Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

Sunday School Lesson #10

Posted by Jim F. on March 4, 2007

NOTE: FOR THE MOST RECENT, UPDATED VERSION OF THESE NOTES, GO TO : http://feastupontheword.org/Site:SS_lessons#New_Testament_lessons


Lesson 10: Matthew 11:28-30; 12:1-13; Luke 7:36-50; 13:10-17

Matthew 11

Verse 28: What does it mean to come to Christ? Has he already told us how we can do that in readings from some of the previous lessons?

The word translated “labor” means “wearying labor.” The phrase “heavy laden” translates a Greek word that means “weighed down.” What wearying, taxing work does Christ have in mind here? From what does he offer relief? Why is that described as something that wears us out? As something that burdens us? The word translated “rest” literally means “cessation.” It is used to mean “refreshment,” “ease,” or “rest.” How does the Savior offer cessation from taxing labor?

Verse 29: The word translated “take” means literally “lift up.” The Greek word translated “yoke” could also have been translated “scales” (the kind of scales one sees in statues representing justice). Do you agree with the KJV decision to translate the term as “yoke,” or do you think “scales” would have been more meaningful? Why? In the Old Testament the yoke was often used as a symbol of tyranny. (See, for example, 2 Chronicles 10:4.) Why do you think Jesus uses an image that is usually associated with being subjugated by a tyrant?

How do we learn of Christ? In other words, when he commands us, “Learn of me,” what is he commanding? The root of the Greek word translated “learn” means “to direct one’s mind toward something.” That results in a variety of meanings, including “to experience” and “to learn a skill” as well as “to know.” In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the version many used at the time of Christ), the word translated “know” is used almost exclusively to mean “learn the will of God.” Might that tell us something about what Jesus is teaching in this verse?

Should we understand “come to me” and “learn of me” to be parallel? How do we learn of Christ?

The word translated “meek” means “mild,” “gentle,” “friendly” and occurs in Matthew’s writings more than in the other Gospel writers. The word translated “lowly” means not only “lowly,” but also “modest,” “humble,” “obedient,” “compliant,” and the verb from which it comes can mean “to level.” Is “meek and lowly of heart” a hendiadys, a case of saying the same thing twice (as in Genesis 1:1: “without form and void”), rather than a case of saying two different things?

Meekness and lowliness are associated in the Old Testament (e.g., Proverbs 16:19), and Daniel 3:87 (part of the Septuagint, but not found in our KJV version of Daniel) speaks of lowliness of heart, using the same Greek phrase used here in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint.

Verse 30: The Greek word translated “light” “easy” means “serviceable” or “useful.” How might that change our ordinary understanding of what Jesus is teaching here?

Verses 28-30: Both the Hermeneia volume on Matthew and the first volume on Matthew in Word Biblical Commentary suggest that this saying is part of the Old Testament Wisdom tradition. Here Jesus speaks as Wisdom herself has spoken. (See, particularly Sirach 6:23-31, which has many similarities to this saying.) Does that suggest any fruitful interpretations of this passage?

What makes the Pharisaic law a burden? How is the way of Christian life (life following the law of Christ, Wisdom), an easy one? After all, Jesus has already said that he doesn’t preach a less strict law than the law of the Torah (Matthew 5:17-20).

Do these verses advocate that we respond to the trials of our life merely inwardly, seeing trouble as something pertaining to the world and, so, seeking peace only in our hearts? If not, how do we square these verses with the truth that, as Ernst Bloch says, Jesus “is anything but an artful dodger into invisible inwardness, or a sort of quartermaster for a totally transcendent heavenly Kingdom” (Atheism in Christianity 129-30)?

How would you use your own words to paraphrase these verses? How would you explain what they teach?

Matthew 12

Are the stories that follow supposed to illustrate what Jesus meant by the easy yoke?

