Luke indicated that Jesus told them if anyone asked them (καὶ ἐάν τις ὑμᾶς ἐρωτᾷ) why they were untying this colt (Διὰ τί λύετε), they were to simply say to them (οὕτως ἐρεῖτε) that the Lord needs it (ὅτι Ὁ Κύριος αὐτοῦ χρείαν ἔχει). Both Matthew, chapter 21:3, and Mark, chapter 11:3, are similar with slight differences. Mark indicated that Jesus said that if anyone asked them (καὶ ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ) about what they were doing (Τί ποιεῖτε τοῦτο), in this stealing of a young tied up colt, they were to say (εἴπατε) that the Lord needs to have this animal (Ὁ Κύριος αὐτοῦ χρείαν ἔχει). Mark indicated that they also were to say that Jesus would immediately send it back (αὐτὸν ἀποστέλλει πάλιν ὧδε), which was not in the other two gospel accounts. In Matthew, Jesus said that if anyone said anything to them about this donkey stealing (καὶ ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ τι), they were to say (ἐρεῖτε) to that person that the Lord needs these animals (Ὁ Κύριος αὐτῶν χρείαν ἔχει), as if that was some sort of clandestine password. Was this a secret disciple of Jesus in this village? According to Jesus, they would immediately let them take both the donkey and the young colt (εὐθὺς δὲ ἀποστελεῖ αὐτούς), even though they had been tied up and belonged to someone else. Matthew was the only one with a donkey besides the colt. Do you have a friend with a secret password?
This long parable story about the 2 sons can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories. Luke indicated that Jesus said that the father turned to his son, calling him son (Τέκνον). He said to him (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῷ) that he was always with him (σὺ πάντοτε μετ’ ἐμοῦ εἶ). All that that belonged to the father belonged to him, this oldest son (καὶ πάντα τὰ ἐμὰ σά ἐστιν). Who does the oldest son represent? Is it the Pharisees, or the newly forming righteous followers of Jesus? These are honest hard-working people trying to do God’s will. What was the big deal about this sinning brother? Why not just forget about him? Which brother do you feel more like?
Luke said that a large herd of swine or pigs (ἦν δὲ ἐκεῖ ἀγέλη χοίρων) was feeding (ἱκανῶν βοσκομένη) on a hillside mountain (ἐν τῷ ὄρει). These demons begged Jesus (καὶ παρεκάλεσαν αὐτὸν) to allows them to enter these pigs (ἵνα ἐπιτρέψῃ αὐτοῖς εἰς ἐκείνους εἰσελθεῖν). Thus, Jesus gave them permission (καὶ ἐπέτρεψεν αὐτοῖς). All three synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 5:11-12, Matthew, chapter 8:30-31, and Luke here, have these demoniacs ask to be sent into this herd of pigs nearby, with slight nuances in each story. Mark said that this incident took place near a mountain or hill. There was a large herd of swine, pigs, or hogs feeding on this hill, since this was gentile or a Greek area that was not Jewish. Then the unclean spirits, not the demoniac, begged, entreated, or beseeched Jesus to send them into these pigs or swine. Matthew said that this large herd of pigs was feeding in a pasture at some distance away from them, since this was a non-Jewish, gentile area. Then the demoniacs begged Jesus to send them into these pigs. It seems like these evil spirits knew that they belonged in the unclean pigs or swine. Have you ever seen a hog farm?
The first person that Luke introduced was Zechariah. None of the other gospel writers mentioned Zechariah. However, Luke placed him within a historical context. This all this took place during the reign of King Herod of Judea (Ἐγένετο ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Ἡρῴδου βασιλέως τῆς Ἰουδαίας). Matthew, chapter 2:1-12, had mentioned King Herod and the intriguing story of the Magi. King Herod the Great (74 BCE-1 CE) was the Roman client king of Judea. In fact, the Roman Senate named him King of the Jews in 40 BCE. He built many things during his reign, including expanding the Second Temple in Jerusalem. At his death, his kingdom was divided among his children. There was a prophet and book of Zechariah, chapter 1:1, who lived around 520 BCE. However, this Zechariah here (τις ὀνόματι Ζαχαρίας) was a priest (ἱερεύς), probably in Jerusalem. He belonged to the priestly division of Abijah (ἐξ ἐφημερίας Ἀβιά), which was the 8th of the 24 divisions of priests that served in the Temple as laid out in 1 Chronicles, chapter 24:7-19. His wife was also a daughter or descendant of Aaron (καὶ γυνὴ αὐτῷ ἐκ τῶν θυγατέρων Ἀαρών), a Levite or part of the priestly class. She was called Elizabeth (καὶ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτῆς Ἐλεισάβετ). Thus, the action of his gospel begins with the unique story of the Jerusalem Temple priest Zachariah and his Levite wife Elizabeth. Some biblical scholars think that this infancy story, like the infancy story of Matthew, chapter 1:18-2:23, are later additions. They are here, so I will deal with it.
