Show me the coin! (Lk 20:23-20:24)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Show me a denarius!

Whose head

And whose title

Does it bear?’

They said.

‘The Emperor Caesar’s.’”

 

εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς

Δείξατέ μοι δηνάριον· τίνος ἔχει εἰκόνα καὶ ἐπιγραφήν; οἱ δὲ εἶπαν Καίσαρος.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said to them (εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς) to show him a denarius (Δείξατέ μοι δηνάριον), which was a Roman coin.  He asked them whose image or head and title or inscription did it have (τίνος ἔχει εἰκόνα καὶ ἐπιγραφήν)?  They said it was the Emperor Caesar’s head and title (οἱ δὲ εἶπαν Καίσαρος).  There was something similar in Matthew, chapter 22:19-21, and in Mark, chapter 12:15-16, almost word for word.  Mark said that Jesus wanted to see the coin that was used for paying the Roman poll tax.  Thus, they brought Jesus one of these small silver Roman coins, a denarius. (φέρετέ μοι δηνάριον).  Jesus then asked them (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς) whose image and whose inscription title (Τίνος ἡ εἰκὼν αὕτη καὶ ἡ ἐπιγραφή) were on this coin?  They answered him (οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ) that the image and inscription belonged to the Emperor Caesar (Καίσαρος).  Matthew indicated that Jesus wanted to see the coin that was used for paying the poll tax (ἐπιδείξατέ μοι τὸ νόμισμα τοῦ κήνσου).  They brought or presented him with a small silver Roman coin, a denarius (οἱ δὲ προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ δηνάριον).  He then asked them (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς) whose image and whose inscription title (Τίνος ἡ εἰκὼν αὕτη καὶ ἡ ἐπιγραφή) were on this coin?  They answered (λέγουσιν) that the image and inscription belonged to Emperor Caesar (Καίσαρος).  This was a simple question with a simple answer. Jesus wanted them to bring him the Roman coin, a denarius, worth a little more than a US dollar.  He wanted to see what coin was being used for paying the Roman poll tax.  What kind of money do you use?

Satan fell (Lk 10:18-10:18)

“Jesus said to them.

‘I watched

Satan fall

From heaven

Like a flash

Of lightning.’”

 

εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς Ἐθεώρουν τὸν Σατανᾶν ὡς ἀστραπὴν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πεσόντα

 

Luke uniquely indicated that Jesus told his 70 returning disciples (εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς) that he had watched Satan (Ἐθεώρουν τὸν Σατανᾶν) fall (πεσόντα) from heaven (ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ) like a flash of lightning (ὡς ἀστραπὴν).  If Jesus and his disciples were making progress that meant that the prince of evil, Satan, was not doing well.  Thus, Jesus said that Satan was falling or failing.  He would no longer be in the higher heavens.  This image of a lightning flash as a falling Satan was very vivid.  Would you consider lightning in the sky the falling of Satan?

Peter rebukes Jesus (Mk 8:32-8:32)

“Jesus said

All this

Quite openly.

Peter took him aside.

He began

To rebuke Jesus.”

 

καὶ παρρησίᾳ τὸν λόγον ἐλάλει. καὶ προσλαβόμενος ὁ Πέτρος αὐτὸν ἤρξατο ἐπιτιμᾶν αὐτῷ

 

Mark recounted that Jesus said all these things openly (καὶ παρρησίᾳ τὸν λόγον ἐλάλει).  Then Jesus and Peter had a conversation that also can be found in Matthew, chapter 16:22.  Peter, using his new authority, took Jesus aside (καὶ προσλαβόμενος).  He began to warn, rebuke, or admonish him (ὁ Πέτρος αὐτὸν ἤρξατο ἐπιτιμᾶν αὐτῷ).  However, there is no indication of what Peter said as there was in Matthew.  Apparently, Peter could not image a Messiah who would suffer and die.

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 dialogue about the Roman coin (Mt 22:19-22:21)

“Jesus said.

‘Show me the coin

Used for the tax.’

