The King of Stories -- The King of the Sabbaths (Part 1 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, so I'm breaking it into two entries.

The King of the Sabbaths

And going out from there (says the Follower, implying from wherever Jesus had raised the daughter of Jairus), Jesus is going into His own country (meaning Nazareth evidently in this case); and His disciples follow Him.

Now on the next Sabbath, He begins to teach in the synagogue. And most of the listeners are astonished, saying: "Where has all this come from?? And what is this wisdom being given?? Yet what works of power happen from his hands! Isn't this the artisan, the son of Mary and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters married among us?" [Note: literally 'here (facing) toward us', i.e. at least still living in the district--His brothers and mother have moved to Capernaum with Him by now, based on implications elsewhere, but everyone still knows them of course.]

And they were having difficulty getting over this. (literally 'being made to stumble over Him')

So Jesus said to them (again), "A prophet is not shown dishonor--except in his own part of the country, and among his own relatives in his own home."

And He could do no power there, other than laying His hands upon a few sick people, healing them; and He marveled because of their unbelief.


Now news of Jesus has spread north into all of Syria (says the Disciple, talking about a general span of time, probably months; this would include cities such as Tyre, Sidon and Zarephath), and they brought to Him all kinds of sick people; those with various diseases and pressing torments, as well as the demented and lunatics and paralytics.

And He cures them.

But when Jesus saw the crowds, He gave orders to depart to the other side (of the Lake).

Now as they are going along the road (adds the Scholar, perhaps along the Galilee Lake road during this season), a certain scribe approached Him saying: "Rabbi, I will follow you, wherever you may be going!"

Yet Jesus said to him, "The jackals have burrows, and the birds of heaven have roosts; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."

And to a different disciple (meaning the scribe was himself a disciple, implies the Disciple!) Jesus said, "Follow Me!"

But he said to Him, "Sir, permit me to entomb my father first!"

Yet Jesus said to him: "You follow Me; and allow the dead to entomb their own dead."

And a different one (adds the Scholar) also said, "I will be following you, Sir! But let me say goodbye to those at home."

Yet Jesus said to him: "No one putting his hand on a plow and then looking behind, is strong in the kingdom of God."


And Jesus went all about Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.

And the news about Him was spreading ever farther, and vast throngs would come together to listen, and to be healed of their sicknesses.

But He would often slip away into the wilderness to pray.


Now it happened (the Follower, Disciple and Scholar all say) that He and His disciples were traveling through farmlands on a Sabbath day--one halfway through a month (adds the Scholar, according to many copies of his story; literally 'on a second-first sabbath'.)

And His disciples hungered, so they began making a path into a field, to pluck and rub ears of grain in their hands for eating. (Implying this takes place late summer or early fall, not far from harvest time.)

But certain Pharisees (apparently traveling along with them at this time!) said to Jesus, "Look! Your disciples are doing something that is not allowed on Sabbaths!"

Yet answering, Jesus said to them: "Have you never even read what (King) David did when he and those with him were hungry during the days of Abiathar the chief priest (while on the run from the troops of King Saul)? Once, in their need, he entered the tabernacle, [the tent of God in which the Living Presence of God would dwell, before the first Jewish Temple was planned by David and constructed by Solomon his son] and he ate the showbread, giving it also to those who were with him--which is not allowed to be eaten except by the priests.

"Or perhaps you have never read in the Law, that on the sabbaths the priests in the sanctuary are themselves 'profaning the sabbath'--and yet are blameless!

"Now I am saying to you: a Greater than the Temple is here! And if you had known what this (scripture) means--'Mercy I am wanting and not sacrifice'--you would not convict the blameless!"

And He said to them, "The Sabbath came because of mankind, and not mankind because of the Sabbath! Therefore, the Son of Man is also the Lord of the Sabbath."


Now (the Disciple and Scholar tell), during this same season, the disciples of John (the Baptist) reported to him while he was imprisoned (by Herod Antipas, traditionally in Judea near the Dead Sea, not far south of the Jordan River's ford near Jericho), concerning all these works of the Anointed King.

[Note: the sum of all surrounding implications is that this happens while Jesus is down in Judea again, and had been going there for the harvest festival: the Feast of Tabernacles.]

And calling a certain two of his disciples to him, John sends (them) to Jesus, saying:

"Are you the Coming One?--or may we be hoping for a different one!?"

In that same hour (adds the Scholar), Jesus cures many from diseases and scourges and evil spirits; and to many of the blind He joyfully gives sight.

Now answering, Jesus said to them, "Go, report to John what you see and hear: the blind are seeing, the lame are walking, lepers are cleansed, dead are raised up; and to the poor, the gospel is being! (As Isaiah the prophet promised would happen.)

"And happy is he, who should not have trouble getting over this."

Yet after John's messengers went away, He begins to talk to the crowd concerning John:

"So, what did you all come out into the wilderness to stare at? A windshaken reed?

"But what did you all come out to see? A 'softie man'!? Look here!--the 'softies' are in the royal houses, with those who inherit their luxuries and are clothed in glorious costumes!

"So why did you all come out? To see a prophet?!

"Yes, I am saying to you!--and exceedingly more than a prophet! He is the one concerning whom it has been written (in Malachi the prophet): 'See! I am sending My messenger before Your face, who shall be building up Your road before You!'

"I tell you truly: there is not even one greater prophet among those born of women, than John the Baptist!

"And yet, the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he!!"

At hearing this (adds the Scholar), all the people, having been baptized with John's baptism, cheer for the justice of God--even the tax-collectors! But the Pharisees and lawyers reject God's counsel for themselves, not having been baptized by him.

"Yet (continues Jesus) from the days of John the Baptist to now, the kingdom of heaven is being raped (literally 'being forced into') and violent men are grasping it!

"For all the prophets and the Law do prophecy till John; and, if you care to have it, he himself is 'Elijah-who-is-to-come'. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

"But then, to whom shall I compare the people of this generation? What shall I say they are like?

"They are like little boys and girls, sitting out in the marketplace, and shouting to one another saying 'You are not dancing to our flute!' 'You are not weeping with our tears!'

"For John the Baptist has come, not drinking wine nor even eating bread, and you are saying 'He is demented!' And yet the Son of Man comes eating and drinking, and you are saying 'Look!--a gluttonous man and a drunkard! A friend of sinners and tax-collectors!'

"But Wisdom is vindicated by Her deeds--and by Her children!"

Then He begins condemning the cities in which His works of power were mostly done (adds the Disciple), for they have not repented:

"Be wailing, Chorazin! Be wailing, Bethsaida! For if the works of power had happened in (pagan) Tyre and Sidon which happened in you, they would have long ago willingly changed their hearts, sitting in sackcloth and ashes! (As pagan Ninevah had done in the story of Jonah.) Beyond all this, I say to you: Sidon and Tyre shall find the Judgment Day more bearable than shall you!

"And you, Capernaum! Not to heaven shall you be exalted! Into the hell shall you go down!--for if the works of power occurring in you had happened in Sodom, it might remain unto today! Beyond all this, I say to you: the land of Sodom shall find the Judgment Day more bearable than shall you!"

[Next time: what exactly does it mean to be greater than the tabernacle, Temple and Sabbath?--and Who is the only One Who can legitimately claim this? A scene from the Synoptics with a behind-the-scenes followup in GosJohn.]


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