Verses 1-9: This story is one of a number of stories that center on the controversy between Jesus and the religious authorities. (See Matthew 9:1-8 for the beginnings of that controversy.) If you’ve been on a grain farm you probably know that you can pluck a head of grain and rub the kernels between your palms to get rid of the husk. Then you can blow away the chaff and chew on the threshed grains for a snack. This practice was permitted by the Mosaic Law. (See Deuteronomy 23:26.) But the rabbis had decided that, though it was permitted, it was a kind of work and, so, was not permitted on the Sabbath. Jesus replies to the scribes (in other words, the rabbis) with a good rabbinical argument, namely an argument from scripture: first, David ate what it was unlawful for him to eat (see Leviticus 24:5-9), but that violation of the Law was justified because they had nothing else to eat (see 1 Samuel 21:2-7); second, the priests in the Temple work on the Sabbath and that work is justified by the fact that it is done for a holy purpose. This last example becomes an affront to the scribes, for Jesus explicitly says that what the disciples are doing is justified by the fact that they are in the service of someone—or something, the Greek could be translated either way—greater than the temple. Which do you think Jesus is saying is greater than the temple, something, presumably the principle of mercy, or someone, presumably Jesus himself? Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 in verse 7, and he tells the scribes that if they had understood that scripture they wouldn’t have accused the disciples. How would understanding that scripture have saved them from their mistake? In other words, what does understanding that mercy is more important than sacrifice have to do with this particular case?

Verses 10-13: The first disagreement with the religious authorities over the Sabbath is immediately followed by a second. Why do you think the dispute over the Sabbath was so important? It appears that the rabbis allowed for healing on the Sabbath if death was likely, but not otherwise. Jesus heals a withered hand, something that could have waited until the next day. Jesus heals the man’s hand in response to a challenge from the scribes: “Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days?” Why does he take up their argument? Why not just ignore them? How do we know when we should respond to the challenges of those who attack us rather than ignore them? What argument does Jesus give the scribes?

Verses 9-14: Heremeneia understands these verses as chiastic (page 86):

   A     9And when he went away from there, he came into their synagogue.    

   B          10And behold, (there was) a man with a rigid hand.    

   C               And they asked him and said, "Is one permitted to heal on the
                       Sabbath"so that they might accuse him.    

   D                    11But he said to them: "Who among you will be the person who
                            has a single sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath
                            will not grasp it and lift it out? 12How much more than a sheep
                            is a person?    

   C'              Therefore, one may do good on the Sabbath."    

   B'          13Then he said to the man: "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it
                   out, and it became whole again, like the other.    

   A'    14But the Pharisees went out and took counsel against him to destroy him.

What does this chiasmus make most important to the story? So what?

Luke 7

Verse 36: Given the Pharisees’ hostility to Jesus, it was brave of this Pharisee, named Simon, to invite Jesus to his house for dinner. (See Luke 7:36 and 11:37 for two other occasions when Pharisees do this.) What do you think might have motivated Simon? What do you make of the fact that each time he was invited to dine with a Pharisee, Jesus did something that scandalized his host?

Verse 37-38: The word translated “sinner” isn’t used to describe the general condition of human beings: we are all sinners, but that is not the point of this word. (See verse 40.) Most have assumed that the woman was engaged in a dishonorable profession (an occupation that the Pharisees assumed disposed one toward sin), and there were many such occupations. Among the dishonorable professions were shepherds and shopkeepers, weavers and launderers, tax collectors and copper smelters. For women the most common was prostitution. Perhaps that is what Luke is implying. That he adds “in the city” to her description may suggest as much. But that isn’t necessarily the case. She could also be someone married to an outcast, such as a publican. Given the Pharisees’ interpretation of the Law, there was no significant difference between the alternatives. But Jesus and his disciples didn’t follow the Pharisaic interpretation of the Law, as we have just seen and as we will see in Matthew 15:2, where they do not observe the hand-washing rituals of the Pharisees. Thus, the word “sinner” would have described them too. We don’t know what ointment the woman used. The Greek word translated “ointment” refers to any oil rendered from animal fat or any vegetable oil except olive oil, for which there is another word. Mark may tell us that it was spikenard, a musky-smelling perfume ointment made from a plant found in India. (This assumes that the incident in Mark and this incident are the same; they may not be.) What is the significance of the woman washing Jesus’s feet? Is it significant that she washes them with her tears? What does anointment suggest? Can we understand what she does symbolically as looking forward to the crucifixion?

