12.02 The Perean Ministry

12.02 The Perean Ministry

Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 30, 2015  -  Comments Off on 12.02 The Perean Ministry

Unit 12

The Galilean Ministry Ends

 

Chapter 02

The Perean Ministry

 

12.02.00.A. JESUS TEACHES THE CROWDS by James Tossit. 1880. 12.02.00.A. JESUS TEACHES THE CROWDS by James Tossit. 1880. Wherever Jesus went, crowds were sure to go.  His popularity increased exponentially as people increasingly believed He would be the One who would deliver them from Roman oppression.



12.02.01 Introduction

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12.02.01 Introduction

Hostility toward Jesus by the religious leaders developed first in Jerusalem and Judea and then it spread to Galilee. Consequently, He traveled east, crossed the Jordan River, and entered the province of Perea (modern Jordan), where John the Baptist had preached only a few years earlier.  There He was beyond the reach of the Sanhedrin and He could teach His disciples and other followers in peace.

 

East of the Jordan River and several miles south of the Sea of Galilee, the Yarmuk Valley branched off toward the east.  In ancient times the Jews passed through the Yarmuk on their way to and from Babylon and Persia.  It is also where Elijah hid from King Ahab (1 Kg. 17:2-6). Since it was a popular travel route, Herod the Great had a small palace-fortress there, and some scholars believe the magi may have returned to their homes by way of the road along the Yarmuk Valley (see also 04.04.07).  Since Jews lived in the surrounding communities, it was an ideal place for Jesus to minister.[1] The areas where He traveled cover a large distance and are today in modern Jordan and the Golan of Israel. They are as follows:

 

  1. John 1:28 Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, possibly the same location as Bethabara (05.03.01).

 

  1. John 1:28 Bethabara. The name means “house of the ford; place of crossing.” Some believe it is east of the Dead Sea, perhaps where the Wadi Shuayb reaches the Jordan Valley, but the most popular opinion is the area north of the Dead Sea and east of Jericho along the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized (05.03.01).

 

  1. Mk 5:20 The region of the Gerasenes. The area north and south of the Yarmuk River, includes the city of Gadara (08.06.03).

 

  1. Jn 10:42 The region of Perea, an area south of the Jabbok River, known to the Jews as Gilead (10.01.10).

 

  1. Mark 7:31 Region of the Decapolis (10.01.24).

 

  1. Mk 8:1-10 Dalmanutha feeding of 4,000 (10.01.26).

 

  1. Mt. 16:13-20 Caesarea Philippi, where Peter acknowledged Jesus as being the Anointed One (10.01.29).

[1]. Pixner, With Jesus in Jerusalem. 37.



12.02.02 To Perea (December 29-April 30)

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12.02.02 Jn. 10:40-42 Perea (December 29-April 30)

 

TO PEREA  

 

40 So He departed again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and He remained there. 41 Many came to Him and said, “John never did a sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in Him there.

 

The history of the Jews who lived in Perea is rather interesting.  Shortly after Herod the Great came to power, he invited a number of Babylonian Jews to live in the Yarmuk Valley and region of Batanea in Perea.  The shrewd monarch did this for a specific reason: protection. These Jews were excellent archers and could shoot arrows as they rode on horseback, a rare and outstanding military skill of this time.[1]  Their position east of the Jordan River meant they were Herod’s first line of defense in the event of a Parthian invasion.   Scholars believe Batanea was one of the communities of Babylonian Jews where Jesus ministered.[2]

 

 12.02.02.Z Map of Three Jewish Provinces of Judea, Galilee, and Perea 12.02.02.Z Map of Three Jewish Provinces of Judea, Galilee, and Perea. By crossing the Jordan River, Jesus was able to minster to the Jewish people who lived in Perea, as well as to the Gentiles in the area. In the days of Jesus, Perea was often referred to as the “region of Judea across the Jordan.”  Map courtesy of International Mapping and Dan Prsywara.

[1]. Josephus, Antiquities 17.2.1.

[2]. Pixner, With Jesus in Jerusalem. 57.



12.02.03 HOW MANY WILL BE SAVED?

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12.02.03 Lk. 13:22-35 Perea

 

HOW MANY WILL BE SAVED? 

