Lot’s wife (Lk 17:32-17:32)

“Remember Lot’s wife!”

 

μνημονεύετε τῆς γυναικὸς Λώτ

 

Luke was the only gospel writer to have Jesus remark about remembering Lot’s wife (μνημονεύετε τῆς γυναικὸς Λώτ).  This was is a reference to Genesis, chapter 19:26.  There Yahweh had rained down on both Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire, so that all who lived in those two towns and the plains around it were destroyed.  Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.  Luke and Jesus did not elaborate on the circumstances of her death, just remember it as if it was well known.  This was quite a striking biblical image, since they were in the plains by the Dead Sea that was also called the Salt Sea.  Have you ever looked back with regret?

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Abraham and Lazarus (Lk 16:23-16:23)

“In Hades,

Where the rich man

Was being tormented,

He looked up.

He saw Abraham

Far away,

With Lazarus

By his side.”

 

καὶ ἐν τῷ Ἅιδῃ ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ, ὑπάρχων ἐν βασάνοις, ὁρᾷ Ἀβραὰμ ἀπὸ μακρόθεν καὶ Λάζαρον ἐν τοῖς κόλποις αὐτοῦ.

 

This parable story about the poor man Lazarus and an unnamed rich man is only found in Luke, not in the other gospels.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that the rich man was living in torment (ὑπάρχων ἐν βασάνοις) in Hades (καὶ ἐν τῷ Ἅιδῃ), the Greek name for hell, a permanent place of damnation as opposed to the vague Hebrew afterlife Sheol, the place of the dead.  This rich man looked up or lifted up his eyes (ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ).  He saw Abraham (ὁρᾷ Ἀβραὰμ), far away (ἀπὸ μακρόθεν), with Lazarus in his bosom (καὶ Λάζαρον ἐν τοῖς κόλποις αὐτοῦ).  Both Abraham and Lazarus were together, but far away since there was a clear difference between where the rich man and Lazarus with Abraham were.  Just as in life, there was a difference between the rich man and Lazarus, so too in death.  Do you believe that there will be options in the afterlife?

Dying of hunger (Lk 15:17-15:17)

“But when he came

To himself,

He said.

‘How many

Of my father’s

Hired hands

Have bread enough

To spare.

But here I am

Dying of hunger.’”

 

εἰς ἑαυτὸν δὲ ἐλθὼν ἔφη Πόσοι μίσθιοι τοῦ πατρός μου περισσεύονται ἄρτων, ἐγὼ δὲ λιμῷ ὧδε ἀπόλλυμαι.

 

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 when this prodigal son came to his senses or himself (εἰς ἑαυτὸν δὲ ἐλθὼν), he said that many of his father’s hired servants (ἔφη Πόσοι μίσθιοι τοῦ πατρός μου) had bread enough to spare or an abundance of bread (περισσεύονται ἄρτων).  However, he was dying or perishing from hunger (ἐγὼ δὲ λιμῷ ὧδε ἀπόλλυμαι).  This prodigal son realized that he had come from a privileged upbringing.  Even the hired hands on his father’s and brother’s farm had more than enough bread to eat.  He, on the other hand, was starving to death.  Do you ever remember being very hungry?

Divide the property (Lk 15:12-15:12)

“The younger son

Of them said

To his father.

‘Father!

Give me

The share

Of the property

That will belong

To me.’

Thus,

The father divided

His property

Between them.”

 

καὶ εἶπεν ὁ νεώτερος αὐτῶν τῷ πατρί Πάτερ, δός μοι τὸ ἐπιβάλλον μέρος τῆς οὐσίας. ὁ δὲ διεῖλεν αὐτοῖς τὸν βίον.

 

This long parable story about the two sons can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that the younger son said to his father (καὶ εἶπεν ὁ νεώτερος αὐτῶν τῷ πατρί), very respectfully calling him “father (Πάτερ)” that he wanted the share of the property that was going to belong to him (δός μοι τὸ ἐπιβάλλον μέρος τῆς οὐσίας).  Thus, the father obliged.  He divided his property between the two of them (ὁ δὲ διεῖλεν αὐτοῖς τὸν βίον).  This is a simple story.  The younger son wanted his inheritance early, which was an unusual request, since inheritances would not take place until the death of his father.  Nevertheless, the father said ok, without consulting with the older son.  Has there been a fight in your family about inheritances?

Bear the cross (Lk 14:27-14:27)

“Whoever does not carry

His cross

And follow me,

Cannot be my disciple.”

