The parable of the fig tree (Lk 13:6-13:6)

“Then Jesus

Told this parable.

‘A man had a fig tree

Planted in his vineyard.

He came

Looking for fruit

On it.

But he found none.’”

 

Ἔλεγεν δὲ ταύτην τὴν παραβολήν. συκῆν εἶχέν τις πεφυτευμένην ἐν τῷ ἀμπελῶνι αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἦλθεν ζητῶν καρπὸν ἐν αὐτῇ καὶ οὐχ εὗρεν.

 

Luke uniquely indicated that Jesus told this parable (Ἔλεγεν δὲ ταύτην τὴν παραβολήν) about a barren fig tree.  Although, Matthew, chapter 21:18-20, and Mark, chapter 11:12-14, had Jesus find a barren fig tree and curse it, they did not have this barren fig tree parable.  Jesus said that a man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard (συκῆν εἶχέν τις πεφυτευμένην ἐν τῷ ἀμπελῶνι αὐτοῦ).  He came looking for fruit on it (καὶ ἦλθεν ζητῶν καρπὸν ἐν αὐτῇ).  However, it did not have any (καὶ οὐχ εὗρεν), because it was barren.  Pure and simple, this fig tree did not have any figs on it, when the owner tried to get some figs.  Have you ever looked for fruit on a tree and found none?

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The seeds among the thorns choked (Lk 8:14-8:14)

“As for what fell

Among the thorns,

They are the ones

Who hear.

But as they go

On their way,

They are choked

By the cares,

By the riches,

And by the pleasures

Of life.

Their fruit

Does not mature.”

 

τὸ δὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας πεσόν, οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ ἀκούσαντες, καὶ ὑπὸ μεριμνῶν καὶ πλούτου καὶ ἡδονῶν τοῦ βίου πορευόμενοι συνπνίγονται καὶ οὐ τελεσφοροῦσιν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that those seeds that fell among the thorns (τὸ δὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας πεσόν) were like the ones who hear the word (οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ ἀκούσαντες), but as they go on their way (πορευόμενοι), they are choked or crowded out (συνπνίγονται) by the cares (καὶ ὑπὸ μεριμνῶν), the riches (καὶ πλούτου), and the pleasures of life (καὶ ἡδονῶν τοῦ βίου).  Their fruit does not mature (καὶ οὐ τελεσφοροῦσιν).  This explanation about the seeds among the thorns can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 4:18-19, Matthew, chapter 13:22, and here, with Matthew closer to Mark.  Both Matthew and Mark said that the seeds sown among the thorns were the ones who heard the words of the kingdom, but the cares and anxiety of this present age, as well as the allure or deceit of material wealth, choked or crowded out the words.  Thus, it yielded nothing, because it was barren.  The thorns were the cares about physical riches that choked off the growth of the seeds or the words of the kingdom.  There had to be good circumstances or pre-depositions to hearing and understanding for the word or the seed to be effective.  There had to be follow up or acting out on the word for it to mature into a full mature faith belief in Jesus Christ.  Have the seeds of the word of God matured in you?

Abraham (Lk 3:34-3:34)

This is where the genealogy of Matthew ends with Abraham.  Luke continued further back.  He said that Judah was the son of Jacob (τοῦ Ἰακὼβ), who had 12 sons with 4 different women, that become the 12 tribes of Israel.  Jacob was the son of Isaac (τοῦ Ἰσαὰκ), the son of Abraham (τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ), who was the son of Terah (τοῦ Θάρα), the son of Nahor (τοῦ Ναχὼρ).  Throughout the Torah, there was a continual reference to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  These 3 generations were key to Hebrew and Jewish history.  Their stories can be found in the book of Genesis, chapters 12-35.  Remember that Abraham had a son with his wife’s maid, Hagar, who was called Ishmael.  However, both were sent away.  Jacob had a twin brother named Esau, whom he tricked out of his father’s inheritance.  Terah and Nahor can be found in 1 Chronicles, chapter 1:26, and Genesis, chapter 11:24-32.  Nahor was the name of Abram’s grandfather and his brother.  Abram, appeared to be the oldest, took a wife named Sarai, who was barren.  Later it will be revealed that Sarai is his half-sister, since Terah had a concubine.  They all lived at Ur in the Chaldeans, probably in northwest Mesopotamia.  Terah took his son Abram and his wife, Sarai, and his grandson Lot, and left Ur and went to Canaan.  However, they settled in a place that had the same name as his dead son, Haran.  This may have been part of a huge migration in the early second millennium, about 2000 years before the common Christian era.

The child of Elizabeth (Lk 1:36-1:37)

“Now,

Your relative

Elizabeth

Has also conceived

A son,

In her old age.

This is the sixth month

For her

Who was said

To be barren.

Nothing is impossible

With God.”

