The father embraces the son (Lk 15:20-15:20)

“Thus,

The prodigal son

Set off.

He went

To his father.

But while he was

Still far off,

His father saw him.

He was filled

With compassion.

He ran to him.

He put his arms

Around him.

He kissed him.”

 

καὶ ἀναστὰς ἦλθεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα ἑαυτοῦ. ἔτι δὲ αὐτοῦ μακρὰν ἀπέχοντος εἶδεν αὐτὸν ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη, καὶ δραμὼν ἐπέπεσεν ἐπὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ καὶ κατεφίλησεν αὐτόν.

 

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 this prodigal son set off to go to his father (καὶ ἀναστὰς ἦλθεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα ἑαυτοῦ).  While he was still far away (ἔτι δὲ αὐτοῦ μακρὰν ἀπέχοντος), his father saw him (εἶδεν αὐτὸν ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ).  He was filled with compassion (καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη).  He ran to him (καὶ δραμὼν).  He put his arms around him or fell upon his neck (ἐπέπεσεν ἐπὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ) and he kissed him (καὶ κατεφίλησεν αὐτόν).  In case there was any doubt, the father was going to accept the prodigal sinning son without any conditions.  There was not even an “I’m sorry!” from the son.  This compassionate father ran out to embrace him before he even got close to their house.  Obviously, he was out in the fields working.  Do you feel closer to the wasteful repentant prodigal son or the compassionate forgiving father?

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Feed the pigs (Lk 15:15-15:15)

“Thus,

He went

And hired himself out

To one of the citizens

Of that country.

He sent him

To his fields

To feed the pigs.”

 

καὶ πορευθεὶς ἐκολλήθη ἑνὶ τῶν πολιτῶν τῆς χώρας ἐκείνης, καὶ ἔπεμψεν αὐτὸν εἰς τοὺς ἀγροὺς αὐτοῦ βόσκειν χοίρους·

 

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 this young prodigal son went and hired himself out (καὶ πορευθεὶς ἐκολλήθη) to one of the citizens of that country (ἑνὶ τῶν πολιτῶν τῆς χώρας ἐκείνης), where he was living.  This land owner sent him to his fields (καὶ ἔπεμψεν αὐτὸν εἰς τοὺς ἀγροὺς αὐτοῦ) to feed the pigs (βόσκειν χοίρους).  Obvious, this was a non-Jewish country where pigs were raised for food, not a Jewish country where there would be no pork eaten.  What could be more humiliating for a Jewish person than taking care of unclean swine or pigs?  Have you ever had a job that you felt was degrading to you?

The shepherds (Lk 2:8-2:8)

“In that region

There were shepherds

Camping out

In the fields.

They were

Keeping watch

Over their flock

At night.”

 

Καὶ ποιμένες ἦσαν ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ τῇ αὐτῇ ἀγραυλοῦντες καὶ φυλάσσοντες φυλακὰς τῆς νυκτὸς ἐπὶ τὴν ποίμνην αὐτῶν.

 

Luke had a special emphasis on these common shepherds in the fields, while Matthew had the important Magi get a special sign or star.  Luke said that in that same region of Bethlehem (ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ τῇ αὐτῇ), there were shepherds (Καὶ ποιμένες ἦσαν) living or camping out in the fields (ἀγραυλοῦντες).  They were keeping watch over their flock of sheep at night (καὶ φυλάσσοντες φυλακὰς τῆς νυκτὸς ἐπὶ τὴν ποίμνην αὐτῶν).  They were doing their jobs as shepherds watching their sheep at nighttime.  Perhaps there was a connection between these shepherds and the young shepherd David in the fields of Bethlehem in 1 Samuel, chapter 16:6-13.  This may have been Luke showing concern for the common people as expressed in these shepherds.

They spread garments and branches on the road (Mk 11:8-11:8)

“Many people

Spread their garments

On the road.

Others spread

Leafy branches

That they had cut

In the fields.”

 

καὶ πολλοὶ τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτῶν ἔστρωσαν εἰς τὴν ὁδόν, ἄλλοι δὲ στιβάδας, κόψαντες ἐκ τῶν ἀγρῶν.

 

Both Matthew, chapter 21:8, and Luke, chapter 19:36, are similar but with slight differences.  Mark said that instead of crowds, it was many people (καὶ πολλοὶ) that spread out their outer garments, cloaks, or coats on the road (τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτῶν ἔστρωσαν εἰς τὴν ὁδόν).  Meanwhile, others were cutting down leafy branches from the surrounding fields (ἄλλοι δὲ στιβάδας, κόψαντες ἐκ τῶν ἀγρῶν), also spreading out these branches on the road.  This event has become the great Palm Sunday celebration, the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.  Actually, only John, chapter 12:13, called these palm branches.  This idea of laying garments on the road can be found in 2 Kings, chapter 9:13, to protect the feet of the king.  Clearly, this was an attempt to connect Jesus with the Davidic kingship.  Was Jesus to be the new king of Israel as a son of David?

