Word Study #178 — Hunger and Thirst

March 27, 2013

I’m not sure what the folks who asked for a study of these terms were expecting. If they wanted something high-flown, mystical, or “super-spiritual”, they asked the wrong person: for these are very plain, down-to-earth words, and flights of fancy are not my specialty.
Although two of the three Greek words, peinao and dipsao, are occasionally used metaphorically of intense desire, craving or longing, the vast majority are purely physical references. The third, limos, without exception, describes scarcity of harvest, or famine related to drought – not a rare occurrence in the ancient (or modern) middle east – and the associated hardship and even starvation (Mt.24:7, Mk.13:8, Lk.4:25, 15:14, 17; 21:11; Ac.7:11, 11:28; Rom.8:35, II Cor.11:27, Rv.6:8, 18:8)
Of the 7 incidents (14 references) where “hunger” and “thirst” appear together, only one (II Cor.11:27) uses limos; and of the rest, only two (Mt.5:6 and Rv.7:16) admit the possibility of metaphorical interpretation.

Peinao, the more frequent word for “hunger”, usually refers to one’s physical need for food. After a lengthy fast, Jesus was hungry (Mt.4:2, Lk.4:2). Pursued by Saul’s army, David and his companions were hungry (Mt.12:3, Mk.2:25, Lk.6:3-11). However, the need described is not always urgent. Jesus and his disciples on the way to Jerusalem (they probably left before breakfast!) were looking for a snack (Mt.21:18, Mk.11:12). Walking through the grain field, the disciples got the “munchies” and helped themselves – which, according to Mosaic law, would have been perfectly ok on any other day.

Paul comments (I Cor.4:11, Phil.4:12) on his own experience of uncertain support during his travels, and reminds folks of their cultural obligation to provide necessities even for enemies (Rom.12:20). On a more domestic note, he criticizes selfish behavior at the “church potluck” (I Cor.11:21, 34).

Jesus’ judgment parable (Mt.25 and Lk.6) is a commendation of folks providing for the needs of others, and a critique of those who did not do so. Usually the issue of urgency is not addressed.
Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount (Lk.6:21,25) confines the “beatitude” comment to physical hunger, in contrast to Mt.5:6.
Matthew’s insertion of “for justice [righteousness]” provides a transition to the four instances where peinao may have been used in a more metaphorical sense. These include Lk.1:53, where Mary declares, “He has filled the hungry with good things” – which certainly would have included, but not been confined to food; Jesus’ own statement in Jn.6:35, “He that comes to me shall never hunger” – which in the light of Paul’s experience noted above, probably requires metaphorical interpretation; and his triumphant declaration in Rv.7:16 of the eventual vindication of the martyrs surely reaches beyond the physical realm.
I suspect that it is this latter group of references that Paul had in mind when he wrote his “thank-you note” to the Philippian church for their support. For an accurate understanding of his intent, it is necessary to begin with Phil.4:11, rather than glibly and arrogantly trumpeting the much-misquoted v.13. Expressing gratitude for their concern, Paul also testifies, “I have learned to get along in any condition. I know how to be hard-up and how to handle plenty. I’ve been fully initiated, to be well-fed and to be hungry, to have plenty or to be in need. I have strength for every situation, in the One who enables me.”

Passages involving “thirst” contain a bit more ambiguity. Actually, the only ones referencing purely physical need of water are Rom.12:20, I Cor.4:11, the Mt.25 discussions already cited, and John’s account of Jesus’ word from the cross (19:28). John does not elaborate on the latter statement, as mystically inclined individuals are wont to do. Extreme thirst would not seem strange under the circumstances.
Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (Jn.4:13-15) thoroughly blurs the line between literal and figurative reference, as do his comments in Jn.6:35, 7:37, and Rev.7:16, 21:6, and 22:17. Even the immediate audiences did not always understand, so it’s small wonder if we don’t.
The woman in Samaria initially grasped at the prospect of no longer needing to make her lonely mid-day trek for water (v.15), and only after more conversation realized that this was the promised “Anointed One” with whom she was speaking, even though Jesus had explained that his “water” was different: life-giving, and abundant enough to be shared (13,14).
The focus in Jn.6:32-35 places more emphasis on the provision of bread, and includes “never being thirsty” almost as an afterthought.
Jn.7:37-39 clearly connects the “living water” with the gift of the Holy Spirit,which is also intended to “flow out”, and not to be hoarded for one’s private benefit.