There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 22:19-21, and in Luke, chapter 20:24, almost word for word. Jesus wanted to see the coin that was used for paying the Roman poll tax. Mark said that they brought Jesus one of these small silver Roman coins, a denarius. (οἱ δὲ ἤνεγκαν). Jesus then asked them (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς) whose image and whose inscription title (Τίνος ἡ εἰκὼν αὕτη καὶ ἡ ἐπιγραφή) were on this coin? They answered him (οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ) that the image and inscription belonged to the emperor Caesar (Καίσαρος). This was a simple question with a simple answer.
This story about Jesus wanting the little children to come to him can be found in Matthew, chapter 19:14, and Luke, chapter 18:16, but slightly different. Mark said that Jesus saw what was going on (ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς). He was indignant or angry with his disciples (ἠγανάκτησεν). Once again, there was a little dispute between Jesus and his disciples. He said to them (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) to let the little children come to him (Ἄφετε τὰ παιδία ἔρχεσθαι πρός με). They were not to stop or hinder them (μὴ κωλύετε αὐτά). They belonged to the kingdom of heaven (τῶν γὰρ τοιούτων ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ). Once again, there was a difference between Mark with the “kingdom of God” and Matthew with the “kingdom of heaven.”
This is unique to Matthew, among the synoptic gospels. However, John, chapter 18:11, had Jesus tell Peter to put his sword away also. Matthew recounted that Jesus said to the swordsman (τότε λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς) to put his sword away or put it back in the place where it belonged (Ἀπόστρεψον τὴν μάχαιράν σου εἰς τὸν τόπον αὐτῆς). Then he said that all those who take up the sword (πάντες γὰρ οἱ λαβόντες μάχαιραν) would perish by the sword (ἐν μαχαίρῃ ἀπολοῦνται). Live by the sword! Die by the sword! He reminded them that he could appeal to his Father (ἢ δοκεῖς ὅτι οὐ δύναμαι παρακαλέσαι τὸν Πατέρα μου) to send him more than 12 legions of angels (καὶ παραστήσει μοι ἄρτι πλείω δώδεκα λεγιῶνας ἀγγέλων). Instead, these things had to happen this way to fulfill the scriptures (πῶς οὖν πληρωθῶσιν αἱ γραφαὶ ὅτι οὕτως δεῖ γενέσθαι). There was no indication of what exact scriptures needed to be fulfilled. Jesus maintained that he had heavenly or spiritual powers that could save him. A legion was about 6,000 men, so that would mean about 72,000 angels could come to fight for Jesus. However, based on the Father’s plan, this suffering was the way it was going to go.
There is something similar in Mark, chapter 12:15-17, and in Luke, chapter 20:24-25. Jesus wanted to see the coin that was used for paying the poll tax (ἐπιδείξατέ μοι τὸ νόμισμα τοῦ κήνσου). They brought or presented him with a small silver Roman coin, a denarius (οἱ δὲ προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ δηνάριον). He then asked them (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς) whose image and whose inscription title (Τίνος ἡ εἰκὼν αὕτη καὶ ἡ ἐπιγραφή) were on this coin? They answered (λέγουσιν) that the image and inscription belonged to Caesar (Καίσαρος). Then 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). 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 relationships of church and state.
Both Mark, chapter 11:3, and Luke, chapter 19:31, are similar with slight differences. Jesus said that if anyone said anything to them about this donkey stealing (καὶ ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ τι), they were to say (ἐρεῖτε) to that person that the Lord needs these animals (Ὁ Κύριος αὐτῶν χρείαν ἔχει), as if that was some sort of secret password. According to Jesus, they would immediately let them take both the donkey and the young colt (εὐθὺς δὲ ἀποστελεῖ αὐτούς), even though they had been tied up and belonged to someone else. Was this a secret disciple of Jesus in this village?
All three synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 5:12 and Luke, chapter 8:32, and Matthew here, have these demoniacs ask to be sent into the herd of pigs nearby, with slight nuances in each story. This large herd of pigs (ἀγέλη χοίρων πολλῶν) was feeding or in a pasture (βοσκομένη) at some distance away from them (ἦν δὲ μακρὰν ἀπ’ αὐτῶν), since this was gentile or a Greek area that was not Jewish. Then the demoniacs begged Jesus (οἱ δὲ δαίμονες παρεκάλουν αὐτὸν λέγοντες), if he was going to cast them out (Εἰ ἐκβάλλεις ἡμᾶς), to send them into these pigs (ἀπόστειλον ἡμᾶς εἰς τὴν ἀγέλην τῶν χοίρων). It seems like these evil spirits knew that they belonged in the unclean pigs or swine.