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Lesson #12 Conflict and Confrontation

(Matthew 11: 1 12: 50)

In Lesson #11 Jesus delegated authority to his discipleshis innercircle of Twelveto go throughout Galilee proclaiming: The Kingdom of heaven is at hand, and commanding his disciples to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers [and] drive out demons (10: 7-8).

As Jesus surprised his audience by presenting nine counter-intuitive statements in the Beatitudes; as he startled his audience with six propositions that exceed the Law; as he turned the tables on his audience by moving beyond action to investigate motive in six concrete actions to implement the Law; so does he stun his audience in Lesson #11 by saying that those who follow him will be loved, but hated and persecuted, despised and rejected.

As we move deeper into Matthew in Lesson #12, Jesus takes on a decidedly sharper edge, not suffering fools gladly. He seems deliberately to antagonize his opponents, escalating his encounters with them at every turn. What is going on here?

The Gospel according to Matthews overall mirrored chiastic structure


A Narrative: Jesus as Messiah, Son of God (1-4) Minor discourse: John the Baptist identifies the authority of Jesus (3:7-12) B Great Discourse #1: Demands of true discipleship (5-7) C Narrative: The supernatural authority of Jesus (8-9) D Great Discourse #2: Charge and authority of disciples (10) E Narrative: Jews reject Jesus (11-12) F Great Discourse #3: Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven (13) E Narrative: Disciples accept Jesus (14-17) D Great Discourse #4: Charge and authority of church (18) C Narrative: Authority and invitation (19-22) B Great Discourse #5: Judgment on false discipleship (23-25) Narrative: Jesus as Messiah, suffering and vindicated (26-28) Minor discourse: Jesus identifies the authority of the church (28:18-20)

This section consists of three parts:


1. Those closest to Jesus question or reject him John the Baptist (11: 1-19) The people of Chorazin, Behtsaida and Capernaum (11: 20-24) Jesus expresses frustration (11: 25-30) 2. Jesus antagonizes the religious leaders Picking grain on the Sabbath (12: 1-8) Healing on the Sabbath (12: 9-14) Narrative affirmation (12: 15-21)

3. Vocal opposition Jesus accused for the third time of demonic influence (12: 22-37) The people demand a sign (12: 38-42) Jesus contrasts those who believe with those who dont (12: 43-50).

This section consists of three parts:


1. Those closest to Jesus question or reject him John the Baptist (11: 1-19) The people of Chorazin, Behtsaida and Capernaum (11: 20-24) Jesus expresses frustration (11: 25-30) 2. Jesus antagonizes the religious leaders Picking grain on the Sabbath (12: 1-8) Healing on the Sabbath (12: 9-14) Narrative affirmation (12: 15-21)

Caravaggio. Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness (oil on canvas), 16041605. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri.

This section consists of three parts:


1. Those closest to Jesus question or reject him John the Baptist (11: 1-19) The people of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum (11: 20-24) Jesus expresses frustration (11: 25-30) 2. Jesus antagonizes the religious leaders Picking grain on the Sabbath (12: 1-8) Healing on the Sabbath (12: 9-14) Narrative affirmation (12: 15-21)

Sea of Galilee (Google Earth)


Chorazin Capernaum Bethsaida

This section consists of three parts:


1. Those closest to Jesus question or reject him John the Baptist (11: 1-19) The people of Chorazin, Behtsaida and Capernaum (11: 20-24) Jesus expresses frustration (11: 25-30) 2. Jesus antagonizes the religious leaders Picking grain on the Sabbath (12: 1-8) Healing on the Sabbath (12: 9-14) Narrative affirmation (12: 15-21)

This section consists of three parts:


1. Those closest to Jesus question or reject him John the Baptist (11: 1-19) The people of Chorazin, Behtsaida and Capernaum (11: 20-24) Jesus expresses frustration (11: 25-30) 2. Jesus antagonizes the religious leaders Picking grain on the Sabbath (12: 1-8) Healing on the Sabbath (12: 9-14) Narrative affirmation (12: 15-21)

Christ and the Apostles (Tiffany stained glass), c. 1890. Richard H. Driehaus Gallery of Stained Glass, Chicago, Illinois.

3. Vocal opposition Jesus accused for the third time of demonic influence (12: 22-37) The people demand a sign (12: 38-42) Jesus contrasts those who believe with those who dont (12: 43-50).

Gustov Dor. Satan and Beelzebub (engraving), 1866. *Illustration for Book 1 of John Miltons Paradise Lost].

Baal-zebub appears in 1 Kings 2-3, 6, 16 as the god of Ekron, one of five fortified Philistine cities on the coastal plain. In Christian tradition Beelzebub is first among the seven princes of Hell, one of the fallen Seraphim, the highest order of Gods angelic host. Beelzebub joins the cast in John Miltons epic poem, Paradise Lost (1667), as second in command to Lucifer during the great War in Heaven. After Lucifers crushing defeat and the fall of 1/3 of the angels, Beelzebub becomes Lucifers chief advisor in Lucifers plot to destroy Gods newly-created humanity.

3. Vocal opposition Jesus accused for the third time of demonic influence (12: 22-37) The people demand a sign (12: 38-42) Jesus contrasts those who believe with those who dont (12: 43-50).

3. Vocal opposition Jesus accused for the third time of demonic influence (12: 22-37) The people demand a sign (12: 38-42) Jesus contrasts those who believe with those who dont (12: 43-50).

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3. 4. 5.

If John the Baptist and Jesus are relatives, knowing each other from their youth, why would he send his disciples to Jesus, asking: Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another (11: 3)? What does Jesus mean by saying: Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the lease in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he (11: 11)? Jesus public ministry had its epicenter in the triangle of Chroazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. Why would the people of those towns not repent and believe? Given that Jesus said his disciples would be hated and persecuted, what did he mean by saying my yoke is easy and my burden light (11: 30)? What is the sign of Jonah (12: 39)?

Copyright 2014 by William C. Creasy


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