In order to appreciate the metaphorical uses of “hunger” and “thirst”, it is necessary to remember that the setting of all this activity and conversation is in a desert culture. “Thirst” in the desert does not simply imply discomfort. One’s very survival is in question. Like “hunger” in a land where famine mercilessly stalks its victims, “thirst” is also a matter of dire necessity, and culturally, water, like shelter, is not to be denied, even to one’s enemy.

It is this sense of urgency which, I believe, Jesus intends to convey in that first “beatitude” regarding one’s longing for justice/righteousness. Remember (#3) that this is the same word, and not two different ideas! Mt.5:6 is the only reference where any object of the “hunger” or “thirst” is overtly specified. There is probably a reason – do you have any idea what it might be? (I don’t!)

But there is no ambiguity whatever in the Lord’s gracious offer.
In the desert, water is life. In this world and the next, both physically and figuratively, it is his gift to his people.
“They will no longer be hungry or thirsty; neither will the sun fall on them, nor any burning The Lamb in the midst of the throne will shepherd them, and he will be their guide to wells of living water.” (Rv.7:16,17).
“I will give to the thirsty from the spring of living water [water of life].” (Rv.21:6)

“The one who is thirsty must come – whoever wishes – he must take the living water as a gift!” (Rv.22:17).

Thanks be to God!

Word Study #177 — “Inclusiveness”

March 21, 2013

Although this is another word that does not appear at all in the New Testament, its ubiquity in today’s “Christian” discussions makes it a topic that needs attention. The early church was a case study in the inclusion of “Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female” in the Kingdom, and indeed, into the very family of the King. Interestingly, however, this was (laboriously) accomplished without either succumbing to the immoral excesses of first century Greek and Roman culture, or imposing rigid legal requirements upon participants, and certainly without robbing the language of all pronouns and making a meaningless muddle of its grammar!

We saw in #171 that some folks consider the Magi to have been the first “outsiders” to be included in the Kingdom. However, Jesus mentioned two others in his “inaugural address” (Lk.4:24-27), and personally visited, healed, and preached not only in “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Mt.4:16) – which was bad enough from an orthodox perspective (Jn.1:46) – but also in despised Samaria (Lk.9:52-56, 17:11-16; Jn.4) and made a Samaritan the hero of a major parable (Lk.10:30-37)! He frequently crossed the Sea of Galilee to the Decapolis (Mt.4:25, Mk.7:31), which was Gentile territory (Mk.5:1, Lk.8:26), and Perea (Mt.8:28), where the feeding of pigs clearly establishes a non-Jewish audience, and also traveled to the Idumean cities of Tyre and Sidon (Mk.3:8, Mt.15:21, Mk.7:24) and to Canaanite Caesarea Philippi, which Matthew cites as the location of Peter’s acknowledgment of Jesus as the Son of God, and his transfiguration. Mark lists “Simon the Canaanite” among the Twelve (other writers call him “the Zealot”), and also notes that the “Simon” who was drafted to carry Jesus’ cross was from Cyrene, a Libyan city in North Africa!

Most of the folks listed as visitors to Jerusalem at Pentecost were probably either Diaspora Jews or proselytes, but the geographical range they represented (Ac.2:8-11) was enormous – all the way from Rome, through the province of Asia – now Turkey – (Cappadocia, Pontus, Phrygia, Pamphylia), Parthia (Persia), Media, and Mesopotamia to Egypt, then across to Crete, Cyrene, and the Arabian peninsula! All of these marvelled that they heard the word in their own native dialects!
When Peter, in his first sermon, included “all who are far away” in his invitation (Ac.2:39), he had no clue just how far that might be!

There were Greeks in the group early on, and Greek names appear among the deacons (Ac.6).
Philip had gone to Samaria to preach(Ac.8), and then welcomed an Ethiopian.
Saul the persecutor was headed to Damascus (Syria), and was chasing – and later protected by – believers there (Ac.9).
Peter encountered Aeneas (a Roman name) (Ac.9:33), and was staying with a tanner (9:42) – NO good Jew would associate with someone who handled dead animals!) when Cornelius’ messengers found him (Ac.10).
The congregation at Antioch was begun by brethren from Cyprus and Cyrene who (Ac.11:19-20) “spoke the word to Greeks also.”
All this activity was bound to make waves among those who clung to the traditional ways of old covenant exclusivity. And it did.

