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11:16-19 – The Impossibility of Pleasing Everyone

|| Luke 7:31-35

MT11:16 “But, with whom shall I compare this generation?[1] [This generation] is like young children, sitting in the market-squares, who yell at various ones,[2] MT11:17 saying, ‘We played the flute but you did not dance! We cried but you did not mourn!’[3] MT11:18 For John did not eat[4] [normally] or drink[5] [wine], and yet they say about him, ‘He is demonized!’[6] MT11:19 [And yet] the Son of Humankind came eating [normally] and drinking [wine],[7] and yet they say about him, ‘Look! a gluttonous human and a drunk[8] – friend of tax-collectors and sinners.’ Now, wisdom is justified by its works.”[9]

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[1] This generation: The Greek is TEN GENEAN. It means his contemporaries. He uses the phrase several times (Matthew 12:41, 42; 23:36; 24:34; Mark 8:12; 13:30; Luke 7:31; 11:29-32, 50, 51; 17:25; 21:32).

[2] Various ones: The Greek is “different ones” and some render this: KJV: fellows; TCNT: playmates.

[3] We cried but you did not mourn: There is no pleasing these fickle children. One loses no matter which respond is taken. The phrase is rendered: PME: we played at funerals and you wouldn’t cry; RHM: we sang a lament. The Greek for “mourn” here is EKOPSASATHE and literally means “beat yourselves.”

[4] Did not eat: Of course actually John ate honey and locusts. So it is implied he did not eat as other people do (Luke 7:33). He was severely ascetic.

[5] Or drink: Obviously John drank water. The phrase “drink” is often related to drinking wine. Luke 7:33 explains this. PME: John came in the strictest austerity.

[6] Demonized: Or, demon-possessed. LAM: crazy. Jesus is later to be so criticized (Mark 3:21; John 10:20, 21).

[7] Came eating [normally] and drinking [wine]: Jesus was not an ascetic, nor a vegetarian. He was what may be called today “a drinker” in that he did imbibe wine. The KJV has the accusation: winebibber; WEY: tippling; WMS: wine-drinker. Wine in the Middle East and the whole Mediterranean area is a basic fluid at all tables (Genesis 27:25; 1 Samuel 16:20; Canticles 5:1; Isaiah 22:13; 55:1; Ecclesiastes 9:7). It is drank throughout the day, including breakfast, which might be merely dripping dried bread from the previous day into table wine. The English “wine” is a corruption of the Greek OINOS. These wines were generally of weak 4-8% alcoholic content, often mixed with water. It is possible the enormous miracle of making 120 gallons of water into wine – after the wine provided ran out – at the Cana wedding contributed to slanderous rumors (John 2:1ff).

[8] A drunk: Jesus would not be criticized for drinking wine for everyone did. The Greek is OINOPOTES and implies OINOPHLYGIA or drinking to excess. Compare Romans 14:21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Timothy 3:8; 5:23; Titus 2:3.

[9] Wisdom is justified by its works: Compare Luke 7:35. Some may have seen a contradiction in the way both John and Jesus came. Some may have had their own expectations on the manner of how these ought to come. Though God sent both men, His wisdom in the case of John and Jesus, is proved right or correct by the results. PME: wisdom stand or falls by her own actions; RIEU: God’s ways were proved to have been wise by their results; BECK: yet what a wise person does proves he’s right.

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Preceding

Matthew 11:1 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 1 Twelve Sent out to Teach

Matthew 11:2-6 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 2 Imprisoned Baptist Encouraged

Matthew 11:7-15 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 3 John the Baptist and the Kingdom Goal

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Matthew 11:7-15 – John the Baptist and the Kingdom Goal

|| Luke 7:24-28

MT11:7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus started to tell the crowds regarding John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?[1] A breeze rattling some willows?[2] MT11:8 But, what did you go to see? A human dressed in soft clothes? Look! Those who wear soft clothes[3] are in royal houses. MT11:9 But, why did you come out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet.[4] MT11:10 This person is the one about whom it has been written,[5] ‘Look! I am sending forth My messenger[6] before your person. He will prepare your way ahead of you.’ [Isaiah 40:3] MT11:11 I tell you this truth: None generated by women have been raised up who are greater than[7] John the Baptist. But, a lesser person[8] in the Realm of the Heavens[9] is greater than John. MT11:12 From the days of John the Baptist right up until now the Realm of the Heavens is being zealously pursued[10] and those in energetic pursuit are grabbing for it. MT11:13 For the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.[11] MT11:14 And, if you wish to accept it – John is Elijah,[12] the one who was to come. MT11:15 Let the person with ears listen.”[13]

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File:Accademia - St John the Baptist by Titian Cat314.jpg

St John the Baptist by Titian, Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice.

