The millstone on the neck (Lk 17:2-17:2)

“It would be better

For you

If a millstone

Were hung

Around your neck.

Then you would be

Thrown

Into the sea.

Rather than cause

One of these little ones

To stumble.”

 

λυσιτελεῖ αὐτῷ εἰ λίθος μυλικὸς περίκειται περὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔρριπται εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν, ἢ ἵνα σκανδαλίσῃ τῶν μικρῶν τούτων ἕνα.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that it would be better for anyone (λυσιτελεῖ αὐτῷ) if a stone from a mill (εἰ λίθος μυλικὸς) were hung around their neck (περίκειται περὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ).  Luke alone used the term μυλικὸς meaning mill.  They should be thrown into the sea (καὶ ἔρριπται εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν), rather than cause one of these little ones to stumble (ἢ ἵνα σκανδαλίσῃ τῶν μικρῶν τούτων ἕνα).  This saying about causing little believing children to sin or stumble can also be found in Mark, chapter 9:42, and Matthew, chapter 18:6, with some minor changes, with Matthew closer to MarkMatthew indicated that Jesus said that if anyone of them caused these little ones, who believed in him, to stumble, to sin, or be scandalized (ὃς δ’ ἂν σκανδαλίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων τῶν πιστευόντων εἰς ἐμέ), it would be better for them to fasten a great heavy millstone around their necks (συμφέρει αὐτῷ ἵνα κρεμασθῇ μύλος ὀνικὸς περὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ) and thus sink and be drowned in the deep sea (καὶ καταποντισθῇ ἐν τῷ πελάγει τῆς θαλάσσης).  Mark indicated that Jesus said that if anyone of them caused these little ones, who believed in him, to be scandalized or stumble (Καὶ ὃς δ’ ἂν σκανδαλίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων τῶν πιστευόντων), it would be better for them (καλόν ἐστιν αὐτῷ μᾶλλον) to fasten a great heavy millstone around their necks (εἰ περίκειται μύλος ὀνικὸς περὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ).  They should be thrown or cast into the deep sea (καὶ βέβληται εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν).  Causing the believing little children to sin meant it was better for that person to die in deep water with a heavy millstone around their neck.  This millstone was a stone for grinding various grains.  Luke never mentioned that they were believing little ones, just little ones.  Have you ever caused little children to sin?

Love your neighbor (Lk 10:27-10:27)

“You shall love

Your neighbor

As yourself.”

 

καὶ τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν.

 

Luke indicated that the lawyer said that they should love their neighbor (καὶ τὸν πλησίον σου) as themselves (ὡς σεαυτόν), using the second person plural.  There is something similar in Mark, chapter 12:3, where Mark indicated that Jesus, not the lawyer, replied that the 2nd commandment was like the 1st one. since it was about love.  Not only were they to love God, but they were to love their neighbors as themselves.  There were no other commandments greater than these 2 commandments of love.   Everything was based on the love of God and neighbor.  Matthew, chapter 22: 38-39 had Jesus reply also, not the lawyer, that they were to love their neighbors as themselves, since all the commandments of the law and the prophets hung on these two commandments.  This second commandment was based on Leviticus, chapter 19:11-18, that has become the basic fundamental cornerstone of Judaism and Christianity.  Leviticus further explained the Ten Commandments and your neighbor.  They were not to steal or deal falsely with their neighbor.  They should not lie, swear, or defraud their neighbor.  They were not to keep the wages of a laborer, or revile the deaf or the blind.  They should not render an unjust judgment, since they should treat the poor and the great with equal justice.  They should not slanderer or profit from the blood of their neighbors.  They were not to hate in their heart any of their relatives.  They should not take vengeance or bear a grudge, because they should love their relatives and neighbors as themselves.  All the commandments of the law and the prophets depended on these two commandments of loving God and your neighbor.  Do you love your neighbor?

Do not cause children to sin (Mk 9:42-9:42)

“If any of you

Put a stumbling block

Before one

Of these little ones,

Who believe in me,

It would be better

For you

If a great millstone

Were hung

Around your neck.