 

καὶ ἰδοὺ Ἐλεισάβετ ἡ συγγενίς σου καὶ αὐτὴ συνείληφεν υἱὸν ἐν γήρει αὐτῆς, καὶ οὗτος μὴν ἕκτος ἐστὶν αὐτῇ τῇ καλουμένῃ στείρᾳ·

ὅτι οὐκ ἀδυνατήσει παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ πᾶν ῥῆμα

 

Next Luke made the connection between the upcoming birth of Jesus and that of John.  Elizabeth, although older, was a relative of Mary.  She could have been an aunt of a second cousin.  Their age differences would not make them first cousins.  Besides, they lived in different areas, Galilee and Judea.  Elizabeth was a daughter of Aaron, but there was no such claim for Mary.  Was this an attempt to link Mary to the Levitical priesthood via her Levitical relative?  Perhaps Luke wanted to show a closer relationship between John and Jesus.  Luke indicated that the Angel Gabriel told Mary about his previous mission to Zechariah and Elizabeth.  He told Mary that her relative Elizabeth (καὶ ἰδοὺ Ἐλεισάβετ ἡ συγγενίς σου) had also conceived a son (καὶ αὐτὴ συνείληφεν υἱὸν), in her old age (ἐν γήρει αὐτῆς).  She was, in fact, already six months pregnant (καὶ οὗτος μὴν ἕκτος ἐστὶν αὐτῇ).  Elizabeth had been called barren or sterile (τῇ καλουμένῃ στείρᾳ).  The Angel Gabriel concluded that nothing was impossible with God (ὅτι οὐκ ἀδυνατήσει παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ πᾶν ῥῆμα).  He could overcome old age and virginity to produce a son, just like Sarah in Genesis, chapter 18:14.  Now the plan of God was clear to Mary.  She had no reason to fear anything.

The prayer of Elizabeth (Lk 1:25-1:25)

“Elizabeth said.

‘This is what

The Lord

Has done to me.

He looked on me.

He took away

The disgrace

That I have endured

Among my people.’”

 

λέγουσα

ὅτι Οὕτως μοι πεποίηκεν Κύριος ἐν ἡμέραις αἷς ἐπεῖδεν ἀφελεῖν ὄνειδός μου ἐν ἀνθρώποις.

 

Luke has this prayer of Elizabeth.  She said that the Lord had done this to her (ὅτι Οὕτως μοι πεποίηκεν Κύριος).  Many believed that only God could help people get pregnant, since he controlled the opening and closing of the womb, as indicated in Genesis, chapter 16:2, about Sarah and being barren.  That was the reason that there were so many pagan fertility gods, rites, and rituals, since giving birth was considered to be some kind of magical or divine action.  Also, contemporary political gesturing around reproductive rights has its basis in religious beliefs.  Elizabeth said that in those days (ἐν ἡμέραις), the Lord had looked on her (αἷς ἐπεῖδεν), since he took away her disgrace or reproach (ἀφελεῖν ὄνειδός) that she had endured among her people or other men (ἐν ἀνθρώποις).  Being barren or sterile was considered a punishment from God.  The prime example of a happiness at birth would have been in Genesis, chapter 29:31-30:23, where Rachel finally had a son, Joseph.  Elizabeth understood her pregnancy as a personal vindication or reward for her righteousness.  She did not seem to understand the wider consequences of her pregnancy.

 

They were old with no children (Lk 1:7-1:7)

“But they had no children.

Because Elizabeth

Was barren.

Both were advanced

In years.”

 

καὶ οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τέκνον, καθότι ἦν ἡ Ἐλεισάβετ στεῖρα, καὶ ἀμφότεροι προβεβηκότες ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις αὐτῶν ἦσαν.

 

Next Luke presents this unique portrait of Zechariah and Elizabeth, much like that of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis, chapters 18:1-15 and 21:1-7.  They had no children (καὶ οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τέκνον).  Elizabeth was barren or sterile (καθότι ἦν ἡ Ἐλεισάβετ στεῖρα), often times a sign of God’s displeasure.  They were both advanced (καὶ ἀμφότεροι προβεβηκότες) in their years (ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις αὐτῶν ἦσαν).  In other words, they were old folks, beyond child bearing years.  Thus, only a miraculous birth would give them children.

Explanation of the seeds among the thorns (Mt 13:22-13:22)

“As for what was sown

Among the thorns,

This is the one

Who hears the word,

But the cares of the world

With the lure of wealth

Choke the word.

It yields nothing.”

 

ὁ δὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας σπαρείς, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τὸν λόγον ἀκούων, καὶ ἡ μέριμνα τοῦ αἰῶνος καὶ ἡ ἀπάτη τοῦ πλούτου συμπνίγει τὸν λόγον, καὶ ἄκαρπος γίνεται.

 

This explanation of the sower parable was about the seeds among the thorns that can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 4:18-19, and Luke, chapter 8:14, with Matthew closer to Mark.  As for the seeds that were sown among the thorns (ὁ δὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας σπαρείς), these are the ones who heard the word of the kingdom (οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τὸν λόγον ἀκούων), but the cares and anxiety of this present age (καὶ ἡ μέριμνα τοῦ αἰῶνος), as well as the allure or deceit of material wealth (καὶ ἡ ἀπάτη τοῦ πλούτου), choked or crowded out the word (συμπνίγει τὸν λόγον).  Thus, it yielded nothing because it was barren (καὶ ἄκαρπος γίνεται).  The thorns were the cares about physical riches that choked off the growth of the seeds or the words of the kingdom.  There had to be good circumstances or pre-depositions to hearing and understanding for the word or the seed to be effective.