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?

Advertisements

The Christmas scene birth of Jesus (Lk 2:7-2:7)

“Mary gave birth

To her first-born son.

She wrapped him

In bands

Of swaddling cloths.

She laid him

In a manger,

Because there was

No place

For them

In the inn.”

 

καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον, καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ, διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι.

 

Luke explained in great detail about the birth of Jesus, his clothing, and the manger, that has become the famous Christmas scene that most have come to know and love.  Matthew, chapter 2:1, had no details like this in his story about the birth of Jesus, while Mark and John had no infancy narratives at all.  In fact, Matthew said that the Magi visited Mary and the child in a house in chapter 2:11, not a manger.  Luke reported that Mary gave birth to her first-born son (καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον).  Did that imply that there were other children?  Within the Jewish tradition, the first-born male child would be dedicated to God with special legal and family rights, as indicated in Exodus, chapter 13:2, where Yahweh got the first-born of everything, as a consecration to God.  In Numbers, chapter 3:12, the Levites take the place of the first born as a dedication to God.  In Deuteronomy, chapter 21:17, the first born had all the rights versus the other children.  Mary wrapped the baby Jesus with bands of cloth or swaddling clothes (καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν), as it is often called.  These tight bands of cloth kept the arms and legs of the newborn from wailing away, while also keeping the child warm.  Then Mary laid him in a manger (καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ), because there was no place for them in the lodging inn (διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι).  This manger (ἐν φάτνῃ) was a feeding trough for horses and cattle.  Thus, Jesus was born in a place where animals would feed.  He then would offer himself as the bread of life.  Apparently, they were in a barn because there were no appropriate lodging places for a pregnant expecting woman.  There was no indication that Joseph had other relatives in Bethlehem where they might stay.  Just by coincidence, I am posting this blog on December 24, 2018, Christmas Eve.

Jesus explains the field and the seeds (Mt 13:38-13:38)

“The field is the world.

The good seeds

Are the children

Of the kingdom.

The weeds

Are the children

Of the evil one.”

 

ὁ δὲ ἀγρός ἐστιν ὁ κόσμος· τὸ δὲ καλὸν σπέρμα, οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ υἱοὶ τῆς βασιλείας· τὰ δὲ ζιζάνιά εἰσιν οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ πονηροῦ,

 

Only Matthew has this explanation about the parable of the weeds that was earlier in this chapter, 13:24-30.  Jesus, via Matthew, went into great detail about this earlier parable, as he explained the field, the good seed, and the weeds.  The field was the world (ὁ δὲ ἀγρός ἐστιν ὁ κόσμος).  The good seeds were the sons of the kingdom (τὸ δὲ καλὸν σπέρμα, οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ υἱοὶ τῆς βασιλείας).  The weeds were the sons of the evil one (τὰ δὲ ζιζάνιά εἰσιν οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ πονηροῦ).  This is the classic battle of good and evil in the world with the sons of the kingdom against the sons of the evil one.

The temptations of Jesus

Once John baptized Jesus, according to all three synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the Judaean desert. After this fast, the devil, the tempter, or Satan appeared to Jesus trying to test or tempt him. Jesus refused each of the 3 human temptations concerning the hedonism of hunger, the egotism of power, and the materialism of wealth. These temptations were to mislead and pervert the thinking, wishing, and feeling of Jesus. Although Mark‘s account was very brief, Matthew and Luke described the temptations in great detail that may have come from their common Q source. Is this a parable? What was the purpose of these accounts? There is no doubt that Matthew used language from the Old Testament Septuagint with a series of quotations from Deuteronomy. Fasting was a preparation for a great spiritual struggle. Once the temptations were over, Satan departed. Then angels of God began looking after Jesus. These temptations of Jesus have had many portrayals in art, literature, film, and music, since they have captured the imagination of many of the followers of Jesus Christ

A very destructive king (Dan 8:23-8:25)

“At the end of their rule,

When the transgressions

Have reached

Their full measure,

A king of bold countenance,

Skilled in intrigue,

Shall grow strong in power.

He shall cause

Fearful destruction.

He shall succeed

In what he does.

He shall destroy

The powerful,

The people of the holy ones.

By his cunning,

He shall make

Deceit prosper

Under his hand.

In his own mind,

He shall be great.

Without warning,

He shall destroy many.

He shall even rise up

Against the Prince of princes.

But he shall be broken,

But not by human hands.’”

Gabriel continued his explanation of the vision. He pointed out that one of the last rulers would be skilled in intrigue and grow strong in power. The obvious allusion is to King Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He would successfully destroy others by getting rid of powerful people, even the holy ones, without warning. His cunning would make deceit prosper. 1 Maccabees, chapter 1, goes into great detail about this king. In his own mind, he would be great. He would even go against the Prince of princes. Finally, God, not human hands, would break him.

The little horn (Dan 7:8-7:8)

“I was considering

The horns.

Then another horn

Appeared.

A little one

Came up

Among them.

To make room for it,

Three of the earlier horns

 

 

A little one

Came up

Were plucked up

By the roots.

There were eyes

Like human eyes.

There was a mouth

Speaking arrogantly.”

While Daniel was looking at these strange horns, a little horn appeared to take the place of 3 other horns, plucking them up by their roots. This little horn had human like eyes and an arrogant mouth. This appears to be a reference to King Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-163 BCE), an arrogant Greek king who got his throne by destroying 3 other kings. 1 Maccabees, chapter 1, goes into great detail about this king.

The place for the prince (Ezek 48:21-48:22)

“What remains on both sides

Of the holy portion

With the property

Of the city

Shall belong

To the prince.

This extends from

The twenty-five thousand cubits

Of the holy portion

To the east border,

This extends westward from

The twenty-five thousand cubits

To the west border.

It shall be

Parallel to the tribal portions.

It shall belong

To the prince.

The holy portion

With the sanctuary

Of the temple was

In the middle of it.

The property of the Levites,

With the property of the city,

Shall be in the middle

Of what belongs to the prince.

The portion of the prince

Shall lie between

The territory of Judah and

The territory of Benjamin.”

Now suddenly, Yahweh, via Ezekiel has a place for the prince, or the new leader, on the outskirts of the property already explained in great detail. This princely territory would extend on the east border to the end of the 25,000 cubits border and on the west side to its 25,000 cubits border of the holy portion.  Somehow it would be parallel to the tribal portions. The prince would own this land, even though the sanctuary of the Temple, the Levite property, and the city open fields were in the middle of this territory. This holy portion was to lie between the territory of Judah and Benjamin, on the north side of Judah.