[1] What did you go out into the wilderness to see: We have learned earlier that all Judea went out into the desert to see this strange prophet who dressed primitively and eat honey and locusts.

[2] A breeze rattling some willows: Possibly a bit of sarcasm? Others render this phrase: KJV: a reed shaken with the wind; RIEU: a reed swaying in the wind; NEB: a reed-bed swept by the wind. As a metaphor John the Baptist could not be characterized like a reed-willow easily blown about (Ephesians 4:14). Rather, he was stalwart and firm – even dogmatic.

[3] Soft clothes: John was dressed roughly in harsh clothing. His clothes and manner must have attracted inquisitive crowds wondering about this strange man. The phrase is rendered by others: WMS: silks and satins; NJB: fine clothes.

[4] More than a prophet: The Bible is fill with “prophets” of the two types: the one foretelling events and the one declaring God’s righteous will. The word “prophet” occurs over 500 times in the Bible. Jesus makes clear the Baptist is more than just a prophet and he now explains what he means. The idea of saying that someone is more or greater than another is something Jesus uses several times. Compare Matthew 12:41, 42; Luke 11:31, 32.

[5] It has been written: Jesus quotes Isaiah 40:3.

[6] My messenger: Literally the Greek is “my angel.”

[7] Who are greater than: John the Baptist is at least equal to Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, or Elijah.

[8] A lesser person: The Greek is MICROTEROS and is rendered: KJV: least; ASV: little; PME: humble.

[9] In the Realm of the Heavens: It is possible this phrase is limited to that Realm of Profession, or the territory or domain over which Lord Messiah reigns – his congregation of disciples. In other words: the most humble member of the Christian Church is greater than John the Baptist and therefore greater than all the ancient worshippers of God. See notes in Matthew chapter 13 on identifying the “kingdom of the heavens.” Some also believe this to mean John the Baptist and the ancient patriarchs would not attain to heaven but would be raised in the resurrection of the righteous on earth (John 3:13; Hebrews 11:39, 40; 1 Corinthians 15:20-24).

[10] Zealously pursued: This is a classically difficult text. Most translators tend toward the idea that the kingdom is attacked violently and the violent seize it. However, from John the Baptist to the present of Jesus’ statement there is little evidence of persecution against the King or his realm. The Greek word here is BIAZETAI and its root meaning is “violent.” Jesus repeats the word group in the next phrase (See Acts 2:2). The word is rare in this form. However, there are two verses in Luke which might shed light on the Nazarene’s intent. Luke 13:24 literally means, ‘agonize to enter through the narrow door.’ And, the parallel in Luke to Matthew here is, ‘everyone is violently forcing [BIAZETAI] themselves into (the Kingdom of The God).’ This could mean violent men force themselves violently into the kingdom; or, it could mean the agonizing struggle to enter the realm of profession. This is the first interpretation the New Jerusalem Bible gives in its footnote “f” – “1. The praiseworthy violence, the bitter self-sacrifice, of those who would take possession of the kingdom.” Strong’s (#971, #973) offers “vital activity, energetic.” Thayer’s (page 101) says: “a share in the heavenly Kingdom is sought for with the most ardent zeal and the intense exertion… utmost eagerness.” Thus, the context and the parallel in Luke suggests the possibility that Jesus is describing the agonizing zeal his disciples have demonstrated in their pursuit of the “kingdom” – willing to make any sacrifice, willing to surrender their soul in the process.

William Barclay suggests a possibility: “‘The Kingdom of the Heaven is not for the well-meaning but for the desperate,’ that no one drifts into the Kingdom, that the Kingdom only opens it doors to those who are prepared to make as great an effort to get into it as men do when they storm a city.… Only the man who is desperately in earnest, only the man in whom the violence of devotion matches and defeats the violence of persecution will in the end enter into it.” (Matthew, Volume 2. page 8)

[11] Prophets and the Law prophesied until John: The complete phrase linking the Law and the Prophets is used by Jesus elsewhere (Matthew 5:17; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40). There is now to be a great transition. Hebrews 1:1 states that The God used to speak in a variety of ways to the prophets of old, but now speaks to us by means of a Son. With the coming of John the Baptist in the year 29 AD a new season, a new age begins to open up – a Messianic one. Grace and Truth will now come by means of Jesus the Nazarene (John 1:17).