The Jerusalem Conference (Ac.15) is a classic example of a faithfully managed confrontation on the issue of “inclusion”. Please refer to the end of chapter 8 of Citizens of the Kingdom for a discussion of this meeting. Notable for our purpose here is the procedure:
(1) hearing the concerns of all sides (v.4)
(2) evaluation by (v.6) both the plural leadership (elders) and (v.12) “the whole assembly.”
(3) reference to Scriptural precedent (vv.15-18)
(4) a conciliatory summary (vv.19-21) , leading to
(5) consensus by “the apostles and elders and the whole church” (v.22).
Notice, please, that neither “side” won. Everybody won!
The strictures of the Old Covenant were not imposed upon Gentile believers, but neither were they “affirmed” and encouraged to continue their former behavior!
Everything related to their “cultural pattern” – idolatry – was to be left behind. All the behaviors listed – idolatry included perverted sexual practices, strangled sacrifices, and consumption of their blood – were flatly forbidden. BUT – the consequent letter was “received with great joy!” (15:31), as was intended.

Repeatedly, Paul and others refer to “turning from idols to serve the living and true God.” Behavior consistent with this “turning” is termed “these necessary things.”
Changed behavior had been the core of the preaching of John the Baptist (see #6).
Every description of the message proclaimed in the early church assumed a radically changed life, whether on the part of Jews or Gentiles.
This is the theme that is missing from so much of the modern “inclusiveness” conversation.,

The epistles, in contrast, are full of “before-and-after” descriptions. Paul characterized his own message (Ac.26:20) as advocating (1) a changed life, (2) turning to God, (3) practicing deeds worthy of a changed life. But he prescribed no new Law!
Notice, for example, that the weeding out of sorcery at Ephesus (Ac.19:19) happened at the local people’s own initiative – it was not externally commanded.
The “wall” between Jew and Gentile was demolished and enmity / hostility destroyed (Eph.2:11-22) “to create in him (Jesus) one new person (2:15)”, not by ecclesiastical decree, but by the power of the risen Lord!

Although the epistles were primarily written to churches with a significant Gentile component, the “before and after” descriptions of transformed lives apply to everyone. Paul describes “the habitual way of life when you lived according to the agenda of this world” (Eph.2:1) simply as having been “dead.” But he notes (v.3) “we all used to conduct our lives that way!” Notice the past tenses! This is also detailed in I Cor.5 and 6, Col.1:21 and most of chapter 3, where he urges that “former behavior be put to death, and a new way of life be “put on” as a garment.
It is important to note that in the same passages frequently (and correctly) quoted in opposition to various forms of sexual immorality, he also equates “greed” with idolatry! (Eph.5:5 and Col.3:5). Neither is a legitimate part of a transformed life! Nor are the other “respectable sins” listed. Deliberate change in ALL the patterns of life is expected. See also I Pet.1:14 and Rom.12:2.  The goal is maximum conformity to Christ, not doing the minimum necessary to “qualify”!

Paul takes care to establish that he is not out to establish a new law in place of the old one. Kingdom people are called to freedom (Gal.2, 4:5-7, 5:13; Col.2:13-23, I Pet.2;16), but not to “do their own thing”. We simply serve a new Master. Romans 3 makes abundantly clear the transformation that is required of everyone – regardless of background or pedigree. The unacceptability of following one’s “natural inclinations” is repeated in Rom.6:15-23, 7:5-6, 8:1-11, and 13:14. All of these are to be left behind, in favor of a new life. (Gal.5:15-26, Eph.4, I Thes.4:3-8, I Pet.1:18 and 4:3-4). Peter’s list of “old ways” to be avoided hits us all!

Admittedly, this teaching is not uniform, either today or in the first century. Hence the multitude of warnings about false teachers and false prophets (I Jn.4:1, Jude 4, II Pet.2:1-3), who can be readily recognized by their behavior. It is interesting that Peter has “luxurious living” at the top of his list of depravity! BEHAVIOR MATTERS! Not as a new legalism, but as a demonstration that life has been transformed! It is the purpose, not the admission ticket or the cause, of our identification with the Kingdom (see #39) (Rom.1:5, Eph2:9-10, Gal.6:8).

