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Healings, Workers, and Warnings

Two blind people

Jesus and his disciples went on from there to Jericho, and a large crowd followed. At one point they came to two blind people sitting beside the road, one of whom was named Bar-Timaeus. When the blind ones heard that Jesus was passing by they shouted, “Have pity on us, descendant of David!” The crowd tried to silence them but they shouted all the louder, “Have pity on us, sir, Descendant of David!”

Jesus stopped and called to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?”

“Sir, we want to see!” they replied.

When he entered a house, they came to Jesus and he asked them, “Do you believe I can do this?”

“Yes, sir!” they replied.

So he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be as you believe!” And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly warned them, “See to it that you tell no one!” Then they followed him, and all the people who saw this praised God along with them. But some went out and spread the news all over that land.

Zacchaeus the tax contractor

As Jesus passed through Jericho there was a man there by the name of Zacchaeus, who was a district tax contractor and quite wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but he couldn’t see over the crowd because he was short. So he ran ahead and climbed up a fig-mulberry tree so he could see him as he passed through. As Jesus reached that spot he looked up into the tree and said, “Zacchaeus, come down at once, because I will be staying at your house this very day!” So he hurried down and welcomed him gladly.

Those who saw this grumbled about the fact that Jesus entered the home of a scoundrel to spend the night. But Zacchaeus stood up and said, “Look, Master, I’m going to give half of my possessions to the destitute. And if I have extorted anyone, I will pay back four times the amount.”

And Jesus replied, “Today, salvation has come to this house, because after all, he is a descendant of Abraham. For the Human came to seek out and rescue the lost.”

The blind and deaf demoniac

After he left, he went into a house, but such a large crowd gathered that he couldn’t even recline to eat a meal. Then people brought him someone whose demon was causing blindness and deafness. When the demon was thrown out, they could see and talk. The crowd was amazed and said, “We’ve never seen anything like this in Israel! Could this be the Descendant of David?” When Jesus’ relatives heard about it they came to take him by force, because they thought he’d lost his mind. But the religious leaders said, “It’s only by the power of Beelzeboul, ruler of the demons, that he is able to throw them out!”

Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will destroy itself; every city or house divided against itself will fall apart. So if Satan is throwing himself out, how can his kingdom stand, since it’s divided? And if I’m throwing out demons by the power of Beelzeboul, then by whose power are your own people throwing them out? So it is they who will judge you! Yet if I throw them out by the Spirit of God, it clearly means that the kingdom of God is here.

“The student is not over the teacher, nor is the slave over their master— though the student may become like their teacher and the slave may become like their master. So if the homeowner is being called Beelzeboul, what will they call the others in the house? How would anyone break into a strong person’s house and steal all their belongings, unless they first tied up the strong person? Only then could they get away with all the loot. So whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me is scattering. What I’m saying in all this is that people will be forgiven for every sin and slander, except slander against the Spirit. You will be forgiven for speaking against the Human, but not for speaking against the Holy Spirit— not now or ever!”

Workers are needed for the harvest

Jesus went around to all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, as well as healing all the diseases and illnesses. But he looked at the crowd with compassion, because they were troubled and lost, like sheep without a shepherd. And he remarked to his disciples, “Indeed, the harvest is abundant but the workers are few. So plead with the harvest foreman to send out more workers to help.”

Then he appointed seventy-two disciples to go out two-by-two as forerunners to every place he intended to visit. He gave them this mission: “Don’t go out to the Gentiles or even the Samaritans, but only to the lost sheep of Israel. And as you go, proclaim to them that the kingdom of the heavens has arrived. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and throw out demons. Give freely, because you have received freely.

“Don’t take along any money, not even pocket change. Don’t pack a bag or bring food or anything else for travel, because the worker deserves to be compensated. When you enter a city, find out who the decent people are and stay with them until you move on. When you enter the house, be cordial to the people there. If it’s a worthy house, bless it with peace; but if not, take your blessing back.

“Now if the people there won’t accept you or listen to what you have to say, go out of that house or city and shake the dust from your feet as an insult. I can assure you that on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the lands of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that city! But take note of this: I’m sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as serpents yet as innocent as doves.”

Then they went out and proclaimed that people should turn to God. They also expelled many demons, and put oil on the ill to heal them. Then they returned with a good report: “Master, even the demons defer to us because of your name!”

And he replied, “I watched Satan fall like lightning from the sky. So now I have given you the authority to trample serpents and scorpions, and over all the forces of the enemy, and not one of you will be harmed. But don’t be so happy that the spirits defer to you; be happier that your names have been written down in the heavens.”

Be fearless

“Don’t be afraid of them though, because nothing is veiled that won’t be revealed, and nothing is concealed that won’t be made known. What I tell you in the dark, you must tell in the light; what I whisper in your ear, you must proclaim from the housetops. And don’t fear those who can kill the body but not the soul; instead, fear the one who can destroy both body and soul in eternal fire!

“Aren’t two sparrows sold for pocket change? Yet not one of them can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. Even the hairs on your head are numbered! So don’t be afraid; you are worth far more than many sparrows. And whoever acknowledges me in front of others is the one I will acknowledge in the presence of my Father in the heavens. But whoever renounces me in front of others is the one I will renounce in the presence of my Father in the heavens.

“Don’t think that I came to establish peace on the earth; no, not at all. What I brought was a sword that will cut even between the closest family relationships. A person’s enemies will be under their own roof! So whoever favors their father or mother over me is unworthy of me; whoever favors their son or daughter over me is unworthy of me; whoever will not pick up their cross and follow me is unworthy of me. The one who finds their life will lose it, but the one who loses their life because of me will find it.