 

ὅστις οὐ βαστάζει τὸν σταυρὸν ἑαυτοῦ καὶ ἔρχεται ὀπίσω μου, οὐ δύναται εἶναί μου μαθητής.

 

Luke then had Jesus utter this famous saying about whoever does not carry his own cross (ὅστις οὐ βαστάζει τὸν σταυρὸν ἑαυτοῦ) and follow after him (καὶ ἔρχεται ὀπίσω μου), cannot be or is not able to be his disciple (οὐ δύναται εἶναί μου μαθητής).  This verse is similar to Matthew, chapter 10:38.  Matthew had Jesus repeat this remark that whoever did not take up his cross (καὶ ὃς οὐ λαμβάνει τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ) and follow after Jesus (καὶ ἀκολουθεῖ ὀπίσω μου,), was not worthy of him (οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος).  Matthew, chapter 16:24, had Jesus tell his disciples (Τότε ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ) that if anyone wanted to become his follower (Εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἐλθεῖν), they would have to deny themselves (ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν).  They would have to take up their cross (καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ) and follow him (καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι).  Mark, chapter 8:34, has the carrying of the cross as a condition of discipleship.  If you did not take up your cross (καὶ ὃς οὐ λαμβάνει τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ) and follow after Jesus (καὶ ἀκολουθεῖ ὀπίσω μου), you were not worthy of Jesus (οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος).  This assumes knowledge of the cross and suffering of Jesus.  To be a follower of Jesus, you had to follow him and take up his cross.  The hanging on the cross was the Roman way of punishment and execution.  After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the cross became a symbol of the death of Jesus.  Are you willing to take up the cross of Jesus?

The narrow door (Lk 13:23-13:24)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Strive to enter

Through the narrow door!

I tell you!

Many will try

To enter

And will not be able.’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς

Ἀγωνίζεσθε εἰσελθεῖν διὰ τῆς στενῆς θύρας, ὅτι πολλοί, λέγω ὑμῖν, ζητήσουσιν εἰσελθεῖν καὶ οὐκ ἰσχύσουσιν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said to them (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς) that they were to strive (Ἀγωνίζεσθε) to enter (εἰσελθεῖν) through the narrow door (διὰ τῆς στενῆς θύρας).  With a solemn pronouncement (λέγω ὑμῖν), Jesus said that many people (ὅτι πολλοί) would try to enter (ζητήσουσιν εἰσελθεῖν), but not be able to do so (καὶ οὐκ ἰσχύσουσιν).  This saying of Jesus is somewhat similar to Matthew, chapter 7:13-14, where it was part of the Sermon on the Mount, not a response to a question.  Matthew had Jesus go into great detail about the narrow gate and not a door.  Jesus wanted them to enter the narrow gate (ἰσέλθατε διὰ τῆς στενῆς πύλης).  Matthew in his description of the wide or spacious gate (ὅτι πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη καὶ εὐρύχωρος) used two words for wide and spacious, “πλατεῖα” and “εὐρύχωρος,” that never appear elsewhere in the New Testament.  The easy way of the wide gate led to destruction (ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν).  Many people were entering through this wide destructive easy gate (καὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι δι’ αὐτῆς).  On the other hand, the narrow gate (ὅτι στενὴ ἡ πύλη) had a difficult way, leading to life (καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωήν).  Only a few people were able to find their way through this difficult hard narrow life filled gate (καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν).  This idea of two ways can be found also in Deuteronomy, chapter 30:15-20, and among other religions with the way of death and the way of life.  The early Christian teachings of the Didache used this concept, as did many other dualistic religions that pointed to the choice of life or death, good or bad.  As you had basic choices in life, God was giving you this choice, life and prosperity with the narrow gate or death and adversity with the wide gate.  You had a choice between two gates.  The choice of path was yours.  Do you prefer the wide or the narrow door?

Repent (Lk 13:3-13:3)

“No!

I tell you!

But unless you repent

You will all perish

As they did!”

 

οὐχί, λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀλλ’ ἐὰν μὴ μετανοῆτε, πάντες ὁμοίως ἀπολεῖσθε.

 

The unique answer in Luke was also simple.  Jesus said “No (οὐχί)” with a solemn pronouncement (λέγω ὑμῖν).  These Galileans were no worse than anyone else.  All of them present there, if they did not repent or have a change of heart, a metanoia (ἀλλ’ ἐὰν μὴ μετανοῆτε), they would all perish just like these Galileans (πάντες ὁμοίως ἀπολεῖσθε).  Repentance for all was important, no matter what kind of death you might endure.  How do you want to die?