The King of Stories -- The King Declares the Kingdom (Part 2 of 2)

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.)

This 'chapter' runs rather long, for obvious reasons so I've broken it into two entries. Scripture refs for both parts are given together at the end of this entry.

The King Declares the Kingdom (Part 2 of 2)

"Beware of doing your fair-togetherness in front of people to be noticed by them; otherwise, surely you have no reward with your Father in the heavens!

"Therefore, when you do an act of charity, you should not sound a trumpet in front of you!--the way that hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be glorified by people. Truly I tell you: this is all the reward they will have!

"But when you do charity, do not even let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your alms (the money given in charity) may be in hiding; and your Father, observing in hiding, will be paying you.

"And whenever you may be praying, do not be like the hypocrites, for they are fond of standing and praying in the synagogues and at the corners of market squares, so that they may be seen by people. Truly I tell you: this is all the reward they will have!

"But you, whenever you may be praying, go into your inner room; and locking the door, pray to your Father in hiding; and your Father, observing in hiding, will reward you.

"Now in praying, don't use meaningless repetitions the way the pagans do, thinking that they can earn their hearing by many words!

"Do not be like them, therefore: for God, your Father, knows your needs before you even ask Him.

"Pray then in this way:

Our Father in the heavens!
Hallowed be Your name!
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done
on earth as in the heavens!

Give to us today our bread, the on-existence;
and pardon us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,
and do not bring us into the trial:
but save us from the evil one!

"For if you pardon people their offenses, your heavenly Father also will be pardoning you.

"But if you will not pardon people their offenses, neither will your Father pardon you of your offenses!

"Now, whenever you may fast, do not put on a gloomy face as do the hypocrites; for they disguise their faces so that people will be seeing they are fasting. Truly I am telling you: this is their reward and nothing more!

"But you, when you are fasting, rub your head with oil and wash your face, so that you may not seem to people to be fasting, but to your Father in hiding; and your Father, observing in hiding, will be rewarding you.

"Enter (the kingdom) by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads into destruction!--and many are entering through it.

"For the gate is cramped, and narrow is the way that leads to life--and few are those who find it."


And it happened that when Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them on His own authority, not as their scribes.

Now the multitude gathered to such an extent, that they (the disciples and Jesus) couldn't even eat lunch.

And when His own family heard of this (adds the Follower), they went out to take charge of Him, saying: "He has lost His senses!" [Plotnote: keep in mind, they're going after Him because He's late for lunch. It really isn't as big a deal as many commenters would have it.]

Then (says the Disciple) there was brought to Him a demented man--blind and mute! But He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw.

[Plotnote: HEY! Doesn't this guy seem familiar? In fact, didn't the Disciple himself talk about a similar guy using very similar words, earlier in the story?! The typical explanation is that the incident is merely doubleted in GosMatt, with the author/editor/final redactor/whoever stitching together multiple sources which told the same story and he never noticed. Because if this was in fact the same guy who got healed the night before, wouldn't that be a major criticism of Jesus, that His opponents would latch onto even back then?! Ah, yep... read on!]

And the multitudes were amazed, saying, "Nothing like this has been ever seen in Israel! Could this man be the Son of David!?"

But when the scribes of Pharisees who had come down from Jerusalem heard this, they said: "This man casts out demons, only by Beezeboul ('Plunder-possessor' in Hebrew) the ruler of demons!"

[Plotnote: now, aside from mere spatishness, why would these Pharisee/scribes, visiting from Jerusalem to keep an eye on Jesus for the group back at political headquarters, think healing this guy would count as evidence in itself that Jesus was a super-agent of the Devil? True, they might be trying to goad Him into defending Himself publicly with overt Deity claims--but that tactic is only going to look like puzzling spite to the crowd, if Jesus merely disses them and keeps on going. However: if this guy had been healed the night before, and needed healing again, that wouldn't look like a 'real' healing, once word got around that this wasn't his first time--which it pretty quickly could. Now the opposition has something solid to goad Jesus with; if Jesus simply waves them off, He leaves the double-healed demented man hanging there as evidence (to the crowd) against Him. If He defends Himself with overt Deity claims, of the sort they'd heard Him make to them recently back in Judea, then either He'll have to ante up or be stoned by the crowd. It probably looks like a no-lose situation to these scribes!--if that's the historical circumstance being reflected by the Synoptics immediately here, piecemeal. So, is there any confirming evidence in that direction, that this is what's happening?]

Yet knowing their thoughts (evidently they were trying to quietly spread this notion around in the crowd first, to build up grass-root support), He called to them (publicly pre-empting their attempts) and started speaking in parables:

"How can Satan cast out Satan!? Every kingdom divided against itself is laid to waste!--and every city or house divided against itself shall not be able to stand!

"Now if the Adversary ('satan') sends away the Adversary--he rises up against himself as an adversary, and he is finished! If Satan is divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand!?

"For you are saying I cast demons out by Beezeboul! If I am casting out by power of the Plunder-possessor, by whom do your sons cast them out!? Consequently, they shall be your judges!

"But, if I am casting out demons by the finger of God, in His Spirit, then the kingdom of God is outstripping you!

"Whenever the strong one guards his own court fully armed, his possessions are secure. How can anyone enter the strong one's house, and carry off his plunder, unless he binds the strong one first? Yet if a stronger one ever attacks and overpowers him, he takes away all his armor on which he was relying, and binds him up. Then he plunders the (Plunderer's) house, giving away that plunder!!

"Now, whenever an unclean spirit goes out of a person, it passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it arrives, it finds the house swept, decorated--and unoccupied.

"Then it goes out and brings along with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there!--and the final state of that person is worse than ever.

"That is the way it will also be, with this evil generation.