 

22 He went through one town and village after another, teaching and making His way to Jerusalem. 23 “Lord,” someone asked Him, “are there few being saved?”

 

He said to them,        

 

24 “Make every effort to enter  

through the narrow door, because I tell you,

many will try to enter and won’t be able. 

25 once the owner of the house gets up and shuts the door.

Then you will stand outside and knock on the door, saying,

‘Lord, open up for us.’

 

He will answer you, ‘I don’t know you or where you’re from.’

26 Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets!’

 

27 But He will say,

 

I tell you, I don’t know you or where you’re from. 

 

Get away from Me, all you workers of unrighteousness!’ 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in that place, when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves thrown out. 29 They will come from east and west, from north and south, and recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30 Note this: Some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

31 At that time some Pharisees came and told Him, “Go, get out of here! Herod wants to kill You!”

32 He said to them, “Go tell that fox, ‘Look!

I’m driving out demons and performing healings today and

tomorrow, and

on the third day I will complete My work.’

33 Yet I must travel today,

tomorrow, and

the next day, because it is not possible for a prophet to perish outside of Jerusalem!

 

34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem,

She who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her.

 

How often I wanted to  

gather your children together,

as a hen

gathers her chicks under her wings,

 

but you were not willing!  35 See, your house is abandoned to you. And I tell you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One’” (Ps. 118:26)!

 

In this discourse someone asked Jesus how many, or how few, would be saved.  An insightful teacher can estimate how much a person knows, not by the answers given, but by the questions asked. In this case, Jesus understood that this person was beginning to wonder if the assumption was true that all Jews would be saved.  This was a hot issue among the rabbis, as the legalistic Pharisees believed that only those who conformed to their legalism would be saved, while other Pharisees were far more compassionate and caring for the common Jewish people. Possibly the only issue they agreed on was that all Gentiles were lost, except for those who kept the Noahide Commandments[1] or converted to Judaism.[2]

 

Jesus made it clear that only those who placed their faith in Him would be saved. Others, who refuse to do so, will recognize Him with pain and grief on the Day of Judgment.  Jesus said there will be Jews in eternal torment who will be able to briefly see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob before being thrown out. This was in sharp contrast to the prevailing belief that said that because they were descendants of Abraham, they were given eternal security.[3]   In essence, the Pharisees said that for Jewish people, the door was wide open and the road was broad that leads to heaven and for everyone else it was closed – but Jesus clearly disagreed.

 

Furthermore, all Jews expected to enjoy the heavenly messianic banquet with their patriarchal forefathers. Much to the surprise of His listeners, Jesus told them that Gentiles will be there as well.  He also said that people would come to Him, “from east and west, from north and south,” which obviously refers to Gentiles. The Assyrians and Babylonians had taken their forefathers captive and relocated them far to the east. But the Gentiles completely encircled them and, therefore, these four compass directions could have only one meaning: Jesus was telling them that Gentiles would be coming from every direction in the world. The thought of a Gentile being at this banquet was totally unimaginable to them.

 

It is important at this point to clarify a significant point. Throughout Church history, there has been a misconception that all the Jews were always against Jesus, especially at His crucifixion. However, the gospels clearly indicate otherwise.  Some informed Him that “Herod [Antipas] wants to kill you.” In fact, the believing Pharisees on several occasions warned Him of impending danger.

 

  1. The Pharisees come to warn Jesus that Herod wants to kill him. “Herod Antipas is looking to get his hands on you.”[4]

 

  1. They warned Him when they were coming down from the Mount of Olives.

 

  1. They warned Him when the crowds were saying, “Hosanna, Hosanna.” This could have been said with a reasonable degree of safety in Galilee, but to say this in Jerusalem would be cause for a potentially explosive situation.

 

  1. There was a sincere interest on the part of Jesus’ contemporaries concerning His safety. This demonstrates that within the community of Pharisees there were those who were concerned for the safety of Jesus, while others desired to kill Him. Yet nowhere in the gospels is there any evidence that Jesus broke a single written Law of Moses. His enemies desired to kill Him because He broke their Oral laws.