Verses 39: On what grounds does this Pharisee believe that Jesus cannot be a prophet? What kinds of similar arguments are made today regarding President Hinckley? What is the proper response to such arguments?

Verses 40-42: In verse 39, we saw that Simon was thinking to himself. What does Jesus’ answer to his complaint show? How is that relevant to Simon’s accusation?

Verse 43: What kind of attitude does Simon’s “I suppose” suggest? Has the parable brought him to repentance?

Verses 44-47: The translation of these verses makes it appear that the woman is forgiven because she loves. That translation, however, is problematic. A better translation would say that she loves because she is forgiven. What is the difference? What does Jesus’ rebuke of Simon tell us about how Simon has treated Jesus? Why didn’t Simon provide water to wash Jesus’ feet, kiss him in greeting, or anoint his head?

Verses 48-50: Why do the onlookers ask “Who is this that forgiveth sins also?” When did the woman exercise faith?

Luke 13

Verses 10-13: Luke often shows Jesus showing regard for women includes women in his narrative more than other New Testament writers, especially women in difficulty. Given the culture of his day, how is that significant? What lesson is in this for us today?

Verse 14: Why does the head of the synagogue address the crowd rather than Jesus? It is obvious that his reproach is aimed at Jesus. Why is healing on the Sabbath such an issue? Is there any symbolic significance to the fact that Jesus insists on healing on the Sabbath and, in fact, of flaunting the fact that he does so in the faces of the scribes and Pharisees?

Verses 15-17: Why does Jesus call the head of the synagogue a pretender, a dissembler? What is his pretense? Though they are not the same, the Greek word translated “loose” here is related to the Greek word translated “loosed” in verse 12. What point is Matthew making by using related Greek words? It appears that tying and loosing knots were among the forbidden kinds of work on the Sabbath, though some knots were exempt. The Greek verb translated “ashamed” can also be translated “dishonored” and it can also be used to describe someone whose hopes have been dashed. How might each of those meanings give us a different understanding of verse 17? What is the point of the contrast that Luke makes between the response of Jesus’ adversaries and the response of “all the people”?

28 Responses to “Sunday School Lesson #10”

  1. cherylem said


    Regarding vs. 10-13 and Luke in general regarding women . . . in both Luke and Acts more than the usual number of women are mentioned, but not nearly as many as one might think.

    For instance, 10 women are named in the Gospel. As characters in the gospel, 39 named men appear but the proper names of 94 more are mentioned – a total of 133 men. So the men outnumber the women (in names) by 13 to 1.

    There are 10 unnamed women and 2 groups of women in the gospel – but 40 unnamed men and 27 groups of men occur. So unnamed men outnumber the unnamed women 4 to 1, and male groups outnumber the female groups by almost 14 to 1.

    In the teaching of Jesus in Luke, women are mentioned 18 times, contrasted to the 158 times men are mentioned.

    So I think the reason we think there are so many women in Luke is because our expectations are so small to begin with.

    And, to lay even more of an alternative view on the table, some people conclude that Luke had a particular view of women – that he felt there were things that needed correcting, so that the women are shown primarily as benefactors and/or “hearing” the gospel. receiving it in silence. So the texts about women – seemingly so numerous (in comparison to what?) – actually can be dangerous to women, depending upon how they are read.

    Certainly it is a good thing to know that women were a part of the early Jesus movement, even before they were called Christians. But I’m not sure we ever learn the role they played in that movement from Luke.

  2. Cheryl said

    What does this mean:

    If not, how do we square these verses with the truth that, as Ernst Bloch says, Jesus “is anything but an artful dodger into invisible inwardness, or a sort of quartermaster for a totally transcendent heavenly Kingdom” (Atheism in Christianity 129-30)?

