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A Harmony of the Gospels



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Luke 4:16-30
     (16) So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.  (17)  And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
(18)  "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;  (19)  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."
     (20)  Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.  (21)  And He began to say to them,  "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."  (22)  So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said,  "Is this not Joseph's son?"
     (23)  He said to them, "You will surely say this proverb to Me, 'Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.'"  (24)  Then He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country.  (25)  But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land;  (26)  but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.  (27)  And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian."
     (28)  So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,  (29)  and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff.  (30)  Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.


1. Jewish writers claim for the synagogue a very remote antiquity, but its origin probably dates during the captivity.
2. There were no fixed proportions in the building, as there were in the tabernacle and in the temple.
3. When a synagogue was to be built the highest ground that could be found in the vicinity was selected for the site, and, if possible, the top was erected above the roofs of surrounding buildings. Where this could not be done a tall pole was placed on the summit in order to make the building conspicuous.
4. They were often built without roofs.
5. They were constructed so that the worshipers, as they entered and prayed, faced Jerusalem.
6. At the Jerusalem end was the chest or ark that contained the book of the law.
7. Toward the middle of the building was a raised platform, and in the center of the platform was a pulpit.
8. A low partition five or six feet high divided the men from the women.
9. The leading object of the synagogue was not worship, but instruction. Reading and expounding the law was the great business of the synagogue: and, though a liturgical service was connected with these, it was subordinate to them.
10. The priests had no official standing or privileges in the synagogue, though they were always honored when present. They were the hereditary officials of the Temple, but the officers of the synagogue were elected either by the congregation or by the council.
11. The leader of the congregation might ask any suitable person to address the assembly. Persons who were known as learned men, or as the expounders of religious faith, were allowed to speak. Visitors were also giving the privilege of addressing the assembly.
Synagogue Officials
A synagogue could not be formed unless there were at least ten Jewish men in the community.  Some synagogues paid ten unemployed men a small sum to be present at every service to be sure this rule was met.  The following officials served in a synagogue.
A board of elders made up of devout and respected men of the community regulated the policies of the synagogue.
Ruler of the synagogue
There could be one or more rulers.  They were appointed by the elders.  Their duty was to attend to matters concerning the building and the planning of the services.
The minister (chazzan) had several duties.  He had charge of the sacred scrolls which were kept in the Ark;  he attended to the lamps;  and he kept the building clean.  If an offender was found guilty by the council of elders,  the chazzan administered the number of lashes prescribed for the scourging.  During the week the chazzan taught elementary children how to read.
Delegate of the congregation
This was not a permanent office.  Before each service the ruler chose a capable person to read the Scripture lesson,  to lead in prayer,  and to preach or comment on the Scripture.  Jesus was selected for this office in the synagogue in Nazareth.
The Scriptures were written in ancient Hebrew.  By Jesus' day the people spoke Aramaic,  a language related to Hebrew but different enough to call for an interpreter.
These were two or three persons who received money or other necessities for the poor.

Stood up to read

After the prayers two lessons were always read:

1. “parashah” From the Law
2. “haphtarah” From the Prophets

As there were no ordained ministers to conduct the services,  these lessons were not only read by any competent person who received permission from the  “rosh hak-keneseth,”  but he was even at liberty to add his own “Midrash,” or comment.

The reading of the  “parashah”  from the Pentateuch was apparently over when Jesus ascended the steps of the “bima.”  Recognizing His claim to perform the honorable function of a  “maphtir”  or reader,  the “chazzan” drew aside the silk curtain of the painted ark that contained the sacred manuscripts,  and handed Him the  “megillah”  or roll of the Prophet Isaiah,  which contained the  “naphtarah”  of  the day.
Jesus unrolled the volume*,  and found the well-known passage in Isaiah 61.  The whole congregation stood up to listen to Him.  The length of the  “haphtarah”  might be from three to twenty one verses,  but Jesus only read the first and part of the second.  He then rolled up the  “megillah,”  handed it back to the  “chazzan,”  and,  as was customary among the Jews,  sat down** to deliver His sermon.

