John the Baptist is in prison and sends two of his disciples to Jesus to ask a question to him: "Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?"
Why does he ask this? He is basically asking a timeline question here: Are you the Messiah or the Forerunner? This shows us John's utter humility because he is the Forerunner and the New Elijah (the one with a spirit like his) and doesn't even realize it. He doesn't even think he is important even.
Herod is scared of John the Baptist because he can see he is holy and the following he has amassed might get him in a lot of trouble with Rome who he is deathly afraid of screwing with.
Jesus quotes Isaiah to him to show He is the Messiah. Then (v.7-19) Christ says more of John. He says John is the Forerunner. "Did you think he was a king? No. A prophet? There has been several hundred years since one and John is in fact the greatest prophet of the Old Testament essentially. He quotes Malachi 3:1 to show that John is the Forerunner and that He is indeed the Messiah. John is "Elijah to come". John fulfills the mission of Elijah that is prophesied. In the New Covenant, everyone will have the Holy Spirit with them, not just certain Old Covenant prophets. God Incarnate is not coming to restore and bring the Old Covenant and Davidic kingdom back. He is bringing something better: the New Covenant.
11:12 - "The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it". Jesus is not a war-leader. He is not ordering an earthly army. What started with violence? It started when John and Jesus were babies and Herod had Zechariah (John's dad) murdered and had tried to do with Jesus as well. This same man will also go on to kill the early Christians. This is who he is referring to. There are forces at work (demons through people) trying to destroy the Messiah and God's Kingdom and His people. John is the end of the Old Covenant and those who come next will be better in the New Covenant.
Jesus likens this generation - this crowd - to kids who are playing songs and none listen. These Judeans expect someone different and Judea got John and Jesus, who they act like are blind, idiots, drunks, etc. Truth is they are the only ones who can save these people. Those who are really God's people see and hear and know who John and Jesus are. Simeon and Anna were the first to recognize Jesus and who He was instantly.
11:20-24 - The cities Christ preached to had not repented. He says they are so bad that if he had done what he did with Tyre and Sidon, that He did for them, they would have repented like Ninevah. Using some hyperbole and graphic imagery here, but he is holding them accountable for what they know. They are judged on what God gives them and they have been given a LOT. Likewise, we have been given a lot as well and we are like them responsible and often take it all for granted.
11:25-30 - A quote from Wisdom of Sirach 40:1 is here (an image of servitude). Serving God or sin and the world. Are we a slave to God or the passions? Master over sin.
After AD 70, Bar Kochba will happen and Jerusalem and Judea will literally cease to exist. It will be renamed Palestine and then Rome will literally flatten it and build an entire city on top of it. Jews will not be able to go back there until many centuries later.
12:1-14 - They (the Pharisees) get onto Jesus about the disciples getting some grain to eat. Jesus brings up David when he ate it. On Sabbath, they worked. He shows that there is one greater than the Temple (the Messiah). Jesus then quotes Hosea 6:6 again. Mercy takes precedence over the rituals, regulations, etc. Love and grace triumph. The Pharisees actively try to set Jesus up again in the synagogue with a man with a withered hand so they can accuse Him of doing evil and breaking Sabbath. He then uses one of the Pharisees' own rules about shep here (he uses the Mishnah which has this rule) to throw their own rules back at them. Isn't this man worth more than a sheep? Therefore, the lawful thing to do is to do GOOD on the Sabbath instead of do evil.
12:13-14 - Heals the man and then the Pharisees plot more against him because he has made them look like fools publicly. They are also, it should be noted, working to do evil on Sabbath.
12:15-21 - Isaiah Isaiah 42 to show He is Messiah and is the one they should be looking for. He also shares He will declare justice to Gentiles too.
12:22-37 - Demon-possessed man is brought to Jesus so the Pharisees try to plot against him. The disciples wonder could he really be the Messiah? They are not seeing what they expect and are confused.
The Pharisees then accuse Jesus of being able to heal people because of demon-possession by Beelzebub. The Talmud even says later that Jesus is a sorcerer who was demon-possessed. Beelzebub is a title for "lord of dung/flies". The Pharisees are calling Jesus a piece of shit in other words who is working for Satan. Jesus makes the point that if that were true, then Satan would be fighting himself. It makes no sense. If He is from God though, and He is, then the Kingdom of God is here and you are opposing Jesus while He reclaims the land from the demons. He shows how the Pharisees are actually working for Satan.
12:32 - Blaspheming this is when someone is fighting actively with God. They have made their choice. They are getting a warning here. He says it because he loves them and wants them to repent too.
12:38-45 - They then ask for a sign/miracle when He calls them a brood of vipers. Prove it, in other words. The Ninevites actually repented when Jonah showed up and now the Pharisees are asking. The Queen of Sheba asked for wisdom. Jesus say they will see one sign and that will be the Resurrection. "This generation" is used here with a Deut. 32 reference. Christ compares them to the ancestors who died in Exile and worshipped other gods. They will be even worse then when they started is what he says, when one lets an unclean spirit return. Be serious with your faith.