[12] John is Elijah: Jesus explains this to his own disciples elsewhere (Matthew 17:10-13; Mark 9:11-13). Compare Luke 1:17. Elijah’s name (My God is Yah) occurs 100 times in the Bible and most importantly at Malachi 4:5 where the prophet is foretold to appear before the Day of Yehowah. The end of the Jewish Temple Age is upon that generation. The name Elijah only occurs twice outside the Gospels (Romans 11:2; James 5:17). Note Elijah is missing by name in the Book of Revelation. He is alluded to at Revelation 11:5, 6.

[13] Let the person with ears listen: This becomes in Revelation a phrase identified with Jesus (Revelation 2:7). PME: the man who has ears to hear must use them.

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Preceding

Matthew 11– Intro to The Nazarene’s Commentary: Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities

Matthew 11:1 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 1 Twelve Sent out to Teach

Matthew 11:2-6 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 2 Imprisoned Baptist Encouraged

11:2-6 – Imprisoned Baptist Encouraged

|| Luke 7:18-23

MT11:2 But while in jail[1] John the Baptist heard[2] about the works of the Messiah,[3] and by means of his disciples,[4] MT11:3 asked Jesus, “Are you the One coming[5] or are we to expect a different person?”[6] MT11:4 Jesus responded, telling [John’s disciples], “Go back and report[7] to John what you heard and saw: MT11:5 Blind people are seeing, lame people are walking around, lame people have been cleansed, deaf people are hearing, dead people are being raised up, and poor people[8] are hearing the good news! MT11:6 And blessed is anyone who is not offended by me!”[9]

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[1] Jail: See Luke 7:18-28.

[2] The Baptist heard: Either he is able to receive visitors or he learns from his guardians.

[3] Messiah: The Greek is CHRISTOU. Originally the Gospel of Matthew was written in Hebrew and so the word would have been more like ham·Ma·shi’ach. Leviticus 4:3, 5 is the first use of the word regarding the high priest of Israel, Aaron. Anyone “anointed” is a “messiah.” Compare Daniel 9:25, 26.

[4] His disciples: For some time the Messianic movement was divided into two primary groups: the disciples of John and the disciples of Jesus. There may have been a degree of dissension between the two. Later in the Book of Acts we come upon John’s disciples unfamiliar with baptism in the name of Jesus (Acts 18:24, 25). The phrase “his disciples” is also used of Paul (Acts 9:25).

[5] One coming: At Matthew 3:11 John has already confessed of another one coming who is more privileged. Possibly the idea of a “Coming One” is drawn from Genesis 49:10, Daniel 9:24, and Malachi 3:1. Compare also Deuteronomy 18:15 (Luke 7:19). Possibly the imprisoned John wants confirmation regarding the very one he pointed out as the “Lamb of God.” (John 1:29)

[6] Expect a different person: Evidently some Jews had different views regarding “the coming one” expecting two different persons, one of which was to be “Elijah.” To this day some Jews expect both the Messiah and Elijah. At Passover an empty chair is provided should Elijah appear.

[7] Go back and report: Jesus sends these disciples back to the imprisoned Baptist with the good news of what has been happening during his incarceration. We may happily assume this news was received by John with tremendous joy. We can hear his rejoicing and prayers in that dungeon.

[8] Poor people: Jesus never forgets the poor and he lists them among genuine miracles.

[9] Not offended by me: The Greek is interesting and related to an English word, SKANDALISTHE – and perhaps “scandalized” would be a better word. Most translators prefer “stumbled.” A person in prison gets his news from mixed sources – some may be accusatory and scandalous. Possibly there was much divisive talk among John’s own disciples. John wants confirmation and proof that the One he baptized is the Messiah. Perhaps he wants this more for his disciples than himself. Note Jesus does not directly answer the question which is something of a Hebrew manner. The prophet foretold stumbling (Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 8:14; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8).

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Preceding

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:7-12 – Opposition and Two Baptisms

Matthew 9:35-38 – Looking at Jesus our shepherd

Matthew 10:5-10 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus’ Orders: Territory, Theme, Trust

Matthew 10:40-42 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Reception and Reward

Matthew 11– Intro to The Nazarene’s Commentary: Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities

Matthew 11:1 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 1 Twelve Sent out to Teach

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Related

  1. The Mad Prophet
  2. The Baptiser (Part 2)
  3. The One who comes after the messenger. Mark 1:7-13 (by New providence Mennonite) or The One who comes after the messenger. Mark 1:7-13 (by William Higgins)
  4. Seeing and Blind
  5. Blind Guides
  6. The Chosen Stone
  7. belonging together
  8. Trusting the Process
  9. Violence (Mt 11:12-11:12)

Chapter Eleven:
Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities

[“Impossible to please”]

Matthew 11:1 – Twelve Sent out to Teach

MT11:1 And it occurred when Jesus finished giving instructions to the twelve disciples, he crossed from there teaching and preaching in their towns.[1]

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[1] Preaching in their towns: Jesus was a teacher who practiced what he preached. He has just spoken at length to his “apostles” and given them precise instructions. Now he does not sit back and let them do the work while he relaxes. But he immediately sets the example (Revelation 14:4).