 

I must travel today, tomorrow, and the next day.”  This phrase is not to be taken literally, but is a Hebraic way of saying that when His work was finished, then He would go.  A similar term is “in three days and one” or “in seven days and one.” These phrases refer to a time when one’s work is completed.[5]

 

“Because it is not possible for a prophet to perish outside of Jerusalem!” Again, Jesus makes use of irony in His discussion.  He has a three-day walk from the Galilee area to Jerusalem, where He must go to die.   Jerusalem, known as the “city of God” and “the city of the prophets,” was the natural place for the Son of God to die, as many prophets had done in the past.[6]

 

“Your house is abandoned to you.”  This was a specific reference to the coming destruction of the temple and Jerusalem four decades later in A.D. 70.  How interesting that the Jews had established extremely rigid regulations in order to secure their place in the land of Judaea/Israel, so they would never be exiled again.  Yet, it was because of these regulations that they rejected Jesus and, within a century, the majority of them were either killed or forcibly removed from Jerusalem.[7]

[1]. The Noahide Commandments are based upon the Book of Genesis and are found in Appendix 17.

 

[2]. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ. 2:254.

 

[3]. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 17, page 12.

 

[4]. However, one scholar suggests that this may have been a trap because Jesus was in Perea and outside of the jurisdiction of the Sanhedrin. However, this writer believes that if it were a trap, Jesus would have responded differently. See Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 17, page 13.

 

[5]. Bookman, When God Wore Sandals. CD Trac 10.

 

[6]. More than seven centuries after Jesus the Muslims referred to Jerusalem as the city of the prophets.

 

[7]. General Titus destroyed Jerusalem and burned the temple in A.D. 70, and Hadrian destroyed the temple again in A.D. 135, at which time he evicted every Jew from the city.



12.02.04 MAN HEALED ON THE SABBATH

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12.02.04 Lk. 14:1-6

 

MAN HEALED ON THE SABBATH   

 

1 One Sabbath, when He went to eat at the house of one of the leading Pharisees, they were watching Him closely. 2 There in front of Him was a man whose body was swollen with fluid. 3 In response, Jesus asked the law experts and the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they kept silent. He took the man, healed him, and sent him away. 5 And to them, He said, “Which of you whose son or ox falls into a well, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” 6 To this they could find no answer.

“Body was swollen with fluid.” The physical description of the ill man suggests that he may have had a condition known as dropsy[1] or hydropsy, which today is more commonly known as edema.[2] The biblical phrase is from the Greek word hudropikos (5203), meaning dropsical or suffering from dropsy.[3]  Whether it was this or a similar disease, in ancient times the condition was far more serious than it would be considered today.

 

It was the custom that a visiting speaker or rabbi was invited to the home of one of the synagogue leaders.  In this case, Jesus went to the home of a leading Pharisee.[4]  While there, Jesus asked His critics if it was permissible to heal on the holy day.  They refused to answer and, therefore, Jesus healed the man.  Jesus then spoke of their distorted values.  Their tradition permitted a son (a beloved member of the family) or an ox (a great asset) to be rescued if trapped or injured.  Yet, they objected to the healing of a man who was suffering from an illness.

 

Jesus was again accused of being a Sabbath breaker, whereas in reality, the opposite was true.  He demonstrated the love of God and the importance of every person, in light of a holy day in a sin-infested world. Luke recorded four healings by Jesus on the Sabbath but, no doubt, there were many others as well. These healings gave critics ample argument, while He continued to demonstrate the love of God and His kingdom.

 

Two major schools of theology within the Pharisee sect had numerous heated debates, one of which pertained to Sabbath restrictions.[5] The School of Shammai said it was unlawful to comfort the sick or visit the mourner on the Sabbath, but the School of Hillel permitted it. In the case of a Sabbath violation, the School of Shammai demanded physical punishment whereas the School of Hillel and most other Pharisees, as strict and legalistic as they were, offered a milder punishment that was often in the form of a monetary fine.[6] Those who confronted Jesus on healing on the Sabbath were most likely to be followers of Shammai, rather than Hillel or any other sect.

12.02.04a

 

 

[1]. Blomberg, “The Authenticity and Significance of Jesus’ Table Fellowship with Sinners.” 241.

 

[2]. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edema Retrieved October 15, 2013.

 

[3]. Vine, “Dropsy.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:185.

