The mustard seed (Lk 17:6-17:6)

“The Lord replied.

‘If you had faith

The size of

A mustard seed,

You could say

To this mulberry tree,

‘Be rooted up!

Be planted

In the sea!’’

It would obey you.’”

 

εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Κύριος Εἰ ἔχετε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως, ἐλέγετε ἂν τῇ συκαμίνῳ ταύτῃ Ἐκριζώθητι καὶ φυτεύθητι ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ· καὶ ὑπήκουσεν ἂν ὑμῖν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus, the Lord, replied (εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Κύριος) that if they had faith (Εἰ ἔχετε πίστιν) the size of a mustard seed (ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως), they could say (ἐλέγετε) to this mulberry or sycamore tree (ἂν τῇ συκαμίνῳ ταύτῃ), be rooted up (Ἐκριζώθητι) and planted in the sea (καὶ φυτεύθητι ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ).  Luke is the only biblical writer to use the Greek term συκαμίνῳ that means a black mulberry tree or a sycamore tree that had medicinal value.  Then this tree would obey them (καὶ ὑπήκουσεν ἂν ὑμῖν).  There are expanded faith sayings that can also be found in Mark, chapter 9:28-29, and Matthew, chapter 17:19-21, who are much closer to each other.  Matthew indicated that the disciples came to Jesus privately (Τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ τῷ Ἰησοῦ).  They wondered why they were not able to cast out the evil spirits from that boy (κατ’ ἰδίαν εἶπον Διὰ τί ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό).  Jesus reminded them (ὁ δὲ λέγει αὐτοῖς) of their little faith (Διὰ τὴν ὀλιγοπιστίαν ὑμῶν), a term used predominately by Matthew.  Jesus came back with a solemn pronouncement (ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν) that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed (ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως), like here in Luke, they could move mountains from here to there (ἐρεῖτε τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ Μετάβα ἔνθεν ἐκεῖ, καὶ μεταβήσεται).  Nothing would be impossible for them (καὶ οὐδὲν ἀδυνατήσει ὑμῖν).  If they had faith with prayer and fasting (εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ καὶ νηστείᾳ), they would be able to cast the evil spirits out (τοῦτο δὲ τὸ γένος οὐκ ἐκπορεύεται).  Matthew continued to emphasize the lack of faith or the little faith of the disciples of Jesus.  Mark said that the disciples wondered why they were not able to cast out the evil spirit from that boy (Ὅτι ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό).  The disciples were concerned that they must have lacked something that made it impossible for them to get rid of this evil spirit that was in that boy.  Mark added the need for prayer.  There was no emphasis on faith as in Matthew, where Jesus talked about faith and the mustard seed.  Mark emphasized prayer, as he indicated that Jesus said that this kind of evil spirit could only be expelled (Τοῦτο τὸ γένος ἐν οὐδενὶ δύναται ἐξελθεῖν) through prayer (εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ).  Prayer might imply faith, but it is not explicit here in Luke.  Which is more important to you, faith or prayer?

Jesus cures the son (Lk 9:42-9:42)

“While the boy

Was coming to Jesus,

The demon threw him down

With convulsions.

But Jesus rebuked

The unclean spirit.

He healed the boy.

He gave him back

To his father.”

 

