Ten lepers (Lk 17:12-17:12)

“As Jesus

Entered a village,

Ten lepers

Approached him.

They kept

Their distance.”

 

καὶ εἰσερχομένου αὐτοῦ εἴς τινα κώμην ἀπήντησαν δέκα λεπροὶ ἄνδρες, οἳ ἔστησαν πόρρωθεν

 

Only Luke has this story about the curing of the ten lepers, although Luke had Jesus cure a leper earlier in chapter 5:12-16, that can be found in the other synoptics, Matthew, chapter 8:1-4, and Mark, chapter 1:40-45.  Luke indicated that Jesus entered a village (καὶ εἰσερχομένου αὐτοῦ εἴς τινα κώμην), where 10 lepers approached or met him (ἀπήντησαν δέκα λεπροὶ ἄνδρες).  However, these lepers kept their distance (οἳ ἔστησαν πόρρωθεν).  Leprosy was some kind of skin disease that was usually found among poor people.  Today, there are about 2,000,000 people with leprosy or Hansen’s disease, mostly in India, Indonesia, and Brazil.  The Greek word “λέπρας” used here is a broader definition of leprosy than just Hansen’s disease.  Leprosy was a Jewish religious problem also.  What to do about it was clearly defined in Leviticus, chapters 13-14.  Leprosy in the wide sense was considered unclean and had religious connotations, since only a priest could declare a person clean, with a distinct ritual for cleansing the leper.  As a leper, they were considered unclean and not fit to live in normal communal life.  Thus, there were spiritual, physical, social, and religious implications with being a leper.  Here there were 10 lepers in this village, so that they might have been a small leper colony.  They approached Jesus, but kept their appropriate distance from him, since they were quarantined from being with other non-leper people.  Have you ever met a leper?

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He took care of him (Lk 10:34-10:34)

“The Samaritan

Approached him.

He bandaged

His wounds.

He poured oil

And wine

On them.

Then he put him

On his own animal.

He brought him

To an inn.

He took care of him.”

 

καὶ προσελθὼν κατέδησεν τὰ τραύματα αὐτοῦ ἐπιχέων ἔλαιον καὶ οἶνον, ἐπιβιβάσας δὲ αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸ ἴδιον κτῆνος ἤγαγεν αὐτὸν εἰς πανδοχεῖον καὶ ἐπεμελήθη αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke continued his unique story.  Jesus said that this Samaritan went to or approached this wounded man (καὶ προσελθὼν), instead of crossing over to the other side of the road.  He bandaged his wounds (κατέδησεν τὰ τραύματα αὐτοῦ) and poured oil and wine on them (ἐπιχέων ἔλαιον καὶ οἶνον).  Apparently, oil and wine were like medicine to heal the wounds.  Then he put him on his own animal (ἐπιβιβάσας δὲ αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸ ἴδιον κτῆνος), either a horse or a mule.  He then brought him to an inn (ἤγαγεν αὐτὸν εἰς πανδοχεῖον).  This Samaritan really took care of this wounded man (καὶ ἐπεμελήθη αὐτοῦ).  This underclass Samaritan stepped up.  He helped the wounded half dead man by the wayside.  He apparently was ready for this kind of thing, because he had bandages, oil, and wine with him.  He even was traveling with an animal, probably a mule.  There was no mention of any animal with the priest or the Levite.  Thus, we have the famous saying about Good Samaritans, based on this story, someone unrelated, who shows up and helps a person in need.  This Good Samaritan story has become part of our contemporary secular cultural language.  Thus, this story has reached beyond a pure religious context.  However, the assumptions are always that the helping person was motivated by a higher calling.  Have you ever been a Good Samaritan?

Let your brother become a gentile (Mt 18:16-18:17)

“But if you are not listened to,

Take one

Or two others

Along with you.

Thus,

Every word may be confirmed

By the evidence

Of two

Or three witnesses.

If he refuses to listen

To them,

Tell it to the church.

If he refuses

To listen even to the church,

Let him be to you

As a gentile

And a tax collector.”