Fifth narrative

Jesus traveled toward Jerusalem and taught in the Temple there, debating with the chief priests and religious leaders.  Then he spoke about the coming kingdom of heaven and the future end times.

Jesus finally went to Judea, where he cured large crowds of people.  The Pharisees questioned him about divorce.  Jesus reiterated the importance of marriage, as he spoke about Moses and divorce.  After hearing the response of Jesus about divorce, his disciples wondered why they should marry at all.  Jesus explained about different kind of eunuchs.

The children came forward to Jesus and he blessed them.  He warned against wealth.  To gain eternal life you had to keep the commandments.  They wanted to know which commandments?  The great commandment was not a problem.  However, Jesus asked them to give up their possessions, so that the rich young man walked away.  It was hard for rich people to enter the kingdom like a camel going through the eye of a needle.  Who could be saved?  The response was that all things are possible with God.  Peter wanted to know about the disciples and the eternal life reward, so that Jesus told them that the first shall be last and vice versa.

Then Jesus presented the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.  He hired the first laborers, and then late in the day a second group, a third group and finally a fourth group of laborers.  The last group hired got a full day’s pay.  The first group hired were upset when they got the same as the last group hired.  This brought up the problem of generosity versus fairness, as Jesus explained the parable.

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus predicted what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem.  The mother of the sons of Zebedee wanted to know if her two sons, James and John, could be the greatest, on either side of Jesus.  Jesus pointed out the difficulties and said that only the Father set up the seating arrangements.  This led to ten angry men as they resented the two trying to be first.  Jesus reminded them about servant leadership, as the Son of Man was going to give up his life.

There were great crowds at Jericho where Jesus found two blind men asking for mercy, so he healed them.  Then began the final ministry in Jerusalem with a triumphal entry.  Jesus sent two disciples from Bethpage to get a donkey and a colt because he needed them.  Thus, the prophecy of Zechariah might be fulfilled.  They brought the donkey and the colt to Jesus.  Then crowds welcomed the Son of David into Jerusalem as they began to wonder who this man was?

Jesus went into the Temple and chased out the money changers to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah.  When he cured people in the Temple, the chief priests were angry, but the little children praised him.

Then Jesus went to Bethany.  The next morning, he was hungry.  He saw a fig tree, but it had no figs, so he cursed the fig tree as it withered because of his faith.

People began to question where did Jesus get his authority?  Jesus responded with a question for a question.  He asked them about the value of the baptism of John.  They gave a timid response.  Then he told the parable about the two sons.  The first son said no at first, and then did the work, while the second son said yes and did not do the work.  Which son did the will of his father?  Thus, they did not believe John the Baptist.

Then Jesus told the parable about the wicked tenants.  This absentee land owner of the vineyard sent people to collect his rent.  Instead, the tenants beat and killed the landowner’s slaves.  He sent a second group that was also killed.  Then the tenants killed the landowner’s son.  Finally, the landowner came to take back his vineyard, citing Psalm 118 about the kingdom of God and the falling cornerstone.  The Pharisees understood this parable and tried to arrest Jesus.

Jesus continued to speak in parables.  This parable was about the king who gave a great wedding banquet.  However, the invited guests refused to come to the wedding banquet.  He sent out a second invitation to the wedding banquet, but they refused the second invitation also.  They treated his slaves badly.  The king was angry and sent out new invitations to the wedding feast.  Finally, a man without a wedding garment showed up, but he threw him out of the feast.  The explanation of this parable was that many are called, but few are chosen.

Next the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by flattering him.  They asked him a question about taxes.  Jesus gave a harsh response as he had a dialogue about the Roman coin about whose image was on it.  Give Caesar his due.  The Pharisees and their disciples left.

However, the Sadducees asked a question about the resurrection.  There was a law about marrying the brother of a dead man.  There was a woman who married seven brothers, who was her husband in the resurrection?  Jesus responded that there was no marriage in the resurrection.  The living God of their ancestors would show them the way.  The crowd was astonished.

The Pharisees regrouped and wanted to know what is the greatest commandment?  Jesus responded about the two great commandments to love God and your neighbor.  Then Jesus asked the Pharisees a question.  Was the Christ the son of David?  Then who was the Lord for David?  After that there were no more questions for Jesus.

