Bible Commentary: Mark 6 thru Luke 3

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Bible Commentary: Mark 6 thru Luke 3

#1 Post by bejay » Sat Dec 31, 2005 3:41 pm

Bible Commentary for Mark 6 thru Luke 3

Mark Chapter 6

Jesus returns to his hometown, Nazareth, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue and began teaching there. Some of them were amazed at hearing him but most of the people stumbled over him because they knew his family and could not understand how he could speak with such authority when his family was just an ordinary common family and Jesus had had no special training. His father had been a carpenter, his mother was born in this village and none of his brothers or sisters had any outstanding abilities either. (Luke 1:26) They did not view Jesus as being any different than they were. Jesus said to them that a prophet would not be honored in his hometown among his relatives. Because of their attitude towards him, Jesus did not do many miracles there. (Matthew 13:54-58)

Jesus now prepares his apostles for the preaching work. He gave them authority over the demons and he gave them instruction on how they were to act and what they would take with them and what they were to say. They were to rely on the hospitality of the people to take care of their immediate needs and were not to move from one house to another just because the accommodations were better. If they were not welcomed in a town or a village, they would leave it shaking the dust of the place off their feet as a testimony against those living there. (Matthew 10:9-14)

Jesus sent his disciples out by twos. The NIV Bible Commentary, Volume II, page 159 says of this. “He sent them out ‘two by two,’ apparently a Jewish custom (cf. 11:1; 14:13; Acts 13:2), so that the truthfulness of their testimony about Jesus might be established ‘on the testimony of two or three witnesses’ (Dt 17:6).”

When Herod learns about the work of Jesus, he thinks that John the Baptist, who he had killed, had been resurrected. He disliked John because John had condemned him for marrying his brother’s wife so he had John arrested. His wife, Herodias, wanted John put to death but Herod was afraid to do so because he really believed that John was a righteous man. Herodias got her chance when Herod was celebrating his birthday. She had her daughter dance at the celebration and Herod was so pleased with her that he offered her whatever she wanted. Her mother encouraged her to ask for the head of John on a platter and she did. Herod had to do as she asked because he had made the promise before all that attended the celebration. So he sent to the prison and had John beheaded and gave his head to the girl who gave it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. (Matthew 14:1-12)

When Jesus’ apostles returned from their preaching assignment, they reported to him what experiences they had. Many people were coming to Jesus at that time that there was no time for them to eat, so he suggested that the disciples accompany him to a place where they would have a chance to rest. But the people followed them and because Jesus had compassion on them he began to teach them. It became late in the evening and the people had not eaten.

The disciples brought to Jesus’ attention that because they were in a remote place and it was late in the day, the people needed to leave so that they could find food to eat. But Jesus told them to give the people something to eat. Their response was that it would take about two hundred denarii to feed all of those people, about eight month’s wages. So Jesus asked them what food did they have there. They had five loaves and two fish. So he had the crowd recline on the grass in groups of fifties and hundreds. After giving thanks, he had his disciples distribute the food to the people who all ate and were satisfied. Afterwards, they collected twelve basketfuls of leftover pieces of bread and fish. Altogether there were five thousand men plus women and children that were fed. (Matthew 14:13-21)

After this, Jesus sent his disciples ahead of him to Bethsaida while he sent the people home. He also wanted to pray before he joined them. As the day progressed towards late evening, Jesus noticed that his disciples were having a hard time rowing across the lake because of strong winds blowing against them. About the fourth watch, between three and six a.m., he came towards them walking on the water. They all saw him and became terrified because they thought they had seen a ghost. Jesus calmed them by telling them that that they were seeing him. He got in the boat with them and the sea became calm. Mark tells us that the amazement that they disciples showed at this miracle was due to the fact that their hearts were still dull. (Matthew 14:22-32)

Mark Chapter 7

The Pharisees again try to impose their oral traditions upon Jesus’ disciples. They did not see them wash their hands in the ceremonial way so they asked Jesus why would they not do this? For the Pharisees, washing the hands was a complex ritual, with rules as to which hand should be washed first and how. Mark even mentions some of the other rituals they observed such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles. Jesus answered them by applying Isaiah 29:13 to them. They had sidestepped God’s commands in favor of their traditions. He gave them the example of how they had invalidated the fifth of the Ten Commandments, which stated that they must honor their father and mother, and another which stated one must not curse their father or mother. (Exodus 20:12; 21:17) They had devised a scheme that would keep a man from helping his parents when they were in need, thereby nullifying these commands.

The NIV Bible Commentary, page 162, has this to say about this tradition: “A son need only declare that what he had intended to give his father and mother be considered ‘Corban,’ that is, a gift devoted to God and it could no longer be designated for his parents. By devoting the gift to God, a son did not necessarily promise it to the temple nor did he prevent its use for himself. What he did was to exclude legally his parents from benefiting from it.”

