Thursday, July 29, 2010

John Hears That Jesus Gains More Followers


And Jesus went about all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they fainted and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plenteous but the laborers are few; pray therefore that the Lord of the harvest will send forth laborers into the harvest." (Matthew 9:36-37).

Then came together unto Him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem to observe Him. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashed, hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they ceremonially wash their hands, do not eat, holding fast to the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they don't eat. And many other things there are, which they have received to hold, such as the washing of cups, and pots, brass vessels, and of tables. (This was not a washing for hygienic reasons. This was a highly complex and technical religious ceremony. The Jews at this time had very complex teachings about proper ceremonial ritual cleanliness. One of the most important documents among the Dead Sea Scrolls was a tractate called MMT. This document is also known as the "Halakhic Letter." This document is about the purity of liquid streams. The debate this document deals with was about whether or not an unbroken liquid stream connects or insulates the "cleanliness" or "un-cleanliness" of the containers at both ends. According to MMT if a clean pouring vessel is poured into an "unclean" receptacle, the ritual impurity travels up the stream and renders the pouring vessel "unclean" as well. This may seem trivial to us but this was seen as a very important religious controversy at the time of Jesus. Jesus was not interested in the highly elaborate Jewish water pouring ceremonies which had by this time become "the traditions of the elders" that many Jews felt obligated to observe. MMT is an important document that shows us the spiritual state of the Jewish religion at the time of Christ. The word "Halakhic" is from the Hebrew work "halakhah" which refers to Jewish ceremonial law. MMT is designated 4QMMT (4Q394-99) and is also known as "Some Precepts of the Law.") Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, "Why don't your disciples walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?" He answered and said unto them, "Rightly has Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. In vain they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men (Isaiah 29:13)." For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, such as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things you do." And he said unto them, "Full well do you reject the commandment of God, in order that you may observe your own tradition. For Moses said, "Honor thy father and thy mother;" and, "Whosoever curses father or mother, let him die the death." (Deuteronomy 5:16, Leviticus 20:9). But you say, "If a man shall say to his father or mother, "It is Qorban," that is to say, a gift for the priests, "by whatsoever you might have been aided by me;" he shall thus be released from his obligation to provide for his parents. And you allow him no more to do anything for his father or his mother; making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things you do (Mark 7:1-23)."

After these things Jesus and his disciples came into the land of Judea; and there he tarried with them, and they baptized. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there and many came, and were baptized for John had not yet been thrown into prison. Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and some Jewish men about purification. And they came unto John, and said unto him, "Rabbi, he that was with you beyond Jordan, to whom you spoke, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph, behold, he baptizes, and many people are going over to him." John answered and said, "You yourselves bear me witness that I said, "I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him." He that has the bride is the bridegroom but the friend of the bridegroom, which stands by and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. This is how my joy is made complete. He must increase, but I must decrease. I am not in a competition with Jesus. He is my friend. I am happy if he is successful." When therefore Jesus knew how the religious establishment in Jerusalem had heard that he made and baptized more disciples than John, He left Judea, and returned again into Galilee (John 3:22-29).

Johannan the son of Zebedee said to him, "Rabbi, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to stop him because he isn't part of our group." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him! Whoever does a miracle in my name will not soon afterwards speak ill of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward for truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you are a follower of me, will certainly gain a reward." (Matthew 10:41)

No comments: