were probably 'professional' mourners, who performed at funerals and similar occasions.]

Jesus going into the house, and seeing this throng, says, "Why are you making all this noise? Stop crying and go quietly; the girl has not died, she is only asleep."

But they mocked Him, for they knew that she had died.

So He threw them all out!!

Now once the crowd had been ejected, He went back in, bringing along the father of the little girl, and the mother, and Peter and James and John the brother of James.

And He goes into the inner (room), where the little girl was lying.

And holding the hand of the maiden, He is shouting to her:

"Talitha, koumi!" -- which means (explains the Follower) "Young woman, I am saying to you: arise!"

And back turns her spirit; and the girl, who was about twelve years old, sat straight up and walked.

And they were straight beside themselves with great amazement; and He told them to give her something to eat.

But He strongly warned them, that no one must know what had (really) happened, and He strictly commanded them not to tell.

So the fame of this went out into all the land. [See second comment below for a footnote here.]


Now, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dinner; and entering into the Pharisee's house, He reclined (at the table).

And look! a woman who was in the city, a sinner! (or 'a woman “of the city”,’ i.e. Jerusalem, ‘who was a sinner')

Now realizing He is lying at the table in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of attar.

And standing behind at His feet (where He was reclining), weeping, she now starts raining His feet with tears; and with the hair on her head she wiped them off, and fondly kissing His feet she rubbed them with the attar.

Now--when the Pharisee who invited Him saw this, he said to himself: "If this man was a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman is touching Him, that she is a sinner!"

Answering, Jesus said toward him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."

And he strongly agreed, "Say on, Rabbi!"

"Two debtors paying usury were owing a certain moneylender; one owed five hundred days wages, and the other owed fifty. Now, as they had nothing to pay with, he freely gives them joy instead. So which of them will be loving him more?"

Answering, Simon said, "I suppose the one to whom he gave more joy."

And He said to him, "You have judged correctly."

Now turning to the woman, He strongly declared to Simon: "You see this woman, don't you!? I came into your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, no kiss of greeting, no oil to rub on My face! Yet she rains tears on My feet, and with her hair she wipes them off; and she rubs attar on My feet; and from the time I arrived, she hasn't ceased in fondly kissing My feet!

"I say to you, her sins, which are many, are pardoned; on behalf of which she loves this much.

"But he who is forgiven little, loves little."

And He said to the woman: "Your sins have been forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

Yet those who were reclining with Him began saying among themselves...

..."Who is this, who is even pardoning sins?!"

[See third comment below for a footnote here.]


And after these things (says the Scholar), when He is traveling by city and village, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God together with the Twelve, some women whom He had healed of evil spirits and infirmities--such as Mary, called the Magdalene, from out of whom seven demons came, and Joanna the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others--contributed to their support out of their own possessions.

Matthew 4:19
Matthew 9:2-26
Mark 1:17b
Mark 2:1-22
Mark 5:22-43
Luke 5:1-11
Luke 5:17-39
Luke 7:36-50
Luke 8:1-3
Luke 8:41-56

[Next time: The King of the Sabbaths]


Jason Pratt said…
.......[first deferred footnote here]

Gennesaret was one name for the region of towns near the northwest shore of Galilee Lake; consequently, the lake itself is also sometimes named Gennesaret Lake. The Romans, as the Evangelist will later tell, also gave the lake their own name, after Tiberius. The name Gennesaret came from a fort-town on the lakeshore, destroyed either by the Romans or previous to their occupation, and no longer inhabited at the time of the story. The town of Magdala seems to have been named after one of the remaining towers of Gennesaret
Jason Pratt said…
.......[second deferred footnote here]

This statement probably means that people heard Jesus had raised a girl from a coma when everyone thought she was dead; people do not subsequently start pestering Jesus to raise their loved ones from the dead, which seems to be what He is trying to avoid here: it is Jesus Who sets up the 'only asleep' part of the story, as a cover for what really happened! This probably explains the shout for the little girl to get up, too: Jesus was trying to give an impression to the mourners still outside that the girl had not died after all.
Jason Pratt said…
.......[third deferred footnote here]

Some interesting contexts of the woman's actions:

Women of the time would often collect spices in a gel in a jar or lined box, looking forward to anointing their husband with it before making love on their wedding night. (This may be the ancient origin of the tradition of the 'hope chest'.)

Aside from the alabaster jar, normally broken on a wedding night (not mentioned as broken in this scene), certain ancient medical concepts and recognized symbolisms are evident here: specifically, long hair on a woman was considered a sign of sexual fertility and potency, signifying how much pull her womb would have for the seed of a man; and a man's feet were sometimes considered symbolic of his testicles in certain contexts.

Consequently, a woman anointing a man's feet (and a reclining man at that!) with perfume normally reserved for a wedding night nuptial, and washing and wiping his feet with her hair, could be considered to be making a strong and very serious sexual proposition on her part--and more easily perceived to be so, depending on her previous history.

Notably, this scene also includes a couple of the few (perhaps only) uses of the word 'chara' ('echarisato') for 'forgiveness' in the Gospels--'chara' being 'joy'.

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