In answer to the question that the Pharisees asked, Jesus said to the crowd that what defiles a man is not what goes into him, but what comes out. His disciples later asked him what this parable meant. He told them anything that goes into the mouth does not defile a man because it goes into the stomach and is then eliminated. By saying this, Jesus was, in effect, declaring all foods clean. The disciples at that time did not even understand what this meant. It would later be impressed upon Peter’s mind in the account recorded at Acts 10:9-16. He told them that it is what comes out of the heart that defiles a person, such things as sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. (Matthew 15:1-20)

Jesus travels to Tyre and enters a house hoping to have some privacy but his presence was soon discovered. A Grecian woman came to him asking him to expel a demon from her child. He told her that it was not right to give bread designated for children (the nation of Israel) to their dogs (the Gentiles). She understood exactly what he meant and replied that even the dogs get the crumbs that fall from the table. As a result of her answer, Jesus healed her daughter. (Matthew 15:21-28)

Mark records another miracle that Jesus performed that is not recorded in any other gospel writing. Jesus left Tyre and came into the Decapolis. A man was brought to him who was deaf and mute and they begged him to heal this person because he was unable to ask for himself. Again he took the man away from the crowd to heal him. Mark records Jesus use of an Aramaic word “Ephphatha” which means ‘Be opened’ and the man was healed. Jesus continued to command the people not to talk about what he had done but it was of no use. They could not contain their amazement at the works he was doing.

Mark Chapter 8

Jesus again shows compassion for the people that he had been teaching for three days. They were in a remote place and it would have been difficult for them to find food. So again, Jesus used what his disciples had on hand to feed the people. This time there were four thousand men as well as women and children. Afterwards, the disciples picked up seven baskets of broken pieces of bread and fish. They then got in their boat and went to the region of Dalmanutha, an area that cannot be identified today. Here the Pharisees challenged Jesus to show them a sign to prove who he was. Jesus simple told them that they would not be given a sign. They then left that area and crossed the lake to the other side. (Matthew 15:32-39)

Jesus then warns his disciples to be careful of the teachings of the Pharisees. He used the term ‘yeast’ of the Pharisees’ and immediately the attention of the disciples turned to bread and the fact that they did not have any. Jesus knew that they missed his point so he reminded them that physical bread was not the issue. He had on two occasions fed the crowds with very little bread to start with and there had been leftovers. Mark does not state as Matthew did that they finally realized that he was talking about the teachings of the Pharisees. (Matthew 16:1-12)

This account of Jesus healing a blind man recorded in verses 22-26 is not found in any other gospel account other than Marks. He did not heal him in front of the crowd but took him outside the village of Bethsaida. He spit on his eyes and put his hands on them and asked him what he saw. He reported that he saw men that looked like trees walking around. Jesus then put his hands on his eyes and he was able to see clearly. It is most likely that this man was not born blind as he would not have known what trees or people looked like. Jesus would not let the man go back into the village but told him to go directly to his home. Scholars believe that the reason for this was that Jesus did not want any notoriety about himself to surface until he had completed his preaching in this region.

Jesus and his disciples were traveling to Caesarea Phillipi and on the way there he asked them who were the people saying he was. They answered, some say Elijah, other John the Baptist or one of the other prophets. He asked them who did they think he was. Peter answers the he was the Christ. He told them not to tell this to anyone. (Matthew 16:13-16)

Jesus for the first time tells his disciples what is going to happen to him and they don’t believe him. Peter even criticized him for saying these things. But Jesus reprimanded Peter before all the others because he was emphasizing his own personal thoughts on this matter rather than God’s thoughts. His use of the name ‘Satan’ in reference to Peter probably underscores the fact that thoughts that are in opposition to Jehovah originate with Satan. Jesus’ disciples probably had in mind the accepted view of the Messiah that he would be a strong leader who would deliver them not one that would suffer and die.

He then began speaking to the crowd along with his disciples. He outlined for them the price they would have to pay if they were going to follow him. They would have to live a life of self-denial in which they would be required to give up certain selfish pursuits that most people engaged in order to make their lives comfortable. If they used their strength and energy in these pursuits, they would most likely not have time to put kingdom interest first and so would ‘forfeit their souls.’ They would also have to be willing to proclaim Jesus’ words fearlessly before the nation and not be ashamed to do so as this would cause them to lose their lives. (Matthew 16:21-28)

Jesus’ reference to his coming with the holy angels was to take place in 70 C.E., not in the twentieth century as many religions teach, when he would return to take them to heaven. For further details on this subject, see the article “The Second "Parousia" of Christ--Re-Examined,” at this link: ... c.php?t=22

Mark Chapter 9

Jesus would allow some of his disciples to get a glimpse of the coming of the kingdom of God in power before they died. He took three of his disciples with him upon a high mountain and was transfigured before them. They also saw Moses and Elijah conversing with him; they saw a cloud envelop them and heard a voice from heaven say “This is my son, whom I love. Listen to him!” As they stood watching, they saw only Jesus standing there. As they were leaving the mountain, Jesus told them not to say anything about what they had seen until he had risen from the dead. They did as he told them but they were very much bewildered by the expression ‘rising from the dead’ and they discussed among themselves what it might mean. They still did not understand that the Messiah would have to die.

They may have been reminded of what their teachers taught about Elijah because of having seen him with Jesus in the transfiguration. Jesus agreed that Elijah would come first and restore all things. If Elijah preceded the son of man and restored things why must the son of man suffer and be rejected by the people. (Isaiah 53:7-9) He reminds them that Elijah did come and he had been mistreated just as the people had mistreated the original prophet in his day. Jesus may have been comparing what happened to Elijah during the rulership of Ahab and Jezebel to what happened to John the Baptist during the rulership of Herod and his wife Herodias. (1 Kings 19:1-4; Mark 6:21-28)

When Jesus and the three disciples joined the remainder of the disciples, there was a large crowd surrounding them as they were in a heated discussion with the teachers of the law. Jesus asked them what they were arguing about and a man told him about his demon-possessed son that his disciples could not help. Jesus told them to bring the boy to him and he told the demon to come out of the boy and never enter him again. Then the demon after causing him convulsions came out. The disciples wanted to know why they could not drive this particular demon out. Jesus told them that some demons required special help from Jehovah to drive them out. In the account in Matthew, Jesus told them that they did not have enough faith to do this. (Matthews 17:14-22)

Jesus took his disciples to an unnamed place because he wanted some private time with them so that he could continue helping them to understand what was going to happen to him. He told them again that he would be betrayed into the hands of the men; they would kill him but he would rise three days later. But they did not understand what he meant and did not want to ask him any questions.