The drag net – Harold Copping (1863-1932) from “The Copping Bible pictures: scripture pictures” published by Abingdon Press New York and Westminster Press Philadelphia.

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Preceding

Matthew 10:40-42 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Reception and Reward

Matthew 11– Intro to The Nazarene’s Commentary: Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities

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Related

  1. He will teach us all
  2. Devoted To The Apostle Teaching
  3. The power to practice love | Sermon for 1 Epiphany

We come to the time that Jeshua, the Nazarene man, of flesh and blood, born in Bethlehem and living in Nazareth left his parents house to go preaching and it came to be, when יהושע (Jeshua} ended instructing his twelve taught ones, that he set out from there to teach and to proclaim in their cities.

We shall find as a key word in this chapter: Offended in Christ: Matthew 11 verses 6, 19 and 25.

John the Baptist had heard in the prison of the works of Messiah, he sent two of his taught ones to ask his cousin if he was the “Coming One”.  Those who knew the scrolls did know that Jehovah God had promised to sent some one to bring a liberation over the curse of death, spoken about in the Garden of Eden.

Now hearing about the ‘Master Teacher‘ departing on a solitary preaching mission and not seeing him forming an army to fight against the Romans, John the Baptist like others may have wondered if Jeshua was that promised one or if they had to  look for another.

Jeshua (or Jesus) his great forerunner, John the Baptist sought for confirmation of his ministry. Held in prison for condemning the marriage actions of Herod, who had taken his brother’s wife, John expected the advent of the kingdom, as did the apostles (Acts of the apostles 1:9), and did not perceive the greater work of redemption, even though his words announced the coming of the ‘Lamb of God‘ to take away the sin of the world.

Because of those doubting the function of the sent one from God, Jeshua warns them to open their ears so that they would hear about the reality of the Plan of God and the Gospel or Good News of Salvation and of the Kingdom of God. Encountering many who were more interested in the things of the world or those in the temple, clever and learned ones, more interested in teachings of men, rules and rites, instead of the pure Word of God, Jesus did not mind telling those, whom he ran into, about the works of God and helped them in need, even by doing miracles. Those miracles, like the healing, were meant to confirm and validate the gospel, not to become the focus of Jesus his ministry. Healing was a way to (1) show God’s love; (2) show Jesus’ power; and (3) fulfill OT prophecy about the Messiah (cf. Matthew 11:5).

5 Blind people are seeing, lame people are walking around, lame people have been cleansed, deaf people are hearing, dead people are being raised up, and poor people are hearing the good news! 6 And blessed is anyone who is not offended by me!”

In this chapter we are also invited to come to Jesus, so that we can find rest and peace. That rest we shall be able to find when we give ourselves to him, who is the mediator now between God and man, is in the relationship of intimacy that Jesus has called us, so that we can find the way to the small gate to his heavenly Father His Kingdom.  Jesus is leading the way and we should follow him. The apostle Matthew wrote down what we should know to come closer to him and his heavenly Father, the Only One True God.

The judgement that Jesus brought over his generation is one we should seriously look at, so that we do not fall in the same traps as the people around the time of Jesus. Today we also find a response to lovers of God of ridicule and mockery. It is so easy to come on the same terms as those who do not want to know about God, but we should know how important it is to come to a good relationship with the Divine Creator.

Matthew in his writings shows us how Jesus is a son of man and son of God, who is the way to God, and the anointed. The term ‘Anointed‘ or ‘Christ‘ equals the Old Testament term ‘Messiah’ which meant “an Anointed One.” It was used in the sense of God’s special call and equipping. In the Old Testament, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed. Jesus fulfils all three of these anointed functions (cf. Hebrews 1:1-3). King Cyrus of the Persian Empire, who was an unbeliever, was even called God’s anointed (cf. Isaiah 44:28; 45:1).

In this dark world we should come to see the light and all who are weary and burdened should find in this and following chapters how in front of them is the man they should share his yoke and should follow and not institutions or people like the Pharisees.

JL1

Several people in Jesus time were waiting for a super hero. They were blinded and did not come to see that the master teacher from Nazareth was the sent one from God. Today also are putting their hope in super hero’s or make Jesus their god, instead of accepting that man of flesh and blood as the promised anointed one of God, the Kristos or Christ, the Messiah who gave his life for the sins of many.