  3. Robert C. said

    Regarding Matt 11:30, Jim says,

    The Greek word translated “light” means “serviceable” or “useful.”

    I couldn’t find this idea in any of my dictionaries, can anyone help me with this?

    Cheryl #2, I take the “artful dodger” phrase to be referring to a view that Christ’s teaching is one that effectively advocates closing your eyes the real problems of the world. So a “totally transcendent” heavenly kingdom is one that has little to do with this world, perhaps a retreat into an inner world disconnected from the outer world.

    If I’m understanding the question (there’s a good chance I’m not!), I think this is indeed a tough question, one that relates to the very reason Christ was not the Messiah the Jews were expecting, i.e. one that would come to establish a worldly kingdom. However, with this question in mind, I think we might read the Sabbath controversy in Matt 12 as an example of how the Pharisaical interpretation of the law was not light, with it’s long list of dos and don’ts. I also think this gets at a deep issue regarding the inner change that Christ is calling for, if one’s heart is far from God, than following the law is truly burdensome, but if one’s heart is pure, then following the commandments becomes easy. That said, I have a ton of follow-up questions regarding this passage, how it relates to the previous passages in Matt 11, how the Matt 12 passages should be interpreted, etc. I find this passage fascinating and provocative, and I love it on many levels, but I also feel I do not understand it’s context and therefore intent very well at all. I would really appreciate more discussion of this “my burden is light” passage.

  4. nhilton said

    #1 Cherylm, I’d like you to expound on what you mean by [women are shown primarily as benefactors and/or “hearing” the gospel. receiving it in silence. So the texts about women – seemingly so numerous (in comparison to what?) – actually can be dangerous to women, depending upon how they are read.] Before I try to respond.

  5. Cheryl said

    Thanks for the question.

    I am addressing this issue here because of a couple of things in Jim’s great notes. The two things that are of interest to me in the present discussion is the idea that we have that Luke is the “women’s” gospel, and secondly, the very common conflation of texts regarding the anointing of Jesus, which Jim also mentioned:

    “Mark may tell us that it was spikenard, a musky-smelling perfume ointment made from a plant found in India. (This assumes that the incident in Mark and this incident are the same; they may not be.) What is the significance of the woman washing Jesus’s feet? Is it significant that she washes them with her tears? What does anointment suggest? Can we understand what she does symbolically as looking forward to the crucifixion?”

    Actually, I don’t think this story looks forward to the crucifixion at all, and I want to address our common error of reading the other anointing stories through the lens of this very dramatic, very poetic, very beautiful story of the sinful woman and the centering parable of the two debtors.

    I love Luke, and I love Luke 7:36-50. Great themes are addressed: pride, love, forgiveness, acceptance of the gospel, seeing with Jesus’s eyes, and now . . . the comment that Karld made #2 under Lesson 10, the Parable of the Debtors.

    But as much as I love this story, I grieve more for the loss of the other anointing stories, which I think are more powerful, and which I believe we should know better. Yet when I taught them in RS some months ago, not a single woman was familiar with them as I taught them.

    It is enough to make me weep.

    And this happens in Luke more than once – the power of the writing hides what the stories do to the women in them, and our own perception of what it is to be women in the Gospel.

    I’d like to frame this discussion about what we teach our daughters. We have precious few stories of women in the scriptures, and all of them are more or less androcentric – more more than less. So, if you had only one story that you wanted your daughter to know above all the rest, what would it be?

    For me, it would be the story of the anointing of Jesus, as told in Mark, Matthew, and John. As beautiful as Luke is, I could do away with it altogether if it meant we would pay more attention to the others.

    These are my reasons:

    In Matthew, Mark and John, the woman does something significant, something important, in the presence of the disciples and Jesus. She appears to be part of the inner circle – there is no surprise that she is with them.

    (Unlike Luke, where everyone is surprised and disgusted.)