When they came to Capernaum, Jesus asked them what had they been arguing about as they traveled. They did not want to tell him but he knew anyway. So he explained to them that the one who wanted to be great must first be a servant. He put a child before them and said that if they welcomed suchlike ones they were not only welcoming him but also his Father who had sent him. (Matthew 18:1-5)

One of Jesus’ disciples, John, came to him to tell him that someone who was not associated with them was casting out demons in his name. Jesus told him not to bother the man because as long as he was doing this in his name, he would not be quick to revile him. Anyone who was for them would not be against them. Anyone who offered help to one of them because of who they were would not lose their reward.

Jesus tells them that it is a serious offense to cause someone who believes in him to sin. The person who does this would be better off to tie a millstone around his neck and be thrown into the sea. If a person has a propensity to fall into sin, Jesus tells us that it would be better to sever the offending body part, whether it is a foot, a hand, or even an eye rather than allow it to cause one to loose his eternal life. Jesus’ words to any that would follow him show they would be ‘salted with fire,’ that is, they would have to go through much suffering and persecution. His disciples would also need to have salt in themselves and be at peace with each other.

Mark Chapter 10

As Jesus has now left the region of Galilee and is on his way to Jerusalem as he knows that his ministry is nearing completion. He is now in the region of Judea and he continues to teach the crowds. The Pharisees are still trying to put stumbling blocks in his path by asking questions that would get him in trouble with Herod, just as had happened to John. That is why they asked him if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife. Jesus knew that Moses was their authority on divorce so he asked them what did Moses command them. They told him and he said to them that Moses only allowed divorces because the people were so hard headed but this was not Jehovah’s command from the beginning when he instituted marriage. Marriages were not to be dissolved. (Matthew 19:1-9)

Later his disciples wanted to know why Jesus had answered the way he had. He told them that anyone who divorced his mate on any sort of ground and married another commits adultery against that mate, whether male or female. The NIV Bible Commentary, page 174 has this to say about Jesus’ response to his disciples: “Jesus gave them a straightforward answer; divorce and remarriage by husband or wife is adultery. Jesus did what the rabbis refused to do; he recognized that a man could commit adultery against his wife. In rabbinic Judaism a woman by infidelity could commit adultery against her husband; and a man, by having sexual relation with another man’s wife, could commit adultery against that other man. But a man could never commit adultery against his wife. Jesus, by putting the husband under the same moral obligation as the wife, raised the status and dignity of woman. Furthermore, Jesus went on to recognize the right of a woman to divorce her husband (v.12), a right not recognized in Judaism.”

The disciples try to stop people from bringing their children to Jesus, but Jesus reprimands them for doing this. He tells them that unless they adopt the attitude of children they will not enter the kingdom of heaven. The selfless and dependent spirit exhibited by children is what adults needed to cultivate. (Matthew 19:13-15)

A rich ruler approaches Jesus, addressing him as ‘good teacher’ and asks what must he do to inherit eternal life. Jesus first tells him not to address him as ‘good’ as that title belongs to his Father only. He then draws his attention to the commandments of the law. The man tells him that he has kept these since he was a boy. Jesus tells him that there is one more thing that he can do; he can sell all of his belongings and give to the poor, then he will have treasure in heaven. He can then come and be a follower of Jesus. This was not what the man wanted to hear so he went away as he was very wealthy.

Jesus commented that it would be very difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom. The disciples were amazed at this statement because they believed that the rich were blessed by Jehovah and so should have been able to enter the kingdom with ease. But Jesus dispelled that notion because he knew that a rich man depended upon his wealth and would find it difficult to rely upon Jehovah. So the disciples wondered who could be saved if the privileged could not. Jesus told them that salvation did not depend on men but on God. Peter wanted to know what would they get as they had left all things to follow Jesus. He told them that what they had given up they would get a hundred fold in return in the present system, along with persecution and in the future, they would get eternal life. (Matthew 19:16-30)

As they continued on towards Jerusalem, Jesus again told them, for the third time, what would happen to him once he got there. Although Mark does not record their response but Luke 18:34 says that they still did not understand what Jesus was talking about, it was hidden from them. The sons of Zebedee requested that Jesus would seat them in the honored positions besides him in his kingdom, one at his right hand and the other at his left hand. They may have thought that since Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, he was going to be given the kingdom when he arrived there or at some time hence. Jesus tells them that for such privileges to be granted them, they would have to drink from the same cup as he drank and be baptized in the same baptism that he had to undergo. They said that they were willing to do so. Still Jesus said that the granting of such honor belonged to his Father not to him.

