No party for the older brother (Lk 15:29-15:29)

“But he answered

His father.

‘Listen!

All these years

I have been working

Like a slave

For you.

I never disobeyed

Your command.

Yet you never given me

Even a young goat

So that

I might celebrate

With my friends.’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν τῷ πατρὶ Ἰδοὺ τοσαῦτα ἔτη δουλεύω σοι καὶ οὐδέποτε ἐντολήν σου παρῆλθον, καὶ ἐμοὶ οὐδέποτε ἔδωκας ἔριφον ἵνα μετὰ τῶν φίλων μου εὐφρανθῶ

 

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 older son answered his father by saying (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν τῷ πατρὶ) that all these years he had been working like a slave or servant for his father (Ἰδοὺ τοσαῦτα ἔτη δουλεύω σοι).  He never disobeyed any of his commands (καὶ οὐδέποτε ἐντολήν σου παρῆλθον).  Yet his father had never even given him a young goat (καὶ ἐμοὶ οὐδέποτε ἔδωκας ἔριφον) so that he could celebrate with his friends (ἵνα μετὰ τῶν φίλων μου εὐφρανθῶ).  The older son was mad at his father because he had done everything right for many years, but he was never allowed to have any celebrations with his friends.  He had tried to do the right thing, but he was never rewarded for that.  Do you ever feel taken for granted because you always try to do what is right?

 

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Light and heavy beatings (Lk 12:48-12:48)

“But the one

Who did not know,

Yet did

What deserved a beating,

Will receive

A light beating.

Everyone

To whom much is given,

Much will be required.

The one

To whom much

Has been entrusted,

Even more

Will be demanded.” 

 

ὁ δὲ μὴ γνοὺς, ποιήσας δὲ ἄξια πληγῶν, δαρήσεται ὀλίγας. παντὶ δὲ ᾧ ἐδόθη πολύ, πολὺ ζητηθήσεται παρ’ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ᾧ παρέθεντο πολύ, περισσότερον αἰτήσουσιν αὐτόν.

 

This is once again, unique to Luke.  He indicated that Jesus said that the one slave who did not know (ὁ δὲ μὴ γνοὺς) the will of his master, yet did the bad things that were worthy of punishment (ποιήσας δὲ ἄξια πληγῶν), also deserved a light beating (δαρήσεται ὀλίγας).  Everyone to whom much is given (παντὶ δὲ ᾧ ἐδόθη πολύ), much will be required (πολὺ ζητηθήσεται παρ’ αὐτοῦ).  The one to whom much has been entrusted (καὶ ᾧ παρέθεντο πολύ), even more will be demanded (περισσότερον αἰτήσουσιν αὐτόν).  Jesus made a distinction between those who knew the will of the master or lord and still disobeyed him, and those who did not know the will of the master but acted badly.  The latter would not be punished as much as those that knew what they should have been doing.  Those who have much, even much more would be required or demanded.  Do you live up to your responsibilities?

The Redemption Context

African Christians put emphasis on creation and deliverance from hardship, while European Christians put emphasis on sin and salvation.  These differences show up in death rituals and funerals.  The early Church suffered political persecution.  Freedom from slavery saw redemption as the main form of freedom.  The early Medieval Church (4th-11th centuries) was more concerned about freedom from the power of the devil after Augustine had emphasized the concept of original sin.  The early Scholastic theologians like Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) put less emphasis on the ransom from the devil.  Adam had disobeyed and dishonored God.  Christ has saved us by being the second Adam, the so-called satisfaction theory.  Order and honor were more important.  The Third world today sees redemption as something else.  Christian redemption is the same reality, but there are different interpretations of what it means to be redeemed.

The great calamity (Dan 9:12-9:14)

“He has confirmed

His words,

That he spoke

Against us,

Against our rulers.

He brought upon us

A great calamity.

This was so great

That what has been done

Against Jerusalem

Has never before been done,

Under the whole heaven.

Just as it is written

In the law of Moses,

All this calamity

Has come upon us.

We did not entreat

The favor of Yahweh,

Our God.

We did not turn

From our iniquities.

We did not reflect

On his fidelity.

Thus,

Yahweh kept watch

Over this calamity,

Until he brought it

Upon us.

Indeed,

Yahweh,

Our God,

Is right

In all that he has done.

We have disobeyed

His voice.”

Daniel said that Yahweh only confirmed what he had said against them and their rulers. He brought this calamity to Jerusalem that was so great that there never had been anything like it before. This was all based on what was written in the law of Moses. They had not requested the favor of Yahweh, their God. Finally, God brought this calamity upon them, because Yahweh was right in everything that he has done. They had disobeyed his voice, so that they deserved this calamity in Jerusalem.

The sinners pray (Bar 2:12-2:15)

“We have sinned!

We have been ungodly!

We have done wrong!

O Lord!

Our God!

Against all your ordinances!

Let your anger

Turn away

From us!

We are left,

Few in number,

Among the nations

Where you have

Scattered us.

Hear!

O Lord!

Our prayer!

Hear

Our supplication!

For your own sake

Deliver us!

Grant us favor

In the sight of those

Who have carried us

Into exile!

Thus all the earth

May know

That you are

The Lord our God!

For Israel

With his descendants,

You are

Called by your name.”

These sinners admit that they have been ungodly, doing wrong since they had disobeyed the ordinances of their Lord and God. They wanted him to turn his anger away from them, because they were only a few of them left. They had been scattered among the various nations, not just in one country. They wanted the Lord to hear their prayers and grant them favors among the people who carried them away into exile. Then the whole world would know what the God of Israel had done for his people and their descendants. They will call out his name to all.

 

The shameful prayer (Bar 1:15-1:18)

“You shall say.

‘The Lord,

Our God,

Is in the right.

There is open shame

On us today,

On the people of Judah,

On the inhabitants of Jerusalem,

On our kings,

On our rulers,

On our priests,

On our prophets,

On our ancestors.

Because we have sinned

Before the Lord.

We have disobeyed him.

We have not heeded

The voice

Of the Lord,

Our God,

To walk

In the statutes

Of the Lord

That he set

Before us.”

Baruch told them how to pray. They were to say that they were ashamed because the Lord their God was right. However, it was just not the exiles, but the people in Judah and Jerusalem, along with their kings, rulers, priests, prophets, and their ancestors who had sinned. They had disobeyed and not heeded the voice of the Lord their God. They had not followed the laws that the Lord set before them.

The female adulterer (Sir 23:22-23:27)

“So it is with a woman

Who leaves her husband.

She presents him

With an heir

By another man.

First of all,

She has disobeyed

The law of the Most High.

Second,

She has committed an offense

Against her husband.

Third,

Through her fornication

She has committed adultery.

She has brought forth children

By another man.

She herself will be brought

Before the assembly.

Her punishment will extent

To her children.

Her children will not take root.

Her branches will not bear fruit.

She will leave behind

An accursed memory.

Her disgrace will never

Be blotted out.

Those who survive her

Will recognize

That nothing is better

Than the fear of the Lord.

Nothing is sweeter

Than to heed

The commandments of the Lord.”

There seems to be a worse punishment for the female adulterer. She has left her husband and had a child with another man. It is not clear that if she did not have a child, whether she would be punished. She has done 3 things wrong. She disobeyed the law of the Most High God. She has offended her husband. She has committed adultery. Instead of seizing her in the streets, like the male adulterer, she is brought before the assembly for a humiliating action of some sort. Her children will be punished. They apparently will not have heirs. She will leave behind a cursed memory that will never be blotted out. Everyone should recognize that there is nothing better than the fear of the Lord. There is nothing sweeter than to follow the commandments of the Lord.