    In Mark and Matthew, she pours the expensive ointment on Jesus’s head – a real anointing.

    In Mark, Matthew and John, the disciples disapprove of her actions, not because she is a sinner, but because she acts in a way they don’t understand – why couldn’t this be given to the poor? They judge her action and condemn it.

    In Mark, Matthew and John, Jesus tells the men – his closest associates – to quit criticizing her. She has acted as a prophet(ess) – she has “done what she could”

    8She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.”

    There is an inference that she knows what is going to happen, and she does the only thing she can do. This is not a spontaneous act, but an act of foreknowledge.

    In Matthew, leaning heavily on Mark, there is also the idea that she poured the ointment not only on Jesus’ head but his body.

    In John the woman is named: Mary, the sister of Martha, the sisters of Lazarus (John 11:2). We get a repeat here (John 12:1-8) of the feet washing with the hair, but what a different story it is. THe act is performed in front of the disciples, and the “house was filled with the odour of the ointment.”

    Then, more profound, significant things happen. Jesus says, “”She hath wrought a good work upon me,” (she has done a beautiful thing to me – NIV) Matt 14:10.

    And in Mark and Matthew Jesus says, respectively:

    Mark 14:9 – “Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.”

    Matthew 26:13: “I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world,, there shall also be this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial for her.”

    (So I ask you all parenthetically: is this preached in our church? In our RS? in our SS classes? In conference? IN women’s conference?)

    And what happens next in these stories?
    In Mark, Judas immediately goes to the chief priests to betray Jesus.

    In Matthew, the same.

    In John, the chief priests also think of ways to kill Lazarus (Judas comes later, but we are told IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STORY (v. 4) that he was the one who betrayed Jesus.

    So with whom is a comparison being made? This woman, this anointer, is being compared to Judas in the most positive way.

    And then what happens?

    The Passover happens. In John, first there is the triumphal entry, and then the passover.

    The anointing by Jesus by the woman is one of the most valuable texts in the NT. But we read it through the story of Luke, if we read it at all. Mostly we don’t read it.

    But, if I had one story for my daughter, for granddaughters, for women in young women, for men in young men’s, for talks throughout the church, it would be the anointing of Jesus, and I would tell this story, “in memory of her.”

    Well, I have gotten passionate. But this happens in Luke in other ways. For instance, in John, the whole story of the anointing happens in the house of Lazarus, who was raised from the dead, while Martha was serving.

    What do we get in Luke? We get Luke 10:38-42, a far inferior story where Mary is praised for being the silent passive receiver of Jesus’ teachings. And while the sinful woman is a powerful story, the actions of the sinful woman do not compare with the actions of the woman who, in the presence of the disciples, anointed Jesus’ body for burying, prior to his death.

    In my opinion of course.

    There are other instances in Luke that also encourage passive, quiet women. But I have spoken enough for now.

    And I do love Luke.

  6. cherylem said

    Correction – typo alert: I meant “actions of the woman [singular] who,

    and now I cannot correct it, having failed to sign in first. Robert or someone, can you correct? [corrected]

  7. cherylem said

    And again: where is anyone praised by Jesus as this woman is praised? This proactive prophetess, this woman who does what she can in the face of coming sorrow?

    Ahhh. Teach it to your daughters.

  8. I keep my mouth closed on this story, personally, because I have read too much of the journals of the early Brethren of this dispensation.

  9. cherylem said

    Why? Didn’t they like it? Or is it all tied into conjecture on marriage?

  10. nhilton said

    Cherylem, great explanation. I ventured the question primarily out of fear that you were a “feminist” in the negative connotation here to distract members from the message of the Gospel. I am relieved and elated to find a Sister who can approach the questions of female studies in the gospel faithfully. I have 5 daughters, daughters only, and am too aware of the silence on women in the scriptures. I believe this concern, however, needs addressing at a different, independent post. Are you game? I wrote a post for FMH which hasn’t been posted yet, along these same lines, and I believe I’ll post it here since no one at FMH has either read my e-mail (they openly admitted it might take eternity)or responded.