When the other disciples learned of this request, they became indignant with James and John. Their being indignant may have stemmed from the fact that they too desired these positions. Jesus said to all of them that being his disciples required that they first become servants and slaves to others in imitation of him. He had come not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:20-28)

Jesus and his disciples were now about fifteen miles outside Jerusalem. When they came to Jericho, probably the old city and were approaching the new city of Jericho built by Herod the Great, they encountered a blind man on the road. When he learned that Jesus was near him he began to shout, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” The crowd tried to quiet him but he continued to shout. Jesus stopped and asked him what he wanted from him. The man told Jesus that he wanted his sight and Jesus restored it to him and the man began to follow him. (Matthew 20:29-34)

Mark Chapter 11

Before Jesus enters Jerusalem, he sent two of his disciples to a village to bring him a colt that was tied there. If anyone asks them what they want with the colt, they are to say that ‘the lord’ needs it and will send it back shortly. When they returned with the colt, some of the people spread their cloaks on the road and others spread branches on it. Then some went ahead as Jesus rode upon the colt shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD [Jehovah]. Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” This action on the part of the crowds appears to have been entirely spontaneous. Jesus came into Jerusalem and went into the temple but did not linger because of the late hour. He left to go to Bethany to spend the night. (Matthew 21:1-9)

The next morning, he saw a fig tree that had leaves on it and he went to take fruit from it. But it did not have figs on it, so he cursed it. When he arrived in Jerusalem he removed from the temple all of those that were selling animals there and condemned them for making his Father’s house a den of robbers, quoting Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11. The priests and scribes heard about this and they became more determined to kill him but were afraid to act because of the crowds. (Matthew 21:12, 13)

The next morning as they returned to Jerusalem, they passed the fig tree that Jesus had cursed and saw that it had withered. Jesus explained to them the frame of mind that they should have when they approached Jehovah. He said that if they have faith there would be nothing that they would ask Jehovah for that He would not give them or do for them. Their approach should be as though they already had received what they were asking for. And they should not forget to forgive others if they have anything against them so that in return Jehovah would forgive them. (Matthew 21:18-22)

As Jesus was walking in the temple, he was approached by the members of the Sanhedrin asking him who gave him the authority to regulate what was going on in the temple. If they would answer a question for him he would answer their question. He asked then if John’s baptism was from men or from heaven. They discussed what they should say and decided not to answer his question because they could not defend any answer that they would give. So they said that they did not know. Jesus said he would not answer their question either.

Mark Chapter 12

Mark now records Jesus’ parable of the vineyard where the owner spent a lot of effort preparing it to produce fruit. He rented it out and then went on a journey. Later, he sent his servants to collect what was due him from the tenants. The tenants acted in an insolent manner towards these servants mistreating some and killing others. The owner finally decided to send his son hoping that they would respect him. But they killed him also hoping that they could claim his inheritance as their own. The owner would now come and kill the tenants and rent the vineyard out to others. In Isaiah 5:1-7 a description is given of a vineyard that is very similar to the one Jesus described. Verse 7 of this chapter says that the vineyard represented Israel. The religious leaders were probably familiar with this scripture and concluded that Jesus was making reference to them as the wicked tenants. Again they could not arrest Jesus at this time because of the crowds that were following his every word. (Matthew 21:33-46)

The Sanhedrin then sent representatives from two other sects from among them, the Pharisees and the Herodians. These two groups were political opponents but they united together in their effort to get rid of Jesus. They tried to trap him by asking whether they should pay taxes or not. Jesus took a denarius and asked them whose portrait was on the coin. They answered that it was Caesar’s. Jesus said then they should pay to Caesar what was his and pay to God what was His. According to the NIV Bible Commentary, page 183, “In showing one (the Roman coin) to Jesus, they had already answered their own question. By using Caesar’s coinage they were tacitly acknowledging Caesar’s authority and thus their obligation to pay the tax.” Jesus adroitly avoided their trap. They would later try to use his answer against him. (Luke 23:2)

But they were not finished. They now sent the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, to test him regarding levirate or brother-in-law marriage and the resurrection. Their scenario dealt with a woman who was eventually married to seven brothers who all died without producing an offspring with her. They wanted to know whose wife would she be in the resurrection. Their view of the resurrection was that, if it was true at all, it must be an existence that was a parallel to their current life.

Jesus’ answer showed that those resurrected from the dead will not marry at all as they will be like the angels. He was speaking about the resurrection to heavenly life. He then told them that they were ignorant of the scriptures if they did not believe that there was going to be a resurrection from the dead. He related the account of Moses at the burning bush when Jehovah identified himself as the ‘God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ He is the God of the living not the dead. (Matthew 22:23-33)

One of the scribes was listening to this debate and he acknowledged that Jesus had given a fine answer. But he had a question for him. He wanted to know which was the greatest commandment. Jesus answered using Deuteronomy 6:4, 5 and Leviticus 19:18. The man agreed with Jesus that these two commandments were more important the all the burnt offering and sacrifices. Jesus replied to the man that his way of thinking put him close in line with kingdom truths. Jesus showed his capability was unparalleled in answering question put to him by the religious leaders so they did not question him anymore. (Matthew 22:34-40)

The next question came from Jesus himself. The scribes say that the messiah is the son of David. Yet David under inspiration called the messiah ‘Lord.’ Jesus asked, how can he be David’s son? (Psalms 110:1) Mark does not record the response to this question, as does Matthew. (Matthew 22:41-46) Jesus then warned the people about the scribes that love to be honored by men and liked the most important seats in the synagogue and the places of honor at banquets. They prey on widows and their prayers are for show only. They were going to receive severe punishment. (Matthew 23:1-7)

The NIV Bible Commentary, page 185, says this of these men: “Since the teachers of the law were not allowed to be paid for their services, they were dependent on the gifts of patrons for their livelihood. Such a system was vulnerable to abuses. Wealthy widows especially were preyed on by the greedy and unscrupulous among these men.”

