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Bible Gem 1173 - The Long and the Short of it - the Attack on the Religious Leaders Compared (Luke 20:45-47)

July 17, 2019


As I told you yesterday I have listed the segments in order for you and coloured those which are not recorded by all three writers together. Whether you had time or not, I am sure you noticed the most obvious difference between these three accounts. Matthew's account is many times longer than that of Mark and Luke. Matthew takes 39 verses over this segment while Mark and Luke limit their input to three verses each. While the content and the purpose of the segments is the same, Matthew takes considerably longer to deal with the issue and turns his contribution into a major passage rather than some fleeting comments. It is not that he has created the material himself. Clearly he has redacted or edited the material he is familiar with into something that becomes a major attack on the attitude and practice of the Pharisees and all of their kind. Matthew has simply gathered together all of the comments and challenges Jesus made to the religious leaders of Israel. Whereas Luke and Mark limit the comments to a one particular encounter between Jesus and the opposition. All of the material is factual and was accurately reporting on what happened between Jesus and the Chief Priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes and religious teachers. 


A careful look at the material will show you that the short segment Mark uses as his base for the story is also repeated in both Luke and Matthew. Luke's is obvious. It is word for word the same as Mark's with the exception of the brief introduction and the selection of the word like or love. It appears at first that Matthew's account is completely different, but a careful examination reveals that Mark's original segment is still included in Matthew's material but has been reorganized. The pieces are all there but have be reordered. 

5 "But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.
6 "They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, 
7 and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. 
14 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses,and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.


The honor at banquets, liking the chief seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the market place has been reordered but is all there. Even their liking to walk around in long robes is still there but has been substituted for lengthening their tassels on their garments


It all makes sense that Matthew and Luke are borrowing from Mark's account as we have discussed before. But in this case Luke keeps it short and word for word the same as Mark with one exception but Matthew has made his account expansive and has added more detail from his knowledge of what happened between Jesus and the opposition in order to create a stinging attack on the factions of the Jewish leadership at the time. 


Did you give any attention to the shared elements from the three Synoptic Gospels:



A challenge to the authority of Jesus as a teacher (Rabbi) Mt 21:27-22:14 / Mk 11:27-12:12 / Lk 20:1-19


The Parable of two Sons / Parable of the vineyard - Mt 21:28-41

The Stone the builders rejected Mt 21:42-46

Parable of the Wedding feast - Mt 22:1-14


Matthew Only


Herodians trick question about paying tribute to Caesar Mt 22:15-22 / Mk 12:13-17 / Lk 20:20-26 


The Sadducees ask Jesus a puzzling question about the resurrection Mt 22:23-33 / Mk 12:18-27 / Lk 20:27-40 


The Pharisees rejoice over the rout of the Sadducees and a Pharisaic lawyer asks Jesus a legal question Mt 22:34-40Mk 12:28-34


Jesus questions the opposition over Messiah son of David or Lord over David Mt 22:41-46 / Mk 12:35-37 / Lk 20:41-44


In His last public discourse, Jesus solemnly denounces the Scribes and Pharisees Mt 23:1-39 / Mk 12:38-40 / Lk 20:45-47


Jesus closely observes the contributions in the temple, and commends the poor widow's gift Mk 12:41-44Lk 21:1-4


Jesus speaks to His disciples about the destruction of Jerusalem, and His second coming (Mount of Olives) Mt 24:1 – 25:46 / Mk 13:1-37 / Lk 21:5-36 


Matthew Mark and Luke have all deliberately put the material in the same order. There can only be one explanation for that. Chronologically it happened in that order; at least Mark's order. Notice Matthew has some extra material he has slipped into the order – coloured blue. The earlier four segments can all be considered to be parables which demonstrate the nature and attitude of the opposition toward Jesus. I suspect the Matthew only material was not necessarily chronological but rather he has placed them with the other Markan material to strengthen the case against the opposition. Mark and Luke's accounts are much more succinct. In them we have the flow as follows: 


    Challenge to authority 

    Herodians Loaded Question 

    Sadducees Curly Question 

    Jesus question to them David's son or LORD? 

    Attack on their Attitude. 


Notice the direct attack on the leaders is the last public statement Jesus makes before the Crucifixion. We have been through a series of negative response to both what Jesus has been doing and teaching up to this point. The opposition has been growing and becoming more focused. Not only that, but it has been more organized and systematic in nature with each interest group among the leaders waiting to have their "shot at Jesus". Now it all comes to a head in the form of Jesus' response which is very scathing and to the point; Matthew's account in the extreme. [As I said yesterday, I am not intending pulling Matthew's account apart. That is not our focus at the moment. I am only using Matthew to sharpen our understanding of Luke. I leave you to analyze this segment in Matthew in order to get from it what you can. If you wish to talk about it with me feel free to do so. But realize I get lots of input and questions from you all and I slowly work my way through them one by one when I have the time. I.e. It may take a while – but I will answer. If I haven't already it means I have lost your question over number of computer crashes.]


It is intriguing that both Luke and Mark follow today's passage with the story of the poor widow's gift in the temple, then moving on to Jesus prediction of the destruction of the temple and Jesus' Second Coming, for which Matthew joins them again. It is up to us to determine what is happening with this deliberate ordering. Is there deliberate arrangement here or are they merely dealing with this material in chronological order?


According to Luke's version, while the people were listening to the things He had been telling the leaders, Jesus tells the disciples, assumedly within earshot of the leaders, to beware of the attitude of these leaders. Over the last chapter or more we have had insincere question upon insincere question, all seeking to catch Jesus out. At the end of it all, Jesus launches His attack on the leaders' attitude. The leaders who should know better are castigated for their attitude of heart. It is all for pretense, that much is clear. Some of the most scathing words are found in Matthew's additions. Those who should know better are the very reason for why the people don't enter into the Coming of their King with the appropriate response. Because their leaders have been bad leaders, intent only on their own appearance in public. It is all for the sake of appearance. 


No wonder Jesus comes down heavy on them; no wonder Matthew makes it a major part in his account. 



If you lie with dogs, you get up with fleas. Jewish Proverb


Every person used by God in the Bible was a screw up! The grace of God is bigger than any sin! Mathias Green


Fault finding is the evil stepchild of a critical spirit and the kissing cousin of envy. Kris Vallotton


Forgiveness doesn’t exonerate who hurt you nor trivialize your trauma. It liberates you from reliving the agonies that aren’t worth your time. TD Jakes



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