The King of Stories -- The Good Portion

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.)

The Good Portion

Now at their going (says the Scholar), Jesus went into a certain village. [Footnote: Bethany, according to other story contexts--what we would call a suburb of Jerusalem over on the other side of Olivet Hill, where Jesus would often stay at night when He was in the area.]

And a certain woman named Martha entertained Him in her home; and she had a sister named Mary, who sat at the feet of the Lord (i.e. learning as a disciple from a rabbi), hearing the Word of the Lord.

Now the Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered together around Him when they had come from Jerusalem (say the Follower and the Disciple); and seeing that some of His disciples are eating their bread with impure hands...

--that is, unwashed (explains the Follower for his audience), for the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they first wash the hands with the fist (i.e. carefully), observing the traditions of the elders, and they do not eat even from the marketplace unless they sprinkle themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to follow, such as the baptizing of cups and pitchers and copper pots--

...the Pharisees question Him, with the scribes: "Why are your disciples walking against the traditions of the elders, and eat their bread with impure hands!?"

Yet answering He said to them: "And why do you also break the commandments of God for the sake of your tradition?!

"For God said, 'HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER' and (as it is written in the lawbooks of Exodus and Leviticus), 'He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him die the death!'

"But you say, 'Whoever shall say to his father or mother, "Anything of mine by which I might have helped you has been declared 'Corban'"--in other words an approach present (adds the Follower for his audience)--he is not required to help his father or mother', and by no means does he honor his Father!

"Thus you neatly invalidate the Law of God, for the sake of your tradition which you are handing down! And you do many other such things as that!

"Rightly did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites!--as it is written,

This people honors Me with their lips,
but their heart is far from Me;
And they vainly worship Me,
teaching as doctrines the precepts of men!

"For, neglecting the commands of God, you hold the tradition of men!"

Now calling the crowds to Him again (after going outside again), He said to them:

"Hear Me, everyone, and understand!!

"Nothing outside of a person, going into him, can defile him; but the things coming out of a person are what defile him!"

Now leaving the crowds (and apparently the Pharisees and scribes!), He goes (back) into the house.

Then His disciples came and said to Him, "... don't you know the Pharisees were stumbling over this statement??"

But He answered and said, "Every plant not planted by My heavenly Father shall be uprooted. Leave them!--they are blind guides; and if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

Now Peter answered and said to Him, "Explain the parable to us."

And He said, "Are you still unintelligent also?!

"Do you not understand, that everything from the outside going into a person's mouth cannot defile him, but passes into the bowels and then is expelled into the settling pile, cleansing all the foods?

"But what goes out of a person is what defiles the person. The things proceeding from the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the person. For out of a person's heart (i.e. the will, the active choice) comes evil reasonings, prostitutions, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed and wickedness, lies and false testimonies, dark enticements, envy, slander, arrogance, foolishness.

"All these evil inside things are going out; and those defile the person!

"But to eat with unwashed hands, does not defile the person."

Now Martha (says the Scholar) was distracted (from listening) by all the serving (she was doing, for dinner). And coming to stand by Him, she said, "Sir, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?! Then tell her to help me!"

But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha... you are worrying and in a froth about so many things.

"Yet few of them are necessary--really, only one; for Mary chooses the good portion.

"Which shall not be wrested from her."

Matthew 15:1-20
Mark 7:1-23
Luke 10:38-42

[Next time: Of Light and Water... and Tenting Among Us]


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