Jesus took a seat opposite the place where the people put their contributions into the temple treasury. Many people were putting in large sums of money but one woman put only a few copper coins in the box. Jesus commented that she put more in than anyone else because she gave all she had while the others put in out of their surplus.

Mark Chapter 13

As they were leaving the temple, Jesus’ disciples drew his attention to the buildings of the temple. The temple was the focal point of the nation. Jesus told them “Do you see all these great buildings? Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” The temple would, in the future, be utterly destroyed, and Jesus wanted them to understand this.

As they were sitting upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples asked him a question concerning his statement about the temple. It is interesting to note that they connected the destruction of the temple and the end of the Jewish system of things together in their question to him. They asked “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to be fulfilled?”

He told them to watch out for false christs who will come on the basis of his name, and will mislead many. We know that the word Christ means “anointed one”. In our time, we will see many that will come on the basis of the Christian Covenant and will say “I am anointed” and will mislead many. Then Jesus mentions that they would hear of wars and reports of wars, and but they were not to be terrified, for these things must take place, but the end of the Jewish system of things was still to come.

His next words can be applied to our modern day where he mentions the fact that nation would rise against nation and kingdoms against kingdoms; there would be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. This is indicative of the ride of the horsemen of the apocalypse, with a major war imminent, WW III. All these things are but a beginning of pangs of distress.

There would be much tribulation for God’s people. They would be delivered up before the local Jewish authorities that will flog them in the synagogues. They would be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of Jesus’ name, and they would even be fighting among themselves, betraying one another and hating one another. Now Jesus says that the good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. In our modern day, this event will be accomplished by the YORWW Congregation because the kingdom is the one that is described in Daniel 2:44. This kingdom will be an earthly kingdom and all the nations will hear this message before the end comes.

Conditions that will exist before the great tribulation are now being described in some detail. When they caught sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, standing in a holy place, then they should begin fleeing to a place of safety. (Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11) The event that made fleeing possible was the revealing of the Watchtower Society as a NGO in association with the UN. This revelation signaled the fall of Babylon the Great and the way was now open to flee. At that time, discerning ones became aware that this was a devastating situation for God’s people and they took steps to seek out the truth. They wanted to know and understand how Jehovah would work out His purposes in connection with His people. They did not at that time sever their relationship with this organization, but used the time wisely to discover ‘living waters’ in associated with the YORWW Congregation. Here they began to understand the meaning of the war described in Daniel 10:1 and its significance, so that they would take the appropriate steps when the war occurred.

Once they saw the war, there would be a great sense of urgency created to flee to a place of safety. They would know that they would not have time to go into their houses to bring any goods out, or even to pick up a garment. The Great Tribulation will be hard on the heels of this war bringing great distress to all caught in it. This will be a very difficult time for the pregnant woman and those nursing babies, the elderly and others who have special circumstances. The distress that will be experienced at this time will be unlike anything that has ever occurred and will not be repeated and if those days were not cut short, no flesh would be saved but on account of the chosen ones, those days will be cut short.

For those caught up in the Great Tribulation, there will be much confusion. There will be many saying ‘look, here is the Christ or there is the Christ,’ but these ones will not have any answers. The warning is not to follow them because false christs and false prophets will arise and give great signs and wonders. Satan is behind the activity of these false christs because it is his intent to mislead all including the chosen ones. There will be many others who will claim that they know where the son of man can be found. They are not to be believed either for just as the lightning comes out of eastern parts and shines over to western parts, his coming will be so bright that everyone will see it.

After the Great Tribulation on modern-day Israel is over, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. This corresponds to what is described in Rev. 6:12-17 where the destruction of Babylon the Great is foretold.

The sign of the Son of man will be visible for the world to see. (Revelation 14:14-16) The tribes of the earth will mourn and will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. He will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to their other. The kingdom of the son of man is now ready to take over the rulership of the entire earth. (Revelation 11:15; Psalms 2:2; Daniel 7:13, 14) Every one of earth’s inhabitants will now have to take a stand either for or against this kingdom because they will have been given all the signs that they need to make the right decision.

Beginning in verse 28, Jesus’ discussion reverts back to a different event. He now describes how the kingdom over Israel comes into power, something that he had not initially said anything about. (Revelation 12:10) In Luke 17:20, 21, he describes this kingdom as coming without any advance notice or observable signs so that people could point to it and say ‘here it is or there it is.’ This kingdom is different than the one described in verses 26 and 27, which is accompanied by signs. (Matthew 24:1-32)

Therefore, he stresses the need for God’s servants to be on the watch, to be on guard, to be alert because they would not know the day or hour as the coming of this kingdom would not be accompanied by signs. Mark likens this situation to a man who goes on a journey and puts his servants in charge. Before he leaves he makes sure that everyone has an assigned task and he tells them to keep on the watch. Just as these servants would not know when their master would return, so Jesus’ disciples would not know when he would return. They would have to keep on the watch.