 

ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ἀκούσῃ, παράλαβε μετὰ σοῦ ἔτι ἕνα ἢ δύο, ἵνα ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μαρτύρων ἢ τριῶν σταθῇ πᾶν ῥῆμα·

ἐὰν δὲ παρακούσῃ αὐτῶν, εἰπὸν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ· ἐὰν δὲ καὶ τῆς ἐκκλησίας παρακούσῃ, ἔστω σοι ὥσπερ ὁ ἐθνικὸς καὶ ὁ τελώνης.

 

This saying about the brother who would not listen to reprimands is unique to Matthew.  This exchange seems to imply a solid structure with specific rules and regulations, not a band of itinerant healing preachers.  If you were not successful with reprimanding your brother, because he would not listen to you (ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ἀκούσῃ), you were to take one or two others with you (παράλαβε μετὰ σοῦ ἔτι ἕνα ἢ δύο).  This is almost like a Jewish religious court case based on Deuteronomy, chapter 19:15, where a single witness would not be enough to convict a person of any crime or wrong-doing.  They needed the evidence of two or three witnesses, since one person was not sufficient enough to convict anyone of any crime.  There had to be at least 2 or 3 witnesses to sustain a charge.  Thus, the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses might strengthen or confirm every word (ἵνα ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μαρτύρων ἢ τριῶν σταθῇ πᾶν ῥῆμα).  If your brother still refused to listen to them (ἐὰν δὲ παρακούσῃ αὐτῶν), then you should bring him to the church or the congregation (εἰπὸν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ).  Along with chapter 16:18, where Peter was the rock of the new church, this indicates a church structure at the time that Matthew was writing this gospel.  If your brother still refused to listen to the church congregation (ἐὰν δὲ καὶ τῆς ἐκκλησίας παρακούσῃ), he should become like a gentile or a tax collector (ἔστω σοι ὥσπερ ὁ ἐθνικὸς καὶ ὁ τελώνης), an outcast from the community.  This indicates that the disciples of Jesus still thought like Jewish people with no room for gentiles and foreign Roman tax collectors.

The mouth and defilement (Mt 15:11-15:11)

“It is not what goes

Into the mouth

That defiles a person.

But what comes out

Of the mouth

That defiles a person.”

 

οὐ τὸ εἰσερχόμενον εἰς τὸ στόμα κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἐκπορευόμενον ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦτο κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον.

 

There is something similar to this in Mark, chapter 7:15.  Jesus, via Matthew, went back to the problem of impurity, unclean or defiled people.  Thus, spiritual purity was more important that physical purity.  It is not what you put into or what enters into your mouth (οὐ τὸ εἰσερχόμενον εἰς τὸ στόμα), such as unclean food, that pollutes or defiles a man or a person (κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον).  Rather, what comes out of your mouth (ἀλλὰ τὸ ἐκπορευόμενον ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦτο), such as words, that defile, pollute or make a man or person unclean (κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον).  It is not what you put into your mouth that makes you unclean, it is what comes out of your mouth that makes you unclean or defiled.

The unclean spirit (Mt 12:43-12:43)

“When the unclean spirit

Has gone out of a person,

It wanders

Through waterless regions,

Looking for a resting place,

But it finds none.”

 

Ὅταν δὲ τὸ ἀκάθαρτον πνεῦμα ἐξέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, διέρχεται δι’ ἀνύδρων τόπων ζητοῦν ἀνάπαυσιν, καὶ οὐχ εὑρίσκει.

 

This saying about the unclean spirit can be found word for word in Luke, chapter 11:24, indicating a Q source.  This unclean spirit left a person or a man (Ὅταν δὲ τὸ ἀκάθαρτον πνεῦμα ἐξέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου), after an exorcism or healing of a person.  This evil spirit usually wandered in a waterless dry areas or desert (διέρχεται δι’ ἀνύδρων τόπων), which would be the favorite places for evil spirits.  However, it would not be able to find (καὶ οὐχ εὑρίσκει) any resting place that it was looking for (ζητοῦν ἀνάπαυσιν).