[Plotnote: now, why would Jesus bother coming up with this example out of nowhere? What topical link does it have to anything in the Synoptic stories? Nothing especially obvious--until the pieces are put together! Then suddenly we have some guy who had been exorcise/healed the night before, who needed healing again this morning, and some scribes thinking they somehow had a strong opportunity to introduce the worst kind of charges against Jesus among the crowd. Ding! The Synoptists can be putting together fragments of the story according to their own topical plans and rhetorical constructions, maybe based also on how portions of the story get passed down later. But stereoscopic dovetailing of this sort, especially when it helps explain some apparently arbitrary features in the texts, points back with strong likelihood to a historical core from which the pieces were eventually put into the Synoptics.]

"He who is not with Me is against Me!--and he who does not gather with Me, scatters!

"Therefore I say to you: any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men; even a word, even a blasphemy, spoken against the Son of Man!

"But--whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, sins an eternal sin. It shall not be forgiven him... neither in this age, nor in that to come.”

--because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit," (adds the Follower).

"Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree rotten, and its fruit rotten--for the tree is known by its fruit.

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you dressed as sheep, yet inside they are ravening wolves!

"You will recognize them by their fruits. No one gathers grapes from thorns, nor figs from star-thistles, do they? Therefore, every good tree bears ideal fruit; but the rotten tree bears only noxious fruit.

"Every tree that doesn't bear good fruit, is cut in pieces and is cast into the fire.

"So then, you will recognize them by their fruit.

"You sons of vipers! How could you, being evil, speak good things!? For out of the superabundance of the heart, the mouth is speaking.

"The person who is good brings good things out of his good treasure; but evil people bring out evil from their evil treasure.

"And I tell you that for every idle word which people speak, they shall be made to render an account for it on Judgment Day. For by your words shall you be justified; and by your words shall you be damned."


Then some of the scribes and Pharisees were answering Him, from the press of the crowd, saying: "Teacher, we want to see an attesting sign from you (that God supports what you're saying)!"

But He said to them in answer: "An evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign; but no sign shall be given to it--except the sign of Jonah the prophet!"

For even as Jonah was in the sea monster's belly for three days and nights (the Disciple possibly adds) so the Son of Man will later be in the earth three days and nights...

"For just as Jonah became (at least in his proclamation to repentant) an attesting sign to the Ninevites (said Jesus), so shall the Son of Man be to this generation!

"Ninevite men will rise in the judgment with this generation, and will be condemning it--for they changed their hearts willingly, at the preaching of Jonah, and look!--more than Jonah is here!

"The Queen of the South will be raised in the judging with this generation, and will be condemning it--for she arrived from the ends of the earth to attend to Solomon's wisdom, and look!--more than Solomon is here!"


While He was still speaking to the crowd (say the Disciple and Scholar and Follower), look!--His mother and brothers arrive, but cannot get to Him because of the crowd; so they are sending (gestures) and calling to Him. [Plotnote: remember, He's now late for lunch.]

Now while He was speaking, a woman in the crowd called out: "Happy be the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!"

And Jesus replied: "Indeed!--then happy be the ones who hear and follow the Word of God!"

And someone reported to Him, "See! Your mother and brothers are standing out here, wanting to speak to you!"

But answering them, He said: "Who are My mother and My brothers?"

And looking about on those who were sitting around Him, He stretched out His hand to His disciples and said: "Look here!--My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother!

"Yet, why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord!', and do not do what I say??

"Not all who say to Me 'Lord, Lord!', will enter into the kingdom of the heavens; but only whoever does the will of My Father Who is in the heavens.

"Many will say to Me, on that day: 'Lord, Lord! Did we not prophecy in Your name, and in Your name send demons away, and in Your name do many works of power!?!'

"And then I shall be vowing to them: 'I never knew you! "Depart from Me, you evildoers!"' (as David the king said in a Psalm)

"Therefore: everyone who comes to Me, and hears My words, and does them--I will show you whom they are like.

"They may be compared to a prudent man building his house, who dug and went deep, and laid his foundation upon the rock. And rain fell and the rivers came, and winds blew bursting against that house; yet it did not fall, and they could not shake it, for it had been founded upon the rock.

"But the one who has heard these words of Mine, who has not acted accordingly, is like a foolish man who builds his house on sand, without any foundation.

"And rain fell, and the river came, and winds blew bursting against that house.

"And immediately, it fell.

"And great was its ruin.

"Now--do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn, and tear you to pieces."

And when He had finished His words in the hearing of the people, He went (back) into Capernaum.

[Note: if you notice I've left out a few sayings here and there--don't worry. I'll be getting them in later. Those are cases where it looked most probable to me that the authors had ported other sayings into the vicinity for topical relationship or rhetorical construction purposes.]

Matthew 5:2-48
Matthew 6:1-18
Matthew 6:22-23
Matthew 7:1-6
Matthew 7:12-29
Matthew 8:1b
Matthew 9:33b-34
Matthew 12:22-50
Matthew 18:8-9
Mark 3:9-10
Mark 3:20-35
Luke 6:17-38
Luke 6:39-40
Luke 6:41-49
Luke 7:1
Luke 8:19-21
Luke 11:14-36
Luke 14:34-35

[Next time: the afternoon sermon--now in parables.]


This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jason Pratt said…
I'm not usually in the habit of advocating deletion of comments; but topically irrelevant advertisements for youtube videos (in this case for what appears to be a Christian rebuttal to the book "The Pagan Christ") fall into that category, I think. Sorry Tor, whoever you are. We have exactly two references to that book, none of them earlier than Jan 7, 2007. (And that one was merely in passing.) To say the least, it hasn't been discussed recently, and isn't being discussed now.


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