Who is my neighbor? (Lk 10:29-10:29)

“But wanting

To justify himself,

This lawyer

Asked Jesus.

‘Who is my neighbor?’”

 

ὁ δὲ θέλων δικαιῶσαι ἑαυτὸν εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν Καὶ τίς ἐστίν μου πλησίον

 

Luke alone went on to a further explanation about the question or meaning of neighbor.  He said that this lawyer wanted to justify himself (ὁ δὲ θέλων δικαιῶσαι ἑαυτὸν) and his earlier question.  He asked Jesus (εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν) point blank, ‘Who is my neighbor (Καὶ τίς ἐστίν μου πλησίον)?’  This question has haunted Christians for centuries.  Were these very Jewish people their neighbors?  Were only those who believed exactly like them their neighbors?  The answer will be clear as this story unfolds.  Who do you think your neighbor is?

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Gerasenes (Lk 8:26-8:26)

“Then they arrived

At the country

Of the Gerasenes,

Which is opposite Galilee.”

 

Καὶ κατέπλευσαν εἰς τὴν χώραν τῶν Γερασηνῶν, ἥτις ἐστὶν ἀντιπέρα τῆς Γαλιλαίας.

 

Luke said that Jesus and his disciples sailed down (Καὶ κατέπλευσαν) to the country of the Gerasenes (εἰς τὴν χώραν τῶν Γερασηνῶν), which was opposite Galilee (ἥτις ἐστὶν ἀντιπέρα τῆς Γαλιλαίας).  All three synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 8:28, Mark, chapter 5:1, as well as Luke here, have Jesus cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  They went to the country or region of the Gerasenes.  Matthew called it Gadarenes, while Luke called it Gerasenes, like Mark.  This might be one of two different towns on the east bank of the Jordan in the Decapolis territory, a group of 10 cities.  One was called Gadara, about 6 miles away from the southeast side of the Sea of Galilee, near where the Sea of Galilee ran into the Jordan River.  Today, it is in the country of Jordan, known as Umm Qais.  The other Decapolis town was called Gerasa, a town about 40 miles from the Sea of Galilee, which would be more inconsistent with this story.  Nevertheless, this was Gentile territory with only a few Jewish people there.  Jesus had traveled over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee to its southern tip, to one of the 10 cities of the Decapolis territory.  Have you ever traveled to an area where they had different religious beliefs than you?

Just say the word (Lk 7:7-7:7)

“Therefore,

I did not presume

To come to you.

But only say the word!

Let my servant

Be healed!”

 

διὸ οὐδὲ ἐμαυτὸν ἠξίωσα πρὸς σὲ ἐλθεῖν· ἀλλὰ εἰπὲ λόγῳ, καὶ ἰαθήτω ὁ παῖς μου.

 

Luke said that the friends of the centurion continued by saying he would not presume to come to Jesus (διὸ οὐδὲ ἐμαυτὸν ἠξίωσα πρὸς σὲ ἐλθεῖν).  Instead, he wanted Jesus to only say the word (ἀλλὰ εἰπὲ λόγῳ), and thus his servant would be healed (καὶ ἰαθήτω ὁ παῖς μου).  This saying of the centurion’s friends is exactly the same as the centurion himself in Matthew, chapter 8:8, perhaps indicating a Q source.  The Roman centurion’s friends responded to Jesus that the centurion merely wanted Jesus to say the word, and then his servant would be healed.  Perhaps, he was aware that Jewish people were not expected to go into the homes of gentiles like himself.  Once again, this saying of the centurion and his friends has made its way into the Roman Catholic pre-communion prayer Eucharistic liturgy.  Would you rely on the word of Jesus?

He built a synagogue (Lk 7:5-7:5)

“This centurion loves

Our people.

He built us

Our synagogue.”

 

ἀγαπᾷ γὰρ τὸ ἔθνος ἡμῶν καὶ τὴν συναγωγὴν αὐτὸς ᾠκοδόμησεν ἡμῖν.

 

Luke uniquely said that these Jewish elders continued praising this centurion, who loved the Jewish people, their people (ἀγαπᾷ γὰρ τὸ ἔθνος ἡμῶν).  He had built a synagogue for them (καὶ τὴν συναγωγὴν αὐτὸς ᾠκοδόμησεν ἡμῖν).  There were many instances of Roman soldiers adopting the religious practices of the people where they were staying.  However, building a synagogue seems a bit much.  It may have led to better community relations.  Although he was not Jewish, this centurion had been very favorable to the Jewish people by helping them build a new synagogue.  There was no mention of this synagogue in the Matthew story about the centurion.  Would you be favorable to a religion not your own?

