Just as I promised, the Pharisees kick off this chapter by putting Jesus to the test on the topic of divorce right after he’s healed a bunch of people. Some other stuff also happens in the chapter, namely Jesus embracing children as his disciples consider them a nuisance, and the rich young ruler. But we know Jesus is cool with the kids, and we already looked at the rich young ruler when he showed up in Luke 18, so today it’s Jesus on divorce.
We all know we’re going to die someday, but life goes on. And in today’s chapter, although Jesus is well aware that he’ll meet an untimely end at the hands of his enemies and has said as much to the disciples, he goes on teaching and telling parables. Facing our limited lifespans has a way of making us prioritize what we do here on earth, but Jesus…kind of takes an interlude here to tell his disciples stuff about sheep and debts and stuff.
Just as the transfiguration divided the gospel of Luke in half, so it divides Matthew. It’s a momentous, supernatural event that marks a shift in the narrative no matter which gospel you’re reading it in. And when you reach Matthew’s account of the transfiguration here in chapter 17, you know you’re not too far from the endgame in Jerusalem, in part because it suddenly starts hitting the disciples: hey, there’s going to be an endgame in Jerusalem.
If there’s one thing reading the Bible has taught me, it’s the limits of the human mind. I often read a passage and ask myself, “Now where have I heard that before?” Sometimes I’m able to come up with an answer. Sometimes I’m not. And sometimes my mind makes up a wrong answer out of whole cloth. But today we’ve got just such a rabbit hole of recollection, all incited by Jesus’ mention of the sign of Jonah.
Today on Matthew 15: more fuss from the Pharisees. This time around, they’re getting on Jesus’ case about his disciples, who don’t wash their hands before meals. The Pharisees are less concerned about hygiene and more about decorum; hand-washing is a tradition, and to omit it is to disrespect the generations that have gone before, or so it would seem.
Welcome to Friday on Sunday. Got a post to catch up on, so let’s check out Matthew 14. It’s one of the three chapters in Matthew that gives the story of John the Baptist. He first arrived on the scene in chapter 3, and in chapter 11 Herod imprisons him, though I kinda skipped over that because I had a single verse to focus on, to the omission of everything else in the chapter. But we’re not skipping over John the Baptist today, because Matthew 14 is the chapter where he dies. Spoiler warning, John the Baptist dies.
If you’ve ever wondered what the kingdom of heaven is like, you came to the right chapter. Matthew 13 is over 90% parables by verse, each one a simile comparing the kingdom of heaven to something else. So what is the kingdom of heaven like? It’s like a sower sowing seed, a man whose enemy sows weeds in his wheat field, a mustard seed, leaven, a treasure hidden in a field, a merchant seeking fine pearls, and a dragnet. Need an explanation? If so, you’re in good company, because the disciples ask for one as well.