The old truism, “what you cultivate is what grows”, is appropriate here.
Such cultivation can only happen in the context of a seeking, sharing brotherhood, where learning new ways of living is assumed. Mutuality is mandatory – not to make excuses, but to avoid them!
II Cor.6:14-18 is usually associated with marriage – and appropriately so – but needs also to apply to the building of the Body of Christ, and pretty much any relationships of serious members.
As our dear (late) brother Vernard Eller observed dryly, “We need to make everyone welcome in our home, to be loved, and to experience how we live – but you don’t immediately let everyone rearrange the furniture and start throwing things out!” I have long considered that probably the best summary of Rom.14, I Cor.5,8,10; and I Thes.5:14-22.

“Let’s concentrate on prodding each other with [toward] love and good deeds” (Heb.10:24), and welcome folks of any and every variety who want to join a mutual effort to become faithful representatives of the Kingdom!

Word Study #176 — Offense, Offend

March 12, 2013

It would be convenient if the words translated “offend” or “offense” could be neatly sorted into categories, as so many others can. In this case, unfortunately, only the context can give us a clue as to whether a particular verb reference is to causing offense, taking offense, or committing some sort of offense; or whether the noun form refers to actual deliberate transgression, ignorant error, or merely a petulant complaint. Consequently, pontificating on this subject is even less acceptable than usual!

The lexicons do not offer a lot of help. Please refer to studies #7 and #141 for the distinction between the two words usually ambiguously rendered “sin”, hamartia and paraptoma, which are both (rarely) translated “offense”.
As for the rest, proskomma (L/S: “offense, obstacle, hindrance; the result of stumbling – bruise or hurt”, to which Bauer and Thayer add “”the opportunity to take offense” and “causing someone to act against his conscience”) appears only six times in the New Testament: Romans 14:20 regarding one’s choice of diet, Rom.9:32-33 and I Pet.2:8 “a stumbling stone”, and warnings in Rom.14:13 and I Cor.8:9 about placing a “stumbling block” in the path of a brother.
Proskope (L/S – “offense taken, antipathy, cause of offense”, to which both other lexicographers agree) occurs only once – II Cor.6:3 – an admonition to “give no offense in anything.”
Aproskopos, a similar noun with a negative prefix, is not listed in any of the three lexicons. It is translated with some variant of “without offense” in its only three appearances: Ac.24:16, I Cor.10:32, and Phil.1:10.
Skandalon, appearing 13 times, is the most interesting etymologically. It is derived from a related word describing “a stick in a trap to which bait is attached, which acts as a trigger.” (L/S – a trap or snare laid for an enemy or a hunted animal; hence, metaphorically, a stumbling block, offense, or scandal.” Bauer picks up the same theme, offering “trap, temptation, enticement; that which gives offense, causes revulsion, arouses opposition or disapproval.” Thayer adds “any person or thing by which someone is entrapped or drawn into error.” Jesus (Mt.16:23,18:7; Lk.17:1), Paul (Rom.9:33, 14:13, 16:17), and John (I Jn.2:10, Rv.2:14) all warn against causing “offenses”. However, we also find recognition that some people will find truth itself, or actual facts, to be offensive (Rom.9:33, 11:9, I Cor.1:23, Gal.5:11).