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Preceding

The Advent of the saviour to Roman oppression

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:7-12 – Opposition and Two Baptisms

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:13-17 – Jesus Declared God’s Son at His Baptism

Nazarene Commentary Mark 1:1-8 – The Beginning of the Good News

Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:3-6 – John Preaches Baptism of Repentance

Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:7-9 – Vipers, Repent!

Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:18-20 – John’s Teaching and Imprisonment

Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:21-23 – The Baptism of Christ

Matthew 10:40-42 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Reception and Reward

 

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Additional reading

  1. A rich history of ancient and Biblical Jordan to explore
  2. The place where Jesus was brought up
  3. Increased in wisdom in favour with God
  4. Memorizing wonderfully 51 Acts 2:22-38 Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God
  5. The Right One to follow and to worship

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Related

  1. John, The Baptist
  2. Matthew 11丨John Calvin
  3. Matthew 11丨C. H. Spurgeon
  4. Meekness — Examples in the life of Jesus
  5. The Light In The Darkness
  6. Advent 3 Sermon, 2017
  7. To Show God’s Faithfulness and Love
  8. Advent 12.13.17
  9. Because We Matter – Matthew 11:4-5
  10. Save us from our selfish selves, a prayer of confession (Matthew 11)
  11. Day 15 – Take my yoke upon you
  12. Burdens heavy and light
  13. Prayer for troubles, sorrow, pain (Matthew 11)
  14. Learning the Unforced Rhythms of Grace [Mt 11:28-30]
  15. Why are people important?
  16. Easy Yoke on the Narrow Way
  17. Prayer- Jesus, I Come (Matthew 11.28-30)

Soon we shall gather to remember two major instances in the history of the People of God. The first remembrance is the liberation from the slavery in Egypt, where God gave enough signs so that people could come to recognise Who is the Most High God above all gods. The second celebration is that of the Jewish master teacher Jeshua (Jesus Christ) who came together at the upper room to remember the Exodus from Egypt but also to install a special moment, namely bringing some symbols in the light of the evening.

Some disciples close to this master teacher had seen how their master had come typically to the Jews in the end of their age as Prophet, (teacher) as Priest (“when he offered up Himself,” `Heb_7:27`.) and as King. (When he rode into their city at the close of his ministry.) But those disciples could see how the moment of glory was very short and how their Jewish brethren did not receive their master in any of these forms.

For a short time they had walked with him and had witnessed miracles. For them it was clear they had some one in front of them who was

“a teacher sent from God“.

They looked up at him, but still expected him to be  a warrior who would defeat the Romans and would become their “King” or ruler.

The Jewish “Feast of Passover” commenced on the fifteenth day of their month Nisan and lasted seven days. Though before that day, there was the the killing of the lamb on the 14th of Nisan, which shall be this coming Friday, March 30, Erev Pesach or Fast of the First born, followed by Nisan 15, 5778 or Pesach 1.

Having the Friday and Saturday the remembrance moments of the liberation of the Jews and the Gentiles, we should jubilate. You could think we should be sad, because Jesus would be slaughtered as a lamb, but we do know that by his offering we were bought free. By his offering at the stake freedom came over mankind, him making an end to the curse of death. And that should bring happiness in our hearts, also three days later mankind got the proof that a man could get out of the dead.

In case Jesus would have been God we would not have any proof that man could resurrect from the death. But now with this man of flesh and blood, the world could see how God had lifted him and has given him a very special place.

Jesus had told his disciples a lot about how to behave and how to treat others, like the homeless, the poor, the needy and how to handle the material provisions, wealth, prosperity, riches, but also poverty and to be prepared to live a life for God. They had heard strange things, like that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. They also had heard that when when their master, the Son of Man, would be sitting on his glorious throne, they who had followed him would also come to sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  (Matthew 19:27-30)

They were so convinced they would come to see that kingdom in their lifetime, but that night this man talked about his death, him leaving them. He took bread and spoke about this being his body. They knew Jesus did not turn the bread into his literal flesh and the wine into his real blood. Jesus’ fleshly body was still intact when he offered this bread and wine. Jesus’ apostles were not really eating his literal flesh and drinking his blood, for that would have been cannibalism and a violation of God’s law. (Genesis 9:3, 4; Leviticus 17:10)

According to Luke 22:20, Jesus said:

“This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf.”

The apostles never thought that the cup presented to them literally would have become “the new covenant”. They knew that would be impossible, since a covenant is an agreement, not a tangible object.

Hence, both the bread and the wine have to be looked at as only symbols. The bread symbolizes Christ’s perfect body. Jesus used a loaf of bread left over from the Passover meal. The loaf was made without any leaven, or yeast. (Exodus 12:8) The Bible often uses leaven as a symbol of sin or corruption. The bread therefore represents the perfect body that Jesus sacrificed. It was free of sin.​—Matthew 16:11, 12; 1 Corinthians 5:6, 7; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 2:1, 2.