ἔτι δὲ προσερχομένου αὐτοῦ ἔρρηξεν αὐτὸν τὸ δαιμόνιον καὶ συνεσπάραξεν· ἐπετίμησεν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἀκαθάρτῳ, καὶ ἰάσατο τὸν παῖδα καὶ ἀπέδωκεν αὐτὸν τῷ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke said that while the young man was coming to Jesus (ἔτι δὲ προσερχομένου αὐτοῦ), the demon threw him down to the ground (ἔρρηξεν αὐτὸν τὸ δαιμόνιον) with convulsions (καὶ συνεσπάραξεν).  But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit (πετίμησεν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἀκαθάρτῳ).  He healed the boy (καὶ ἰάσατο τὸν παῖδα).  He gave him back to his father (καὶ ἀπέδωκεν αὐτὸν τῷ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ).  Both Matthew, chapter 17:18 and Luke here have a summary of a more detailed longer statement from Mark, chapter 9:20-27, about this mute epileptic boy.  Mark said that they brought the boy to Jesus.  However, when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it immediately convulsed the boy.  The boy fell on the ground and began to roll around, foaming at the mouth.  In fact, Jesus got to see what the father had described to him earlier.  Jesus asked the father of this boy how long had these convulsions been happening to him.  The father said that it had been happening since his childhood.  This evil spirit would often cast him into both fire and water, as Matthew had mentioned, in order to destroy him.  Then the father asked Jesus, if he was able to do anything to help his son.  He wanted Jesus to have pity and compassion on him and his son.  Jesus said to him that all things could be done for the one who believed.  Belief was the key ingredient for any success in this area.  The father of the child cried out that he believed, but he wanted help with his unbelief.  This was a strong statement of belief that also recognized unbelief at the same time.  Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit.  He directly commanded this unclean evil spirit that had kept this boy from speaking and hearing to come out of him, never again to enter him.  Jesus then got rid of the unclean spirit that was in this boy in a public act in front of a crowd.  After crying out and terribly convulsing the boy with spasms, the evil spirit came out of the boy, who became a corpse.  Most of the people said that the boy was dead.  Could this boy live without the evil spirit in him?  Jesus took the boy by the hand.  He lifted him up, so that he rose up, and was able to stand up on his feet by himself.  The boy was not dead.  There was a clear equivalence between the illness of epilepsy and demonic possession.  Once the devil or evil spirits had left the boy, he was cured of his various ailments.  Have you ever dealt with an epileptic?

A spirit seized him (Lk 9:39-9:39)

“Suddenly,

A spirit seized

The boy.

All at once,

He cried out.

This evil spirit

Convulsed him

Until he was foaming.

It bruised him.

It would scarcely

Leave him.”

 

καὶ ἰδοὺ πνεῦμα λαμβάνει αὐτόν, καὶ ἐξαίφνης κράζει καὶ σπαράσσει αὐτὸν μετὰ ἀφροῦ, καὶ μόλις ἀποχωρεῖ ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ συντρῖβον αὐτόν

 

Luke said that, a spirit seized this young boy (καὶ ἰδοὺ πνεῦμα λαμβάνει αὐτόν).  All at once (καὶ ἐξαίφνης), he shrieked or cried out (κράζει).  This evil spirit convulsed him (καὶ σπαράσσει αὐτὸν) until he was foaming (μετὰ ἀφροῦ,).  It bruised him (συντρῖβον αὐτόν), so that it would scarcely leave him alone (καὶ μόλις ἀποχωρεῖ ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ).  This story of the man with the incurable epileptic son can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 17:15, Mark, chapter 9:18, and here in Luke, but there are differences in all 3 accounts.  Apparently, this man’s son was an epileptic, possessed by the devil.  This description of the young man’s suffering in Mark and Luke differed from Matthew, who had the child suffer very badly, falling into fire and water.  However, Mark had even a more descriptive narrative of what was happening to this young man.  He said that whenever the spirit seized him, it dashed or threw him down.  This young boy would foam at the mouth.  He would grind or gnash his teeth.  He would become rigid as he was wasting or withering away.  This sounded worse than Luke.  Have you ever seen a person in an epileptic seizure?

Jesus stays in Jerusalem (Lk 2:43-2:43)

“When the festival

Was ended,

They started

To return home.

The boy Jesus

Stayed behind

In Jerusalem.

But his parents

Did not know it.”

 

καὶ τελειωσάντων τὰς ἡμέρας, ἐν τῷ ὑποστρέφειν αὐτοὺς ὑπέμεινεν Ἰησοῦς ὁ παῖς ἐν Ἱερουσαλήμ, καὶ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν οἱ γονεῖς αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke continued this story.  When the days of the festival were ended (καὶ τελειωσάντων τὰς ἡμέρας), Mary and Joseph started to return home (ἐν τῷ ὑποστρέφειν αὐτοὺς).  However, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem (ὑπέμεινεν Ἰησοῦς ὁ παῖς ἐν Ἱερουσαλήμ,), but his parents did not know it (καὶ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν οἱ γονεῖς αὐτοῦ).  This poses a problem.  How alert were these parents?  On the one hand, a 12-year-old would have a little freedom, but to leave without him seems a little odd.

Why were the disciples not able to do this? (Mk 9:28-9:28)

“When Jesus had entered

The house,

His disciples

Asked him privately.

‘Why could

We not cast it out?’”