The great crowd on the plain field (Lk 6:17-6:17)

“Jesus came down

With them.

He stood

On a level place,

With a great crowd

Of his disciples

And a great multitude

Of people

From all Judea,

Jerusalem,

And the coast

Of Tyre

And Sidon.”

 

καὶ καταβὰς μετ’ αὐτῶν ἔστη ἐπὶ τόπου πεδινοῦ, καὶ ὄχλος πολὺς μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ, καὶ πλῆθος πολὺ τοῦ λαοῦ ἀπὸ πάσης τῆς Ἰουδαίας καὶ Ἱερουσαλὴμ καὶ τῆς παραλίου Τύρου καὶ Σιδῶνος,

 

Luke said that Jesus came down from the mountain with his new apostles (καὶ καταβὰς μετ’ αὐτῶν).  He stood on a level place (ἔστη ἐπὶ τόπου πεδινοῦ), with a great crowd of his disciples (καὶ ὄχλος πολὺς μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ).  There was a lot of people (καὶ πλῆθος πολὺ τοῦ λαοῦ) from all Judea (ἀπὸ πάσης τῆς Ἰουδαίας), Jerusalem (καὶ Ἱερουσαλὴμ), and the coast of Tyre and Sidon (καὶ τῆς παραλίου Τύρου καὶ Σιδῶνος).  Clearly, Jesus had become very popular, but there was no mention of anybody from Galilee.  Mark, chapter 3:7-8, said that Jesus left with his disciples to go to the Sea of Galilee, where, a great big crowd from Galilee and Judea that followed him.  People from everywhere were coming to listen to Jesus.  Jesus was no longer a local Galilean hero.  Mark said that people came to him in great numbers from Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan and also from the regions around Tyre and Sidon.  Obviously, Jerusalem would be interested in Jesus.  Idumea was south of Judah and part of the old country of Edom.  The other side of the Jordan would have been the old territories of Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben.  Tyre and Sidon were the coastal towns of the Phoenicians in the old Asher territory.  These would have been mostly Jewish people of Israelite heritage.  Matthew, chapter 4:24-25, said that the fame of Jesus had spread all over Syria, so that huge crowds followed Jesus in Galilee.  Also, the people from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from the east bank of the Jordan River were all following Jesus.

Jesus goes to Judea (Lk 4:44-4:44)

“Thus,

Jesus continued proclaiming

His message

In the synagogues

Of Judea.”

 

καὶ ἦν κηρύσσων εἰς τὰς συναγωγὰς τῆς Ἰουδαίας.

 

Luke said that Jesus continued to proclaim or preach (καὶ ἦν κηρύσσων) his message in the synagogues of Judea (εἰς τὰς συναγωγὰς τῆς Ἰουδαίας).  Mark, chapter 1:39, had something similar, but Mark said that it was Galilee and not Judea.  Mark also said that Jesus was casting out demons.  He seemed very intent on emphasizing that Jesus was casting out demons along with his undefined preaching.  Matthew, chapter 4:23, was also somewhat similar, since Matthew implied that Jesus went all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues.  The synagogue was a new developing Jewish gathering place that might mean a group or assembly of Jewish people rather than a building, since some places may not have been able to afford a building.  Matthew said that Jesus was proclaiming the good news or the gospel about the kingdom, without saying whether it was the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, or even an earthly kingdom.  What did Luke mean here by saying Jesus was in the synagogues of Judea, when the other two synoptics clearly stated that it was in Galilee?  Actually, later in this work, Luke had Jesus go to Jerusalem.

Tax collectors (Lk 3:12-3:12)

“Even tax collectors

Came to be baptized.

They asked him.

‘Teacher!

What shall we do?’”

 

ἦλθον δὲ καὶ τελῶναι βαπτισθῆναι καὶ εἶπαν πρὸς αὐτόν Διδάσκαλε, τί ποιήσωμεν;

 

This is another one of the unique sayings of Luke about John and his preaching that is not found elsewhere in the biblical writings.  Luke said that even tax collectors came to be baptized (ἦλθον δὲ καὶ τελῶναι βαπτισθῆναι).  They asked John (καὶ εἶπαν πρὸς αὐτόν), as their teacher (Διδάσκαλε), what they should do (τί ποιήσωμεν).  Tax collectors had a special role in the biblical writings as they were considered like traitors to the Jewish people, since these were Jewish people who collected the Roman tax from the local people.  However, they seemed capable of repentance, as here they were seeking baptism from John.