The verbs are somewhat more easily sorted.
Ptaio – L/S – “to cause to stumble or fall, to trip, to make a false step or blunder”; Bauer – “to be ruined or lost” – only appears five times in the New Testament, used three times by James (2:10 and twice in 3:2) regarding struggles to keep the law, and twice by Paul (Rom.11:11) regarding the failures of Israel. Interestingly, in the LXX, 12 of its 13 uses refer to defeat in battle. The other warns against idolatry.
Proskopto – L/S – “to strike one thing against another, to encounter friction, to offend or take offense” – occurs seven times: in the temptation account, as the devil quotes Psalm 91 (Mt.4:6 and Lk.4:11), twice (Jn.11:9-10) in a purely physical sense (you don’t stumble if you can see where you are going!), and three times (Rom.9:32, 14:21; I Pet.2:8) metaphorically. The Rom.14 reference is to the causing of harm to a brother, but the other two describe the result of disobedience. In the LXX, it primarily describes the chaos of ungodly society.
Skandalizo dominates the verbs as its equivalent does the nouns, used 29x. L/S offers simply “to cause to stumble, to give offense”; Bauer – “to cause to be caught or to fall, to give offense, anger, or shock”; Thayer – to place an impediment, to cause one to judge unfavorably of another, to make indignant.” The verb does not appear in the LXX, where the noun is usually connected with idolatry. It appears in widely varying New Testament contexts, in which it also precipitates very different responses. For example, when the disciples asked Jesus, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended?” (Mt.15:12) at his pronouncement that one’s dietary choices could not render a person “unclean”, he seems rather unconcerned, replying “Let them go! They are blind guides of the blind!”. But a short time later, (17:27), when questioned about the payment of a tax, he instructed Peter to pay it, “in order that we not offend them.” Clearly, the choice of response to “offense” requires careful discernment.
Jesus also warned against “offending [causing the fall] of one of these little ones who trust me” (Mt.1:6, Mk.9:42, Lk.17:2), but recognized that many would be offended [turned away] in the face of danger or persecution (Mt.13:21, Mk.4:17; Mt.24:10, 26:31-33; Mk.14:27-29). This latter group appears to reference a departure from faithfulness, rather than just “being upset”. I assume that this is also the case with the rather startling (and drastic) instructions in Mt.5:29-30, 18:8-9, and Mk.4:43-47, although there is no way to establish that impression unequivocally. The concept of a trap or snare (noted above) however, tends toward the likelihood of such an implication.

Here, as well as in the epistles (Rom.14:21, I Cor.8:13, II Cor.11:29), it is not always clear whether the warning is against setting a trap or being caught in one. This may be deliberate. The danger of a trap is not dependent upon whether it is intentionally or unintentionally set. Likewise, “giving” or “taking” offense are not always distinguished. In either case, both are to be avoided. We will give more careful attention to this dilemma in the next study.

In his directives to the culturally diverse churches in Rome and Corinth, Paul employs most of these terms, sometimes seemingly at random, so perhaps those letters provide the best summary.
In Rom.5:15-20, he uses paraptoma, and does not appear to distinguish between ignorance and deliberate transgression. He insists that the Law revealed, but did not create transgressions. Rom.11, on the other hand, may be a response to Gentile brethren who were getting a bit cocky about their perception of having replaced unbelieving Jews, with the assertion that the latter group’s “fall” was not necessarily permanent “IF they do not continue in unfaithfulness” (v.23). Do note, however, the conditional nature of that statement! Rom.14, dealing with brethren who have differing convictions about appropriate behavior, focuses on those who “have knowledge”. These are reminded neither to pass judgment on folks who have more scruples, nor to cause harm to their sensitive consciences. Notice, he does NOT say “Anything goes.” Similar advice is given in I Cor.8 and 10, which we will also examine in greater detail in the next study.

A necessary observation here, however, is that while in the LXX, the preponderance of references to any of the “offense” words concern behavior deemed offensive to God (proskomma), idolatry and dishonor (skandalon), deliberate offenses (paraptoma ), and defeats in battle ( ptaio), the New Testament, regardless of the word chosen, is primarily concerned with people’s relationship to each other in the Kingdom, and their response to the uniqueness of Jesus and the life he advocated and exemplified. Which “testament” or “covenant” is the present church living in?
Brother Paul suggests the most relevant principle (I Cor.10:32):
“Do not become a hindrance for either Jews or Greeks, or for God’s church!”

That’s enough to keep us all busy!

Word Study #175 — John as the Turning Point

March 4, 2013

Lest I leave you with the impression that the previous study intends a dismissal of the significance of John the Baptist’s contribution to the Kingdom, let me hasten to append to that essay a quick survey of Jesus’ own evaluation of his cousin’s ministry. Please refer to the treatment of their relationship in #171 as well as #174, as supplements to the present document.
It may well be that, rather than diminishing his contribution, Jesus has suggested that John actually occupies a (if not “the”) significant turning-point of history!

Consider, for example, Jesus’ statement, recorded in both Matt.11:12-13 and Lk.16:6, that the Law and the Prophets were (in effect) “until John”, to which Luke added the contrasting “since then, the Kingdom of God is (present tense) being proclaimed!”
This meshes seamlessly with Mark’s statement (1:14) that after John’s arrest, Jesus appeared publicly announcing, “The time has been fulfilled : the Kingdom of God has arrived!” (both perfect tenses.)