 

[4]. Just as the gospel writer used the phrase “leading Pharisees,” Josephus expressed the same idea using the term “principal men” in describing those who were responsible for accusing Jesus before Pilate.  See Josephus Antiquities 18.3.3.

 

[5]. See 02.01.14 “Pharisees,” 02.01.18 “School of Hillel,” and  02.01.19 “School of Shammai.”

 

[6]. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ. 2:106.

 



12.02.05 BANQUET PLACE OF HONOR

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12.02.05 Lk. 14:7-14

 

BANQUET PLACE OF HONOR[1]

 

7 He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noticed how they would choose the best places for themselves: 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, don’t recline at the best place, because a more distinguished person than you may have been invited by your host. 9 The one who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in humiliation, you will proceed to take the lowest place.

 

10 “But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ You will then be honored in the presence of all the other guests.

 

11 For everyone who exalts himself

will be humbled,

and the one who humbles himself

will be exalted.

 

12 He also said to the one who had invited Him,

 

“When you give a lunch or a dinner,

Don’t invite your friends,

your brothers, your relatives,

or your rich neighbors,

 

Because,

they might invite you back,

and you would be repaid. 

 

13 On the contrary,

when you host a banquet,

invite those who are poor,

maimed,  

or blind,

 

14 And you will be blessed. 

because they cannot repay you;

you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

 

Jesus instructed the disciples to invite the poor, the crippled, and the blind, so they would be blessed. These were the people with whom the leading Pharisees and Sadducees would not associate, because the religious leaders believed God cursed them by giving them an infirmity and poverty.  Furthermore, these leading Jews believed they would become defiled by even associating with such people. Therefore, the status seekers were generally quick to place themselves in the most favored positions.

 

It was the cultural norm that, when at a banquet, guests would be seated in the order of the greatest honor to the least.  The one seated to the left of the host held the “the best place” which was also known as the “place of honor.” This passage, as with the one following, provides social rules for receiving and giving of hospitality. In the ancient Middle East, social outcasts were invited to wedding banquets – it was a way of demonstrating charity to the poor.  They were asked to sit quietly on the floor, lean against the wall, and were fed at the end of the banquet.[2] These invitations were recognized by the community as a noble gesture by the host. Caring for the poor and outcast has always been a significant element in Judaism. It is highly probable that Jesus used this rule of social etiquette in the structure of His parable.  One such rule of social engagement is found in the Hebrew Bible:

 

6 Don’t brag about yourself before the king,

And don’t stand in the place of the great;

7 for it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here!”

Than to demote you in plain view of a noble.

8 Don’t take a matter to court hastily.

Otherwise, what will you do afterward

       if your opponent humiliates you?

9 Make your case with your opponent                                                                                         without revealing another’s secret;

10 otherwise, the one who hears will disgrace you,
and you’ll never live it down.

 

Proverbs 25:6-10

 

At banquets and feasts, guests were seated according to either their social position in the community or their relation to the host (1 Sam. 9:22; Lk. 14:8). This was commonplace among all the ancient Middle Eastern peoples.  “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” This basic principle was taught in years past[3] and is another example of how Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament and not to replace it.[4] This paradoxical phrase also emphasized the contrast by being present in Hebraic poetry.  In rabbinic literature is found a similar story that the people knew quite well. In it, a certain Rabbi Yochanan, the son of Zakkai,[5] told a parable:

 

It is like a king who invited his servants to a feast and did not set a time for them to arrive.  The wise adorned themselves and waited by the door of the palace, for they said, “Is there anything lacking in a palace?”  The foolish continued working, for they said, “Is a feast ever given without preparation?”  Suddenly the king summoned his servants.  The wise entered the palace adorned as they were, but the foolish entered in their working clothes.  The king rejoiced when he saw the wise, but was angry when he saw the foolish, and said, “Those who adorned themselves for the feast shall sit down and eat and drink; but those who did not adorn themselves for the feast shall stand and look on!”

 

Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath 153b

 

Jesus never said it was wrong to honor someone, as that is related to respect.  He did condemn, however, the arrogant pride that was flaunted by the religious leaders. This narrative underscores an important point: Jesus told stories in various forms to explain His theology and, therefore, understanding the language and culture of the Storyteller is critical. In this case, there can be little question that the wedding banquet narrative gives a hint of the coming messianic banquet in which Jesus will be the central figure and His saints will be the guests.