The red wine represents Jesus’ blood. That blood makes valid the new covenant. Jesus said that his blood was poured out

“for forgiveness of sins.”

Jesus made it clear that humans can become clean in God’s eyes and can enter into the new covenant with Jehovah. (Hebrews 9:14; 10:16, 17) Jesus was convinced that God would accept his offering and consider his act as a covenant, or contract.

Let us come together Friday night to remember that special sent one from god who was willing to give his life for our sins.

 

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Preceding articles

Preparing for the most important weekend of the year 2018

Voorbereiding op het belangrijkste weekend van het jaar 2018

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Additional reading

  1. Commemorating the escape from slavery
  2. First month of the year and predictions
  3. Entrance of a king to question our position #2 Who do we want to see and to be
  4. Seven Bible Feasts of JHWH
  5. Preparation for Passover
  6. The Atonement in Type and Antitype 1 Sacrifices and High Priests
  7. The Atonement in Type and Antitype 2 Going forth to Jesus
  8. 9 Adar and bickering or loving followers of the Torah preparing for Pesach
  9. Making sure we express kedusha for 14-16 Nisan
  10. This day shall be unto you for a memorial and you shall keep it a feast to the Most High God
  11. Days of Nisan, Pesach, Pasach, Pascha and Easter
  12. Yom Hey, Eve of Passover and liberation of many people
  13. 8 Reasons Christian Holidays Should Not Be Observed
  14. Shabbat Pesach service reading 1/2
  15. Who Would You Rather Listen To?
  16. Solution for Willing hearts filled with gifts
  17. Celebrations pointing to events of ultimate meaning
  18. Most important day in Christian year
  19. Thinking about fear for the Loving God and an Invitation for 14 Nisan

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Related

  1. The Symbol of Blood in Christianity & Upcoming Easter Special
  2. Bread and Cup
  3. Remembering Passover
  4. My Christian testimony: leaving behind the new age deception
  5. Everything Jesus had to say about the homeless, wealth, prosperity, poverty, riches, the poor, the needy and giving
  6. Nisan 14 Sundown March 30, 2018
  7. The Last Supper: What did they eat?

Toen nu Jezus geboren was te Betlehem in Judea, in de dagen van koning Herodes, zie, er kwamen wijzen uit het Oosten te Jeruzalem en vroegen: Waar is de Koning der Joden, die geboren is? Want wij hebben zijn ster in het Oosten gezien en wij zijn gekomen om Hem hulde te bewijzen. (Matteüs 2:1-2, NBG’51)

De wijzen uit het oosten afgebeeld als Perzen, 6e-eeuws Byzantijns mozaïek, Basiliek van Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna

In het evangelie naar Matteüs lezen we over de wijzen uit het oosten, die naar Jeruzalem komen om de nieuwgeboren koning te aanbidden.
Het grote publiek kent ze echter als ‘de drie koningen’, hoewel Matteüs in feite al evenmin een aantal noemt. Men neemt aan dat dit getal drie is afgeleid uit het feit dat ze drie soorten geschenken bij zich hebben (goud, wierook en mirre). En die transformatie van wijzen naar koningen berust op het feit dat de kerk hierin reeds vroeg een vervulling heeft menen te zien van Jesaja:

Sta op en schitter, je licht is gekomen, over jou schijnt de luister van de HEER … Volken laten zich leiden door jouw licht, koningen door de glans van je schijnsel … Een vloed van kamelen zal je land overspoelen, jonge kamelen uit Midjan en Efa. Uit Seba komen ze in groten getale, beladen met wierook en goud. (Jesaja 60:1,3,6)

En van Psalm 72:

De koningen van Tarsis en de kustlanden, laten zij hem een geschenk brengen. De koningen van Seba en Saba, laten ook zij hem schatting afdragen. Laten alle koningen zich neerwerpen voor hem, alle volken hem dienstbaar zijn. (Psalm 72:10-11)

De genoemde streken zouden dan staan voor Europa, Azië en Afrika (al kan je – vanuit Judea gezien – toch eigenlijk alleen maar Azië opvatten als ‘het oosten’) en de geschenken zouden daar dan karakteristiek voor zijn (goud uit Europa, wierook uit Azië en mirre uit Afrika).