It would be better

If you were thrown

Into the sea.”

 

Καὶ ὃς ἂν σκανδαλίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων τῶν πιστευόντων, καλόν ἐστιν αὐτῷ μᾶλλον εἰ περίκειται μύλος ὀνικὸς περὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ καὶ βέβληται εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν.

 

This saying about causing little believing children to sin or stumble can also be found in Matthew, chapter 18:6, and Luke, chapter 17:1-2, with some minor changes.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that if anyone of them caused these little ones, who believed in him, to be scandalized or stumble on a block (Καὶ ὃς δ’ ἂν σκανδαλίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων τῶν πιστευόντων), it would be better for them (καλόν ἐστιν αὐτῷ μᾶλλον) to fasten a great heavy millstone around their necks (εἰ περίκειται μύλος ὀνικὸς περὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ).  They should be thrown or cast into the deep sea (καὶ βέβληται εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν).  Causing the believing little children to sin meant it was better for that person to die in deep water with a heavy millstone around their neck.  This millstone was a stone for grinding various grains.

 

Conclusion: Passion, Resurrection and Great Commission

 

This gospel concluded with the events of the last week of Jesus, a main preoccupation of all four gospels.  Jesus had entered Jerusalem in triumph.  He held a last supper and prayed to be spared.  He was betrayed by Judas.  Then he was tried by the Jewish leaders and before The roman governor Pontius Pilate.  Jesus was crucified as king of the Jews and mocked by all.  At his death, there was an earthquake, when the veil of the Temple was cut in two, and the saints rose from their tombs.  Mary Magdalene and the other women discovered the empty tomb.  Jesus told them to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee.

There was a plot to kill Jesus.  Jesus spoke to his disciples and gave his fourth prediction about the death of the Son of Man.  Then the chief priests and the elders gathered to plot the arrest of Jesus.  However, before that, there was an anointing by the unnamed women in Bethany as she poured oil on Jesus.  Others wanted to know why she was wasting oil.  Jesus said that she had done a good thing by anointing him for burial.  Thus, she would be remembered.  Meanwhile, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Then they made the preparations for the Passover.  Where would the Passover be?  There was a house for the Passover meal, as the disciples prepared for the Passover evening meal.  Jesus announced the betrayal.  Who would betray Jesus?  This betrayer would be cursed, as Judas spoke out.  At the Last Supper Eucharist, Jesus said that this was his body and blood with eschatological implications.

They went to the Mount of Olives.  Jesus predicted that the apostles would scatter.  He was going to go to Galilee.  Peter said that he would never desert Jesus.  Then Jesus warned Peter about his desertion, but Peter was adamant that he would never deny Jesus.

They went to Gethsemane as Jesus took his three favorite apostles.  He prayed to his Father while these apostles slept.  There was a second prayer of Jesus, as he came a second time to the sleeping apostles.  He prayed a third time.  Then Jesus woke them up.

Judas arrived and kissed Jesus, as they then seized Jesus.  Someone cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave.  However, Jesus told them to put their swords away as the disciples fled.

Jesus went before Caiaphas the high priest, while Peter followed Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest.  They were looking for false testimony.  Finally, two witnesses came forward.  The high priest spoke and Jesus responded.  He called the words of Jesus blasphemy, as they mocked Jesus.  Peter’s denied Jesus three time and then he remembered Jesus’ words.

The elders and Pharisees planned to kill Jesus.  They would deliver Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor.  Meanwhile, Judas repented, but he hung himself.  He returned the pieces of silver to the Temple, but it was used to purchase a graveyard called the Field of Blood to fulfill a prophecy of Jeremiah.

Jesus went before Pilate as he asked him if he was the king of the Jews?  However, Jesus did not respond.  The governor was going to release one prisoner at the festival time.  However, the people wanted the prisoner Barabbas rather than Jesus.  Pilate got a warning from his wife.  Nevertheless, the crowd wanted to crucify Jesus.  Pilate claimed that he was innocent of his blood but the crowds said that his blood be on us.  Barabbas was then released.  Jesus went to the governor’s head quarters where the Roman soldiers mocked him.

