Render to Caesar (Lk 20:25-20:25)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Then give

To the Emperor Caesar

The things

That are the Emperor Caesar’s!

Give to God

The things

That are God’s.’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς Τοίνυν ἀπόδοτε τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said to them (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς) to give back to the Emperor Caesar (Τοίνυν ἀπόδοτε τὰ Καίσαρος), the things that are of the Emperor Caesar’s (Καίσαρι)!  However, give to God the things that are God’s (καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ).  There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 22:21, and in Mark, chapter 12:17, almost word for word.  Mark said that Jesus responded to them (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) by telling them to give to the Roman emperor Caesar the things that belonged to the emperor (Τὰ Καίσαρος ἀπόδοτε Καίσαρι).  At the same time, they should give to God the things that belong to God (καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ).  Matthew said that Jesus responded to them (τότε λέγει αὐτοῖς) by telling them to give to the Roman emperor Caesar the things that belonged to the emperor (Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι).  At the same time, they should give to God the things that belong to God (καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ).  Jesus appeared to accept the Roman rule and its taxing policies.  He also had a milder view of their tax collectors.  With this ambiguous answer, Jesus avoided offending Jewish nationalists and the Roman Empire party and its officials.  Thus, the Roman and Jewish parties were both satisfied and unsatisfied at the same time.  If everything belonged to God, do not pay this tax.  If everything belonged to the Roman Empire, pay the tax.  The choice was theirs.  He was not going to tell them what to do.  This statement of Jesus has become the basic Christian understanding of the relationship between religious churches and civilian states.  Do you see a difference between Church regulations and civic state regulations?

Tribute to Caesar (Lk 20:22-20:22)

“Is it lawful

For us

To pay taxes

To Caesar,

The Roman Emperor,

Or not?”

 

ἔξεστιν ἡμᾶς Καίσαρι φόρον δοῦναι ἢ οὔ;

 

Luke indicated this group asked whether it was lawful for them (ἔξεστιν ἡμᾶς) to pay taxes (φόρον δοῦναι) to Caesar (Καίσαρι), the Roman Emperor, or not (ἢ οὔ)?  This is similar to Matthew, chapter 22:17, and Mark, chapter 12:14, but slightly different.  They wanted to know what Jesus thought about the Roman tax law.  Mark said that they asked him whether it was lawful to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not (ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ)?  They wanted to know the practical answer about whether they should pay this tax or not (δῶμεν ἢ μὴ δῶμεν)?  Matthew indicated that these Pharisee disciples and the Herodians tried to trick Jesus.  They wanted to know what Jesus thought about the Roman tax.  They asked him (εἰπὸν οὖν ἡμῖν) what did he think (τί σοι δοκεῖ).  Was it lawful to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not (ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ)?  Rome had an annual personal census tax of one denarius worth about $1.50 USA, not that much.  However, many of the Roman tax collectors were considered sinners.  Jesus, on the other hand, had a milder view of these tax collectors.  He appeared to accept the Roman rule and its taxing policies.  As the political party of the Romans, the Herodians were there.  The Israelites with the Pharisees were there also.  Thus, his answer might offend someone.  In fact, some Jewish zealots refused to pay any civil tax to the emperor.  Do you like to pay taxes?

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?

The father embraces the son (Lk 15:20-15:20)

“Thus,

The prodigal son

Set off.

He went

To his father.

But while he was

Still far off,

His father saw him.

He was filled

With compassion.

He ran to him.

He put his arms

Around him.

He kissed him.”

 

καὶ ἀναστὰς ἦλθεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα ἑαυτοῦ. ἔτι δὲ αὐτοῦ μακρὰν ἀπέχοντος εἶδεν αὐτὸν ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη, καὶ δραμὼν ἐπέπεσεν ἐπὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ καὶ κατεφίλησεν αὐτόν.

 

This long parable story about the prodigal son can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that this prodigal son set off to go to his father (καὶ ἀναστὰς ἦλθεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα ἑαυτοῦ).  While he was still far away (ἔτι δὲ αὐτοῦ μακρὰν ἀπέχοντος), his father saw him (εἶδεν αὐτὸν ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ).  He was filled with compassion (καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη).  He ran to him (καὶ δραμὼν).  He put his arms around him or fell upon his neck (ἐπέπεσεν ἐπὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ) and he kissed him (καὶ κατεφίλησεν αὐτόν).  In case there was any doubt, the father was going to accept the prodigal sinning son without any conditions.  There was not even an “I’m sorry!” from the son.  This compassionate father ran out to embrace him before he even got close to their house.  Obviously, he was out in the fields working.  Do you feel closer to the wasteful repentant prodigal son or the compassionate forgiving father?

