They watched Jesus.
They sent spies,
To be righteous themselves.
To trap him.
They might hand him over
To the jurisdiction
Of the governor.”
Καὶ παρατηρήσαντες ἀπέστειλαν ἐνκαθέτους ὑποκρινομένους ἑαυτοὺς δικαίους εἶναι, ἵνα ἐπιλάβωνται αὐτοῦ λόγου, ὥστε παραδοῦναι αὐτὸν τῇ ἀρχῇ καὶ τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ τοῦ ἡγεμόνος
Luke said that the chief priests and the Scribes were watching Jesus very closely (Καὶ παρατηρήσαντες). They sent spies (ἀπέστειλαν ἐνκαθέτους). Luke used the word ἐνκαθέτους, that means hired to lie in wait, lying in wait, or a spy, as the only time this word appeared in all the Greek biblical literature. They pretended to be honest righteous men themselves (ὑποκρινομένους ἑαυτοὺς δικαίους εἶναι). Luke has another unique usage of the word ὑποκρινομένους that means to reply, to answer on a stage, to pretend, or act the part. They were trying to trap or catch Jesus with his own words (ἵνα ἐπιλάβωνται αὐτοῦ λόγου). Thus, they might be able to hand him over (ὥστε παραδοῦναι αὐτὸν) to the rule or jurisdiction (τῇ ἀρχῇ) and authority of the Roman client governor (καὶ τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ τοῦ ἡγεμόνος). There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 22:15-16, and in Mark, chapter 12:13. Mark said that the Pharisees sent some of their own people to Jesus (Καὶ ἀποστέλλουσιν πρὸς αὐτόν τινας τῶν Φαρισαίων). The Pharisees were always testing or tempting Jesus and his disciples, but they were not mentioned in Luke. They also sent along some Herodians (καὶ τῶν Ἡρῳδιανῶν), who were the followers or political supporters of King Herod Antipas, the Roman client tetrarch king of Galilee, the one who had John the Baptist beheaded. Both these groups were out to trap Jesus or catch him by using his own words against him (ἵνα αὐτὸν ἀγρεύσωσιν λόγῳ). Matthew said that the Pharisees went away (Τότε πορευθέντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι) for a while, but they plotted or gathered together (συμβούλιον ἔλαβον) to entrap or entangle Jesus in what he had said (ὅπως αὐτὸν παγιδεύσωσιν ἐν λόγῳ). These Pharisees sent their own disciples to Jesus (καὶ ἀποστέλλουσιν αὐτῷ τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτῶν), along with some Herodians (μετὰ τῶν Ἡρῳδιανῶν), just like Mark had mentioned. They were out to trick or trap Jesus. Have you ever tried to trap anyone?
“As for those seeds
On the good soil,
These are the ones
When they hear
They hold it fast
In an honest
And good heart.
They bear fruit
With a patient endurance.”
τὸ δὲ ἐν τῇ καλῇ γῇ, οὗτοί εἰσιν οἵτινες ἐν καρδίᾳ καλῇ καὶ ἀγαθῇ ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον κατέχουσιν καὶ καρποφοροῦσιν ἐν ὑπομονῇ.
Luke indicated that Jesus said that the seeds on the good soil (τὸ δὲ ἐν τῇ καλῇ γῇ) are the ones (οὗτοί εἰσιν οἵτινες) who heard the word (ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον) and held it or kept it fast (κατέχουσιν) with an honest and good heart (ἐν καρδίᾳ καλῇ καὶ ἀγαθῇ). They would bear fruit with a patient endurance (καὶ καρποφοροῦσιν ἐν ὑπομονῇ). This explanation of the sower parable about the good seeds can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 4:20, Matthew, chapter 13:23, and here, with Matthew closer to Mark. Mark and Matthew indicated that Jesus said that the seeds sown on good soil were the people who heard the word and accepted it. They then bore good fruit. They yielded either 30-fold, 60-fold, or a 100-fold. Matthew, had the reverse order of Mark, 100, 60, and 30, while Luke, has no number on the fruitful harvest. Only about 25% of the seeds sown were effective. Thus, only about 25% of the people hearing the word of the kingdom from Jesus would follow it. The seeds or the word that fell on the path, on the rocky ground, or the thorns were ineffective. However, even among the effective seeds that were on good soil, the word would have different results. Some would yield 30 times, some 60, and some 100. There was no magic formula. The circumstances among the good hearers would also bring about a variety of responses and effectiveness. How effective are the seeds of the word of God in your life?
Yahweh’s hand is not too short to save.
His ear is not too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have been barriers
Between you and your God.
Your sins have hidden his face
Thus he does not hear.
Your hands are defiled with blood.
Your fingers are defiled with iniquity.
Your lips have spoken lies.
Your tongue mutters wickedness.
No one brings suit justly.
No one goes to law honestly.
They rely on empty pleas.
They speak lies.
They conceive mischief.
They beget iniquity.”
Third Isaiah has a call for repentance since the Israelites were sinners. However, Yahweh’s hands were not too short to forgive. He could hear what they were saying. However, the obstacles and barriers to forgiveness of sin were that of his people. They have forced Yahweh to hide his face. Their sins include iniquity with bloody hands and fingers. They speak lies and mutter wickedness. No one can bring a law suit forward because no one was honest and just. All they do is speak lies, conceive mischief, and produce more iniquity.
“The merciful lend
To their neighbors.
By holding out
A helping hand,
They keep the commandments.
Lend to your neighbor
In his time of need.
Repay your neighbor
When a loan falls due.
Keep your promise.
Be honest with him.
On every occasion
You will find
What you need.”
Sirach says that lending to your neighbors is nothing more than giving them a helping hand. When you lend to others you are following the commandments. You lend to your neighbor with no interest in his time of need. However, if you borrowed the money, you should repay the loan when it is due. You should keep your promise and be honest. Thus on every occasion helping each other will work out.
“Better the poor walking in integrity
Than one perverse in speech
Who is a fool!
Desire without knowledge is not good.
Whoever moves too hurriedly misses the way.
One’s own folly leads to ruin.
Yet the heart rages against Yahweh.
Wealth brings many new friends.
But the poor are left friendless.
A false witness will not go unpunished.
A liar will not escape.
Many seek the favor of the generous.
Everyone is a friend to a giver of gifts.
If the poor are hated by their relatives,
How much more are they shunned by their friends.
When they call after them,
They are not there.”
This is a mixed bag for the poor. It is better to be poor if you are honest and have integrity. However later on, you are without friends and relatives if you are poor. The poor never catch a break. Of course, it is better to be poor than be a perverse fool in your speech. Desire is not good enough. You need knowledge. Don’t go too fast or you will get lost. Foolishness will lead to ruin. The foolish heart rages against Yahweh. Wealth, as noted, brings friends, while the poor are stuck without friends. Liars will not escape from punishment. They will die. The reason the rich have so many friends is that many seek their favor, hoping to get a gift or two from the wealthy. The poor have a problem with relatives and friends who do not stand up for them when they call. It is not good to be poor, even if you are honest.