 

καὶ εἰσελθόντος αὐτοῦ εἰς οἶκον οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ κατ’ ἰδίαν ἐπηρώτων αὐτόν Ὅτι ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό;

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 17:19.  Mark said that Jesus and his disciples entered the house (καὶ εἰσελθόντος αὐτοῦ εἰς οἶκον).  Then the disciples asked or questioned Jesus privately (οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ κατ’ ἰδίαν ἐπηρώτων αὐτόν).  They wondered why they were not able to cast out the evil spirit from that boy (Ὅτι ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό).  The disciples were concerned that they must have lacked something that made it impossible for them to get rid of this evil spirit that was in that boy.

Jesus commands the unclean spirit (Mk 9:25-9:25)

“When Jesus saw

That a crowd

Came running together,

He rebuked

The unclean spirit.

He said to it.

‘You spirit

That keeps this boy

From speaking

And hearing!

I command you!

Come out of him!

Never enter him again!’”

 

ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἐπισυντρέχει ὄχλος, ἐπετίμησεν τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἀκαθάρτῳ λέγων αὐτῷ Τὸ ἄλαλον καὶ κωφὸν πνεῦμα, ἐγὼ ἐπιτάσσω σοι, ἔξελθε ἐξ αὐτοῦ καὶ μηκέτι εἰσέλθῃς εἰς αὐτόν.

 

This is unique to Mark.  When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together (ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἐπισυντρέχει ὄχλος), he rebuked the unclean spirit (ἐπετίμησεν τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἀκαθάρτῳ).  He spoke directly to this evil spirit (λέγων αὐτῷ) as he commanded, in the first person singular, this unclean spirit (ἐγὼ ἐπιτάσσω σοι), in the second person “you”.  This evil spirit had kept this boy from speaking and hearing.  This mute and deaf spirit (Τὸ ἄλαλον καὶ κωφὸν πνεῦμα,), was to come out of him (ἔξελθε ἐξ αὐτοῦ), never again to enter him (καὶ μηκέτι εἰσέλθῃς εἰς αὐτόν).  Jesus then got rid of the unclean spirit that was in this boy in a public act in front of a crowd.

Why were the disciples unable to heal the epileptic? (Mt 17:19-17:20)

“Then the disciples

Came to Jesus privately.

They said.

‘Why could we not cast it out?’

He said to them.

‘Because of your little faith.

Truly!

I say to you!

If you have faith

The size of a mustard seed,

You will say to this mountain.

‘Move from here to there.’

Then it will move.

Nothing will be impossible

For you.’”

 

Τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ τῷ Ἰησοῦ κατ’ ἰδίαν εἶπον Διὰ τί ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό;

ὁ δὲ λέγει αὐτοῖς Διὰ τὴν ὀλιγοπιστίαν ὑμῶν· ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως, ἐρεῖτε τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ Μετάβα ἔνθεν ἐκεῖ, καὶ μεταβήσεται, καὶ οὐδὲν ἀδυνατήσει ὑμῖν.

τοῦτο δὲ τὸ γένος οὐκ ἐκπορεύεται εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ καὶ νηστείᾳ.

 

This faith saying can also be found in Mark, chapter 9:28-29.  However, he added the need for prayer, as in the variant Orthodox texts that mentioned fasting also.  The disciples came to Jesus privately (Τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ τῷ Ἰησοῦ).  They wondered why they were not able to cast out the evil spirits from that boy (κατ’ ἰδίαν εἶπον Διὰ τί ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό).  Jesus reminded them (ὁ δὲ λέγει αὐτοῖς) of their little faith (Διὰ τὴν ὀλιγοπιστίαν ὑμῶν), a term used predominately by Matthew.  Jesus came back with a solemn pronouncement (ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν) that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed (ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως), they could move mountains from here to there (ἐρεῖτε τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ Μετάβα ἔνθεν ἐκεῖ, καὶ μεταβήσεται).  Nothing would be impossible for them (καὶ οὐδὲν ἀδυνατήσει ὑμῖν).  If they had faith with prayer and fasting (εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ καὶ νηστείᾳ), they would be able to cast the evil spirits out (τοῦτο δὲ τὸ γένος οὐκ ἐκπορεύεται).  Matthew continued to emphasize the lack of faith or the little faith of the disciples of Jesus.