[1].  The significance of the messianic banquet was very important to Jesus (Heb. Yeshua). The wedding imagery between Himself and His church as it was reflected in a first century Jewish wedding is discussed by Dr. John Fischer, a messianic scholar and rabbi at 09.03.04.V1. See the following as well: Wedding garments needed at the wedding in Mt. 22:1-14 (13.03.07); the great messianic banquet in Lk. 14:15-24 (12.02.06); the wise and foolish virgins in Mt. 25:1-13 (14.01.07); only the father knew Mt. 24:36 (14.01.05); the preparation of a new home in Jn. 14:1-4 (14.02.14). See also 14.02.05.V2 where Professor John Metzger discusses the purity of the (L)lamb during the Passion Week and the related imagery of the bride and groom to the Messianic Wedding Banquet.

[2]. Babylonian Talmud, Derek Eres Zuta 59a; Bailey, Jesus through Eastern Eyes. 246 n15.

 

[3]. 2 Ch. 7:14-15; Pr. 3:34; 25:6-7.

 

[4]. See also Mt. 18:4; 23:12; Lk. 11:43; 18:14; 20:46; Jas. 4:10; 1 Pet. 5:6.

[5]. Rabbi Zakkai was the last disciple of the famous Rabbi Hillel. See Parry, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Talmud. 38-39.

 



12.02.06 PARABLE OF THE GREAT MESSIANIC BANQUET

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12.02.06 Lk. 14:15-24

 

PARABLE OF THE GREAT MESSIANIC BANQUET[1]

 

Lk. 15 When one of those who reclined at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “The one who will eat bread in the kingdom of God is blessed!”

 

16 Then He told him: “A man was giving a large banquet and invited many. 17 At the time of the banquet, he sent his slave to tell those who were invited,

 

            ‘Come, because everything is now ready.’

                        18 “But without exception to make excuses. 

 

The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a field,

and I must go out and see it. 

                        I ask you to excuse me.’

 

19 “Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen,

   and I’m going to try them out. 

      I ask you to excuse me.’

 

20 “And another said,

‘I just got married,

And therefore I’m unable to come.’

 

21 “So the slave came back and reported these things to his master. Then in anger, the master of the house told his slave, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in here the poor, maimed, blind, and lame!

22 “‘Master,’ the slave said, ‘what you ordered has been done, and there’s still room.’

23 “Then the master told the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and lanes and make them come in, so that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will enjoy my banquet!’”

 

 

Literary Style[2]  Again Jesus taught a lesson in the form of a parable reflecting upon a story that the people already knew.  This one in Luke has seven stanzas.  The first four have similar ideas, whereas the last three are different, but are related.  In each of the first four stanzas, there is an action, which is used as an excuse not to come to the banquet. Finally, after a disappointing response an invitation was given to the worldwide community to come and dine with the master.

 

In the biblical period, a wedding was one of the most joyous and festive celebrations.  It came with two invitations, although the community already knew that a certain young man and lady were betrothed to be married. The first invitation came weeks prior to the wedding, and a second invitation came as a reminder, and that one was just a day or two prior to the special event.

 

In this parable, the two invitations to the Messianic banquet reflect the following:

 

  1. The first invitation was sent out by the Old Testament prophets.

 

  1. The second invitation was sent out personally by Jesus.

 

In the parable, no one had an excuse for not coming at the first invitation, but when the second invitation was presented some of the worst excuses imaginable were given. First a review of the characters is given before the question is asked as to why Jesus told this parable.

 

 

 

Cast of Characters

The Master                              =          God

The original invited guests      =          The Jews

The poor people                      =          The tax collectors and social outcasts

Those in streets and lanes       =          The Gentiles

 

It was the cultural norm that there were always two wedding invitations, but in this parable there are three. Scholars have often cited the third invitation to be the invitation of the Gentiles to come to the messianic banquet.[3] Today’s readers have difficulty understanding the meaning of the wedding garments that are to be worn by the guests.[4]  In ancient times, persons of wealth or high rank showed their magnificence and generosity by providing the guests with wedding garments.[5]  In the parable, the garments represent God’s righteous character, and must be worn to attend the great Messianic banquet our Lord will one day have with His saints.