De Rijmbijbel van de middeleeuwse dichter van Maerlant spreekt dan ook van (drie!) koningen. Maar al vanaf de eerste gedrukte Bijbels vinden we gewoon de echte Bijbeltekst met een niet nader genoemd aantal ‘wijzen’. Die heten in het oorspronkelijke Grieks van het NT magoi, en in het Latijn van de middeleeuwse Bijbel magi. Een moderne opvatting wil hierin dan ook de aanduiding zien van een stel priesters van het zoroastrisme (uit Perzië) die met deze benaming werden aangeduid.

Maar we kunnen de achtergrond toch beter in de Bijbel zelf zoeken.

God tegen de Farao van Egypte

In het Oude Testament komen we enkele malen een confrontatie tegen tussen de verzamelde wijsheid van een wereldheerser en iemand die door God is aangesteld als Zijn vertegenwoordiger. De eerste keer vinden we dat in Gen. 41. De aartsvaders, die de kern zijn waaruit het volk Israël is ontstaan, hebben dan vooral te maken met de ‘wereldmacht’ Egypte. Farao, de koning van Egypte, heeft in de nacht een tweetal dromen gehad die hij niet begrijpt, maar die hem zeer verontrusten. De Egyptische wijzen beschouwden zichzelf als grote droomuitleggers, en ze worden onmiddellijk door Farao ontboden. We vinden ze aangeduid met chartom en chakam. Dat laatste woord duidt simpelweg op iets van wijsheid; de NBV vertaalt het met ‘wijzen’ en de NBG’51 als ‘geleerden’.
Het eerste woord heeft veel meer de klank van paranormale begaafdheden en magie. Maar met deze dromen weten ze toch absoluut geen raad, en dat geeft God a.h.w. de gelegenheid om Zijn deskundige naar voren te schuiven: de jonge Jozef, uitgerust met Gods wijsheid. Waarmee het in één klap duidelijk wordt Wie de ware bron van wijsheid is.
Dit krijgt enkele generaties later nog een vervolg in Exodus 7 en 8, wanneer Mozes namens God moet optreden om Gods volk te bevrijden uit de macht van de Farao die er dan is. Ook dat resulteert in een confrontatie, maar nu een vijandige, met de Egyptische ‘chartom’, die de NBG-51 opnieuw vertaalt met ‘geleerden’, maar de NBV nu (meer correct) met ‘magiërs’. Dat andere woord, chakam (wijzen), vinden we hier niet, maar in plaats daarvan in Ex. 7:11 nog wel even het woord kashaph,
wat iets als tovenaar betekent.

God tegen de koning van Babylon

Gravering van Nebukadnezar II

De machtigste koning van het Nieuw-Babylonische Rijk Nebukadnezar II

Een andere serie confrontaties vindt (vanaf Mozes gerekend) ruim 800 jaar later plaats in Mesopotamië (het huidige Irak), waar de andere grootmacht van de oude wereld zetelde. Aanvankelijk was dat Assyrië geweest, maar nu was dat – bijna van de ene dag op de andere – het Nieuw-Babylonische rijk geworden, onder leiding van de machtige heerser Nebukadnezar. God zet nu de nog veel jongere Daniël in, want waar Jozef nog 30 jaar oud was geweest toen hij voor Farao stond, moet Daniël bij de eerste confrontatie nog maar een tiener zijn geweest. Ook Nebukadnezar had een droom waar zijn geleerden geen raad mee wisten. Het boek Daniël somt ze op als ‘de magiërs, bezweerders, tovenaars en Chaldeeën’ (2:2). Dat woord Chaldeeën duidt verderop de hele groep aan, dus dat zullen we wel moeten zien als een algemene aanduiding van dit soort ‘deskundigen’. De andere woorden duiden ze aan als (opnieuw) de chartom en als de ashaph en kashaph, waarvan die laatste twee woorden wel mede zullen zijn gekozen vanwege hun klankgelijkheid. Alsof het wil zeggen: de hele reutemeteut. Maar die kan, zoals gezegd, de koning toch geen spat wijzer maken, en Gods piepjonge vertegenwoordiger moet het raadsel oplossen.

Verderop volgen er dan nog drie andere confrontaties. Eerst de weigering van Daniëls drie vrienden om Nebukadnezars gouden beeld te aanbidden. En let ook hier op die veelzeggende opsommingen: ‘de satrapen, stadhouders, gouverneurs, staatsraden, schatbewaarders, rechters, magistraten en alle bestuurders van de provincies’ in 3:3 en vervolgens ‘de muziek van hoorn, panfluit, lier, luit, citer, dubbelfluit en andere instrumenten’ in 3:5,7,10 en 15; alles wordt zogezegd uit de kast gehaald. Vervolgens vinden we Nebukadnezars hoogmoed en vernedering in hoofdstuk 4. En tenslotte de hoogmoed van zijn nakomeling Belsassar in hoofdstuk 5 (met het schrift op de wand).