They prepared Jesus for the crucifixion.  They got Simon of Cyrene to help with the cross as they went to Golgotha.  They divided his garments and wrote on the cross Jesus, King of the Jews.  There were two robbers who derided and and taunted Jesus, just like the Jewish religious leaders had mocked Jesus.

Darkness fell over the land as Jesus died.  The cry of Jesus was interpreted as a call to Elijah.  They gave him sour wine to drink.  Would Elijah save Jesus?  When Jesus died, the Temple curtain was torn in two.  Tombs opened and the dead rose and appeared in Jerusalem.  He truly was  the Son of God.

There were women from Galilee, especially the women called Mary.  Joseph of Arimathea got the body of Jesus and put it in his tomb as the women called Mary were vigilant.  Meanwhile, there was a gathering with Pilate, since the Jewish religious leaders wanted to have the tomb secure.  Thus, a custodial guard was set up at the tomb.

The two Marys visited the tomb, where there was another earthquake with an angel at the tomb.  The guards were afraid, but the angel speaks to the women to tell them to let the disciples know what happened.  The women left the tomb and Jesus appeared to them.  Meanwhile, the guards told the chief priests in Jerusalem what had happened.  These religious leaders paid the guards to tell everyone that someone stole the body of Jesus while they were sleeping.  Thus, this stolen body story spread.

After the resurrection, the remaining eleven disciples returned to an unnamed mountain in Galilee.  There the post-resurrection Jesus gave them authority in heaven and on earth with his great commission:  They were to make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them with a Trinitarian formula.  They were to follow his commandments because Jesus would be with them until the end of time.

The mercenary army at Tyre (Ezek 27:10-27:11)

“Persia,

Lud,

Put,

Were all in your army.

They were

Your mighty warriors.

They hung their shield

With you.

They hung their helmet

With you.

They gave you splendor.

The men of Arvad,

The men of Helech,

Were on your walls

All around.

The men of Gamad

Were at your towers.

They hung their quivers

All around

Your walls.

They made perfect

Your beauty.”

Tyre had a mercenary army with people from Persia, Lydia (Lud), and Libya (Put). These were the mighty warriors of Tyre who hung their shields and helmets in Tyre to give the town more splendor. Within the town, guarding the walls, were the men from the Arvad island and Cilicia (Helech), a coastal town in Asia Minor. Meanwhile, the men of Cappadocia (Gamad) guarded the towers of Tyre. They kept their bow and arrows in the town. Thus the city of Tyre had an international army protecting it, inside and outside, to make it a thing of beauty.

The punishment for circumcision (2 Macc 6:10-6:10)

“For example, two women were brought in for having circumcised their children. They publicly paraded them around the city, with their babies hung at their breasts. Then they hurled them down headlong from the wall.”

This is a reference to some incidents that occurred in 1 Maccabees, chapter 1. Here it is only 2 women who had their children circumcised. They were then publically displayed with their dead children on their breasts. Then they were thrown from a wall and killed.

The problem of the thirteenth day of Adar (Greek text only)

“You will therefore do well

Not to put in execution

The letters sent by Haman son of Hammedatha.

Haman, the man who did these things,

Has been hanged at the gate of Susa,

With his entire household.

God, who rules over all things,

God has speedily inflicted on him the punishment he deserved.

Therefore post a copy of this letter publicly in every place.

Permit the Jews to live under their own laws.

Give them reinforcements,

So that on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month,

Adar, on that very day,

They may defend themselves

Against those who attack them at the time of oppression.

God, who rules over all things,

God has made this day to be a joy

For his chosen people

Instead of a day of destruction for them.”

We continue on with the Greek text of the second letter to the Persian people from King Artaxerxes. However, here the king and Mordecai clearly state that the original letter was sent by Haman and not the king. Until this point, the king was presumed to have sent the first letter also. However, Haman has been hung at the gate to Susa with his whole family. God inflicted on him the punishment that he deserved. This new public document should be published so that all the Jews may live under their own laws. On the 13th day of Adar, they were to give reinforcements to the Jews so that they might defend themselves against any attacks. God will make this a day of joy rather than a day of destruction.