12.02.06a

 

The messianic banquet will occur at the end of the Church Age when all the saints will dine with their Messiah and a new era will begin. When Isaiah first wrote of this event (25:6-9) six centuries before Christ, he said that among those present would include Gentiles from many nations. But during the Inter-Testamental Period the leading Jews were convinced that only God’s Chosen People would be present.[6] Yet Jesus clearly invited those whom the religious leaders rejected.

 

The thought that Jesus said God had other plans was another point of consternation for them.  His words were difficult for them to accept, as they believed they were God’s “Chosen People” and, therefore, His “only people,” regardless of what kind of garments they wore. The cultural meaning of righteousness has always been to hold the biblical code of ethics, such as giving to the poor or expressing kindness, especially in situations when it would not be expected.  But Jesus introduced a new definition of righteousness – that is to have an ongoing relationship with God.  Therefore, one “wears the garment” of righteousness.

 

The first messenger to announce the banquet was John the Baptist and the second was Jesus.  Jesus, speaking in the form of a parable, said that a king made two invitation announcements for his son’s wedding.  The first was several weeks in advance and the second, a few hours prior to the wedding.  According to the rabbinical commentary Midrash, the double invitation was common practice in Jerusalem, because to miss anyone would have been a greater offense in a culture where politeness is held in high regard – with an unknown parallel in Western culture.[7] The significance of cultural politeness and courtesies among the ancients has been lost in Western culture, thereby creating difficulties in understanding the passage.

 

The irony in the parable given by Jesus is that many refused to come to the wedding for ridiculous reasons, thereby conveying supreme insult upon the host. Note the following excuses in this parable:

 

  1. Jesus said that one invited guest refused to come because he had purchased a field and needed to see it. Who would buy a property without first looking at it? It was a poor excuse for not coming.

 

  1. A second man purchased five teams of oxen and needed to test them. Obviously, he was very wealthy and could have had his servants test them.

 

  1. A third man indicated that he just gotten married and, apparently, there was no need to give an excuse for not coming. Many preachers have said, with a sense of humor, that this excuse did not need an explanation. However it does. In fact, according to Deuteronomy 24:5, if anyone had a good reason to attend the celebration with his wife, this man was that person.

 

What is unique about the parable of Jesus is that there were those who made excuses not to attend – which was considered to be a gross insult to the host. The patter of excuses is repeated as follows:

 

  1. I just did this (“X”).

 

  1. As a result I must follow through to do this (“Y”).

 

  1. Kindly excuse me, but I cannot come.

 

But there is no excuse: X + Y = Condemnation! Jesus clearly stated that each person desired to pursue his own selfish goal with total disrespect for the host. Materialism was as much of a problem in the first century as it is today. All too often the personal goals and pursuits overshadow the important eternal matters.  At this point, the host sent out his servants a third time to invite anybody and everybody.  The point of the story is that the Jews had been the invited guests of the Old Testament era and they pursued their own goals in life. Hence, the Gentiles received the blessings that were promised for the Jews.  The imagery as to whom Jesus was speaking could not have been missed. The banquet was the messianic banquet prophesied by Isaiah (25:6-9). The first guests were the leaders of Israel who rejected Jesus.  The poor and lame are the social outcasts within Israel, and those on the roads and country lanes are the Gentiles.

 

“Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in here the poor, maimed, blind, and lame!”[8]  In the ancient Middle East, everyone was invited to a wedding banquet because kindness and hospitality to the unfortunate was seen as righteousness.[9] As stated previously, this narrative underscores an important point: Jesus told stories in various forms to explain His theology and, therefore, understanding the language and culture of the Storyteller is critical.

 

“Not one of those men who were invited will enjoy my banquet!” Jesus did not say that no Jew would be saved.  In fact, the earliest church was comprised totally of Jews, who told other Jews the good news of Jesus, followed by the gospel going to the Gentiles (cf. Cornelius, Acts 10). The men in this context are the anti-Jesus leaders, who were constantly opposing Jesus.