De lessen hiervan

Let echter op hoe Nebukadnezar geleidelijk aan tot erkenning komt van de macht van Daniëls God. Na de eerste confrontatie erkent hij dat God machtiger is dan zijn eigen goden:

Het is waar, uw God is de God der goden [d.w.z. de allerhoogste God, hoger dan alle andere] en de heer der koningen [d.w.z. machtiger dan menselijke koningen, inclusief hijzelf] (2:47).

Na de tweede confrontatie verbiedt hij zijn onderdanen ook maar iets negatiefs te zeggen over die God van Daniël en zijn vrienden (geen ‘vrijheid van meningsuiting’ hier!):

Daarom vaardig ik het bevel uit dat eenieder, van welk volk, welke natie of taal ook, die zich oneerbiedig uitlaat over de God van Sadrach, Mesach en Abednego, in stukken wordt gehakt en dat zijn huis in puin wordt gelegd, want er is geen god die kan redden als deze. (3:29)

Na de derde belijdt hij tenslotte zijn erkenning van Gods almacht:

Het heeft mij behaagd de tekenen die de hoogste God mij heeft gegeven … bekend te maken. Hoe groots zijn zijn tekenen, hoe machtig zijn wonderen! Zijn koningschap is een eeuwig koningschap en zijn heerschappij duurt van generatie tot generatie voort! (NBV 3:32-33)

Ik, Nebukadnessar, roem, verhef en verheerlijk nu de koning van de hemel. Al zijn daden zijn juist en zijn paden recht. Wie hoogmoedig zijn, kan hij vernederen. (4:34, nummering wijkt af van NBG’51 !).

En na de laatste verwijt Daniël aan Belsassar dat hij is ‘gewogen en te licht bevonden’, omdat hij dit toch niet ter harte heeft genomen:

Hoewel u dit alles wist, bent u, zijn nakomeling Belsassar, niet nederig gebleven. U bent tegen de heer van de hemel opgestaan. (5:22-23).

Wat hier speelt is het feit dat God met deze confrontaties, in de aanloop naar de Babylonische ballingschap van zijn volk nu, en de toekomstige verstrooiing door de Romeinen over de wereld later, al is begonnen de niet-Joodse wereld te tonen wie Hij is, en dat Hij degene is die bepaalt wie koning wordt en wie niet (4:32 en 5:21).

Nog wat taal

Nog even terug naar het woordgebruik. De Septuaginta, de Griekse vertaling van het OT, vertaalde die chartom in Genesis met
exègètai, uitleggers, van exègèsis, uitleg (we kennen dat als exegese, Bijbeluitleg).
Want in Genesis ging het om de uitleg van een droom. In Exodus vinden we het vertaald als epaoidos, bezweerder, afgeleid van aoidos, zanger (en een voorzetsel epi). Want daar ging het om de macht om een wonder te verrichten. Het woord dat onze Nederlandse vertalingen feitelijk vertalen met ‘bezweerder’ is echter dat al genoemde woord ashaph. In de Babylonische wereld was dat eigenlijk de aanduiding voor een astroloog, iemand die wereldgebeurtenissen kon ‘aflezen’ uit de sterren. De
Septuaginta geeft dat weer als magos (meervoud magoi). En dat was weer het woord voor die wijzen uit het oosten, waar we mee begonnen.

De boodschap bij Matteüs

De aanbidding der koningen door Dirk Bouts, 1467-1468

Wat vertelt ons dit? Dit vertelt ons dat de lessen die God de koningen van Babylon (maar daarmee ook die van alle andere wereldmachten) wilde leren, tenslotte toch zijn begrepen. En wanneer zes eeuwen later eindelijk Gods koning wordt geboren, nemen de late nakomelingen van die Mesopotamische astrologen een verschijnsel waar aan de nachthemel waarvan ze beseffen dat het (in de context hun belevingswereld) van belang moet zijn. Ze doen er dik een jaar over om uit te zoeken wat die betekenis dan moet zijn, en ze zullen terecht zijn gekomen bij de Arameese versie van het boek Daniël. En hoe onbijbels en afgodisch hun theorieën ook mogen zijn, God leidt ze daarmee naar de enig juiste conclusie. En zo verschijnen deze magoi in het Jeruzalem van Herodes, om hulde te brengen aan die nieuwe wereldkoning, die de ‘lichtgewicht’ Herodes zelf vervolgens prompt probeert uit te roeien. En dat is de werkelijke boodschap van Matteüs hoofdstuk 2.

Maarten de Vos Aanbidding

Maarten de Vos, Aanbidding van de drie koningen, 1599. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Valenciennes.

R.C.R

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