If that time-line causes a problem for “flat-book” advocates who tirelessly trumpet only the first part of Jesus’ statement in Mt.5:17-18 that he did not come to destroy the law or the prophets, and that no part of either would “pass away”, please remind them not to forget his last phrase: “until it all happens [is fulfilled]! (See Mk.1:14 above.)
In his inaugural address (Lk.4:21), Jesus used the same theme: “Today the scripture has been fulfilled”, and as he headed for Jerusalem for the final time with his disciple group, it was with the blunt statement (Lk.18:31), “Look: we are going up into Jerusalem, and everything that has been written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be completed [fulfilled]!”

While it is certainly true that Jesus himself spoke of events that have yet to occur, he could not have been clearer in his declaration that he had personally fulfilled all that had been written before, and so long and so eagerly anticipated! The failure of those to whom he had been promised to welcome him as that fulfillment cannot negate its reality. And it was to those who did welcome him (Jn.1:12) that he gave the right “to become the children of God”. Notice, please, that Jesus did NOT apply that designation to “all people”, as is common in some modern circles.

John records several other discussions where Jesus used similar themes:
Jn.5:46-47: the matter-of-fact statement, “IF you were faithful to Moses, you would be faithful to me.”
Jn.6:30-35: making both a parallel and a distinction between the provision of manna in the desert and himself as the Bread of Life
Jn.7:19-24: critiquing advocates of the law who refuse to observe or obey it
Jn.8:37-45: emphasizing that behavior trumps pedigree in establishing one’s status before God.

A fuller examination of Matthew 11 yields interesting insight regarding Jesus and John. We are not told by any of the gospel writers how long John’s ministry had lasted before his “speaking truth to power” landed him in Herod’s dungeon. However, we can hardly blame him for his questions: that was rather shabby treatment for the “herald” of the long-awaited Messiah, and most likely NOT what John had expected as a result of his faithfulness! So he sent messengers to Jesus: “Is this for real? Or have I missed something?” A perfectly normal question.
Jesus’ answer is a catalog of evidence, which was apparently convincing to the messengers.

And then Jesus addressed the crowd about John’s work. No, this was not just a weirdo staging a demonstration in the desert. He was “more than a prophet” – he was indeed the promised “preparer of the road”. In fact, there was never anyone greater “born of women”! (v.11). The rest of that statement is puzzling, though. Despite his faithfulness, does John’s questioning under duress disqualify him from the Kingdom? I think, rather, that Jesus is again emphasizing the transition to whole new reality – a new creation!
Notice that John himself is not criticized: his fickle audiences are (v.12).
Violent people are assailing the Kingdom – perhaps trying to tailor it to their own expectations? – ever “since John.”
This is the context of the aforementioned statement (v.13) that “the law and prophets were until John.
Those who should know better are acting like squabbling children (16-18).
Cities who should have welcomed their King are compared unfavorably with ancient bastions of debauchery (20-24).

The latter part of the chapter (25-30), although it seems at first glance to be disconnected, actually provides a succinct summary of the new reality: there has been a massive paradigm shift!
“The wise and clever” (25) , although they have spent generations studying the old ways, simply have it all wrong.
In establishing his promised Kingdom, Jesus has done a new thing! This “new thing” is only accessible by revelation (25-27), and by careful training (29) in the yoke with the only One who knows the Father, understands the situation, and knows how it is supposed to operate! (Please see #77)

Our brother Jim suggested the perfect illustration, in a recent message, pointing out the significance of the sequence of events on the Mount of Transfiguration. The awe-struck disciples listen in on the conversation as Moses (representing the Law) and Elijah (representing the prophets) discuss with Jesus his coming departure, which he was about to “accomplish” (Lk.9:31) in Jerusalem. (see #191). Peter’s suggestion would have had plenty of precedent under the old system: the Old Testament is replete with examples of memorials being built in response to divine encounters. But after the voice of God out of the cloud identifies his Son, and instructs the frightened disciples to “Listen to him!”, they can see no one but Jesus! Having served their former purpose, the former spokesmen are gone!

“The Law and the prophets were (in effect) until John.
Since then, the Kingdom of God is being proclaimed!”
In the presence of the Son of God, the only appropriate response is to listen / obey.