Jesus then cursed the Scribes and Pharisees.  He told his disciples to do what they say, but not what they do.  They tied up heavy burdens on the people.  They wore special clothing and sought the places of honor.  They want to be called Rabbis.  No one was your father or master.  Greatness comes with humility.  They tried to lock people out of heaven as they shut it off.  Even when they tried to make converts, they are like blind guides and fools.  They swore by the altar or the gift of the altar.  They swore by heaven, but they had forgotten the law.  They wanted the gnat out your eye but had a camel in their own eye.  They worried about the outside of the cup instead of the inside.  They were like whitewashed tombs.  They proclaimed reverence for the tombs of the prophets, but they were like their sinning ancestors. They were like serpents.  They would kill the prophets.  They spread innocent blood.  Soon the house of Jerusalem would be desolate.

Finally, there were the predictions about the end times.  Jesus left the Temple as he predicted its destruction.  What are the signs of the Parousia?  There would be the beginning of the great suffering so that they should not be lead astray.  There would be rumors of wars in those troubled times.  They would be persecuted for the sake of Jesus.  There would be betrayals and false prophets.  Love would grow cold.  Endurance would be necessary.  The importance of Daniel the prophet was emphasized.  In Judea, they would flee to the housetops.  It would be too late for the people in the fields.  This would be the wrong time to be pregnant or nursing.  There would be great tribulation, but the days would be short.

The end was coming because there would be false Christs and people looking for the Messiah.  The Son of Man would come on the clouds as the darkness in the skies appeared.  There would be a gathering of the chosen ones.  Using the parable of the fig tree, they could tell that the end was near.  This generation would pass away, but Jesus’ words would not pass away.  No one knew the day, since it would be like in the days of Noah.  Only one would be taken and the other left, so be ready.  Be a wise and faithful slave, not a wicked slave.

Jesus told the parable of the ten bridesmaids where half were wise and half foolish.  They all fell asleep.  When the bridegroom came, they all got up.  However, the foolish ones had no oil and wise ones said that there was not enough oil for both of them.  When the foolish left to get oil, they shut the door.  When they came back, the bridegroom said that he did not know them.  Thus, you do not know the day.

Next Jesus told the parable of the talents.  A man entrusted his assets to his slaves.  He gave them money.  One slave added five more talents, another added two more talents, but the third slave dug a hole and buried his money.  The master settled their accounts.  The slave with five talents got five more talents.  The slave with two talents got two more talents.  The slave with one talent was rebuked and punished.  Thus, there will be rewards and punishments at the end times.

In the last judgment, the Son of Man would appear in glory.  There would be sheep and goats, with the sheep on the right hand.  They had taken care of him.  They wondered when they had done this.  The Son of Man replied that they took care of him when they cared for the least of his brothers.  Then he told the goats on his left side to depart from him because they had not taken care of him when they did not care for the lowly people.  Thus, there would be eternal punishment or eternal reward.

The second group of laborers (Mt 20:3-20:4)

“When the landowner

Went out

About nine o’clock,

The third hour,

He saw others standing idle

In the market place.

He said to them.

‘You also go

Into the vineyard.

I will pay you

Whatever is right.’

Thus,

They went out

To the vineyard.”

 

καὶ ἐξελθὼν περὶ τρίτην ὥραν εἶδεν ἄλλους ἑστῶτας ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ ἀργούς,

καὶ ἐκείνοις εἶπεν Ὑπάγετε καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα, καὶ ὃ ἐὰν ᾖ δίκαιον δώσω ὑμῖν.

οἱ δὲ ἀπῆλθον.

 

This parable is unique to Matthew.  Jesus continued with this parable.  About 9 AM, the third hour (καὶ ἐξελθὼν περὶ τρίτην ὥραν), this land owner saw other people standing around idle in the market place (εἶδεν ἄλλους ἑστῶτας ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ ἀργούς).  He asked them if they wanted to work in his vineyard (καὶ ἐκείνοις εἶπεν Ὑπάγετε καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα).  He did not promise them a specific wage for the day.  He simply said that he would pay them whatever was right, just, or fair (καὶ ὃ ἐὰν ᾖ δίκαιον δώσω ὑμῖν).  Some of them agreed and went out (οἱ δὲ ἀπῆλθον) into the vineyard fields to pick the grapes.

The bad harvest (Hab 3:17-3:17)

“The fig trees

Do not blossom.

There is no fruit

On the vines.

The produce

Of the olive tree fails.

The fields yield

No food.

The flock is cut off

From the fold.

There is no herd

In the stalls.”

These farmers have hit bad times.  The fig trees were not blossoming, while there were no fruits of grapes on the vines in the vineyard.  The fields were not yielding any kind of food.  The flocks were running aimlessly, while the herd was not in its stalls.  Things were in bad shape.