Mark Chapter 14

The Passover is two days away and Jesus is in Bethany at the home of Simon. A woman comes into the home with an expensive jar of perfume and she pours it over Jesus’ head. Some complained that the perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor as it may have been worth a year’s wages, or about three hundred denarii. Jesus told them to leave her alone as what she did was done in preparation for his burial and would be remembered as long as the gospel was spread throughout the world. The poor, he said, would be with them always and there would be other times that they could help them. The woman who did this is identified in John 12:3 as Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha. Judas chooses this time to go to the chief priest to tell them that he would betray Jesus to them and they promised him money for doing this. (Matthew 26:2-16)

On the first day of Passover or the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Jesus told his disciples where to go to make the preparation for the meal. While they were eating, Jesus said that one of them would betray him. He identified this one as the one who dips his bread in the bowl along with Jesus. He said to them that he would have to die but it would have been better for his betrayer if he had not been born. Judas may have been dismissed from the meal at this time. Jesus now institutes what is now known as the Lord’s Evening Meal, which his disciples would celebrate until he returned to take them into the kingdom with him. We now know that this event occurred in 70 CE. This meal is still celebrated by most religions today because they do not believe that Jesus has returned already. (Matthew 26:17-30)

Jesus then told them that they would be stumbled in connection with him and he cited Zechariah 13:7 in support of his statement. He would though after being resurrected go ahead of them into Galilee. Peter spoke up that no matter what the others did, he would never fall away. Jesus then told him that before a rooster crowed twice, he would deny knowing him three times. (Matthew 26:31-35)

They then went to a place called Gethsemane where Jesus withdrew from them in order to pray to Jehovah. He is described as being deeply distressed and troubled. He was not afraid of dying but he did not want to die as a blasphemer against Jehovah as this would bring reproach on his Father’s name. (Deuteronomy 21:23) In his prayer, Jesus referred to his Father by the Aramaic name for father, Abba. Mark is the only one who records this expression. Jesus was requesting of his Father that if it was possible to change this and if it was in harmony with his will, then let the cup be taken from him. After praying, he returned to find his disciples sleeping. He became very urgent with them telling them to rise because his betrayer had come. (Matthew 26:36-46)

Judas came with a crowd armed with swords and clubs and he walked up to Jesus and kissed him. This was the signal to identify the man that they were to arrest. They took Jesus into custody and one of his disciples took out a sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Mark does not give any other detail concerning this as does Matthew. At this time all of his disciples deserted him. (Matthew 26:47-56) An unidentified young man was following Jesus and when the crowd seized him, he fled from them leaving his garment behind. Many believe that this man was John Mark, the writer of this book that bears his name.

Jesus was taken to the high priest and all the Sanhedrin gathered together hoping to find some evidence to convict Jesus of a crime so that they could have him killed. Peter was following Jesus and he came into the courtyard and sat in front of the fire. Many witnesses came before the Sanhedrin and gave false testimony against Jesus but they could not find two witnesses whose testimony agreed with each other. During all of this, Jesus kept quiet. The high priest then asked Jesus if he were the Christ, the son of God. Jesus then answered him that he was and they would see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. This was all that they needed to hear. He was guilty of blasphemy. They all agreed that this was true and they condemned him to death. (Matthew 26:57-68)

Meanwhile, a servant girl saw Peter and she said that he was a follower of Jesus. Peter denied this and he left the courtyard. This same girl saw him again and told the people that he was a follower of Jesus. Again Peter denied her accusation. Then some of those standing near him said that he must have been a follower of Jesus because he was Galilean. For the third time, Peter denies this and a rooster crowed for the second time. Peter remembered Jesus’ words to him and he began to weep. (Matthew 26:69-75)

Mark Chapter 15

The Sanhedrin made the decision very early that morning to hand Jesus over to Pilate. When he was before Pilate, the governor asked him why would he not reply to the charges being made against him. But Jesus remained silent just as Isaiah had prophesied he would do. (Isaiah 53:7) It was the custom of the Romans to release a prisoner during the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the people, whoever they requested. They asked if he was going to keep that custom and he wanted to know if they wanted Jesus released. The religious leaders urged them to ask for Barabbas, a known murderer. Pilate then asked what they wanted him to do with Jesus and they replied that he should kill him. Pilate was very well aware that Jesus was before him only because the religious leaders were envious of his popularity with the people. But he released Barabbas to the crowd, had Jesus flogged and handed him over to the soldiers to be put to death. (Matthew 27:11-26)

The soldiers took Jesus to their headquarters and made fun of him by clothing him in a purple robe and put a crown of thorns on his head. They struck him, spit on him and paid mock homage to him. Then they put his clothes back on him and took him out to put him to death. He was taken to a place called Golgotha, a place outside the city, where he was nailed to a stake along side two other men who were robbers. Above his head was the charge that they had against him, ‘King of the Jews.’ He was offered wine mixed with myrrh, which he refused. After removing his clothes, the soldiers cast lots to see who would get them. All the people who passed by hurled insults at him. Even the chief priests and scribes mocked him among themselves. They said that if he was the king of Israel, he should come down from the tree and prove to them just who he was. Even the criminals condemned along side him found fault with him. (Matthew 27:27-44)

Jesus was put on the stake at 9 a.m. and at noon, darkness fell over the land until around 3 p.m. (Amos 8.9) At about this time, Jesus cried in a loud voice words that meant, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalms 22:1) Someone put wine vinegar on a sponge with a stick attached to it and offered it to him. But with a loud cry he at that moment died. The curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy was rent in two. The NIV Bible Commentary, page 201, says this: “Since only the priests were permitted entrance into the Holy Place, this event probably became part of the tradition through the report of priests who were subsequently converted to Christianity (cf. Acts 6:7)”

As evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, went to Pilate and asked if he could take Jesus’ body and bury it. He did this because the Sabbath was fast approaching. Pilate seemed surprised that Jesus had died so soon and he asked the centurion if this was true and he told him that it was. So he gave Joseph permission to take the body of Jesus. He took some linen and wrapped the body in it and laid it in his tomb where he rolled a large stone in the entrance. (Isaiah 53:9b)

Mark Chapter 16

When the Sabbath was over, three women who had ministered to Jesus while he was alive went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. They were concerned that they would not be able to roll the stone away from the entrance. But when they arrived they saw that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb and a man, dressed in white, was sitting there. He told them that Jesus had been resurrected and they were to go and tell the disciples that he would go ahead of them into Galilee (14:28) where they would see him. The women ran from the tomb afraid and bewildered and they did not say anything to anyone. (Matthew 28:1-8)

Verses 9-20 of this chapter will not be considered in this commentary, as most scholars believe that they were not an original part of Mark’s writings but were added later.