    Joe, I want your take on this topic, but maybe it’d be better at the future post? It is VERY important to me to include faithful brethren in this topic of conversation. *Never* would I want to imply a anti-male spin on the topic.

    I think this topic is of utmost importance.

    But back TO the topic, I believe the Woman At The Well pericope in John 4, sandwiched between Nicodemus and the Nobleman is another example of women being spotlighted as receptive to the Lord. I would likewise teach this story to my daughters, among so many more. And, oh, the OT…so many beautiful women’s stories there!

  11. There is certainly some conjecture on marriage in public discourses. But the journals have things to say about ordinances we usually do not talk about, and they connect this particular NT story up with those (and I do not mean initiatories, endowments, or sealings).

  12. cherylem said

    I am familiar with those stories, but it has been some time since I’ve read them.

    And perhaps that is one of the reasons we don’t read this story – because somewhere in our history and tradition it all got locked up in “secret.”

    And also, if the woman performed these things as a . . . dare I say it . . . wife, then again she is discounted, because after all, she was ONLY doing it as a wife.

    And it was conjecture. In my opinion, of course. What she did, for whatever reason, was an act of courage and intelligence.

    What a shame that we have forgotten.

  13. cherylem said

    I’ll think about it. This blog is already taking too much of my time (;->) . . .

    I actually like talking about these things as they come in in our regular course of study.

  14. Robert C. said

    cheryl and others, you would likely be very interested the Master’s thesis of Julie M. Smith (a T&S permablogger), “Mark 14:3-9: The Anointing at Bethany as Markan Christology”. Here’s the abstract:

    In silence, a nameless woman pours nard on Jesus’ head. In this enigmatic scene, we find many themes that are central to the gospel of Mark: the identity of Jesus, purity and impurity, true discipleship and false, words versus deeds, and the paradox of the glorious yet dying Messiah. In this study, the anointing at Bethany will be explored in its literary contexts in order to show that it is christological material in Mark’s gospel. We will show that the anointing is both a burial and a messianic anointing and that its dual meaning is central to its christological vision. It will be suggested that the anointing encapsulates Mark’s Christology.

  15. cherylem said

    Thank you.

  16. nhilton said

    #13 Cherylem, I, too, am suffering from blog overload. I really only came to T&S for Jim F.’s SS notes. But once they moved here, I loved the scripture based conversations & couldn’t resist.

    However, in speaking with my PhD brother Sat. night, we discussed the definition of addiction…something that interferes with your normal life…having to force myself to turn away from THE BLOG! This is a compliment for ya’ll, since your conversation is so stimulating I can’t resist…however, I find I’m spending too much time TALKING ABOUT the scriptures vs. studying the scriptures, which is what I REALLY get into.

    So, I’ve decided to “schedule” my blog sessions in order to return to a more “normal,” healthy life. TTFN!

  17. cherylem said

    #14Robert and everyone,
    I think this is wonderful and terrible (close to the very end of Julie’s paper):

    “If her story is not told, is the gospel really preached? The answer to this question is a resounding ‘no’ on two levels. First, from the mouth of Mark’s omniscient, reliable protagonist, we know that the woman’s story will be told wherever the gospel is preached. And, secondly, without her christological statement, the gospel is not preached. If the audience does not understand that Jesus is both the royal/glorious and the suffering/dying Messiah–a Messiah that transcends yet is still in the context of the Jewish tradition–then Mark’s story has failed. If the audience does not understand that only through complete devotion does one really follow Jesus, that only complete devotion gives one the power and authority to make a proper christological confession, then the gospel has not been preached.”

  18. Jim F. said

    cherylem: “I think the reason we think there are so many women in Luke is because our expectations are so small to begin with.”

    Good point. I should change “Luke often shows regard for women” to something like “Luke shows regard for women more than other writers.”