*  The Sacred Writings used in all Jewish synagogues were written on skins of basil,  parchment,  or vellum,  sewed end to end,  and rolled on two rollers,  beginning at each end;  so that,  in reading from right to left  (this because it was in Hebrew).  After having read,  he rolled it up again,  and returned it to the officer (v. 20),  the ruler of the synagogue,  or his servant,  whose business it was to take care of it.
**  The Jews,  in general,  sat while they taught or commented on the Sacred Writings,  or the traditions of the elders;  but when they read either the law or the prophets they invariably stood up:   it was not lawful for them even to lean against any thing while employed in reading.

The Ministry Of  Our Lord Jesus Christ

The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because

He has anointed Me to Preach the gospel to the poor
He has sent Me to Heal the broken hearted
Proclaim liberty to the captives
Recovery of sight to the blind
Set at liberty those who are oppressed
Proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD

Compare Matt 11:4 & 5
Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.
(from New International Version)

How far we have come today from the ministry that was handed to us.
How often do we offer the good news of the Savior to only those who can afford it, are well adjusted, can find their way into our churches?
And how often do we wait for them to come to us to hear the good news?
Or how often do we  "go into all the world"  to take the good news to them (Mark 16:15)?

Luke 14:23-24
Then the master said to the servant,  'Go out into the highways and hedges,  and compel them to come in,  that my house may be filled.

As Jesus was sent, so He has sent us.  The command  "go into all the world"  does not only refer to other countries, but it also tells us to seek out those in our own neighborhoods, in our own villages, in our own towns, in our  own cities.  In fact, wherever we happen to be at any given moment, our commission is to compel them to come in, that His house may be filled.

Elijah and Elisha

Elijah 1 Kings 17:9 City of Sidon
A Woman
A Widow
Stranger to the commonwealth  (a  Gentile)
Elisha 2 Kings chapter 5 Syria
An enemy who enslaved the people
Commander of the enemy's armed forces

As God would hereby show himself a Father of the fatherless, and a Judge of the widows, so he would show that he was rich in mercy to all, even to the Gentiles.

When they heard these things

They were offended because:

He claimed the Scriptures were fulfilled in Him, thus claiming to be t he Messiah
He compared Himself with their 2 greatest prophets
He claimed the Gentiles were actually chosen over the Israelites
To provide for Elijah
To receive healing through Elisha
He claimed God's blessings were for the Gentiles as well as the Israelites

They were filled with wrath ... and rose up ... and thrust Him out

The speaker was no longer interrupted by a murmur of disapprobation,  but by a roar of wrath.
With one of those bursts of sanguinary excitement which characterized that strange,  violent,  impassioned people – a people whose minds are swept by storms as sudden as those which in one moment lash into fury the mirror surface of their lake – they rose in a body,  threw Him out of the city,  and then dragged Him to the brow of the hill above.  The little town of Nazareth nestles in the southern hollows of that hill;  many a mass of precipitous rock lies imbedded on its slopes,  and it is probable that the hillside may have been far more steep and precipitous 2,000 years ago.  To one of those rocky escarpments they dragged Him,  in order to fling Him headlong down.

Passing through the midst of them

Either He shut their eyes so that they could not see him;  or he so overawed them by His power as to leave them no strength to perform their murderous purpose.  Psalm 91:11,12 says:  “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone."

According to Barnes:
More probably that Jesus by divine power, by the force of a word or look, stilled their passions, arrested their purposes, and passed silently through them. That he "had" such a power over the spirits of people we learn from the occurrence in Gethsemane, when he said, "I am he; and they went backward and fell to the ground," John 18:6.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

The man Christ Jesus was immortal till his time came; and all His messengers are immortal till their work is done.


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From the NKJV
Matthew 4:13-16

(13) And leaving Nazareth,  He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali,  (14)  that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

15)  "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles:
(16)  The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,  And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned."
(17) From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Luke 4:31

Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths.