Luke Chapter 1

The writer of the book of Luke is generally believed to be the one Paul referred to in Colossians 4:14 as “Luke, the beloved physician.” He is believed to have been a Gentile who came from Antioch in Syria. He wrote both the books of Luke and Acts to a person by the name of Theophilus, who may have been a ruler but was most certainly a Gentile. Some scholars believe that Theophilus was the one that Luke relied upon to see that his writings were made available to others. We might view him as we do a publisher of books today. According to the New Revised Standard Version preface to Luke, the author makes the case for this book being written to a Gentile. He tells us that ‘in comparison to other gospel writers, Luke makes very few quotations from the Old Testament and he seldom appeals to the argument from prophecy.’ His gospel can be dated from 59 to 63 CE.

Luke begins his writing with the events surrounding the birth of John the Baptist. John’s father was a priest named Zechariah of the order of Abijah. Abijah’s division was the eighth among the twenty-four divisions that David divided the priestly family into. (1 Chronicles 24:10) His wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. They did not have any children and both were getting on in years. At this particular time, when Zechariah’s priestly division was serving at the temple, he had been chosen by lot to offer the incense in the Holy Place. This would be the only time that Zechariah would have this duty as a priest would only get to perform this service once in his lifetime because there were so many priests. While he was offering the incense, an angel appeared next to the altar. Zechariah was terrified but the angel calmed him and told him that his prayer had been heard; his wife would bare him a son who would be called John. This son would be great before Jehovah, he is never to drink wine and will be filled with Holy Spirit from birth. He will have the spirit and power of Elijah and he would prepare a people for Jehovah. (Malachi 4:5, 6)

Zechariah wanted proof that this would happen as the angel had said because of his and his wife’s advanced age. The angel told him that he stood before Jehovah and had been sent to speak to him. Because he did not believe the angel’s words, he would be unable to speak until his son had been born. When he left the Holy Place, he was unable to speak so the people concluded that he must have seen a vision. After his priestly duties were completed, he returned home and his wife became pregnant. She remained in seclusion at her home for the first five months of her pregnancy.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Jehovah sent Gabriel to Nazareth to a virgin named Mary, who was engaged to Joseph. When the angel approached her and greeted her as a ‘highly favored one,’ she wondered about the meaning of this greeting. He told her not to be afraid because she had found favor with Jehovah. She would become pregnant and would give birth to a son that she would call Jesus. He would be called the son of the Most High and would be given the throne of David and would rule Israel forever. Mary asks the angel how would this be possible as she is still a virgin. The angel explained to her that her pregnancy would be due to the activity of God’s holy spirit, therefore her son would be holy. Mary accepted this explanation and agreed that it should be with her as Jehovah had said. Her attitude was very different from that of Zechariah, as she did not ask for a sign from Jehovah. She also does not consider the impact of what she could face as a pregnant unmarried woman although Jehovah does and He takes steps to solve that problem. (Matthew 1:18-24)

This situation with Mary can be easily explained today because we are familiar with the term ‘surrogate mother,’ where a fertilized egg is placed in the womb of a woman who will simply carry the embryo until it matures. She does not contribute any of her DNA to the child as it will have the DNA of its natural parents who contributed the fertilized egg. In the case of Jesus, since he was already alive in heaven before this event, Jehovah transferred his life force to Mary’s womb where it would mature and she would give birth to a human that would not have any of her DNA.

Mary goes to visit her relative, Elizabeth, and as soon as Mary greets her, the baby in her womb stirred and she became filled with holy spirit. She said to Mary that she was blessed among women and she called her ‘the mother of my Lord.’ Even the baby in her womb leaped for joy at the sound of Mary’s greeting. Mary is also to be blessed because she did not doubt that Jehovah’s word to her would be accomplished.

Mary then said that she glorified Jehovah and rejoiced in Him, her Savior because He had chosen to use her, a person from an humble background to be called blessed by all future generations. She praises Jehovah because His mercy extends to all generation. He brings down the proud and lifts up the humble. He fills those who are spiritually hungry and sends away empty those who consider themselves to be rich. He has not forgotten to be merciful to Abraham and to his descendants. After remaining with Elizabeth for three months, she returned to her home.

Elizabeth gave birth to her son and on the eighth day he was circumcised and given a name. It was assumed that the baby would be named after his father, but Elizabeth objected and said that he would be called John. The neighbors that were with her then asked Zechariah what the child would be named and he also said John. At that time his tongue was loosed and he was able to speak again. Everyone was in awe and wondered if there would not be something extraordinary about this child as they could see the hand of God in what was happening.