I bought oxen (Lk 14:19-14:19)

“Another said.

‘I have bought

Five yoke of oxen.

I am going

To try them out.

Please!

I pray you,

Accept my regrets!’”

 

καὶ ἕτερος εἶπεν Ζεύγη βοῶν ἠγόρασα πέντε, καὶ πορεύομαι δοκιμάσαι αὐτά· ἐρωτῶ σε, ἔχε με παρῃτημένον.

 

Luke uniquely had Jesus talk about another excuse.  Jesus said that another person told the inviting slave (καὶ ἕτερος εἶπεν) that he had just purchased or bought 5 pair of oxen (Ζεύγη βοῶν ἠγόρασα πέντε).  Luke was the only biblical writer to use the term Ζεύγη, meaning a pair, yoke, or team.  This man was going to try them out (καὶ πορεύομαι δοκιμάσαι αὐτά).  He too, politely (ἐρωτῶ σε) asked to be excused (ἔχε με παρῃτημένον).  Matthew, chapter 22:6-7, instead of these individual excuses, had the king’s servants beat up.  Thus, this king destroyed the original invited people.  However, there was nothing like that here in Luke.  Have you ever beat up people inviting you to a dinner or have you been respectful?

The excuse of new property (Lk 14:18-14:18)

“But they all alike

Began

To make excuses.

The first said to him.

‘I have bought

A piece of land.

I must go out

To see it.

Please!

Accept my regrets!”

 

καὶ ἤρξαντο ἀπὸ μιᾶς πάντες παραιτεῖσθαι. ὁ πρῶτος εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ἀγρὸν ἠγόρασα, καὶ ἔχω ἀνάγκην ἐξελθὼν ἰδεῖν αὐτόν· ἐρωτῶ σε, ἔχε με παρῃτημένον.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that they all began to make excuses, to excuse themselves (καὶ ἤρξαντο ἀπὸ μιᾶς πάντες παραιτεῖσθαι).  The first one said to the slave (ὁ πρῶτος εἶπεν αὐτῷ) that he had just bought a piece of land (Ἀγρὸν ἠγόρασα).  Thus, he had to go out to see it (καὶ ἔχω ἀνάγκην ἐξελθὼν ἰδεῖν αὐτόν).  Therefore, he politely (ἐρωτῶ σε) wanted to be excused from going to the banquet (ἔχε με παρῃτημένον).  Matthew, chapter 22:3-5, said that they would not come or did not wish to come (καὶ οὐκ ἤθελον ἐλθεῖν), without giving excuses.  Now, this was a problem.  They have refused an invitation to the wedding banquet of God, the Father, the king.  He had sent his slaves, the prophets or the apostles, to call them, but they still did not want to come to the wedding feast.  In fact, Matthew said that the invitees made light of these inviting slaves.  They disregarded or disrespected (οἱ δὲ ἀμελήσαντες) the invitation.  They simply went on with their daily lives.  They went (ἀπῆλθον) either to their own farm field (ὃς μὲν εἰς τὸν ἴδιον ἀγρόν), or to their trading business (ὃς δὲ ἐπὶ τὴν ἐμπορίαν αὐτοῦ).  They were too busy to go to a wedding feast.  Have you ever been too busy to go to a wedding reception?

Eat what they give you (Lk 10:8-10:8)

“Whenever you enter a town,

And its people

Welcome you,

Eat

What is set before you!”

 

καὶ εἰς ἣν ἂν πόλιν εἰσέρχησθε καὶ δέχωνται ὑμᾶς, ἐσθίετε τὰ παρατιθέμενα ὑμῖν,

 

Luke uniquely had Jesus continue to emphasize what he had just said.  Whenever they entered a town (καὶ εἰς ἣν ἂν πόλιν εἰσέρχησθε) where people welcomed them (καὶ δέχωνται ὑμᾶς), they were to eat (ἐσθίετε) what was set before them (τὰ παρατιθέμενα ὑμῖν).  Luke was the only one of the gospel writers to mention that these 70 disciples should eat what they were given, instead of being picky and demanding special food.  Perhaps this was also an indication that they might be able to accept non-kosher food if that is all that somebody had available. Are you picky about what you eat?