The good news (Lk 16:16-16:16)

“The law

And the prophets

Were in effect

Until John came.

Since then,

The good news

Of the kingdom of God

Is proclaimed.

Everyone

Tries to enter it

By force.”

 

Ὁ νόμος καὶ οἱ προφῆται μέχρι Ἰωάνου· ἀπὸ τότε ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ εὐαγγελίζεται καὶ πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that the law (Ὁ νόμος) and the prophets (καὶ οἱ προφῆται) were in effect until John came (μέχρι Ἰωάνου).  Since then (ἀπὸ τότε), the good news has been proclaimed (εὐαγγελίζεται) about the kingdom of God (ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Everyone tries to enter it by force (καὶ πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται).  The law and the prophets were the two major parts of the Hebrew Bible.  John the Baptist represented some sort of turning point.  His preaching about the kingdom of God meant that the days of the law and prophets were numbered.  There is something similar, but in a different context with a different meaning in Matthew, chapter 11:12-13.  There Jesus talked about the days of John the Baptist until the present (ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ ἕως ἄρτι), not a very long time.  The kingdom of heaven has suffered violence (ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν βιάζεται).  What kind of violence was taking place in the heavenly kingdom?  Did this mean that so many people were violently seeking the kingdom of heaven that John was talking about?  Is this some kind of violence within the kingdom of heaven?  Were these violent people trying to get into the kingdom of heaven?  The next sentence seems to support this idea that violent people wanted to seize the kingdom of heaven by force (καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν).  In Matthew, chapter 17:11-13, Jesus compared John to Elijah.  Like here in Luke, all the prophets and the law had prophesied until the time of John the Baptist (πάντες γὰρ οἱ προφῆται καὶ ὁ νόμος ἕως Ἰωάνου ἐπροφήτευσαν).  Then Jesus said that John was the new Elijah (αὐτός ἐστιν Ἡλείας), the one who was to come (ὁ μέλλων ἔρχεσθαι).  However, they had to be willing to accept this (καὶ εἰ θέλετε δέξασθαι).  Anyone who had ears to hear should listen to this (ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκουέτω).  Clearly, something fundamental changed with John the Baptist and his proclamation of the kingdom of God.  How were John and Jesus connected in their preaching?  What is your opinion about John the Baptist?

Advertisements

Jesus spoke in parables (Mk 4:33-4:34)

“Jesus spoke the word

To them

With many such parables.

Thus,

They were able

To hear it.

He did not speak

To them

Except in parables.

But he explained

Everything in private

To his disciples.”

 

Καὶ τοιαύταις παραβολαῖς πολλαῖς ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς τὸν λόγον, καθὼς ἠδύναντο ἀκούειν·

χωρὶς δὲ παραβολῆς οὐκ ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς, κατ’ ἰδίαν δὲ τοῖς ἰδίοις μαθηταῖς ἐπέλυεν πάντα.

 

This explanation of the importance of parables is similar to Matthew, chapter 13:34.  Jesus, via Mark, presented the word (ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς τὸν λόγον), using many parables (Καὶ τοιαύταις παραβολαῖς πολλαῖς) so that they were able to hear them (καθὼς ἠδύναντο ἀκούειν).  In fact, he told hem nothing that was not a parable (χωρὶς δὲ παραβολῆς οὐκ ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς).  He only spoke in parables.  However, he explained everything in private for his disciples (κατ’ ἰδίαν δὲ τοῖς ἰδίοις μαθηταῖς ἐπέλυεν πάντα).  Both Mark and Matthew underlined the role of parables in their gospel stories.  Matthew, chapter 13:35, uniquely cited a prophecy from Psalm 78:2, that Mark had not mentioned.  Jesus was going to open his mouth in parables about the old-fashioned sayings, like the wisdom writers.  The parables were a way of conveying wisdom, with only the initiated, his disciples, able to understand them.

Joseph goes to Nazareth (Mt 2:23-1:23)

“There Joseph

Made his home

In a town called

Nazareth.

Thus,

What was spoken

Through the prophets

Might be fulfilled.

‘He will be called a Nazorean.’”

 

καὶ ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ· ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται.

 

Joseph took his family to a specific place in lower Galilee, a city called Nazareth (ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ). Somehow, this fulfilled a prophecy (ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν) about being called a Nazarene (ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται). Some of Jesus’ followers were called Nazarenes. He was also known as Jesus of Nazareth since this was his childhood home. People have been living in Nazareth for nearly 5.000 years, with over 75,000 people today, as the largest Arab city in Israel. Nazareth may have had a population of about 400 at the time of Jesus. The town of Nazareth is about 20 miles from the Sea of Galilee and about 6 miles west of Mount Tabor, but over 100 miles from Jerusalem. It is difficult to pinpoint where this prophecy comes from. In Judges, chapter 13:2-7, there is a comment that a boy will be a Nazirite from birth, so that no one should cut his hair. Thus, he would deliver Israel from the Philistines. According to Numbers, chapter 6:1-21, there were rules laid out for those who would take the Nazirite vows. They would not drink wine, nor shave their beards. They were not to go near a corpse. They had to bring special offerings to the Temple. This separation and special consecration may have been present among other ancient people, but here it is under Mosaic Law. The normal time period, according to some rabbinic schools, was about a month of Nazirite vows, although others may have been longer. Some have referred to John the Baptist as a Nazirite. On top of that, Jesus of Nazareth may have been confused with Jesus the Nazirite. Is that the case here?

The prophets in general

Some prophets wrote things, while others had people write things about them.  Thus, there is a mixed bag about the Hebrew prophets.  Generally speaking, a prophet was someone who believed that a higher power had contacted them.  Thus, they became the intermediary between Yahweh, their God, and their fellow human beings.  Almost like angels, these humans delivered a divine message.  Quite often, the message itself that the prophet conveyed was called a prophecy.  The Hebrew prophets were moral teachers.  Some prophets may have had a role with the institutional Temple priests.  Many religious groups have had what are called prophetic priests.  The Hebrew word navi, meaning spokesperson, has been traditionally translated as prophet.  These navi was considered to be the mouth of Yahweh or God, since they were open to receive and transmit his divine wisdom.  Besides writing and speaking messages from God, these Israelite Nevi’im often acted out prophetic parables in their life.  They were not always praised, since some prophets were even considered bad or false prophets.  Thus, they were sometimes the target of persecution and opposition.

Isaiah and the sign of Immanuel (Isa 7:13-7:16)

“Then Isaiah said.

‘Hear then!

O house of David!

Is it too little for you to weary mortals?

Do you weary my God also?

Therefore Yahweh himself

Will give you a sign.

Look!

The virgin young woman

Is with child.

She shall bear a son.

You shall name him Immanuel.

God is with us.

He shall eat curds.

He shall eat honey,

By the time

He knows how to refuse the evil

And choose the good.

Before the child knows

How to refuse the evil,

Before the child knows

How to choose the good,

The land before whose two kings

You are in dread

Will be deserted.”

This time it is Isaiah who is speaking to King Ahaz and the whole house of David, not Yahweh. They should not weary each other or God. Yahweh was going to give them a sign. The young woman, who is presumed to be a virgin, will have a child. He will be called Immanuel that means God is with us. Quite often Christians have used this passage as a prophecy about the birth of Jesus. However, the context seems to indicate that King Ahaz will have a son to carry on his royal name. That son of Ahaz will be the great holy King Hezekiah who ruled Judah from 716-687 BCE. This young child would do good and refuse evil by the time he was able to eat the basic foods of curds and honey. Even before he learns how to choose good over evil, the 2 invading countries of these 2 kings will lay desolate and deserted.