Finally, one of the amazing discoveries of doing this study was to learn how many concepts and teachings of Jesus preceded Him during the Inter-Testamental Period.  This writer feels these are part of the meaning of Galatians 4:4 where the Apostle Paul said that in the “fullness of time” Jesus came.

 

In the two short passages below are responses to invitations given by a monarch or other influential person. In the first, Jesus, the son of Sirach (Ben Sirach), described how the invited person should respond.  In the second, the unknown author said that to decline an invitation offered by a king was seen as a supreme insult. On a side note, Josephus recorded two longer accounts where denying an invitation (not wedding related) by a king resulted in harsh punishment.[10]

 

When an influential person invites you, be reserved, and he will invite you more insistently.  Do not be forward, or you may be rebuffed, do not stand aloof, or you will be forgotten.

 

Ben Sirach 13:9-10

 

A parable: A king sent a proclamation to his country.  What did the inhabitants of the country do with it?  They took it, tore it up, and burned it.  Then they said, “Woe unto us when the king hears this!”

 

Ruth Rabbah Proem 7[11]

 

Three variations of the parable of the Great Messianic Banquet were well known to the listeners of Jesus. One of them is in the second century (B.C.) book of 1 Enoch. It says that Gentiles will be present at the Great Messianic Banquet. On the other hand, the Essenes said that only Jews would be there. The banquet narrative of 1 Enoch is as follows:

 

1 Thus the Lord commanded the kings, the governors, the high officials, and the landlords and said, “Open your eyes and lift up your eyebrows – if you are able to recognize the Elect One!” 2 The Lord of the Spirits has sat down on the throne of his glory, and the spirit of righteousness has been poured out upon him. The word of his mouth will do the sinners in; and all the oppressors shall be eliminated from before his face.  3 On the day of judgement, all the kings, the governors, the high officials, and the landlords shall see and recognize him – how he sits on the throne of his glory and righteousness is judged before him, and that no nonsensical talk shall be uttered in his presence.  4 The pain shall come upon them as on a woman in travail with birth pangs – when she is giving birth (the child) enters the mouth of the womb and she suffers from childbearing.  5 One half portion of them shall glance at the other half; they shall be terrified and dejected; and pain shall seize them when they see that Son of Man sitting on the throne of his glory. 6 (These) kings, governors, and all the landlords shall (try to) bless, glorify, extol him who rules over everything, him who has been concealed.  7 For the Son of Man was concealed from the beginning and the Most High One preserved him in the presence of his power; then he revealed him to the holy and the elect ones.  8 The congregation of the holy ones shall be planted, and all the elect ones shall stand before him.  9On that day, all the kings, the governors, the high officials, and those who rule the earth shall fall down before him on their faces, and worship and raise their hopes in that Son of Man; they shall beg and plead for mercy at his feet.  10 But the Lord of the Spirits himself will cause them to be frantic, so that they shall rush and depart from his presence.  Their faces shall be filled with shame, and their countenances shall be crowned with darkness.  11 So he will deliver them to the angels for punishments in order that vengeance shall be executed on them – oppressors of his children and his elect ones.

 

1 Enoch 62:1-11[12]

 

Prior to the time as Jesus told His parable the Essenes in Qumran were writing about their Banquet in a scroll known as The Messianic Rule. Of course, some of their ideas were hardly in agreement with Him but they did write an interesting opinion concerning that future event.  One of their Dead Sea Scrolls reveals that they anticipated a messianic banquet and, therefore, must have understood His message.

When God will have engendered (the Priest-) Messiah, he shall come [at] the head of the whole congregation of Israel with all [his brethren, the sons] of Aaron the Priests, [those called] to the assembly, the men of renown; and they shall sit [before him, each man] in the order of his dignity. And then [the Mess]iah of Israel shall [come], and the chiefs of the [clans of Israel] shall sit before him, [each] in the order of his dignity, according to [his place] in their camps and marches. And before them shall sit all the heads of [family of the congreg]ation, and the wise men of [the holy congregation,] each in the order of his dignity.

And [when] they shall gather for the common

le, to eat and [to drink] new wine, when the common table shall be set for eating and the new wine [poured] for drinking, let no man extend his hand over the first-fruits of bread and wine before the Priest; for [it is he] who shall bless the first-fruits of bread and wine, and shall be the first [to extend] his hand over the bread. Thereafter, the Messiah of Israel shall extend his hand over the bread, [and] all the congregation of the Community [shall utter a] blessing, [each man in the order] of his dignity.

