Synoptic Example #2

Victor Jacobs Photo Victor Jacobs
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In this segment, we’re going to continue our exercise. We’re going to be looking at two sets of pericope. We’re going to look at Mark 1:21-28 and we’re going to correlate that with Luke 4:31-37. Matthew does not use that material. But it might be worthwhile exploring what Matthew does in that space. So it’s not a waste. It’s in keeping with what we’re doing. The second set will be Mark 1:29-34, and that will be correlated with Matthew 8:14-17 and Luke 4:38-41. So let’s begin with Mark 1:21-28. And please open your Bibles to that segment.

And so what we see is, verse 21, “And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’ And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.”

This is Mark. So now with Mark, what we’ve got is John the Baptist comes on the scene because Mark starts with John the Baptist, his ministry. Jesus comes. He’s baptized by John. He’s driven into the wilderness. He’s tempted. He begins his ministry after John is arrested. And then he walks along the Sea of Galilee. He calls disciples to himself. And then, in Mark’s rendition of the events, they go into Capernaum. And he goes into the Sabbath. He’s teaching in the synagogue. The people at Capernaum are astonished at his teaching. There is a man there with an unclean spirit who protests against Jesus. Jesus casts the demon out and the people are astonished. And his fame spread everywhere because they recognized that his teaching was a new teaching with authority. It was not the regular teaching that they had been accustomed to. So that’s Mark.

Now, the correlation for us is Luke. So if you would come with me to Luke 4:31-37, so verse 31, Jesus goes down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, we’re told in verse 31. He is teaching them on the Sabbath. Verse 32, they are astonished at his teaching because he is authoritative. Verse 33, there’s a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon. And notice how Luke expands that material. In Mark, all we read is there was a man who had an unclean spirit. Now, Luke feels a need to clarify that. There was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon. It was a demon. It wasn’t just any spirit. For some reason, Luke wants to clarify that. He cries out with a loud voice. “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”

So what you see here then, that word in verse 34, “Ha!” It’s almost as though Luke adds a nuance of sarcasm on the part of the demonized man in the Capernaum synagogue. Other versions render the “Ha!” as “Leave us alone.” I’m reading from the ESV. That’s what I’m using throughout this lesson. And it translates the beginning of verse 34 as “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? I know who you are—the Holy One of God. Have you come to destroy us?” That sort of a thing. So there’s sarcasm there. There’s a mocking. There’s a dimension of mockery that you have here in Luke if you translate it this way as opposed to “Leave us alone,” which conveys a completely different idea. And then we see in the rest of the passage there, Jesus rebukes him, tells him to be silent, the demon, that is, and to come out of him. The demon threw him down in the midst and he came out of him. And they were all amazed. And they said to one another. They’re asking each other questions. “’What is this word? With authority and power, he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!’ And reports about him go out into every place in the surrounding region.”

So not much dissimilarity. Much similarity with the Marcan tradition. But what we see here in Luke is that this story of Capernaum is situated after Jesus goes to Nazareth, starting in Luke 4:16. And you can look at it along with me if you have your Bible with you. And that runs all the way to verse 30. Luke 4:16-30. Jesus goes to Nazareth. He opens up and he reads the scroll of Isaiah 61, all of the first verse and I think the first clause of the second verse. And then he sits down and he begins to say that that Scripture is fulfilled in him, and he gets into a bit of a dialogue with the people of his hometown. He references the fact that God did not show mercy in the days of Elisha and Elijah, not in that order. God doesn’t show mercy to the Israelites. He shows mercy to women in Tyre and Sidon. And they’re so incensed they want to throw him off a cliff. But he passes through them and goes on his way.

That’s Luke. That precedes Luke’s use of Mark in terms of the description of Jesus going to Capernaum, teaching in the synagogue, casting a demon out of that man who had been in the synagogue, and Jesus’ fame spreading all over that particular region or province. So that’s how Luke arranges that material. Prior to that, in Luke, you have the temptation of Jesus which runs from verses 1 to 15. You have a genealogy that closes out Luke 3. You have Luke 1 and Luke 2 which are pretty extensive, pretty long chapters in the Gospel of Luke. Luke 3 deals with the timing of John the Baptist’s ministry and of Jesus coming to him and being baptized and the Holy Spirit descending upon him. That’s how Luke arranges that material. So he places the Capernaum teaching and exorcism after Jesus’ visitation to Nazareth, which is earlier on in the chapter. So that’s Luke’s arrangement of material and his use of Mark.