Then Zechariah was filled with holy spirit and began to prophesy. He praised Jehovah because he had brought redemption to His people. He had done as he promised through his prophet Jeremiah, to bring salvation by way of the house of David. This one would save them from their enemies and from those who hated them as he had promised to Abraham, enabling them to serve Jehovah in holiness and righteousness. (Jeremiah 23:5; Genesis 22:16-18)

To his son he said that he would be a prophet of Jehovah and would prepare the way for Him, by showing His people the way to salvation through having their sins against His covenant forgiven. Jehovah’s tender mercy is evident in that he will send light from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death to show them the way to a peaceful relationship with Him. (Isaiah 9:2)

Luke Chapter 2

In the days of Caesar Augustus a census was to be taken of the entire Roman Empire. This meant that most people would return to the hometown where their families originated. So Joseph took Mary and they went to Bethlehem because both of them were of the house of David. Mary was expecting a child and while they were in Bethlehem, she gave birth to son. The city was so crowded that they were unable to find a room so she had to place her son in a manger.

At that time shepherds were living in the nearby fields with their flocks at night. An angel appeared to them and Jehovah’s glory shone around them and they became afraid. The angel told them that he had good news to declare to them. A savior had been born in the city of David, the christ or messiah, and they would find him wrapped in cloths lying in a manger. Suddenly a host of angels appeared who were praising Jehovah saying “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” After the angels left them, the shepherds decided to go in search of this baby and when they found him, they told others what the angels had said to them about this child.

The Law of Moses specified that the mother would be unclean for a period of seven days after giving birth to a son. On the eighth day, the child was to be circumcised and also at that time he would be given his name. They called him Jesus, the name the angel had given to Mary when he appeared to her. Then she would wait another thirty-three days during which time she would be purified from her flow of blood. After this period was over, the boy was to be taken to the temple and presented to Jehovah as he was the firstborn son. (Exodus 13:2, 13) Mary would also bring an offering to the priest of two doves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering that would be used to atone for her so that she would be clean. (Leviticus Chapter 12)

While they were in the temple, a man named Simeon was inspired by Jehovah to utter a prophecy about the child. Jehovah directed him to Mary and Joseph and he took the child in his arms and thanked Jehovah that he had allowed him to see his means of salvation before he died. This one would be a light for the Gentiles as well as for Israel. (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6) Then he blessed them and said to Mary that the child would cause many to fall and others to be raised up and he would be spoken against so that the thoughts of the hearts of the people would be revealed. Mary would also experience anguish and suffering because of her son.

Anna, the prophetess, of the tribe of Asher was also in the temple. She was then an eighty-four year old widow and had worshipped in the temple night and day for the major part of her life. She came up to the family as Simeon was talking to them and she gave thanks to God and begin speaking about the child to those who were waiting for Israel’s salvation.

Luke omits the account of the killing of the baby boys by Herod and Joseph taking his family into Egypt. He picks up the account where they had returned from Egypt and were living in Nazareth. He now discusses an incident that occurred when Jesus was twelve years old and his family was in Jerusalem attending one of the yearly festivals. Jesus had gotten into a discussion with some of the teachers of the law and his family accidentally left him behind when they were returning home. They had traveled for a day before they learned that he was not with them. After looking for him for three days, they finally found him in the temple courts questioning the scribes. They were perturbed at him but he seemed to take it for granted that they would know that he would be in his ‘Father’s’ house. They did not, of course, understand what he was talking about. But he went home with them and continued obedient to them as he grew in wisdom and in favor with men.

Luke Chapter 3

Luke gives careful consideration to dates in his writings. He names all of the rulers who were in power when Jehovah commissioned John to begin his ministry. It was in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod and his brother Philip ruled over Galilee, Iturea and Traconitis and Lysanias ruled Abilene. The two high priests were Annas and Caiaphas, his son-in-law. Regarding this situation with the high priests, the footnote for verse 2 in the NIV has this to say: “Annas was high priest from A.D. 6 until he was deposed by the Roman official Gratus in 15. He was followed by his son Eleazar, his son-in-law, Caiaphas and then four more sons. Even though Rome had replaced Annas, the Jews continued to recognize his authority (see Jn 18:13; Ac 4:6); so Luke included his name as well as the Roman appointee, Caiaphas.”

John preached in all the country around the Jordan that the people should repent and be baptized in order to get forgiveness for their sins. Luke quotes from the book of Isaiah showing that John was fulfilling scripture. As the crowds came to him to be baptized, he questioned their motives for coming to him. Matthew identifies the men he was talking to as the religious leaders although Luke does not. John told them that they needed to produce fruit that would show that they had repented. Their being descendants of Abraham was no guarantee that they would be saved. He used the illustration of an ax being held over a tree root to emphasize that destruction was hanging over their heads and if they did not produce good fruit, they would be cut down.

Some in the crowd asked what changes did they need to make to prove that they were repentant. John said that they should not be selfish but should share with those who had nothing. He told the tax collectors not to rob the people but to collect only what was due and the soldiers were to be content with their pay and were not to extort money from the people unjustly. These soldiers were Jewish and were probably attached to certain Jewish leaders and institutions. As they listened to John many began to wonder if he might not be the Messiah that they were waiting for. But John told him that he was not that one. The work that this one would do was to be a more powerful one as he would baptize with fire and holy spirit and he would separate people, gathering some into his storehouse and others to be reserved for destruction. John continued preaching the good news to the people until Herod had him arrested and put in prison.

Then Jesus came to be baptized by John at the age of thirty. As Jesus was praying the heavens opened up and John saw holy spirit descend upon him in the form of a dove and he heard a voice say: ‘You are my son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ Luke next lists the genealogy of Jesus through his foster father Joseph. He begins with Joseph and takes the listing back to Adam. Both Mary and Joseph were descendants of David, one through his son Solomon’s line and the other through his son Nathan’s line (verse 31).

NOTE: Bible translation used in this commentary were: the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), and the New International Version (NIV).

***©2005 by YORWW Congregation

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