Tradition Versus the Commandments
(Matt 15:1-20, Mark 7:1-23)
Note to readers:
The Corban was a ruse the Jews used to avoid supporting their parents financially. By “dedicating” their possessions to God, they could claim they did not have enough resources left over to help their family; especially in their old age.
Now when the Pharisees gathered to Jesus, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed.
For the Pharisees and all the Jews did not eat unless they washed their hands in a special way, holding to the tradition of the elders. And when they came from the marketplace, they did not eat unless they washed. And there were many other traditions that they observed, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.
So they said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.”
He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
For God commanded, ‘Honour your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’
But you say if anyone tells his father or his mother, ‘Whatever profit you would have received from me is Corban and been given to God,’ that he need not honour his father or mother. So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.
You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” [Isa#29:13]
And he called the people to him again and said to them as a parable, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”
He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable.
And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?
What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts: sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and it is they that defile a person.”
The Syrophoenician Woman
(Matt 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30)
And from there Jesus arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden.
A Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”
Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.”
But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Healing on Returning to Decapolis
(Matt 15:29-31, Mark 7:31-37)
Then Jesus returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there.
Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others. And they put them at his feet, and he healed them; so that the crowd wondered when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.
And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hands on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, and after spitting, touched his tongue and then put his fingers into the man’s ears.
Looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.
And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand
(Matt 15:32-39, Mark 8:1-10)
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry to their homes, lest they faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.”
And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?”
And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.”
Directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowd.
And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand, not counting women and children.
The Leaders Seeking a Sign
(Matt 16:1-12, Mark 8:11-21)
And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked Jesus to show them a sign from heaven.
He answered and said unto them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah¹.'”
¹[Jesus is referring to his coming resurrection after 3 days, as Jonah was in the whale for 3 days, but they did not know this]
So he abandoned them, and departed with his disciples to the other side of the sea, to the land of the Gentiles. When they arrived, the disciples realized they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven [insinuating evil] of the Pharisees, Sadducees and Herod.”
And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no leaven? [thinking bread].”
And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have not enough bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?”
So he asked, “When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”
And they answered, “Twelve.”
And he asked, “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”
They answered, “Seven.”
And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand? [meaning could he not do the same with their one loaf?]”
Then he said, “How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread when I said, ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, Sadducees and Herod.'”
Healing a Blind Man in Bethsaida
And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him.
So Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spat on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?”
And he looked up and said, “I see men, but they look like trees, walking.”
Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and when he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
Peter Declares Jesus to be the Messiah
(Matt 16:13-28, Mark 8:27-9:1, Luke 9:18-27)
Then Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea and Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”
And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter replied, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! [which means Jonah’s son Simon] For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
And I tell you, Peter, [which means ‘rock’ in Aramaic] on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah.
From that time Jesus began to teach his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day he would be raised.
And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”
But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, commit himself totally, and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? What can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
(Matt 17:1-13, Mark 9:2-13, Luke 9:28-36)
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter, James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. While he was praying, the disciples were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his garments had become radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.
And two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure; which Jesus was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
And Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents [tabernacles in Luke], one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified.
He was still speaking when, suddenly, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
As they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean.
And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?”
And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.”
The Lunatic the Disciples Could Not Heal
(Matt 17:14-21, Mark 9:14-29, Luke 9:37-43)
On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. And when they came to the other disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him.
And he asked the disciples, “What are you arguing about with them?” And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.”
And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.”
And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And all were astonished at the majesty of God.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you. But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting.'”
True Followers of Jesus
(Mark 9:38-41, Luke 9:49-50)
Now John said, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.”
But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to me will by no means lose his reward.”