Now, what happens with Matthew? There’s a fair question for us. So let’s go to that section of Matthew and sort of glean. Let’s glean what we have there. And so, of course, roughly speaking, we have to start with Matthew 4:23 because that comes after Jesus’ call to the first disciples. And what we see in Matthew 4:23-25 is that Jesus is traveling throughout all Galilee. He’s teaching in synagogues. He’s proclaiming the Gospel. He’s healing diseases, afflictions. His fame is spreading throughout all of Syria in the north. They’re bringing the sick, the diseased, the oppressed, epileptics, paralytics. He’s healing them and great crowds are following him. And then in Matthew 5 all the way through Matthew 7, what do we have? We have the Sermon on the Mount. There is no mention, at least at this point, of ministry in the Capernaum synagogue. We get to the end of Matthew 7 and the crowds are astonished at Jesus’ teaching. I’m in Matthew, just to reiterate that. So in Matthew 7:28-29, the crowds are astonished. He’s teaching them as one who had authority. He’s not teaching them like the scribes. He heals a leper (Matthew 8:1-8:4). We’ll be looking at that in another segment. But then in Matthew 8:5, that’s where we see Jesus entering into Capernaum and he heals the servant of a Centurion. And that’s how that works. That’s Matthew’s arrangement of the material, just to give us an idea of what Matthew’s material looks like, where you would have expected him to put in this particular pericope about Jesus teaching in Capernaum, in casting out a demon in the midst of him teaching in that particular town.

So we now come to the second example that I referenced earlier on, and that’s going to be Mark 1:29-34. So I’m in Mark 1, and what we read about, right after Jesus exorcises the demon and we read in Mark 1:28 that his fame spread everywhere. We read in verse 29, “Immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.”

So that’s the Marcan tradition. So the question for us is what does Matthew do with it? Now, the relevant passage in Matthew is Matthew 8:14-17. We just dealt with Mark 1:29-34, so we dealt with six verses. So in Matthew, we’re dealing with four verses. So the material appears to have been truncated somewhat or minimized or reduced perhaps. We just need to go look at that passage. And so we’re going to Matthew 8:14-17 which comes after the healing of the Centurion servant. So Matthew 8:14 reads, “When Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.” Notice that Matthew says, “She rose and began to serve him.” If you go to Mark (excuse me there, I lost my place), Mark 1:29 and following, what we see is “The fever left her.” Mark 1:31, “He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.” So Mark broadens the scope of the service of Peter’s mother-in-law. Matthew minimizes that scope. She began to serve him after she got up.

And then verses 16 and 17, “That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.” So when you compare Matthew to Mark, we see that Matthew basically summarizes the Marcan material. He doesn’t use it in identical fashion. He summarizes it. He has the correct highlighting. There are people who are sick, diseased, afflicted, physical ailments. There are those who have spiritual ailments, i.e. they are demon-possessed. And so the categories fit the Marcan tradition, but Matthew summarizes. But then what Matthew does in verse 17 is he adds a fulfilment formula. That’s what scholars call it. “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.’” And of course, that’s Matthew’s material. Matthew is adding a prophetic dimension. “He took our illnesses. He bore our diseases.” Sort of alluding, at least in part, to a portion of Isaiah 53. So Matthew sees that connection there.

Now, Luke, he deals with four verses, just like Matthew, and it’s in Luke 4:38-41. So Luke 4:38-41, what we see there, as we said earlier, is Jesus goes down to Capernaum in the wake of his rejection at Nazareth where they tried to throw him off a cliff. He was teaching them by the Sabbath. They were astonished at his teaching. So we see what he does there. I’m sorry. I’m in the wrong section. Let me do this again. Correction. Verse 38, “He arose and left the synagogue,” the synagogue where he had just taught in Capernaum. “He entered Simon's house. Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever.” Stop right there for a second and let’s go look at the Marcan tradition. What is Luke doing with Mark here? So it says in 1:30, “Now Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever.” Luke intensifies that description. He says, “Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever. And they appealed to him on her behalf. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.” So Luke follows Mark, while Matthew doesn’t follow either. Matthew says, “She began to serve him,” that is, Jesus. Mark states that Jesus “took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.” But then when you look at Matthew, in Matthew 8:14-17 “He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.” So compare that with Mark. He came, took her by the hand. “He touched her hand,” Matthew says. Mark says, “He took her by the hand.” Luke says, “He stood over her and rebuked the fever.” No implication there of physical contact. “And it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them” (Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38-39).

And then verses 40 to 41, "The sun was setting. It’s the end of Shabbat. All those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. Demons also came out of many, crying, ‘You are the Son of God!’” That’s an added detail. You don’t find that in Mark or Matthew. In Mark and Matthew, what you find is that Jesus rebukes demons. He casts them out with a word and the demons leave. But what you have here in Luke is an added description. “Demons came out of many, crying, ‘You are the Son of God!’” And he rebukes them and does not allow them to say any more, “would not allow them to speak.” They at least get to say, “You are the Son of God!” But they can’t say anything else. “Because they knew that he was the Christ,” Luke tells us. So that’s the difference.