Galilee of the Gentiles

Galilee was divided into upper and lower Galilee.
Upper Galilee was called Galilee of the Gentiles,  because it was occupied chiefly by Gentiles.  It was in the neighborhood of Tyre, Sidon, etc.  The word  "Gentiles"  includes in the Scriptures all who are not Jews.  It means the same as nations,  or,  as we should say,  the pagan nations.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

From that time on

(Matt 4:17) This marks the beginning of His major public ministry,  mostly spent in Galilee. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" epitomizes His message in one sentence.
With Jesus' ministry,  death, and resurrection,  God's saving reign would be inaugurated in the hearts and lives of those who became His disciples. 
(Matt 4:18-22) Universal acknowledgment of God's sovereignty in Jesus must await his second coming,  but the kingdom has at least been inaugurated.  He began to call to Himself those who would be His most intimate associates and trainees.
(Matt 4:23-25) Matthew then previewed the essence of Christ's ministry with the key terms "preaching, teaching and healing," which characterized his activity wherever He went.
(from Holman Bible Handbook. (c) Copyright 1992 by Holman Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.)

And so He left them,  never apparently to return to Nazareth again;  never,  if we are right in the view here taken,  to preach again in their little synagogue.  Did any feelings of merely human regret weigh down His soul while He was wending His weary steps down the steep hill-slope towards Cana of Galilee?  Did any tear start in His eyes unbidden as He stood,  perhaps for the last time,  to gaze from thence on the rich plain of Esdraelon,  and the purple heights of Carmel,  and the white sands that fringe the blue waters of the Mediterranean?
Were there any from whom He grieved to be severed,  in the green secluded valley where His manhood had labored,  and His childhood played?  Did He cast one longing,  lingering glance at the humble home in which for so many years He had toiled as the village carpenter?  Did no companion of His innocent boyhood,  no friend of  His sinless youth accompany Him with awe,  and pity, and regret?

Such questions are not,  surely,  unnatural;  not,  surely,  irreverent; -
but they are not answered.
Of all merely human emotions of His heart,  except so far as they directly affect His mission upon earth,  the Gospels are silent.  We know only that henceforth other friends awaited Him away from boorish Nazareth,  among the gentle and noble-hearted fishermen of Bethsaida;  and that thenceforth His home,  so far as He had a home,  was in the little city of Capernaum,  beside the sunlit waters of the Galilean Lake.


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From the NKJV
Matthew 4:18-22 Mark 1:16-20 Luke 5:1-11



(1) So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret,  (2)  and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. 

(18) And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.

(16) And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.

(3)  Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.
     (4)  When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."
     (5)  But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net."  (6)  And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.  (7)  So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.  (8)  When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying,  "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!"
     (9)  For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; 

(19)  Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."  (20)  They immediately left their nets and followed Him.(21)  Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father,  mending their nets.

(17)  Then Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men."  (18)  They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
     (19)  When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets

(10)  and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men."

He called them,  (22)  and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

(20)  And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him.

(11)  So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

The Lake of Gennesaret

This lake is referred to by at least 4 different names:

Sea of Chinnereth In the Old Testament
Sea of Galilee Derived from the territory of Galilee which bordered its western shores
Sea of Tiberius So named by Herod Antipas to impress Tiberius Caesar, however, the name never caught on with the local people
Lake of Gennesaret Derived from the name of a plain stretching about 3 miles along its northwestern shore

"Gennesaret was the more ancient name of the lake,  taken from a small territory or plain of that name on its western borders.  See Num 34:11;  Josh 19:35,  where,  after the Hebrew orthography,  it is called Chinnereth" (Owen).

