The places of honor (Lk 14:7-14:7)

“When Jesus noticed

How the guests

Had chosen the places

Of honor,

He told them

A parable.”

 

Ἔλεγεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς κεκλημένους παραβολήν, ἐπέχων πῶς τὰς πρωτοκλισίας ἐξελέγοντο, λέγων πρὸς αὐτούς

 

Luke had Jesus continue with this unique dinner party with the Pharisees.  Jesus noticed how the guests had chosen the places of honor (ἐπέχων πῶς τὰς πρωτοκλισίας ἐξελέγοντο).  Thus, he told these invited guests a parable (Ἔλεγεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς κεκλημένους παραβολήν).  This is what he said (λέγων πρὸς αὐτούς).  Apparently, the Pharisees often sought after the places of honor as indicated in the last dinner he had with the Pharisees in chapter 11:43.  There, Jesus actually cursed the Pharisees, because these Pharisees loved to have the first seats or the seats of honor in the synagogues.  There was something similar in Mark, chapter 12:39, and Matthew, chapter 23:6-7.  Matthew indicated that Jesus said that these Pharisees and Scribes loved to have the chief places of honor at banquet feasts and the best or front seats in the assembled synagogues.  Mark indicated that Jesus told them to beware of the Scribes, but not the Pharisees, because these Scribes walked around in long robes and loved the front seats in the synagogues.  They loved to have the chief places of honor at banquet feasts   They were the elite social butterflies.  Are you a social butterfly who likes the front row?

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The better portion (Lk 10:42-10:42)

“There is need

Of only one thing.

Mary has chosen

The better part.

It will not be

Taken away

From her.”

 

ὀλίγων δέ ἐστιν χρεία ἢ ἑνός· Μαριὰμ γὰρ τὴν ἀγαθὴν μερίδα ἐξελέξατο, ἥτις οὐκ ἀφαιρεθήσεται αὐτῆς.

 

Luke uniquely indicated that Jesus said that there was need of only one thing (ὀλίγων δέ ἐστιν χρεία ἢ ἑνός).  Mary had chosen the better part (Μαριὰμ γὰρ τὴν ἀγαθὴν μερίδα ἐξελέξατο), in listening.  This would not be taken away from her (ἥτις οὐκ ἀφαιρεθήσεται αὐτῆς).  Jesus was clear, being a listening disciple was better than running around serving people.  Listening was important.  Household duties can wait.  Martha, the welcoming lady, lost out to her listening sister, Mary.  Quit complaining.  Just do the work and listen to Jesus.  Do you prefer to work or listen?

The explanation that many are called, but few chosen (Mt 22:14-22:14)

“Many are called.

But few are chosen.”

 

Πολλοὶ γάρ εἰσιν κλητοὶ, ὀλίγοι δὲ ἐκλεκτοί

 

This is unique to Matthew.  Jesus’ explanation of this parable was simple.  Many were called or invited (Πολλοὶ γάρ εἰσιν κλητοὶ), but few were chosen (Πολλοὶ γάρ εἰσιν κλητοὶ).  However, this parable has only one person rejected from the wedding banquet because of not having the wedding garment.  Many were called and then some were killed or punished because they refused the invitation.  However, many did come to the wedding feast in the end.  Obviously, this is a reference to the teaching of Jesus.  He spoke to many people and large crowds.  Thus, this invitation went out to many people.  However, only a few, as in this case the 12 apostles or the other disciples, were chosen to follow him.  Nevertheless, it would be difficult to be a follower of Jesus.

The servant of Yahweh (Matt 12:18-12:18)

“Here is my servant!

I have chosen him.

My beloved!

My soul is well pleased

With him.

I will put my Spirit

Upon him.

He shall proclaim justice

To the gentile nations.”

 

Ἰδοὺ ὁ παῖς μου ὃν ᾑρέτισα, ὁ ἀγαπητός μου ὃν εὐδόκησεν ἡ ψυχή μου· θήσω τὸ Πνεῦμά μου ἐπ’ αὐτόν, καὶ κρίσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἀπαγγελεῖ.

 

A series of scholarly debates has risen about who this servant of Yahweh is in Isaiah, chapter 42:1.  Is it the country and people of Israel or is it an individual prophetic person?  Sometimes the reference is singular as here, but is that also symbolic?  There are many chants or songs about the servant in Second Isaiah.  This oracle has Yahweh speak directly about his servant, who he will uphold, since he is the chosen one.  Yahweh’s soul delights in him.  He puts his Spirit upon him.  This servant of Yahweh will bring about justice for all the nations.  At first take, this appears to be an individual that Yahweh really likes.  Mathew made a clear choice about this servant of Yahweh.  Jesus is the servant of God (Ἰδοὺ ὁ παῖς μου).  God has chosen him (ὃν ᾑρέτισα).  He is God’s beloved (ὁ ἀγαπητός μου).  The soul of God has delighted in Jesus (ὃν εὐδόκησεν ἡ ψυχή μου).  God would put his Spirit on Jesus (θήσω τὸ Πνεῦμά μου ἐπ’ αὐτόν).  Jesus would proclaim a just judgment to the gentile nations (καὶ κρίσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἀπαγγελεῖ).  The text that Matthew used is not an exact copy of the Greek or Hebrew text, but close enough.

Yahweh and Satan (Zech 3:2-3:2)

“Yahweh said

To Satan.

‘Yahweh rebukes you!

O Satan!

Yahweh,

Who has chosen Jerusalem,

Rebukes you!

Is not this man

A brand

Plucked from the fire?’”

Yahweh then had a conversation with the adversarial Satan.  Yahweh was rebuking him.  Yahweh had chosen Jerusalem.  Yet he still was going to rebuke Satan.  Then he asked if this man Joshua was a hot brand from the fire.  He wanted to know if Joshua was the representative of the Israelites of Jerusalem or from Satan.

Ezekiel is to judge the elders (Ezek 20:4-20:5)

“Will you judge them?

Son of man!

Will you judge them?

Then let them know

The abominations

Of their ancestors.

Say to them!

‘Thus says Yahweh God!

On the day

When I chose Israel,

I swore to the offspring

Of the house of Jacob.

I made myself known

To them

In the land of Egypt.

I swore to them.

Saying.

‘I am Yahweh

Your God!’”

Yahweh wanted to know if Ezekiel, the son of man, would be willing to judge the Israelites. He was to let them know about the abominations of their ancestors. He was to tell them that Yahweh, their God, had chosen Israel. On that day, he swore to the offspring of the house of Jacob. He himself had personally let them know this in the land of Egypt. There he swore to them that he was Yahweh, their God.

The temple prostitutes (Bar 6:42-6:44)

“The women,

With cords around them,

Sit along the passageways.

The burn bran

For incense.

When one of them

Is led off

By one of the passers-by,

They are taken to bed

By him.

She then derides

The woman next to her,

Because she was not

As attractive

As herself.

Her cord

Was not broken.

Whatever is done

For these idols

Is false.

Why then must anyone think

That they are gods?

Why call them gods?”

Here there is a description of the temple prostitutes and their behavior. These women, with cords around them, would sit in the passageways at the temple, burning bran for incense. Then a passer-by would invite them or take them off to sleep with them. Strangely enough, when the woman would return, she would make fun of the other women who were not chosen to have sex with these passer-bys, because they were not as attractive as she was. These other women had no one to break their cords. Thus these false idols bring about all kinds of strange behaviors. That is why people might doubt that these were true gods. How could you call them gods?