“Whoever accepts you is really accepting me, and whoever accepts me is really accepting the one who sent me. Whoever accepts a prophet or righteous person just for who they are will receive the same reward as they will. And if you give one of my followers so much as a cup of cold water to drink, just for being my disciple, I can assure you that you will be rewarded.”

John the Immerser asks for confirmation

John was in prison, and when he heard about all the things the Anointed One was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the Coming One, or should we look for someone else?”

And Jesus’ response was, “Go and tell John what you’ve witnessed: The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the destitute are being given good news. Happy are those who aren’t offended by what I’m doing.”

When John’s disciples had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about him: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed being bent by the wind? No? Maybe you went out to see someone dressed in fancy clothes; but no, such people are found in the palaces of kings. So what is it you went out to see? A prophet? Yes; but I assure you, much more than a prophet! He is the one about whom it is written: ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you. He will prepare the road in front of you.’

“I tell you truly that no one born of women in this generation is greater than John the Immerser! Yet the least significant in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he. From the time of John the Immerser until now, there have been people trying to barge into the kingdom of the heavens when they have no legal right to it, and they interfere with others’ rights to it. But this was all prophesied in the Law and Prophets. And if you choose to accept it, John is the Elijah who was to come. If you have ears, listen!

“How can I describe this generation? It’s like children sitting in the marketplace calling out to each other, ‘We played the flute but you didn’t dance; we mourned but you didn’t grieve.’ John didn’t go around eating and drinking, and they said he’s possessed. But the Human does go around eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at that glutton and drunkard! He hangs around with tax contractors and riffraff!’ There is no pleasing such people.”

Condemnation or rest

Then he began a rant against those cities in which he had displayed most of his power, because they refused to turn to him: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the powerful things that were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have grieved in great remorse a long time ago. They will fare better at the Judgment than you will! And you, Capernaum, will not be lifted to heaven, you will descend into Hades! For if the power displayed in you had been done in the land of Sodom, it would still be there today. Yet I tell you that those people will be better off on Judgment Day than you! Whoever either accepts or rejects my disciples is doing the same to me, and whatever they do to me, they do to the One who sent me.

“The people of Ninevah (to whom Jonah was sent) will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it. They turned to God in response to Jonah’s warning, but here in front of you is someone more important than Jonah. The Queen of the South will also rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it. She came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, but here in front of you is someone more important than Solomon.

“Whenever an unclean spirit goes out from a person, it passes through arid places looking for rest, but it finds none. So it says to itself, ‘I’ll go back to the house I left.’ Then it goes and finds the place vacated, swept clean, and put in order, so it gets seven other spirits more evil than itself and re-enters the house. That person was much worse off in the end than they were at first. This is what will happen to this evil generation!”

Then some of the religious leaders said to him, “Teacher, we want you to perform a miraculous sign for us.” But he replied, “An evil and unfaithful generation looks for a sign! But none will be given except that of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was in the belly of the sea monster for three days and three nights, so also the Human will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.”

While he was still speaking to the crowd, his mother and siblings arrived, and they waited outside to talk to him. Someone let him know, but he said, “Who is my mother, and who are my siblings?” Then he pointed toward his disciples and said, “See, these are my mother and siblings! Whoever does the will of my Father in the heavens is my brother and sister and mother.”

Then he turned to his disciples and said, “Everything has been handed over to me by my Father. No one can really know the Son except the Father, nor can anyone know the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. You’re very privileged to see what you have seen! Prophets and kings wanted to see and hear what you’ve seen and heard. So come to me, all who labor under a heavy load, and I will relieve you. Put my harness on you and learn from me, for I am gentle and considerate. Then your souls will be at rest, because the harness is gentle and the load is light.”

A grateful woman shames the self-righteous

A certain religious leader, Simon the Leper, invited Jesus to dinner, so he entered the house and reclined at the table. But a very sinful woman who lived in that city found out he was there, and she brought in an alabaster flask of perfumed oil. She poured it on his head and then stood at his feet crying. Her tears fell on his feet, so she wiped them with her hair, massaging and kissing them and rubbing them with the oil.

But Judas of Kerioth, one of Jesus’ disciples (the one about to betray him), complained, “Why wasn’t this oil sold for a year’s wages and the proceeds given to the poor?” (He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he was trusted with the donations given to the disciples but would take what he wanted from it.)

When Jesus realized this, he scolded him: “Why are you giving this woman such grief? She is doing an honorable thing to me. You will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. By pouring the perfumed oil on me she is anointing my body for burial. And I assure you that wherever the good news is proclaimed around the world, what she did will be spoken of to honor her memory.”

Then the religious leader that had invited him said to himself, “Some prophet! He should already know what kind of woman this is who is touching him— a very sinful woman!”

“Simon, I have something to tell you,” Jesus said. And he replied, “Speak, teacher.”

“Two people owed money to a certain creditor. One owed five hundred days’ wages, and the other owed fifty. But since they had no way to repay it, the creditor forgave both debts. Now who do you suppose will love him more?”

“I’d assume it’s the one who had the bigger debt forgiven,” Simon replied.

“Correct,” answered Jesus. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “See this woman? When I came into your home you offered no water for my feet, but she has rained down tears on them and wiped them with her hair. You did not greet me with a kiss, but the whole time I’ve been here she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has rubbed my feet with perfumed oil. For this reason, I tell you that she is acquitted of her many sins, for she loved much. In contrast, the one who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Then he said to her, “All your sins are forgiven!” But the others reclining there began to mutter, “Who is he to forgive sins?” But he told the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

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