The plain lying between Capernaum and Tiberias is said by Dr. Thomson ("The Land and the Book," vol. i. p. 536) to be a little longer than thirty,  and not quite twenty furlongs in breadth.
It is described by Josephus as being, in his time, universally fertile. "Its nature is wonderful as well as its beauty. Its soil is so fruitful that all sorts of trees can grow upon it, and the inhabitants accordingly plant all sorts of trees there; for the temperature of the air is so well mixed that it agrees very well with those several sorts; particularly walnuts, which require the coldest air, flourish there in vast plenty. One may call this the ambition of nature, where it forces those plants which are naturally enemies to one another to agree together. It is a happy conjunction of the seasons, as if every one laid claim to this country; for it not only nourishes different sorts of autumnal fruits beyond people's expectations, but preserves them a great while. It supplies people with the principal fruits; with grapes and figs continually during ten months of the year, and the rest of the fruits, as they become ripe, through the whole year; for, besides the good temperature of the air, it is also watered from a most fertile fountain."
This was the region of the early toils of our Redeemer.  Here he performed some of his first and most amazing miracles;  here he selected his disciples;  and here,  on the shores of this little and retired lake, among people of poverty and inured to the privations of  fishermen.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Casting their nets

The net,  being cast over the shoulder,  spreads into a circle.
This same word is sometimes used by classical Greek writers to denote a garment that encompasses the wearer.

We have toiled all night

Night fishing is very common in the East.
Roberts says that in India the fishermen prefer the night to the day.  They carry lighted torches to allure the fish. Dr.

The fish came nearer the surface at night to feed;  in the daytime they went down to the cooler waters deep in the lake.

Thomson gives a lively description of night fishing in Palestine:

“It is a beautiful sight. With blazing torch the boat glides over the flashing sea, and the men stand gazing keenly into it until their prey is sighted, when, quick as lightening, they fling their net or fly their spear; and often you see the tired fishermen come sullenly into harbor in the morning, having toiled all night in vain.”

I will let down the net

One writer says:  One end of the net is attached to the shore;  the fishermen row out,  and drop the net as they go,  making a kind of semicircle from the shore;  they return,  and bring the rope attached to the other end with them,  and then the net is hauled on shore;  and,  as it was sunk with weights to the bottom,  and floated with corks at the top,  all the fish in that compass were included,  and drawn to shore.

We have toiled .... nevertheless at Your Word

Rom 9:11 ...that the purpose of God according to election might stand,
not of works
but of Him who calls
Eph 2:8-10 ...it is the gift of God
not of works
lest anyone should boast.
2 Tim 1:9 ...who has saved us and called us with a holy calling
not according to our works
but according to His own purpose
and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus
Titus 3:4, 5 ...But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared
not by works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to His mercy He saved us
Heb 9:14, 15 ...how much more shall the blood of Christ...cleanse your conscience
from dead works
to serve the living God

Depart from me, for I am a sinful man

Peter was fully convinced that this draught of fish was a miraculous one; and that God Himself had particularly interfered in this matter, whose presence and power he reverenced in the person of Jesus.
But as he felt himself a sinner, he was afraid the Divine purity of Jesus could not possibly endure him; therefore he wished for a separation from that power, which he was afraid might break forth and consume him.

It seems to have been a received maxim among the Jews,  which whoever had seen a particular manifestation of God should speedily die:

Gen. 32:30) Jacob seemed astonished that his life should have been preserved, when he had seen God face to face
Exodus 24:10,11 The nobles of Israel saw God, and yet did eat and drink; for on them He had laid not His hand, i.e. to destroy them
Deuteronomy 5:26 Moses said: “Who is there of all flesh that hath heard the voice of the living God, speaking out of the midst of the fire as we have, and lived?”
Judges 6:21-23 Gideon expected to be immediately slain, because he had seen the angel of the Lord
Judges 13:22 Manoah and his wife said: “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.”
Exodus 33:20 This seems to have been founded on the authority of God Himself: “There shall no man see my face and live.”
These different passages sufficiently show in what sense these words of Peter are to be understood.

Fishers of men

Luke says:

“….you shall catch men.”
“You shall catch men ALIVE.”
The discoveries of God tend to LIFE, not death. They were to become instruments of Life and Salvation to a lost world.