Dead Sea Scroll 1Q28a, Column 2[13]

Obviously there are two very different opinions of a Wedding/Messianic Banquet.

 

  1. Some believed it will include Jews and Gentiles

 

  1. Others believed only certain Jewish people will attend while all Gentiles will be condemned

 

In the Middle Eastern culture, not to attend a banquet is highly insulting no matter how well the words of an excuse are crafted.  It would have been a different matter if one was seriously ill or injured. But in the parable Jesus presented, it was clearly evident that those who were invited, did not want to come. The parable is also a reflection of the words of Isaiah and the three kinds of people the prophet described.[14]

 

  1. Isaiah 56:1 The pious Jews of Israel who claim to be faithful to the Mosaic law.

 

  1. Isaiah 56:2 The outcasts of Israel; those who were despised by society and the religious leaders.

 

  1. Isaiah 56:8 “Others” in addition to those already attending.

 

So when Jesus presented His version of the Banquet, He definitely had everyone’s attention.  After all, anyone who could heal people, perform miracles of bread and fish, cast out demons, walk on water, and raise the dead, must know what He’s talking about. Whatever He said about the future Banquet carried considerable weight.

 

Finally, when Jesus and the disciples were finishing their last Passover together, Jesus picked up a cup of wine and said that He would not drink of this again until the Great Messianic Banquet. Clearly the imagery of this parable points toward that future event that will include everyone, from all levels of society, who placed their faith and hope in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

 

[1].  The significance of the messianic banquet was very important to Jesus (Heb. Yeshua). The wedding imagery between Himself and His church as it was reflected in a first century Jewish wedding is discussed by Dr. John Fischer, a messianic scholar and rabbi at 09.03.04.V1. See the following as well: Wedding garments needed at the wedding in Mt. 22:1-14 (13.03.07); discussion of the “best place” in Lk. 14:7-14 (12.02.05); the wise and foolish virgins in Mt. 25:1-13 (14.01.07); only the father knew Mt. 24:36 (14.01.05); the preparation of a new home in Jn. 14:1-4 (14.02.14). See also14.02.05.V2 where Professor John Metzger discusses the purity of the (L)lamb during the Passion Week and the related imagery of the bride and groom to the Messianic Wedding Banquet.

[2]. Bailey, Poet and Peasant. Part II. 93.

[3]. Ryken, Wilhoit, and Longman, eds., “Banquet.” Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. 71-72.

 

[4]. See video 09.03.04.V1 by Messianic Rabbi  John Fischer who discusses first century wedding imagery, and video 14.02.05.V2 by Professor John Metzger who discusses the Passover, the Last Supper and its implications to the Messianic Banquet.

 

[5]. Vine, “Garment.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:261, and “Marriage, Marry.” 2:394-95.

 

[6]. This opinion is seen in the Dead Sea Scroll known as The Messianic Rule, which states that no Gentiles will be present.  In addition, the second century (B.C.) Book of Enoch, states that Gentiles will be present, but then the angel of death will kill them.

 

[7]. Midrash. Lamentations, 4:2.

 

[8]. Some older translations, such as the King James Version, read “compel them to come in.” That phrase, unfortunately, has been used to justify persecution of Jewish people, unbelievers, and heretics over the centuries.

 

[9]. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 127.  

 

[10]. Josephus, Antiquities 9.13.2 (263-267) and Wars 2.17.10 (449-456).

 

[11]. Both quotations cited by Bock and Herrick, Jesus in Context. 156.

 

[12]. Parenthesis by Charlesworth in Charlesworth, “1 Enoch” in Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 1:43.

 

[13]. Translation by Stephen D. Ricks of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, Provo, Utah. Because the Dead Sea Scrolls are 2,000 years old or older, portions of papyrus are at times missing and the translators attempt to insert the lost letters and words which are in brackets.

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=120&chapid=1438 Retrieved October 10, 2013.  See also Dead Sea Scroll 1QSa 2:5-10 as referenced by Kenneth Bailey in Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 321, citing  Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English. (1975 ed.) 121.

 

[14]. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 319.

 



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