    Thanks also for your eloquent call for us to look more carefully at the other anointing stories. I’m going to have to use your points to go back and do some re-reading.

    Cheryl: Robert’s explained my question. I like the Bloch quotation, but perhaps this wasn’t the best place to use it. His point is, however, a good one: Jesus did not come to teach about a totally transcendent kingdom; his kingdom is also of this world.

    Robert C.: I used notes I’d made for the verse to write up my comments. I’ve just spent almost an hour looking through my dictionaries and I can’t find anything that says that elaphros can mean “serviceable” or “useful.” The only meaning I can find is the obvious, first meaning, “insignificant.” Oops!

    Like you, I’m fascinated by these Matthew 11:28-30, so I’m interested in any discussion of them that happens here.

    Thanks for referring us to Julie Smith’s piece. Julie is very thoughtful about the scriptures. Perhaps after she finishing moving her house, she’ll show up here to help us out.

  19. Cheryl, I’m not sure you understood me. I was drawing a sharp distinction between the public sermon sayings and the private journal sayings. They hardly make the same claim. I believe the former represent conjecture, but conjecture that is likely based on the latter, which I’m not sure I’m convinced represent conjecture at all. The latter are not so directly concerned with marriage per se. Anyway, that’s probably all I’d like to say on the subject.

  20. Robert C. said

    Jim F. #18, thanks for looking (although I’ll be going to bed feeling very guilty for causing this frustrating hour of your precious time!).

  21. Robert C. said

    Jim F., I stumbled on the answer to the “useful” puzzle: it’s not elaphros (“light”) but chrestos (“easy”) that can mean “useful” (or “kindly”).

    I actually noticed this in Leon Morris’s commentary on Matthew (published by Eerdmans, 1992). I think he nicely handles a potential difficulty in these verses (Matt 11:28-30), the tension between rest and taking up the yoke of Christ. Basically he follows R. V. G. Tasker who translates “rest” as “relief” and explains, “for Jesus rpomises not inactivity and repose but ‘relief from such crushing burdens as crippling anxiety, the sense of frustration and futility, and the misery of a sin-laden conscience (p. 122)'” [Morris p. 297].

    Morris also does a nice job talking about the phrase “yoke of the law” that was common among the Jews, referring to the “‘arbitrary demands of Pharisaic legalism and the uncertainties of ever-proliferating case law’ (Anchor Bible p. 146) [that] point to a situation where what was a delight to the legal experts was intolerable to ordianry people” (Morris, p. 296). Interesting cross references listed for yoke that I’d like to study more include: Abot 3:5; Sir 51:23-27; Matt 23:4; Acts 15:10; Gal 5:1; 1 Tim 6:1.

    (I’ll go ahead and make this correction to your post above.)

  22. brianj said

    Jim F: can you help me with “Meekness…Daniel 3:87…same Greek phrase…”? My Daniel 3 has only 30 verses.

  23. Jim F. said

    brianj: Didn’t you get that update to your Bible? Sorry, I need to make a correction. I neglected to say Daniel 3:87 of the Septuagint. That is a piece that comes between our chapters 3 and 4. It is called “The Song of the Three Youths,” “The Hymn of the Three Young Men,” or something similar. Some have accepted it as canonical, but most do not.

  24. Matt W. said

    This is a bit tangential but one of my kids wants to know what kind of grain it was in Matt 12:1, since it wasn’t corn… Any ideas?

  25. brianj said

    Matt W: here is the footnote from the NET Bible:

    “While the generic term στάχυς (stacus) can refer to the cluster of seeds at the top of grain such as barley or wheat, in the NT the term is restricted to wheat.”

  26. brianj said

    Matt W: I tried to answer your question earlier, but the software didn’t let it through. I’ll try again—this time without the links.

    The NET Bible notes say that the Greek word is used in the NT to refer exclusively to wheat; other places the term can mean wheat or barley.

  27. Matt W. said

    thank you!

  28. metin2 said


    […]Sunday School Lesson #10 « Feast upon the Word Blog[…]…

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