The fish they had been catching were to be killed,  but those who were converted under their ministry would be preserved unto Eternal Life.

And they left ... and went after Him

Before (at the baptism of John) they had desired to be with Him,  but it was not the total commitment that this was. In this case, they left everything dear and familiar to them in order to be continually with Jesus.
There was no turning back.

With the hired servants

Implying that Zebedee carried on his business on a larger scale than ordinary fishermen.


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From the NKJV
Mark 1:21-28 Luke 4:31-37

(21) Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught.  (22)  And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

(31) Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths.  (32)  And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority.

(23)  Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out,  (24)  saying, "Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are -- the Holy one of God!"

(33)  Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice,  (34)  saying, "Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are -- the Holy one of God!"

(25)  But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!"  (26)  And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him.  (27)  Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him."  (28)  And immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee.

(35)  But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!" And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him.  (36)   Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, "What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out."  (37)  And the report about Him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

An unclean spirit - Mark

It seems the man had lucid intervals; else he could not have been admitted into the synagogue.

“Unclean”  or  “impure”  spirit is a common epithet for those fallen spirits: but here it may mean, one who filled the heart of him he possessed with lascivious thoughts, images, desires, and propensities. By giving way to the first attacks of such a spirit, he may soon get in, and take full possession of the whole body and soul.

An unclean devil - Luke

This from Luke,  from the Greek word  “daimonion”,  or,  literally,  demon.

In the many passages in the Synoptics and Acts that refer to those possessed by demons,  three points are to be made:

1. With respect to demons as the cause of sickness,  it should be noted that in the New Testament, it might be said that the existence of sickness in this world belongs to the character of the atmosphere of which Satan is the prince.
It is for this reason that Jesus says of the women in Luke 13:11 who had a  “spirit of infirmity”  “a daughter…whom Satan has bound” (v. 16).
Thus, while not all sicknesses are the result of the possession of a demon, they may all be seen as the work of Satan.
2. In most of the stories of possession what is at issue is not merely sickness but a destruction and distortion of the divine likeness of man according to creation.
The center of personality,  the volitional and active ego,  is impaired by alien powers that seek to ruin the man and sometimes drive him to self-destruction (Mark 5:5). The ego is so impaired that the spirits speak through him.
Jesus is conscious that He now breaks the power of the devil and his angels because He is the One in whom the dominion of God is present on behalf of humanity (Matthew 12:28).
The crucial thing is that demons are expelled by a word of command issued in the power of God and not by the invocation of a similar spirit,  nor by the use of material media.
3. The demons,  as “spirits,”  possess a certain knowledge that they must express in words in the face of Jesus – for example,
“thou Son of God
They also recognize their fate (Matthew 8:29; James 2:19).
The confession that Jesus seeks to evoke is not, however, this witness that proceeds from demonic knowledge. Hence He forbids it.
The New Testament dispels the constant fear of evil spirits. Yet it confirms the popular sense of something horrible and sinister in such spirits, bringing out the demonic nature of their activity as an attack on the spiritual and physical life of man in fulfillment of the will of Satan. The New Testament bears witness to the victory won by Jesus over evil spirits – a victory that is efficacious for the community and will preserve it through the temptations of the last time.

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From the NKJV
Matthew 8:14-15 Mark 1:29-31 Luke 4:38-39


(29) Now as soon as they had come out of the synagogue,

(38) Now He arose from the synagogue and

(14) Now when Jesus had come into Peter's house,

they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

entered Simon's house.

He saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever.

(30) But Simon's wife's mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her at once.

But Simon's wife's mother was sick with a high fever, and they made request of Him concerning her.

(15)  So He touched her hand, and the fever left her.

(31)  So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her.

(39)  So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her.

And she arose and served them.

And she served them.

And immediately she arose and served them.

Notice here the progression of the tale as all three Synoptics work together to give the complete picture.


(End of Lesson Five)



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