They brought him

A denarius.

He said to them.

‘Whose image is this?

Whose inscription title is this?’

They answered.

‘Caesar’s.’

Then he said to them.

‘Give therefore

To emperor Caesar

The things that are

The emperor’s.

Give to God

The things that

Are God’s.’”

 

ἐπιδείξατέ μοι τὸ νόμισμα τοῦ κήνσου. οἱ δὲ προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ δηνάριον.

καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς Τίνος ἡ εἰκὼν αὕτη καὶ ἡ ἐπιγραφή;

λέγουσιν· Καίσαρος. τότε λέγει αὐτοῖς Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ.

 

There is something similar in Mark, chapter 12:15-17, and in Luke, chapter 20:24-25.  Jesus wanted to see the coin that was used for paying the poll tax (ἐπιδείξατέ μοι τὸ νόμισμα τοῦ κήνσου).  They brought or presented him with a small silver Roman coin, a denarius (οἱ δὲ προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ δηνάριον).  He then asked them (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς) whose image and whose inscription title (Τίνος ἡ εἰκὼν αὕτη καὶ ἡ ἐπιγραφή) were on this coin?  They answered (λέγουσιν) that the image and inscription belonged to Caesar (Καίσαρος).  Then Jesus responded to them (τότε λέγει αὐτοῖς) by telling them to give to the Roman emperor Caesar the things that belonged to the emperor (Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι).  At the same time, they should give to God the things that belong to God (καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ).  With this ambiguous answer, Jesus avoided offending Jewish nationalists and the Roman Empire party and its officials.  Thus, the Roman and Jewish parties were both satisfied and unsatisfied at the same time.  If everything belonged to God, do not pay this tax.  If everything belonged to the Roman empire, pay the tax.  The choice was theirs.  He was not going to tell them what to do.  This statement of Jesus has become the basic Christian understanding of the relationships of church and state.

Don’t blame the women (Jer 44:19-44:19)

“The women said.

‘Indeed,

We will go on

Making offerings

To the queen of heaven.

We will pour out libations

To her.

Do you think

That we made cakes

For her,

With her image,

Without our husbands

Being involved?

Do you think

That we poured out libations

To her

Without our husbands

Being involved?’”

This is one of the few times that women as a group speak. Mostly, it is the men or groups of men who speak. These women complained that their husbands were complicit in this worship of the “Queen of heaven.” Entire families were involved in this goddess worship as indicated in chapter 7 of this work. The children gathered the wood. The men used it to build altars to worship this goddess. The women kneaded the dough and baked cakes with the image of this “Queen of heaven.” None of this would have been possible without their husbands being involved. Women worshiped this fertility goddess because of the importance of bearing children. In fact, quite often the most important role for women was precisely giving birth to a child, since most women desired to have children. Thus, this fertility goddess worship of a “Queen of heaven” was quite common in most ancient societies, even among the Israelites, as can be seen here. This “Queen of heaven” was not a foretelling of the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus, but rather a nod to the Canaanite female fertility goddess, Astarte, the wife of Baal.

The ode to wisdom (Wis 7:24-7:26)

“Wisdom is more mobile

Than any motion.

Because of her pureness

She pervades all things.

She penetrates all things.

She is a breath

Of the power of God.

She is a pure emanation

Of the glory of the Almighty.

Therefore nothing defiled

Gains entrance into her.

She is a reflection of eternal light.

She is a spotless mirror

Of the working of God.

She is an image

Of his goodness.”

Wisdom (σοφία) is clearly tied to God, so that the obvious comparison to the Christian Holy Spirit continues. This female wisdom is more mobile than any motion. She is pure so that she pervades and penetrates all things. She is a breath of the power of God (τοῦ Θεοῦ δυνάμεως), a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty (τοῦ Παντοκράτορος δόξης). Nothing defiled gains entrance into her. She is the reflection of an eternal light (φωτὸς ἀϊδίου) like a spotless mirror of a working God (τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐνεργείας). She is the image of his goodness. Many of these same things have said about the Holy Spirit.