12:46-50 - Christ's family haven't all figured it out either yet who He is and are confused.
Parables. Jesus is sitting in a boat at Galilee and tells his parables to the people.
One is a parable of the sower. The disciples ask him to explain this to them basically. Jesus says that he is telling them this so one who listens will get it. Someone listening will get it. He says Isaiah 6, 9, and 10 is fulfilled here. He then explains the parable here. It is all about the faith and message being heard and them getting it and following it.
Parable of wheat and tares. Evil farmer ruins harvest by putting taxes in it. The tares and the wheat will grow together. Then at the harvest (the final judgment).
The wheat will be harvested and the taxes will be done away with. Lot of people are tares but can become wheat by repenting. Peter says in 2 Peter that God is not judging yet because He is giving a chance to repent.
Next parable is mustard seed and leaven. If you cultivate your faith it will grow and then become great and large. Eventually it will overtake the world. Christianity was small, took root, and now is massive.
"The reapers are the angels" in verse 39.
In the house, he still talks in parable to the Disciples.
13:44-46 - Pearl/hidden treasure.
13:47-50 - Dragnet. Fish.
13:51-53 - Compares his disciples to the scribes. He intends for them to give Scripture, the New Testament and learn the Old Testament. Jesus is saying "we are writing the New Testament here".
13:54-58 - Jesus is rejected at Nazareth. They go "isn't this the son of Joseph, the carpenter? Mary's son? His step-brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?
Herod gets scared of Jesus. Thinks John the Baptist who he'd had executed has risen from the dead. Tradition states John preached to the souls in Hades and announce the Messiah is come.
Herod is a weak king. So he doesn't get embarrassed, he murders John. John's disciples bury him and then told Jesus. (14:1-12).
14:13-21 - Jesus tries to go to a deserted place to be by Himself. People follow Him. He is travelling along the coast because boats back then weren't great. Jesus tells the apostles to feed the people. So they feed 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish. They freak out becaues they cannot see how they will feed them, which is silly because Jesus is there.
Jesus is here in a deserted place with some grass and water. God sends manna from heaven in the Old Testament. Here, God fed these 5000 people. Herod's questions are also answered here. God (Christ) is the New Moses, David, etc. and will lead his people away from the evil rulers as a New People and conquer them in some way.
14:22-33 - Feeds them, then has them leave. Jesus sends them to Gentile land here. Jesus finally gets some alone time. As they sail, they get into a storm. It is 3 AM in the morning; Jesus shows up as they think they are going to sink, they see Him walking on water and even think he is a ghost. Jesus says, "Don't be afraid". Peter answers faithfully, "Command me to walk on water" so Jesus says "Come". Peter comes to Him, in a storm, and then falls and Jesus catches Peter and they go to the boat. Then, the wind ceases. They all worship Him as God the Son. As a king.
For a minute, Peter questions and doubts whether Jesus is in control of this situation or the storm. Then he fails.
14:34-36 - They cross-over to Gennesaret and recognize Him and start bringing everyone to Him. Gennesaret is Gentile land. God is the god of all people.
15:1-20 - Scribes and Pharisees come to Jesus and ask why the disciples are breaking the extra rules the Pharisees' elders came up with.
This one was over washing their hands before they ate. Jesus responds with an actual commandment from God: "Honor your father and mother..." Says some of these traditions of theirs break the commands of God. The Pharisees have a tradition where they are cheating their own parents of debts they owe and have added a tradition that they can get rid of the debt by giving that owed money to the Temple. Jesus then quotes Isaiah 29:13 at them for hypocrisy.
He responds to everyone next: Eating pork doesn't make you [15:12 offends the Pharisees] unclean. It is what is inside of you and comes out of you like hypocrisy.
He then calls his followers not to mess with the Pharisees because they are blind and like a tree they will be uprooted.
Peter does not get this so Jesus explains again (15:10-20).
15:21-28 - A Gentile asks Jesus for help. She is from Tyre and Sidon. They are there now. Her daughter is demon-possessed. Being from and at Tyre and Sidon, and a "Caananite" woman. She is as non-Judean as you can get. She identifies him as Son of David, Messiah. Bad, destructive demon possession. The disciples tell Jesus to send her away (they discriminate).
She bows to Jesus after He says, "I am here for Israel". In other words, I am Messiah.
15:26 - "It is not good to take (Israel) children's bread and feed it to the (Gentiles) dogs".
She gives a good response about crumbs. He then heals her girl because of her faith. This was him to show the disciples that God is the god of everyone. He is making a comparison to them too over their silliness, ignorance, and weak faith. He essentially tells this woman to pound sand "dog" and she still has faith and begs for His blessing and knows He is King and Messiah.
15:29-31 - Jesus goes up to a mountain to pray and he heals these Gentiles. They worship the God of Israel.
15:32-39 - Jesus basically gives a re-do test for the apostles. The disciples screw it up again on how to feed the 4000. They even have more fish and bread this time and still fail. Jesus then feeds the 4000 people plus. They then go to Magdala (where Mary Magdalen comes from).