There will be a similarity between the first and last story of the five episode sequence we are reading. We looked at this earlier but now recall the similarities and differences between the first (2,1-12) and last (3,1-6) story.
What is the setting of the scene? How does this differ from the previous mention of the synagogue (1,21). Note how it follows on from the previous incident.
What are we told in verse 2?
Who then takes the initiative in verse 3? The word being used may not be clear in the translations (see 1,31).
What is the challenge of verse 4? Some background can be seen in the episode in 1st Maccabees 2,32-41. What is implied by the statement at the end of the verse?
Allusions to Jesus' emotions as given in verse 5 are rare in this Gospel. See Mt 12,13. We have something similar in a possible reading of 1,41. "Hardness of hearts" is an expression found in the OT, for example: Exodus 4,21, Psalm 95,11; Jer 13,10. What is the meaning of this expression?
Who might the Herodians be in verse 6? Compare the verse with Mt 12,14.
Why might it be unexpected for the Herodians to be linked with the Pharisees? Indeed, look for the irony in this conclusion.
Time now for my response.
This episode forms the second part of the Gospel for the 9th Sunday. We looked at this Gospel with the previous episode because the OT reading was appropriate for that part of the reading.
With a firm conclusion at 3,6 we have completed our reading of the seven incidents which have shown us an increasing confrontation between Jesus and his opponents. Yet the evangelist does not rush this confrontation to an immediate conclusion.
Instead the story now moves on with less tension, at least for a while. We now continue with our reading of the middle part of the chapter, 3,7-19.