The good news (Lk 16:16-16:16)

“The law

And the prophets

Were in effect

Until John came.

Since then,

The good news

Of the kingdom of God

Is proclaimed.

Everyone

Tries to enter it

By force.”

 

Ὁ νόμος καὶ οἱ προφῆται μέχρι Ἰωάνου· ἀπὸ τότε ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ εὐαγγελίζεται καὶ πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that the law (Ὁ νόμος) and the prophets (καὶ οἱ προφῆται) were in effect until John came (μέχρι Ἰωάνου).  Since then (ἀπὸ τότε), the good news has been proclaimed (εὐαγγελίζεται) about the kingdom of God (ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Everyone tries to enter it by force (καὶ πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται).  The law and the prophets were the two major parts of the Hebrew Bible.  John the Baptist represented some sort of turning point.  His preaching about the kingdom of God meant that the days of the law and prophets were numbered.  There is something similar, but in a different context with a different meaning in Matthew, chapter 11:12-13.  There Jesus talked about the days of John the Baptist until the present (ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ ἕως ἄρτι), not a very long time.  The kingdom of heaven has suffered violence (ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν βιάζεται).  What kind of violence was taking place in the heavenly kingdom?  Did this mean that so many people were violently seeking the kingdom of heaven that John was talking about?  Is this some kind of violence within the kingdom of heaven?  Were these violent people trying to get into the kingdom of heaven?  The next sentence seems to support this idea that violent people wanted to seize the kingdom of heaven by force (καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν).  In Matthew, chapter 17:11-13, Jesus compared John to Elijah.  Like here in Luke, all the prophets and the law had prophesied until the time of John the Baptist (πάντες γὰρ οἱ προφῆται καὶ ὁ νόμος ἕως Ἰωάνου ἐπροφήτευσαν).  Then Jesus said that John was the new Elijah (αὐτός ἐστιν Ἡλείας), the one who was to come (ὁ μέλλων ἔρχεσθαι).  However, they had to be willing to accept this (καὶ εἰ θέλετε δέξασθαι).  Anyone who had ears to hear should listen to this (ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκουέτω).  Clearly, something fundamental changed with John the Baptist and his proclamation of the kingdom of God.  How were John and Jesus connected in their preaching?  What is your opinion about John the Baptist?

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Authentic Christian Faith

Christian belief is not a mere intellectual exercise.  The heart has its reasons.  The reasons of the heart come from our religious experience of Jesus Christ in our lives.  Our belief is a free joyous grateful response.  We have the privilege of calling Jesus Christ a friend.  However, this active experience is not just a private affair that has no effect on our lives.  Our Christian experience leads to a liberating practice of love.  It is not enough to say the words, we must live the life.  We cannot be unfaithful to the essential message of Jesus Christ.  We need a holistic approach to faith.  If religion was intellectual only, it would be only an abstraction and a mind game.  On the other hand, if it is only emotional, it becomes superstition.  Christianity is a way of life, a commitment, an active involvement.

The portions for the tribes of Israel (Ezek 48:29-48:29)

“‘This is the land

That you shall allot

As an inheritance

Among the tribes

Of Israel.

These are

Their several portions.’

Says Yahweh God.”

In case there was any doubt, Yahweh, via Ezekiel, had assigned these tribes to their new territories. Many of these tribes would have lost a lot of territory. They were not even close to where they were at the time of Joshua. It is hard to tell, if this ever went into effect.

 

The bad proverb (Ezek 18:1-18:4)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘What do you mean

By repeating

This proverb

Concerning

The land of Israel?

‘The parents have eaten

Sour grapes.

The children’s teeth

Are set on edge.’

As I live,

Says Yahweh God!

‘This proverb

Shall no more

Be used by you

In Israel.

Know

That all lives are mine!

The life of the parent

Is mine.

The life of the child

Is mine.

It is only the person

Who sins

That shall die.’”

Yahweh was talking about personal responsibility rather than suffering for the sins of one’s parents. This proverb about parents eating sour grapes, while the effect would be on their children’s teeth is also found in Jeremiah, chapter 29. Here Yahweh asked them why they were repeating this proverb, because he wanted them to stop using this proverb in Israel. Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that all lives, both the parents and their children, belong to him. The person who sins will die. No one else will die. There is no collective guilt passed on from father to son.

The heart (Sir 13:25-13:26)

“The heart changes the countenance,

Either for good or for evil.

The sign of a happy heart

Is a cheerful face.

Devising proverbs

Requires painful thinking.”

If you look at someone, you can tell whether they have a happy heart. The heart has an effect on how you look, whether for good or evil. A cheerful face is a sign of a happy heart. If you have a painful face, it may be than you are trying to formulate proverbs, like our friend Sirach. He may not have had a happy face.